Every beader has a unique style, specific color preferences, and a personalized approach to techniques – just as we have our own motivations for creating beautiful things. No matter what got us into beading, and what keeps up going, we still sometimes face that tricky creative hurdle known as “beader’s block”. Whether we’ve grown tired with the same old beads, or just don’t know where to take our techniques next, falling into a creative slump can happen to any of us. Luckily, there are lots of ways to catch the beading bug again.
Sometimes all it takes to get those creative juice flowing is to learn a new technique, or try out a new material. Over the years, I have found that personal beading challenges are an excellent way to keep beader’s block away, and the rewards are more than just a steady flow of new designs.
Setting goals for ourselves is an essential way to keep moving forward with our designs, and doing a public challenge helps to keep us on track. Having an audience gives you a little extra motivation to keep going, and makes it more rewarding when you reach the finish line. As an added bonus, challenges encourage us to try new things that we might not otherwise attempt. For each challenge that I have undergone – from a month of mythology inspired designs, to making 30 rings in 30 days – I’ve had to stretch out my abilities and my bead stash, and came away with plenty of new experience to use in future designs.
Blogging is an excellent way to share and catalogue your personal beading challenges, and can be just as much fun as the beading itself, but that’s not the only way to do it. You can share your inspirations and triumphs with your friends on Facebook, on your favorite craft forum, or even on Twitter. All you need is some pictures of your challenge pieces – before-and-after photos and works in progress are always popular. Offline challenges can also be great for creativity – get together with some crafty friends, set some goals, and show off your new ideas!
Want to give it a try? Here are just a few tips to get you started on your own creative beading journey:
Start Small - For your first beading challenge, set a goal that you know you can accomplish, and one that takes a reasonable amount of time. This might seem like a cheat, but you’ll get much more satisfaction from being able to finish what you start. In beading challenges, the journey is more important than the destination – you’ll still learn a lot, even if you don’t have to stay up for days to finish on time.
Plan Ahead - Keeping a notebook handy for ideas and sketches is always a good idea, but it’s essential for a successful beading challenge. Before you even announce your goal to your audience or beading circle, create a basic outline for what you will make. Jot down your ideas, and check your bead stash for the essentials you’ll need.
Don’t Give Up - The great thing about doing a personal beading challenge is that you are in complete control, and you can do whatever it takes to keep things going. If you’re working on something big and think you might miss a deadline, whip up something small instead, and keep working on the big project for your next goal. Getting bored with your format? Change it up a bit!
Have you already tried a beading challenge or marathon before? What did you like about it?
Mortira Natasha vanPelt, guest blogger
[Mortira is the author of a wonderful beading blog at inspirationalbeading.blogspot.com]