"Creativity ... thrives when you
have plenty of resources
right at your fingertips."—Abby Glassenberg
Yesterday Abby Glassenberg at While She Naps wrote a terrific blog post about how the idea of plenty affects creativity. She makes stuffed animals and works with small scraps and bits of fabric rather than the bolts of fabric a garment maker might use. Even though I don't work with fabric, her words hit home with me.
This year I've scaled back my jewelry supply shopping considerably. Unless it's a basic finding (like jump rings) or an item needed for a very specific project (like a magazine design), I'm not buying much in the way of beads. There have been a few times in the last month I've been tempted to buy something that I didn't need and I've talked myself out of it. Part of my reluctance has been because I'm now selling more of my work, so I try to analyze each purchase in terms of profit. Is this item a good business investment? Can I sell what I make with this item?
Instead of buying new items, I've been trying to use only my bead stash. Like Abby, I'm good at making substitutions on the fly while I create, substituting chain for ribbon or this kind of clasp for that one. It does work your creativity to restrict yourself to certain materials. This is why challenges and contests can be fun.
But at the same time I'm beginning to think I've let it go too far. Having a sense of abundance stretches your creativity in a different way. If you know you have a lot of something, you feel freer to experiment and make mistakes. I know this is true in my own work.
A few months ago, I sat down with a pile of brass filigree ring bands and created rings. I tried not to overthink each one as I might if I only had one or two ring bands instead of a dozen. At the end of my studio time, I realized that while some rings might not sell, the act of making them triggered new ideas that might. This way of working feels like more of a risk than working with a more limited set of materials. But if there's no risk, is there any reward?