Beating Crafty Burnout

comments (4) July 23rd, 2008     

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kaytet kayte terry, contributor
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These paper flowers and bits of wallpaper were in the window of a shop in Seattle.
This gorgeous stencil was wrapped around a column on a building in Soho.
The little guys were hanging from a telephone pole in Brooklyn, NY. sometimes you have to look up, too!
These paper flowers and bits of wallpaper were in the window of a shop in Seattle.

These paper flowers and bits of wallpaper were in the window of a shop in Seattle.

Photo: Kayte Terry

It happens to the best of us: Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just can't get inspired. Even though I make things for a living, it's hard to be "on" all the time. When I just can't get my thoughts straight and I find myself staring blankly at my wall of craft supplies, it's time to get out of the house and take a walk.

As anyone who works at home can tell you, scheduling a break for yourself is so important and yet so hard to do! I love to take walks on my work breaks, especially when I don't have a destination. I like to turn down different blocks or sometimes even walk the wrong way for a while, anything that gets me looking around and exploring. Oh, and I always take my camera: Who knows what I'm going to find? Sometimes it's the architecture of a building, sometimes it's street art, sometimes it's a little bit of nature, but there's always something that gets me feeling inspired again.

What do you do to jump-start your creativity?

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Comments (4)

kaytet writes: thanks for your responses ladies!
it's always interesting to hear about what other people do when they hit a crafty wall.
jen-i totally cleaned out my closet when i was on deadline for my book! i just couldn't focus until it was done!
Posted: 2:26 pm on July 28th
LindaPermann writes: i definitely need to take more walks! going from working full time in an office to working at home has been a huge adjustment for me and I didn't really realize until recently how, even though it gives me creative time, it also leaves me really isolated. to get inspired, i usually have to clean everything (once the place is clean i strive to mess it up again!) and sort through some of my supplies.
Posted: 9:03 pm on July 23rd
Jen_W writes: I drink. Just kidding. I just wrote about craft burnout on my blog yesterday ( as I'm churning out projects for an 8/15 book deadline. And because they are for the book, I can't even crow about how brilliant everything is. Again, just kidding. I think I clean and do some productive procrastination when I need to clear my head. I don't know how many times I've reorganized my sweater shelf in the past few years but it's a tried-and-true lifesaver. Sadly, since I photographed all of my shoes and then printed out, laminated, and stuck the photos onto the various plastic shoe boxes, I can't do much more reorganization on that front...
Posted: 7:27 pm on July 23rd
JenniferStern writes: Thanks for posting about this creativity issue...I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one. Making the adjustment to working at home has been a challenge. (Especially since I was the overtime queen at the sewing store I worked at for 10 years!)

When I get a creative cramp, I usually step back and clean something or do a load of laundry. I find that making more order in my small apartment clears my mind and allows me to be creative. Visiting my favorite clothing store, Anthropologie always helps...I personally think there is something magical in the air.

Finally, my favorite way to get new ideas for creative projects is to ask someone who typically does not sew or embroider what they would make if they could. For example, I asked my sister (who doesn't even own a sewing machine) what kinds of projects she would imagine could make cool embroidery posts. She came up with some pretty great ideas. She has a completely different point of view because she doesn't sew. I think it's partially because she's not bogged down with the mechanics of how to do it--
Posted: 2:37 pm on July 23rd
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