Ever since I moved into my apartment, my creative workflow has been off. I’ve fiddled with it here and there, and small changes have made small improvements, but it hasn’t felt really good to me in over a year. I’ve been missing the juice, the joy of it – the thing that used to make me come home from work full of colorful thoughts and get right to making things. I still have plenty of ideas, but they don’t seem to gel right. It often takes me three or four times longer to get a design right than it once did.
A huge part of my enjoyment in my design work comes from pure tactile contact with my bead collection. Being able to move them around and see them together and fidget with them makes things happen in my head. I’ve often joked about making a giant ballpit for them and playing in it like a sandbox. A couple of weeks ago, I was frustrated beyond the limit with my inability to find a good workflow, and the ballpit of beads joke suddenly seemed like the greatest breakthrough I could imagine.
So I cut a huge cardboard carton apart into wide strips, taped them to the edges of my kitchen table, and dumped out 11 boxes and two drawers full of vintage Lucite beads. It made a crashing enormous noise, and it felt wonderful, but it still wasn’t quite what I needed. After staring at it for two days, I knew what had to happen. I needed the beads to be free range. I loved that idea, but it also made me incredibly nervous. I manage inventory in order to be able to repeat designs by knowing exactly how many of which beads I have, and having all of them together in bags or on strands where I can find them easily. The work still wasn’t right, though, and it had to be done. With some smiling encouragement from the good man who holds my hand, I bit my lip and closed my eyes and changed everything about the way I work and run my business. I dumped all the beads out of all the bags, and I threw the bags out.
The result is pure joy. It’s a sandbox full of color and texture and shape and I can’t stop touching it and it’s unlocked dozens of ideas and put a huge giddy smile on my face. Every time I walk past it, I reach in and give the beads a stir and see something new. I pull out little handfuls of color, and make them sing. I’ve made more new things in the last 10 days than I have in two months. It feels fantastic.
My candy revolution means that I’m only going to be making one of a kind designs for a while. It’s difficult to find specific beads to pull multiple pieces together for inventory. But I find I’m excited about that idea – offering unique pieces of jewelry to my clients and my stockists sounds like fun.
I’ll be in my playground; keep your eyes open for new work at urban legend!