As we all move into this season of Christmas, I can’t help but wonder how our creative spirits are handling the pressure. This is the time of year when my creativity switches into overdrive, and the ideas begin to flow, I get that overwhelming need to make something special for everyone I know…not because I think I have to but because I truly want them to have something special from my heart.
…with jobs and house, family gatherings and other seasonal duties, how can we ever manifest those desires into reality without losing ourselves in the process?
Here are 3 Steps to help you along that path….
- Start Early – To be honest….if you are just tackling this dilemma today, it is probably already too late. I’m famous for thinking I have more time than I do, or that projects will take less time than I think they will. Here’s the truth: I don’t, and they don’t. Time is one of those elusive things, especially when I am creating. It seems to sit suspended in air while my mind and heart swirl with creative anticipation. My recommendation here is – don’t do it! You are going to stress yourself out. And who needs more stress this time of year? Certainly not me 🙂 But – if you are determined to make this happen, don’t wait. Begin immediately! Get your mind rolling in that creative direction and……
- Choose something you already know – well. The worst thing you can do now is to try to learn a new technique, or create something that is outside of your normal “box”. If you are a bookmaker, don’t try to carve a pepper grinder on a lathe you’ve never run before (true story – I did this a few years back….boy was I sorry. …and cold) Instead, make a book. It doesn’t have to be what you usually do. Think outside the box….but don’t veer too far from what you already know how to do. Staying within your parameter of knowledge will give you the confidence to finish that project instead of wrapping up an IOU with a bunch of excuses. Pretty paper won’t make that look better 😉 ….Once you’ve chosen….
- Make it simple. We all know that within our area of creative expertise, there are many levels of project difficulties. As a bookmaker, I could choose to make a simple travel journal using papers I already have, or I could opt for the large format coptic stitch book with high grade artist papers and a hand painted cover.
...opt for the former!
If you are making a gift instead of purchasing one, you are already way ahead of the curve. Handmade says “special” right from the beginning…even if it is what you would consider simple. Most people won’t know what kind of time you spent on their gift. If it is handmade, they will assume “lots” no matter what the reality is. So you may as well save yourself some aggravation, and make it easy.
A Final Note…
Once you have begun, chosen a project, and made it as simple as possible – create in production mode.
One year I decided to give something handmade to each member of my family so that in the event something happened to me, they would always know that I loved them. (it was a really weird emotional year for me:) I started way early, like July or August. Check…. but I thought because I had so much time that I could create something unique for each one of them. I took classes in basket making, learned to hook a primitive rug with wool and tackled a lathe with tools I had never even picked up before.
Yes, I was an insane person by Christmas. I did manage to pull it all off, but only by the grace of God. I worked right up to the last day and made myself absolutely crazy in the process. When I passed out all of the gifts, I proclaimed that it would be the last handmade gift they would ever receive from me. I got bunches of weird looks, because frankly they know me better than I know myself sometimes. They smirked and opened..and loved them, but that is definitely the Christmas that everyone will remember that I lost it…heh heh
So….in the spirit of keeping things simple, choose one project only and give everyone the same thing. You can certainly change different aspects of each one, tailoring them to the recipient through color, pattern and the like, but it is much easier to gather paper in different colors than it is to gather wool, and wood, and tools, and hand-hewn oak reeds…..yes, crazy woman…
Have a spirit filled holiday, filled with peace instead of stress, joy instead of aggravation, and thankfulness instead of regret.