Five Reasons to Experiment With Creative Activities

As a new artist described experimenting with creative activities – a heat gun, alcohol inks and various other techniques — I felt resonance. Who knew it could be this much fun to play?

The kindred spirit thing drew me in and caused me to think about the appeal of the new. Is it fun to make experimentation front and center? Or, do you put off trying something because you’re afraid, you know it won’t work, (fill in the blank with your reason) etc?

When I first interviewed Julie Haymaker, inventor of Shrinkets and thought about making jewelry with shrink plastic, I thought it couldn’t possibly be my thing. Now I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to try Shrinkets. …whimsical, light weight, different, fun. Best of all, Shrinkets involve a myriad of creative endeavors to combine easily with other techniques. Ahhh. I digress.

Here are five reasons to experiment with creative activities.

1. PLAY. If you’re like most of us, you don’t get enough time and/or encouragement to play. There’s always something else to do, a deadline or another reason to be responsible. We forget that play serves a useful purpose. It helps re-focus and re-frame thinking. The very act of play promotes creativity.

(Shameless promotional plug at the end of this post: Shrink to Charm, a whimsical bracelet class, scheduled for 9a-1pm Saturday, May 6, 2017 at New Tricks Gallery and Workshop is a perfect play date.)

This is a picture of before and after shrinkets

©2017, Color your shrinkets shapes

2. MEET NEW FRIENDS. Bond with loved ones or meet new friends as you create. (Readers of this blog know I promote craft days with family.) Color together. Cut out shapes. (Remember paper dolls?) Assemble pieces. Enjoy like-minded participants who are committed to having a great time. The synergy of creating in a group cannot be under-estimated.

NOTE: My friend Ann got an unexpected sense of accomplishment from coloring her own pieces and then wearing a whimsical charm necklace.

These shrinkets were colored by Ann for Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Shrinkets in bracelet and necklace

3. LEARN. If you’re a continuous learner, a participating workshop offers an easy way to add knowledge and skills to your toolkit. Classes appeal to me because I learn by doing. It’s faster than making every mistake on your own. I attend for the words in-between. I find special hints from the instructor to be priceless: what didn’t work at all, big time savers, resources, etc.

This bracelet celebrated the Go Red event and includes Shrinkets made by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Go Red Donation

4. STIMULATE IDEAS. In the words of one mentor, “Open up, don’t seize up!” Classroom brainstorming piques dormant thoughts. The interpretation of others feeds my curiosity. I walk out of the average class with a dozen new ideas in my notebook. Creative activities get me fired up.

These shrinkets contain positive affirmations from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary ELlen Merrigan, Positive Thoughts

5. TEST. A classroom opportunity lets one experiment with equipment and ideas for less than full investment cost. For example, I used different heat guns in a class and was able to decide what I wanted for my studio. I chose the bigger gun because it got hotter. In another situation I was able to work with a variety of metal hammers and choose the one that actually felt most comfortable for me.

In the photo below I tested a rubber stamp using Staz-On Ink on my shrinket.

This shrinket is an example of a stamp from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

©2017, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Trust Shrinket

6. BONUS: JUST BECAUSE. Books are written about the gift of flow and the joy that arises from creativity. Inspire your best output with a workshop different from your regular choices.

Consider these five reasons to experiment with creative activities – play, meet new friends, learn, stimulate ideas, test — the next time you choose inspiration for a project. You just might find a hidden bonus reason or two as a result.

Shameless Promotional Plug

I’m wild about Shrinkets and Shrink-to-Charm. It’s easy, fun, and inexpensive. It adds a new dimension to beadwork with fun beadcaps and hand-made charms. The shorter list is “What’s not to like?” Do NOT hesitate. Get in gear and try out Shrinkettes! In fact, join my “Shrink-to-Charm” Whimsical Bracelet Class Saturday, 9am-1pm May 6, 2017 at New Tricks Gallery and Workshop.

Class Details:

Color and create whimsical shrink plastic. Bead and shape charms for your lightweight bracelet. Draw, trace or cut charms for templates. Shrink them to one-third size using one of four heat stations, each featuring three shrinkette molds – basic, dome and star – developed by Shrinkette guru Julie Haymaker. During our time together you will complete 15-20 plastic charms and attach them to your bracelet with jump rings. Each student will leave with a basic mold so you can replicate the fun.

To register or receive more information, call 505-280-9772 or email Mary Ellen Merrigan.

About Mary Ellen Merrigan

From embroidery to dressmaking to needlepoint to beading, Mary Ellen Merrigan weaves a lifetime of handiwork into one-of-a-kind works of art that speak to the spirit. Her pieces are adventuresome, creative, and sometimes, magical.
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