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What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do (and Your Mojo is Taking a Vacation)

As I have mentioned a few times recently, I am in a bit of a creative slump.  Every time I try to make something – whether it be a card or a collage, something out of clay, or just a doodle – it turns out rubbish.  It is very depressing and frustrating and makes me want to hide under the covers, eating cookies and crying into my phone (which, of course, is opened to Instagram so I can look at lots of other artists’ AMAZING work and depress myself even more).  That’s just how I roll.

So, in lieu of actually creating anything, I am working on creating a space in which I can work, be inspired and, hopefully, get my mojo back.

My craft room is a disaster zone.  There is no other way to describe it.  There is stuff everywhere and my actual working space has been reduced to an area of desk approximately the size of a drink coaster.  It’s terrible.

I need to de-clutter, big time.  I need to get rid of stuff that I am never going to use and organise the stuff I will use.  I need to make life easier for myself and prepare some things ready for starting new projects.  Most importantly, I just need to tidy the heck up!

With that in mind, here are a few things we can all do to make a space that is conducive to creativity and inspiration (or, at least, one that won’t make us depressed), and some suggestions for making the most of your creative slump time.

  1. If you’re a card-maker, organise all your card blanks and envelopes.  Match up sets and put “odds” aside.  If you’re really being good, get rid of them (give away or recycle bin).  If you’re a hoarder, bundle them together in sizes.
  2. If you have off-cuts of card, try making card blanks to fit your odd envelopes, so they’re ready to go when you need them.
  3. Go through the old books you’ve been collecting/hoarding to cut up, and cut out text from them. Maybe a phrase or word will inspire you to create. I keep a jar filled with sentences and words I like, so they’re always on hand. This is a good task to do sitting by the telly, with a cup of tea.
  4. Get stuck into your stash of scrapbooking/cardmaking papers.  CULL THEM.  Do you really need the lime green and bright pink, polka-dotted paper?  Maybe you do.  Most likely you don’t, and that’s why it’s still sitting there.
  5. Organise your adhesives.  Do you have ancient, dried up bottles of glue/Modge-Podge/Gel Medium?  Or is that just me? Get rid of them.  Also, go through your adhesive tapes – put them in one spot so they’re easily accessed and not sticking to things they shouldn’t.
  6. If you’re like me and tear out ideas and images from magazines and then leave them lying about the place, collect them all up and take some time to organise them into files or scrapbooks.  I have a file each for recipes, home decor, and fashion, as well as one for card ideas, one for quotes and articles, and another for general craft inspiration.  Make them look pretty and inviting – they really do help when you are in a slump and needs some ideas.
  7. Now get rid of all your piles of magazines – take out what you need (see # 6.) and chuck the rest in the recycle bin.  Some magazines are totally awesome and you want to keep the whole thing – that’s ok, but it needs to have a home.  Put it on a shelf or somewhere that you keep other inspirational books.  Don’t leave it lying about.
  8. Rubber stamps.  I swear they multiply.  I don’t remember buying them all and yet I seem to have hundreds.  I recently got rid of a whole box of them – gave them away to friends and donated them to op shops.  I haven’t missed them and don’t know why I kept them for so long.  If you haven’t used them in a while, it’s time for them to go. There’s only so many times you can use that teddy bear stamp or the one with the funny phrase that was hilarious in 1994 but not so much now.  Organise your text / word stamps into one container or drawer.  Try and group “like” items together so you know where everything is.  Christmas stamps in one spot, animal stamps in another, etc.  Makes like easier.
  9. If you have some projects you’ve made that you’re really happy with, make sure they are on display.  I have favourite cards hanging on my wall near my work space.  It helps to remind you that you don’t suck all the time, and gives you inspiration to try again.
  10. Make sure your most-utilised supplies are within easy reach of your work space.  It seems like an obvious thing but it really does help.  Storing them upright, when you can, in jars, cups and vases, gives you more room, and can look very appealing. Remember, though, to store marker pens flat – it helps them to last longer.
  11. While we are on the subject of pens – spend a few minutes going through them and chucking out any that no longer work or are on their last legs.  Make a note of any colours you need so that you can stock up.  Nothing worse than needing that skin-tone marker and you find it’s all dried up and useless.  Sharpen pencils and re-fill leads in mechanical pencils.  The more you prepare now, the less you will have to do when the arty mood strikes you – everything will be ready to go.
  12. Make a playlist.  This really helps – honest!  Compile a couple of playlists on your ipod or computer that help you to relax and create.  Alternatively, find some podcasts to download that are motivational, thought-provoking or inspirational.  Listening to other people talk about their creativity can really boost your own.
  13. Move stuff around.  Maybe you just need a change of scenery.  Would your craft table look better over in that corner, have better light by the window or work best right in the centre of the room?  Sometimes changing things around can really help to get you out of a rut.  It also encourages you to tidy up and sort through stuff, which is never a bad thing.
  14. Have a look through all those art books you’ve got and try copying someone else’s work.  This is just for practicing and learning some new techniques or styles – don’t try and pass someone else’s art as your own.  That’s rude (and also slightly illegal).  This is just to get your brain working and to stir your art heart.  Sometimes your creative centre needs a bit of a kick up the bum, especially if you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time.  It’s like doing the same exercise at the gym – every now and then you need to change things up a little and challenge your body.  Your brain is the same.
  15. Have a nap.  If all else fails, tuck yourself up in bed or on the couch, shut the world out, and have a little nap.  Maybe you’ll wake up feeling energised and motivated. Maybe you’ll just get some much needed rest and feel better about everything in general.  Sometimes you just need to sleep – that’s all there is to it.  I’m giving you permission to nap!

So, just a few ideas for helping you to get your art heart pumping.  Sometimes you just need to give in and say “Ok, no crafting for me today!”  and do something else.  It’s supremely frustrating though, when all you want to do is create a masterpiece and you can barely draw a stick figure or stitch in a straight line.  Sometimes your mojo is just off and needs a break.  I’m hoping that is the case with me, anyway.

Hope you’re having a creative, happy day (or at least a really awesome nap!) 🙂

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Salted Butterscotch Cookies

Tonight, I was craving cookies.  This is not uncommon for me, which is why I do not keep them in the house.  Otherwise I would be eating them all the time.  But, tonight, I NEEDED a cookie.  Or several cookies.  Ok, a whole batch of cookies.  These little beauties satisfied that need and took no time at all to make.  Even less time to eat.

The secret is to use salted butter – this definitely gives them that extra little edge.  I usually bake with unsalted butter (I have to watch my sodium intake because of my kidneys) but these cookies really need that little savoury kick.  Trust me.  The golden syrup is also essential – don’t leave it out or substitute it with honey or some such nonsense.  It must be golden syrup to get that real butterscotch flavour.  You wouldn’t think that one little tablespoon would make a difference, but it really does.

I think these would make excellent ice cream sandwiches.  Just imagine some peanut butter gelato or a nice scoop of vanilla in between two of these – heaven!

SALTED BUTTERSCOTCH COOKIES

125g salted butter, softened
1 tbs golden syrup
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 1/4 cup self-raising flour, sifted

Cream sugar, butter and golden syrup until well combined.  Add sifted flour and mix to form a dough (you might need to mix the final bit of flour through with your hands).

Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into small balls and place onto a baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake at 180 c for approx 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly.

Let them cool on a wire rack.

Demolish.

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Salted Butterscotch Cookies

Happy Munching! 🙂

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Tiny Town (Torn Paper Collage)

Some time ago, our art therapist at work let me borrow a couple of her art books for the weekend.  They were great little books – filled with simple ideas for getting your art on.  One of them had some lovely collage ideas and I particularly liked a torn-paper cityscape.  I cannot remember the name of the book, but I’m pretty sure it was published by Usborne and the artwork work was possibly Fiona Watt.  Apologies to both artist and publisher if I have remembered this incorrectly (if anyone can enlighten me, do let me know).

Anyway, I kept this idea buried in the recesses of my brain (a dark and cobweb-covered place if ever there was one!), thinking it would be a good little project to try if I was ever in need of some creative inspiration.  Well, right now, I am in desperate need, so I decided to give this one a go.  I liked the simplicity of the technique, as well as the small amount of materials (and, therefore, mess) it required.

Simply tearing different sized strips of paper, in different shades, adding details with pen and markers, and gluing them down into a simple cityscape – what could be easier?  It was very therapeutic and I enjoyed adding the details, including the teeny little and flags.

So, here it is!  My Tiny Town.  I didn’t get the perspective quite right – there’s a couple of “floating” buildings – and I didn’t have a fine enough white pen to get the nice detail I would have liked but, all in all, I am pretty happy with it.  I added the dark sky as I felt it needed some extra colour and interest.  The original idea in the book didn’t have text but, as I am a bit word-obsessed, I added a few lines from a poem, which I think finished it off quite nicely.  I made this as a card, but I’m thinking I might make a few as little framed pieces.  What do you think?

So, happy to have just tried something new (without it being COMPLETELY out of my comfort zone – I mean, it’s still paper after all!) and gotten closer to leaving the creative slump I currently find myself in.  I’m definitely going to make a few more of these, just because they were fun and easy and I didn’t have to think too much 🙂   I try not to copy other people’s work, but sometimes I think you need to just borrow a bit of creativity, in order to get your own up and running again.

Thanks for dropping by – have a lovely day 🙂

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Creative Copying

Sometimes I am very inspired and know EXACTLY what I want to do, craft-wise.  Other times, I am clueless and spend ages just mucking about, not knowing what I want to do, and feeling rotten about it.  Completely uninspired (and pathetic), you could say. Just lately, I have been unable to make ANYTHING and just feel like I have no creative ability whatsoever.  At all.  Nada.  Zippo.  Zilch.

So, this weekend, I utilised a bit of creative copying in order to get my mojo back.  Having had a birthday recently, my shelves were full of lovely greeting cards.  Granted, I should have taken them down some weeks ago but, it will surprise no one to know, I am lazy and slack, and they were still sitting there, a month and a half after the event.  However, there were a couple that I really liked the design of – the shapes of some of their images – so I had a go at using them for templates to make my own cards and other items.

First up, I had this cute birdie card.  I liked the simple shapes and was pretty sure I could use them to create a design of my own.  Plus, you know me, I love birds, so it was a no-brainer in terms of subject matter.

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Cute birdy birthday card!

I started by tracing the basic shapes of each bird – bodies, feathers, tails etc.  I then traced those shapes on to cardboard, so I could cut them out and have them as patterns.  Using pretty, coordinated papers, I traced and cut out the shapes to build the various body parts of the bird, and then arranged them together until I was happy with the overall look.

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Placing all the pieces together…

In the end, I decided to put it all together on a notebook for my Mum, to say thank you for her support and always looking after us (even though we’re old enough to look after ourselves.  Apparently).  I painted a plain little notebook and bound the edges with washi tape, before gluing the birdie to the front cover.
I added a crown and some text cut from an old book.

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Finished Birdie Notebook

It’s not the greatest work of art on the planet, and I can’t say I was thrilled with the final product, but I had made SOMETHING and that is better than nothing.  I just needed to get back into things and “play” a little, even if the end result wasn’t spectacular. Otherwise I feel as though I am losing all my creativity and desire to create in the first place.  And that’s not a good thing.

So, one little birdie at a time, I am going to get my mojo back. Send cookies and hugs 🙂

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Le Chop

So, I finally got my hair chopped off.  It usually takes me FOREVER to decide to do it and then I procrastinate because I hate spending the money, and there never seems to be any free time to get it done.  My hair really needed a trim though.  It was ratty and dry and I was starting to resemble something the proverbial cat had dragged in (through a hedge, backwards).  I present you with Exhibit A :

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Channelling Caveman Chic

 

…and most days I woke up like this : (Exhibit B)

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There is no paper bag big enough to cover this up…

So, I got it all cut off.  Well, about 5 inches anyway.FullSizeRender

Haircut 101 : Bobbed and Bouncy

I’m going to try and keep it short for a while and not just be slack and let it all grow back.  That is what I normally do.  I am starting to be aware of the fact that I am getting older and don’t want to be one of those women who keeps the same hairstyle for 50 years and ends up on a talk show having a makeover.  Although the makeover bit would be pretty awesome, I just don’t really want to be one of those people. You know the ones I mean.

I need to dye my hair as the ghost of grey hair past is starting to show through again.  Which sucks but is inevitable.  At least I have less hair to dye now and will be able to get it done quicker and with minimal swearing (and dye all over the place).

How do you prefer your hair?  Short or long, straight or wavy?  I am lucky, I suppose, in that my hair is very thick and strong and wavy.  But it does drive me nuts, because I am rubbish at doing anything with it.  I have no skills in this department.  Having it this shorter length means I have to be less lazy and not just tie it back but, by the same token, it is quicker to wash, looks ok if I just let it dry and do it’s own thing, and is definitely healthier.  Now that the weather is getting cooler (woe is me), I have less need to tie it back anyway, and shorter-messy is better than longer-messy.  I went to the beach on Monday night and even after being blown to bits by the wind, my hair looked ok.  Windswept, rather than tornado-whipped, which is how it would normally respond.

Thanks for dropping by – may all your days be good hair days 🙂  And if you have any tips for  “doing” your hair when you are completely useless at it, let me know.