Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where Do I Begin? - Challenges, Competitions and Inspiration

Ever looked at other designers' works, whether online or in magazines, and thought to yourself:

Well all these thoughts, and the feelings that accompany them, are very normal.... and some that most designers have felt at some point, early in their beading journey.

So..... where do you start? 

I guess the best way to start is to find like minded people that you can bounce ideas around with. But I hear you say.... "I live in an isolated area, I don't know anyone around here...." etc. Well let me tell you how easy it can be. 

When I first started beading seriously, I too, found myself with no one around me that I could share this new-found passion. Sure, I had magazines that gave me inspiration, but really, I was on my own. Then when perusing in the advertisement section of the magazines, local to my country, I discovered an online Beading Forum. I soon joined and 'met' some lovely people. People with the same passion or liking for the beads. I discovered there were quite a number of people not far from me with the same passion. A few of us eventually met in real life and started to bead together once a month. We challenged ourselves, tried new techniques, and had a lot of fun. 

Magazines have a lot of inspiration, and also also some worthwhile tutorials that can get you going on your journey.

We are also very fortunate to live in the age of technology and cyberspace.... you can have a links to other people through the internet. Great friendships have been made through this medium, and a lot has been learned and shared. You too can be part of this trend. There are lots of people willing to help and share their knowledge. All you have to do is tap into it. Now you may think to yourself...'I don't have anything to contribute'.... but really its about a sharing. You do have things to contribute, even your hiccups in your creations is worth sharing, because in the discussion it creates, it not only helps you, but also someone else, who may have hiccups as well.

Challenges: One of the definitions of challenges which I thought was quite appropriate is this:  A test of one's abilities or resources is a demanding but stimulating undertaking.

One of the best ways to challenge yourself is to learn new techniques/stitches, and then create something unique using this new technique.

I know a lot of people feel daunted by what other people create. But you know what? You can create like that too.... all you have to do is keep trying. Keep experimenting. Keep pushing beyond your comfort zone.

Everyone starts the same way. Basically knowing very little. The difference is your personal determination to learn as much as you can and to better yourself. You can do it! You have to want it badly enough, and you will do it.

I remember one competition I entered many years ago..... I was stuck for ideas, but I knew quite a few different techniques. Time was running out and life got in the way. The deadline was looming and as I had committed to participating, I had to produce something. So, I started to bead..... not knowing which direction it was going, I kept going. I used every stitch I knew at the time, and what evolved was a freeform necklace.

It took its own shape, as the beads guided me. At the end of it, it was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot along the way. 

The thing I'm trying to say here, is that you should always try to expand what you already know, and use what you know to expand yourself.

This piece was quite admired by all who saw it, and was snapped up quite quickly. I'm sure it is enjoying being worn by a lovely lady.

Competitions: I can almost hear a lot of you shudder at the thought of entering a competition. 
There are lots of competitions around the world today, that really get the creative juices going. And I know a lot of you thinking to yourselves that "You're not good enough"..... 

Firstly.... you need to get that thought out of your heads. Competitions are good. They help you grow. Yes, they can be frustrating at times, but just think of the personal reward in knowing that you've created something with a "Wow!" factor.

The one thing I will suggest though, is that you enter competitions, not necessarily to win, but to improve your techniques and composition. If you do place, or win, then that is a bonus.

Here is a little list that may entice you to enter a piece.

I'm sure there are lots of locally run challenges that can entice you as well. If you're a member of any of the various beading circles on Facebook, see if any of them run competitions you can participate in.

Inspiration: Where does it come from? How can the mind be stimulated enough to start creating?

Look around you. It's everywhere! People, things, places, moments, thoughts....... all you need to do is really look. Start up a journal of things you like. Things that take your breath away. Things that evoke emotions in you. Collect pictures and photos. Get yourself into the habit of really seeing whats around you.... and I don't mean just the big things.... I mean the little things.

Patterns in a kaleidoscope, colours in a soap bubble, waves of the ocean, the rippling of the sand. The veins on a leaf. The markings on an insect. The list is endless!

Write on little bits of paper things that you like..... a movie, a favourite food, a famous or not so famous quote. Write them all down. One thing per piece of paper. put them in a jar, or a bag or something. Then, without looking inside the container, take out one piece of paper. And create something that will represent what is written down.

You'll get the mojo going. And before you know it, you'll be creating pieces you never thought you could.

All I'm saying is don't be afraid of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. There is a whole world of creativity within you, just itching to get out.

Happy Beading!

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