The 20 Minute Effect

I first heard the term “flow state” in 1986 from Dr. Ruth; (and she was not talking about clay). It was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who coined the term in 1975. According to Wikipedia: “… a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.”

Now you see where crafting comes in. Each of us has experienced the effects of flow while creating. Time both stretches and contracts. The hours morph, melt and disappear. Then, when you “snap out of it”, usually due to your hunger or that of the people around you, time returns to its normal form and pace.

Edwin Howland Blashfield – Spring Scattering Stars, 1027

As an instructor, the question I’m asked most often is, “How do I settle down and get myself going?” Here’s the answer I give. Gather just these few things: work surface, a small selection of clay colors that would look good blended together, a blade, a roller and a timer. Sit down in a comfy spot, away from your phone and computer, preferably not in your over-stimulating work space. Set the timer for one hour. Open the clay and soften it in your hands. Play with the clay by mixing a few colors, form snakes, balls and squares. Put them together, take them apart, flatten them, roll them up, slice and repeat. Do these things with no expectations. Think of it as, sort of, pre-heating your brain. After about 20 minutes you’ll be more relaxed and ideas will begin to emerge. After 30 minutes you’ll have decided what to make. Start making. When the timer dings, you’ll have made progress and learned lots. More importantly, you’ll have experienced the state of flow.

Once you do this a few times, you won’t need to set the timer or sit away from your supplies. You will have formed new neural pathways that establish automatic behaviors. As you create more and more frequently, your proficiency will grow, increasing your confidence and enhancing your feelings of satisfaction. All these positive emotions increase endorphins. Endorphins elevate energy and mood for three to 24 hours. That benefits you and everyone around you. Amazing what crafting can do. #HowDoYouSculpey?


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