It´s April…spring time! I know for some of us it still feels very much like winter, but we do hope spring will soon come for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere! In Spring time a lot of us get that urge to clean and get everything tidy. You want to get the cob webs of winter out and get fresh air in!

This year I noticed that a lot of people do a spring cleaning of their studio and I have to admit I am in the mood for it as well. While I was going through a lot of things, rearranging and deciding what to get rid off, I had this is thought that I want to share with you:

[caption id="attachment_34539" align="alignleft" width="300"] These are some pieces I made in 2006 – long time ago! I have developed since then.[/caption]

I not only went through material and tools, I also “discovered” a lot of older polymer clay pieces, I had created at one point. Some of them are older than a decate! Some of them, well, let´s just say they do not hold up to my today's standard any more. Some of them just will need to go. Of course I do not want to just dump them out like that! Even if they are old and not what you would create today, they still can be very useful. Let me explain how: there has been a lot of thoughts and work that went into them at the time I made them. So what I want to do is to appreciate them, really look at them, take care of what I still can learn from them and THEN let them go. You see I have noticed that often times I do not take the time to find out about the lessons I can learn from one piece and jump right into the next project much too quickly. Something tells me I am not alone with that habit! So let´s get through this together and learn as much as possible from our older pieces and evaluate them before we dispose of them, shall we?

The Benefits of Making Mistakes

What is the bonus of doing that exactly? If we find out what worked and what did not, we are more aware of what we need to take care of when starting a similar project or even another one. Taking the time to really see what we need to improve and write down what we noticed will helps us to develop with more intention in our artistic journey. It helps to move away from just executing one thing after the other and not developing on the way.

Of course not all of us have been working with polymer clay for years. But that does not make a difference at all. You can of course also do a self-evaluation with a new piece you just finished! You still have every step of your working process in your mind and know were you where not satisfied with a technique or look or construction of the piece. Sit down, take the time to take a closer look and write it down. Write down your thoughts and ideas, your problems and discoveries! Keeping a studio diary or notebook will help you in many ways and it will be an invaluable tool in your development!

Some times a piece does not go as planned, at all. You might get really upset about the “failure” and you might be frustrated a lot.

I do understand that and I have been that that point more often than I care to remember. The point isto not think of it as “failure” but as opportunity for learning. Well, first let it sit  for a while until you have managed to get over it. Then try to find out what it actually was that frustrated you. What did go wrong? Then create you piece again! I know it does not sound very tempting, but it actually is the best you can do! Because now you have a lot more knowledge that before you did your first piece, now you know what needs to be changed and at which points it gets difficult. I always try to remember: no one expects you to be able to get it all worked out the first time you are riding a bicycle! It´s the same with each piece you are making. You will need more than one try to figure it out and only practice will help you to make a piece you are really happy with.

Monitor Your Clay Project Process

I also find it helpful to really watch and evaluate what I am doing while I am still at it! I made it a habit to have my phone next to me (and take pictures during the process) my studio diary or at least a piece of paper to write down measurements, color mixes, questions that come up and other things I might not remember any more after finishing a project. After trying to recreate some of my own projects for several times before I was able to find out what I did in the first place, I have learned form it and always take notes while I am working on anything! Especially if it is just testing something or playing around with clay!

To help you get a head start with your self evaluating and trouble shooting process we will go right into it now. Of course self evaluation is a very personal process and you might not be conformable at first, but that is beside the point. It is the process of doing it that is important. I also will provide a sample worksheet for you to write down some of the most important information for your own pieces. self_evaluation_for_polymer_clay

Pick one of your pieces you are not so happy with and try to work out what went wrong, what was not successful in your eyes and practice some more. With clay but also with evaluating your own work. It is a very personal process, and you will see a big improvement!