Friday, July 22, 2016

10 Ways To Be A More Creative Thinker: Perspective Is Everything

Some see trash, I see treasure 

What is creative thinking? 
How do creative people come up with their clever, innovative ideas? 
How can I be a creative thinker? 

Is creativity a gift? Do some folks have it and others not? Why does it seem that some people seem to have a constant flow of innovative ideas while others seem to struggle to come up with one original idea? If you've ever wondered about any of the above questions, read on for my 10 tips and suggestions to help boost your own creative thinking.


10 Ways To Boost Your Creativity 

1. Perspective is Everything. 
Creative people are open-minded. They give themselves permission to stray from a straight and narrow line of human thought and branch out into uncharted territories. They train their minds to look at things (whether it be materials or situations) from a variety of different perspectives. Be open minded. Practice seeing things from different points of view.

2. Develop Patience.
Creative thinkers don't quickly rush to find a solution or an answer to a problem. They patiently consider different options and give equal weight to different possibilities. They give themselves the gift of time to weigh out different options (they give themselves time to consider different perspectives, as in #1 above!) 

3. Be Optimistic.
An optimistic mind is an open mind. It's also a positive mind. Besides helping to boost creativity, being optimistic is good for your health. If you tend to be a negative thinker, banishing negative thoughts from your mind can take some time and practice, but you can do it! 
When you feel a negative thought coming into your mind, recognize it for what it is, label it as a negative thought, and then replace that negative thought with a positive one. Make yourself get into the habit of doing this and after a while it will become second nature. A well-balanced, optimistic, open mind is more welcoming to new and different ideas than a negative, closed mind. Make sense?

4. Be Grateful. 
Gratitude is directly related to optimism. When you slow down and relax your body and mind and open yourself up to feelings of gratitude, anxieties disappear and the mind becomes a clean slate. What are you grateful for? Make a list. Better yet, start a gratitude journal. Every day write down something that you are grateful for. Review your list constantly.




5. Read.
Read! Explore other worlds through reading books. Reading not only helps boost your creativity by opening your mind to new worlds, but it also helps expand your vocabulary, stimulates your brain, and makes you smart. Reading also helps develop concentration and focus, not to mention it's just plain awesome. 

6. Teach yourself to relax.
When life gets busy we tend to get stressed out. Do you know how to relax? Always know that you have the power to comfort yourself. Everything you need is already inside of you. Be confident in your abilities to comfort and relax yourself. Once you realize that you have this amazing power, use it frequently! Even the simplest exercise - such as deep breathing - is a powerful tool that YOU own. Use it! I find that my own creativity blossoms when I am relaxed.

7. Believe in your personal magic. 
Every single person in the world has their own special magic. I think that lots of people get so caught up in day to day life that they either ignore their magic or they never take the time to foster it and allow it to grow and blossom. Or maybe they have allowed pessimism and negativity to bury their magic so deep down inside of themselves that it remains hidden. What talents do you posses? How can you use your talents to help other people? Find those talents and use them for good. Help other people live better lives.  

8. Play.
Play games, listen to music, play with your children, play with hobbies and things that are fun and bring you joy. Imaginative play and games that require you to think and use your imagination are great ways to get the gears in your brain moving and spark your creativity. Know how to have fun! I love to play games!


9. Know who you are. 
Spend as much time as you can surrounded by nature and without distractions. Leave the phone at home. Listen to the sound of your footsteps on a woodsy trail. Look around at all of the colors and shapes of life. Use all of your senses to take it all inside of you. Just as there are rocks beneath your feet and trees around you, realize that you are a part of all of that life. Just as you look at a tree and take in an impression of that tree, realize that all that you say and do to other people is your own legacy. Make it a good one. 

10. Give.
This is one of my personal favorites. Give. Share your ideas. Give them away. I firmly believe that it is in the process of giving away what we know that allows us to be open to receive more, brand new ideas. Some people think of ideas or creative ideas as being sacred secrets  - what I mean by this is that they think they have some sort of secret formula that they need to keep hidden to themselves and that that is their power, when in actuality the opposite is true. It is in giving away that you make room for brand new ideas. By helping other people you are releasing goodness into the world that will come back to you twofold. Give! 



I hope you have a creative weekend! 
Love, 
Laura




My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns


article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Find Beauty In The Broken

My work - and basically my life - is all about (and has always been all about) finding beauty in what has been broken, putting pieces back together, looking at old things in new ways, salvaging what is salvageable, and diminishing any flaws or damage while at the same time, bringing any beauty to the forefront. 

Every once in a while I come across someone who sees my work for the first time and says, scoldingly, "I sure hope you didn't ruin any good china when you made that!" I have to say I've always been taken aback when I hear this. I immediately perceive it as very negative thinking, but maybe it's just because some people just don't realize exactly how many old and damaged plates there are out there in the world that are headed to one of two places: to a landfill, or to my workshop. 

But still, I'm always surprised when I hear that reaction. When someone sees my jewelry for the first time and learns that it's made from old, cast-off or damaged china, 99.9 percent of the time the reaction that I get is a positive, happy and surprised "Cool!" or something along those lines. But there's always that one person who immediately thinks the worst, first. It's like they don't even see the beauty that is right in front of them. Their mind immediately thinks that a very bad thing has been done! Hehe. Of course now I am exaggerating and being a little bit dramatic - but that's the impression that that type of response gives to me. They think the worst first. 

Now think of it this way: what if there was nothing physically wrong with a plate and I still turned it into jewelry. Let's say I visit a thrift shop and I buy an old, run-of-the-mill orphaned plate for 50 cents and I take it home and I turn it into four pieces of beautiful jewelry. Let's say that the jewelry is so beautiful that a bride-to-be sees the pieces in my Etsy shop and immediately thinks they would be perfect gifts for her bridesmaids. The bride-to-be is thrilled. The bridesmaids are thrilled. Heck, even the guy who sold me the plate at the thrift store is thrilled for his 50 cents because he had that plate on his shelf for a year and no one wanted to buy it, and not only that, but his mortgage was due and before I came along and bought the plate, he was 50 cents short.  ...I know, I'm being silly now... 

But still... before I get too far from my intended point... what's your reaction? What is in the forefront of your mind? Do you keep your mind as a fresh clean slate, open to positive possibilities? Or is it tarnished and stained, and muddied with negativity? 

Remember a moment ago, when I quoted the negative person who said, "I sure hope you didn't ruin any good china when you made that!"?  Understand that to me, it is ALL "good" china. Broken, whole, damaged, scratched, chipped, shards, slivers, pieces, entire sets...it's all good. :) Perspective is everything. Find beauty in the broken. 

I hope you have a great week 
Love, 
Laura





My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns


article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016


Monday, July 18, 2016

Drawing A Mandala: Be Authentic!

A few days ago I tried my hand at drawing a mandala for the first time ever, and it was a lot of fun! This type of drawing is meditative. It's a great way to relax and I found the repetitive pattern work to be extremely similar to creating pysanky, or Ukrainian Eggs, which I learned to make as a child. 



I am a firm believer in art as therapy and I also believe that you can (as with a vision board) manifest energy and positivity through art. 



I began my mandala with a series of small simple circles and petals that formed the center of the mandala. I worked from the inside circle outward, creating new "layers" of design as I worked. I chose to work with half-circles from the edge of the page. 



Short time lapse video of me working




This is my completed mandala. I considered painting it, but I think I like it too much just the way it is, black ink on white paper - so for now I am going to keep it just as it is. 



It might look complicated, but it really was pretty simple to make. You just draw one line at a time! And of course, if you look closely you will see little places here and there where I put in a few imperfections :) after all, that's what makes it unique and one of a kind. It's not mass produced, and it's not made with painstaking precision, it's a freehand-drawn piece of art that came from my heart. I call it authentic!

After I completed the drawing, I added the Be Authentic text as digital art. 

In this age of too many selfies and too much social sharing of personal information online I fear that people begin to lose their authenticity in the process of trying to impress others. Be authentic!





What do you think? 

I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura



My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

You Don't Have To Be Polished To Be Perfect



Last weekend I had a visit from a good friend, visionary artist and mandala artist extraordinaire, Stephanie Smith.  It was a really nice time. I missed her, so this was a much overdue visit. When artists get together in a peaceful place to talk and share stories and inspiration, it's an important and powerful thing. I always find these get-togethers to be a great exchange of healing, knowledge, love, support, and inspiration. 

We sat outside on my patio by the fish pond and talked, and then poked around in my workshop, which is -- as it is for any artist -- one of my most personal spaces. It's a space that is truly me. Right now it's a mess! It's a bit dusty, with my work benches cluttered with little china bowls full of beads and stones and jewelry findings. There are snips of leftover chain from this project or that, pieces of wire twisted and looped into different odd shapes, antique glass buttons, and all types of odds and ends. 

Much of my tabletop workbench space is amassed with half-finished projects -- brief glimpses of moments of inspiration -- some that get carried on to completion, and others that get set aside in a little china bowl, not put away or out of mind, but just set aside for now. Beneath my work benches I have boxes of surplus china pieces, boxes of sorted vintage flatware; orphaned forks, spoons, and the dinner knives that I use in my jewelry making, as well as shoebox-sized tub after tub of broken china scraps -- leftovers from the jewelry making process -- as I save every single scrap for later use in a mosaic project. 

I showed Stephanie around my space, asked her to excuse my dust, and then pulled out some random boxes and bowls of odds and ends to show her some of my stash. Dusty old stones? We couldn't keep our hands off of them. Maybe it's something only some can understand, I don't know, but there is a delight, a magic, and an appreciation for the simple earth rock that just brings joy. I showed her this bowl full of stones that I tumbled from rough years and years ago. There were agate and amethyst stones. Around the time I was pre-teen or early teen all I wanted was a rock tumbler. My father (also an artist and understanding "the need") gifted me with one for Christmas one year, along with packages of the different grits and polishes that are used with the tumbler. I was the luckiest girl in the world! 

These stones were one of my first tumbled projects. I filled the tumbler barrels with the rough rock, along with water and the course grit, which is the first step -- and let it tumble. Once that step was complete, I rinsed the rocks, put them back in the tumbler, added the medium grit and water, and tumbled again - you get the picture - and repeated this process until the rocks were smooth. Then it was time to add a final polish. I didn't. I liked their smooth, frosted surface just the way it was. I didn't need them to be glossy and shiny. I thought they were perfect just the way they were. To me, they were perfect. 

I offered Stephanie to join me in some impromptu jewelry making so we grabbed some supplies from my studio and headed back outside to work on our creations. Out of everything in my workshop what did she choose to work with? The perfect stones, of course. hehe. I grabbed the bowl of stones and some other random beads and wire -- Stephanie was in the mood to wrap some stones while I had an urge to make some simple beaded bracelets -- and we did our thing. 

I love making jewelry outdoors! This bird displays the simple wire-wrapped bird bracelet I made while Stephanie wraps stones in background.



Two of the bracelets I made that day...as always, I was talking and not measuring and both turned out too long for my tiny wrists! I might list these for sale in my shop, or turn them into necklaces.


I never was one for perfection in myself, that's for sure! My hair usually could use a cut, and something that resembles a style. I don't eat a perfectly healthy diet, and my clothes seem to always be either a little too loose or a little too tight -- but that's alright. I guess it's just the way I am. I choose to wear what clothes I like, no matter if it's in style or not. As long as I'm feelin' it, that's kind of all that matters. As a matter of fact, I'll choose imperfection any day. 


I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura



My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Just Passing Through

I had a small surprise yesterday as I sat outside writing. I saw something moving towards me out of the corner of my eye - it was coming close, just a few feet away -  and right as it poked its head out from beneath the patio chair that was next to mine, I looked down and saw that it was a baby raccoon that had strolled onto my patio to say hello. He looked at me and he looked lost and thirsty, but before I could do anything and of course by the time I grabbed my phone to take a photo of him he was already on his way through my backyard to the neighbors, who soon saw him and made a big noisy fuss that included a white plastic laundry basket. I'm guessing they dropped him off at the wildlife sanctuary down the road. He didn't look sick, just lost and hungry, and I'm hoping they did right by him.



I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura




My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Come To My Window

I've been seeing tons of woodpeckers in my trees and yard this spring. So far I think I've seen three different types, but I haven't had a chance to look them all up yet. They're surprisingly tame and come very close when I'm working outside, but this guy was the most surprising so far. I noticed him from another window - the large window in the background - where I saw him clinging to this window screen. After watching him a few minutes I thought I'd take a closer look and see if I could check him out from the other side of the window that he was clinging to, but I figured he would probably fly away when he saw me. 


He didn't. I watched him for a few minutes and he just sat there - then I realized why. My daughter was in that room playing her electric bass guitar, and she had it turned up pretty loud. So loud, that it made the room and windows vibrate. And that's what attracted this young woodpecker - the vibrations! 


It turned out that woodpeckers have an amazing sense of hearing and they often find their food (mostly insects & larvae from trees and from inside cracks and pieces of bark on trees) from the sounds and vibrations that the insects make. Ha! So this guy was most likely attracted to my house by the vibrations of my daughter's guitar playing. I actually made a video of him sitting here on the window screen listening to her play - and you can hear her playing in the background - and once I get it up on my YouTube channel I will add the video to this blog post. 



I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura




My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Good Morning Songbirds

Early this morning I had my coffee outside with the songbirds. It seemed that the mosquitoes finally decided to make an appearance so I lit my candles to keep them away. It seems that this year I have the most amazing birds in my trees - I've had tons of woodpeckers every day, and just yesterday had a hummingbird fly within inches from my face while I sat outside, writing at my laptop. It's the most amazing feeling when that happens! 

For the past few days I've been listening to the funniest bird who sat in a tree in my backyard and said "Gary!" all day. I'm serious. It's been hysterically funny. It would call "Gary!" and then say "AHHH!" and sound like a nagging old woman. This went on for two days straight. Then I heard it again, but it started to alternate from "Gary!" to "Eric!" and I was just fascinated. After that it would sing a massive string of chirps and shrills and was the most unusual thing I had ever heard. So of course I googled it! It turned out I had been listening to a Gray Catbird. I found a few videos on YouTube of the exact bird call, and found that many other people were hearing the same unusual, funny calls. The Gray Catbird happens to be a mimic, like a mockingbird, who mimics the calls of other birds -  so the long string of songs he sings after his funny name outbursts are mimics of the songs of other birds. He really is beautiful to listen to. I hope he stays for the summer. 


I planted these last week. They are so pretty! Bright lemon yellow Nemesia, a real find. They really set off my darker purple blooms. 


I still have lots to plant, even after filling about 6 flowerpots...these are still waiting. But I haven't done any direct planting in the ground yet. That will be this week. 



I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016


Thursday, June 2, 2016

A View From My Outdoor Office

I know summer doesn't officially begin until June 20th, but as soon as the temperature hits 78° F and I have my backyard patio in order, I move my office outside. When that happens, it's officially summer for me.  Each morning I get up early and brew fresh coffee, grab my laptop and head out to my patio in my backyard. It's nothing super-fancy, but I plant a lot of flowers all around in pots and hanging baskets, and I have a nice sized patio with a canvas awning that gets put up for each warm season, and I do my best to transform this space into my own little peaceful oasis. There's a koi pond directly off of one side of my patio where I have a few giant fantail goldfish and a few koi, and this water lilly that I added a few years ago. It just started blooming last week. Each morning when I go outside the blooms are open, and by the time that it's time to head inside for the evening, they're closed for the night. 




I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

This Way.

Finally the trees have leaves. Yay. I'm back to hiking my trails a few times a week and I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see little green tufts of grass after a really hard winter. This is one of the things I enjoy most in the world. 




I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beautiful Broken China Jewelry

I just listed these new pieces in my Etsy shop, and you can find them here...

I hope you like them! Check back for more later this week!


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Craft Shows & Art Festivals: Which Type is Right For You?

In my last blog post, Preparing for Your First Craft Show, I talked about some of the things you might want to think about before you sign up for your first craft show. Some of the things I suggested you to take into consideration are the amount of work involved, a reminder to have the proper permit or license, and to be set up to accept credit cards.

I advised you to start a notebook where you can write ideas, take notes on shows that you visit, and write lists of things that you will need to participate in art or craft shows. I can't stress how important it is that you visit many craft shows! Check your local newspaper find out when and where upcoming craft shows and festivals will be.


In today's post I'm going to talk about some of the different types of craft shows and give you some insight to the pros and cons of these different types of shows so that hopefully you can then determine what type of show might be right for you and the type of craft or artwork that you create.

This can be a pretty broad topic, so I'm going to narrow it down as best I can. First of all, there are big shows and there are small shows. There are also shows where shoppers pay an entry fee to enter, and other types that are free to visit.


Word of advice: Do not ever purchase premade crafts and then resell them under the guise that they were created by you. This is a giant no-no in the industry and is known as "buy/sell." This is a practice that is greatly frowned upon by other crafters as well as promoters. If you're caught doing this you will  be kicked out of the show and you will gain an instant bad reputation among crafters and promoters.

That's not to say that you can't use certain manufactured components within your design. But as to what those components are and how many of them you use is a popular debate among crafts people. These types of things also help denote what types of craft shows you should be in. There are shows that are purely "crafty" types of shows with lots of preassembled type items and then there are shows that are geared more toward fine crafts and artwork where each and every item is made purely by the hands of the person selling it. Where do you fit in?



In my opinion it's always best to start out small to test the waters. Large juried shows usually have costly entry fees as well as a jury process which means that your items are closely scrutinized by the promoters to make sure that you are of the quality standard that they require. These types of shows are mostly for fine craftspeople, artisans, and artists. Going into those types of shows can be a great goal to have, but start smaller to gain experience and to see if you like it first before investing in lots of displays and equipment you will need to do bigger shows.

Smaller craft shows such as those run by organizations such as women's clubs and churches (and also some craft festivals) will not have such strict guidelines but generally the quality of crafts will be on the lower side. Again, where do you fit in? Remember what I said about visiting lots of shows!



Starting with smaller shows: these are the types of shows that you find at a church hall or at outdoor festivals such as summer carnivals, fairs, and town festivals and these are usually either free for shoppers to enter or might charge a small entry fee at the door. The crafter fee for a crafts person to participate in the show is usually low and might be $20 for a table or $40 for a table, or they might give you a certain area of space such as a 10 ft. square. When you are starting out it's easy to do shows in fire halls and church halls where the tables and chairs are supplied. Once you have been doing craft shows for a while you might later want to branch out into shows where you have to show up with your own tent or canopy, your own tables and chairs and complete displays.

I found out early on that my crafts did not fit into the smaller type craft shows or outdoor county fair type shows. This is when I was a stained-glass artist and I found that people who go to those shows were looking for inexpensive things to buy. Some seasoned, higher-end crafters will also tell you that they avoid any type of craft show where there are carnival rides or where food is served as a main attraction. That's because people come with their kids to ride the rides and eat, but not to spend money on crafts. Unless you are selling lower-priced items that are appealing to that type of crowd, you will just get a lot of lookers. Most often, families don't take their kids to carnivals to buy fine crafts!


With that in mind, you may want to avoid those types of shows unless you are selling inexpensive family-oriented items. Here's a real-life example: I once participated in a craft show at a county fair that was outdoors under a huge tent and the woman next to me was selling bandanna pet collars. She was selling them left and right and could hardly keep up with her customers, she was so busy!  That was the perfect show for her, but it wasn't a good fit for me. I spent a lot of time at that show cleaning dust from the ground off of my expensive stained-glass boxes and art glass windows! See what I mean? Again, think about where your craft might fit in.



Once I outgrew those smaller shows at fire halls and tested the water at outdoor festivals I was soon ready to move on to shows that were a little bit bigger and that had more of the type of audience that would buy my type of crafts. For some of these shows, I had to supply my own canopy. Everyone uses basically the same kind, the EZ-Up white canvas topped type that is 10 ft. square. I think I bought mine at Sam's Club years ago for about $200. That was a small investment in my business. Most medium to larger sized craft events will specify things such as, "all canopies must be white" – It's kind of standard in the industry – so like I said before, visit lots of shows! Look around and really pay attention and see what the visual set up is like. Ask questions from participating craft people or promoters while you're there. Tell them you might be interested in participating in the show next year and you will get lots of information. Write it in your notebook. At this point in your business you should already have business cards, so bring some along to share with other crafters and promoters. 

Some larger type shows that are indoors will supply the tables for you for an additional fee outside of your entry fee. This could be $10 or $20 per table plus a few hundred dollars fee to participate in the show.  (Show costs to participate vary widely from show to show, area to area, and promoter to promoter!) They will most likely also supply electricity (bring your own heavy duty extension cords!) for an additional fee. You will also need to supply your own table covers and those are also sometimes regulated by the show to be a certain color- black or white is usually the best choice if not. Table covers should always reach the floor on the front and sides of your tables. Your display should always be kept within your space unless the promoter permits otherwise. Know the rules and regulations of each particular show you are going into and make sure that you adhere to the rules.



The first big show I did was indoors and cost a few hundred dollars to enter. I could hardly afford the entry fee! I paid a bit extra for them to supply the tables to make it easier for me – and that was a really wise choice because it saved me so much work – and I also paid for electricity which was another wise choice because it was actually kind of dark inside the building. It was a large stadium but when you think about someone coming up to a table and looking at your items, you want them to be illuminated and brightly lit so that you show them off the best you can. I didn't even accept credit cards yet, but this promoter specified that you had to-- so if you did not have your own credit card system, they accepted them for you. They took a small fee to do this but it was well worth it. I made a lot of money that weekend - a few thousand dollars - and I was in heaven. It was my biggest show up until that date and I learned so much. The promoter gave me a check for my credit card sales at the end of the show. They also processed any personal checks I received, which saved me a lot of sweat worrying about whether I should take a check or not. 

So as you can see, there was a benefit to being in a larger size show with a promoter who took credit cards for me and screened personal checks. It offered me some small amount of protection - especially since I was just starting out doing larger shows. I found that my work did well at larger shows and this is right at the time when I was starting to introduce my jewelry into my line of stained glass and glass and china mosaics. This show was not very simple to be a part of though - there was a jury process to be accepted and also a waiting list! Big shows are planned months and months in advance - sometimes over a year in advance!

If you're reading this post and you've done craft shows - big or small - please leave a comment below and add your voice to this post. I'd love to hear your show experiences with all types of shows!


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016