Don’t Be Afraid to Grow

polymer clay flower pots
The tutorial to make these tiny polymer clay flower vases can be found here.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Growth has been defined as “the increase of something important.” Growth is not always easy and is often scary and/or painful. As humans we often learn and grow more from mistakes than from successes. So why do it? The rewards are worth the effort!

Apply any of the following examples to areas where you would like to grow working in polymer clay.

Make your it own

Sometimes we are afraid to change things. Do you always follow a recipe exactly? When you see a polymer clay video or read a tutorial do you precisely follow the directions? Make it your own.

  • Use your favorite color combinations.
  • Pick a different subject matter that appeals to you.
  • Combine two different tutorials.

Do something different

Changing things can be particularly difficult when something is working. Perhaps you are in a place where people know your art, your style, and it sells great. Perhaps you have gotten comfortable with what you create. Why mess with a good thing, right? You aren’t growing. (Yes, this is the opposite of the above, it depends on where you are in your creative journey.)

  • Use a different brand of clay.
  • Try a new technique or explore one technique in depth.
  • Collaborate with another artist.
  • Take a class in ceramics, painting, sculpture, or drawing.

Practice

Get an idea and follow it through. Plan it, sketch it, and make what you envision. The first prototype might be a disaster. Try again, again, and again as needed. It isn’t a big deal, clay isn’t too expensive, and no one has to see your growing pains.

Review

One of my editors mentioned to me that my tutorials have really improved. I could have focused on wondering what was wrong with the older versions, instead I looked at them in a new way and had to agree. It can be delightful to grow.

Keep examples, at least photos, of your work and occasionally review your progress and plan your future direction. Artists should keep a catalog of their work.

Ask for an honest critique

This is truly a tough one. Ask a respected artist to look at your work. Be prepared to hear what that person says. Really listen and evaluate your work.

Embrace change instead of fearing it. Growth relieves boredom, increases creativity, and lets your art grow.

cyndi cogbill polymer clay naturalist

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid to Grow”

  1. “The first prototype might be a disaster. Try again, again, and again as needed. It isn’t a big deal, clay isn’t too expensive, and no one has to see your growing pains.” This! I think everyone should print this out, and display it prominently in their studio! Great article, thank you.

  2. Great article! It resonates with everything I do. I’m happy to say I am one who loves to explore different techniques (sometimes becoming overwhelmed by that process) and trying new things. It cleanses the palate and I don’t get bored and “phone it in”. I made myself a promise to just have fun. So far, so good …..

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