Kaizen

Kaizen = continual improvement.

I love this concept . . . when you take something that is good and change it to make it even better. This works for creative projects, relationships, financial health, physical health and all aspects of life. It's a great concept and it was a Kaizen week for me!

I received an inquiry from a children's museum in the USA who wanted sock raccoons that could withstand daily 'play' and the washer and dryer. I responded that my sock animals probably were not strong enough. They countered with an offer to send me new material so I could try a different method in order to make them museum-children-playing worthy! 

I was intrigued by their persistence and honoured that they liked my design enough to push me to try to improve it for their benefit and mine. It was a win-win! 

So I spent some time at the fabric store and asked the experts for advice. I came home with a bundle of arctic fleece samples and redesigned the raccoon by replacing the felt material (eyes, nose and tail) with fleece. Then I tossed him in the washer and dryer, took before and after pictures and he turned out great! I sent the photo evidence to the museum and they doubled their order and I've got a few weeks to complete and send! 

I appreciate the opportunity to consider improving the design. I could have said "no" and left things as they were but as the concept of Kaizen suggests, take what is already good and change it! In fact, this experience has inspired me to book a regular time each month to consider what else is good and could be changed to be better!

Continuous change can be exhausting and contentment is a virtue, so I'm not taking the Kaizen approach to every minute of every day . . . there are times to relax and celebrate and enjoy things as they are!

But I love the idea that creativity doesn't have to stop once something is made or designed! I like my new raccoon design and using new material has opened up other ideas too. A good Kaizen week!

Bear Ears and Lazy Bones

I've heard people say "I'd do more creative things but I just don't have time", or "I'd work on crafts but I just don't have a craft room!" 

So this photo is of my legs, wrapped in a furry blanket, watching our son's volleyball game while cutting out bear ears for some polar bears I'm working on. I wasn't feeling great tonight, some tough pain, and I didn't want to sit at the table or stand at the counter . . . so I grabbed a few supplies, got comfy and made a stack of bear ears! It's a slightly boring task, monotonous and not too challenging, but it is also very rewarding to later grab a stack of pre-made parts to add onto the bears for the finishing touch. It saves me time in the end and it served as a good distraction to my own pain challenge this evening!

I've learned that being creative is not a one-size-fits-all kind of life!  Being creative is just that . . . "being" creative. It involves you being who you are, in the stage of life you're in, doing what you can with what you have and offering that to the world. Even if your projects don't go out anywhere beyond your own home, the creative time spent did something in you, changed you and probably relaxed you (if you didn't get too perfectionist about it! :) )

Maybe there is a project that you've been wanting to try or finish but procrastination has gotten in the way. Maybe you have felt like you need a craft room or a large area to leave your supplies out but because of family or roommates or space constraints, you can't. Here are 3 ideas that might solve these challenges and open up some creative freedom for you! 

1. "I need a flat surface to store my craft/project on."

Bike stores have huge cardboard boxes that are strong, mostly flat, and can be easily transformed into a "drawer" for sliding under a bed. You can alter the box into two drawers or simply one large "tray" that your project can stay on and be lifted out onto a table when there is room. A little duct tape and cardboard go a long way! Visit a bike store near you today . . . they're happy to get rid of boxes.

 

 

 

2. "Craft storage systems are expensive."

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Be patient! Second hand stores often end up with storage containers that other people have tried but found not quite right for them. . . but It may be just right for you! Be willing to start with a 'less than perfect' set up. You might use glass pickle jars for awhile and then when you find something that works better, just recycle the jars and switch systems! I think it's fun to keep improving your storage so that it's effective for you but it doesn't have to be expensive. I've heard of people using an old sturdy suitcase and clear zip lock bags to contain their supplies. It keeps supplies together, contained, organized and all in one place. Why not? Find out what can work for you and go for it!

3. "I want to start and finish a project on the same day". 

Visit  SimplyKelly  here!

Visit SimplyKelly here!

That goal can be a challenge! Sounds like you may need to set aside specific time on your calendar to do that. I know some people who save their projects for when they go on holidays. If that works for you, go for it. If those types of days are hard to find on your calendar, here's another idea.

 I have a friend,  SimplyKelly who has started to make and sell watercolor paintings and art cards. She found some good quality colourful file folders that were not being used and thought that they might make good cardstock for behind the paintings. She glues the watercolors to the cardstock, then puts them under a stack of books to dry flat, then adds ink details, then signs them, takes photos and gets ready to package them up for orders and sales. Each step require separate kinds of time and energy but once put together, they make beautiful cards. If you're willing to do your projects in stages, then instead of trying to complete the whole project in one day, you could complete one or two steps one day and still have a great sense of accomplishment. 

If being creative is what you want to do but there are a few obstacles in your way . . . make yourself a cup of coffee, get comfy and do some creative researching . . . check out pinterest and search google for ideas of how other people DIY their creative endeavours or rooms and then, go for it!!