Category Archives: Creativity

Happy New Year 2015!

Handmade Happy New Year greeting card

Handmade Happy New Year greeting card

Out with the old, in with the……old?

Started the new year bound and determined to “kick it up a notch” on my card designs! Bring new life to my Etsy shop! And so, I sit down to craft and look at my Pinterest page to check out samples of cards I’ve pinned over the past year. And what happens?  Yup, despite all the lovely and creative designs in front of me, I end up going back to my basic “go to” design — which involves using a large piece of Stampin’ Up! designer series paper as the feature.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  You see, I can’t get enough of those designs and colors.  They just call out to me.  They are so pretty and inviting and I hate to cover them up with any embellishments or other pieces of card stock…..  Here are a few samples….See what I mean?

Handmade Encouragement Card by Certain Smiles

Handmade Encouragement Card by Certain Smiles


Handmade Get Well Card by Certain Smiles


Handmade Sympathy Card by Certain Smiles

Not bad.  The paper is the star – as it should be.   I have a theory as to why I let the pretty paper do most of the talking in my designs:  Someone else has already done the job of making it beautiful.  Why mess with perfection?  The coordinating colors, the intricate details, the fun and funky patterns – what do I have to add?

Answer: A lot!  So stay tuned.  I know I’ve been saying this for a while now, but I’m going to keep trying, keep creating and will eventually find my own style, my own groove, my own “look”! 2015 is going to be wonderful.

Thomas Edison on Failure

Thomas Edison on Failure




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On Craft Fairs and the Future

Hello again! It’s been much longer that I intended to let slip by before writing here again. But a family medical emergency that took me away from home most of November unfortunately intervened. The good news is that all is well now on that front.

The other good news is that I was very satisfied with how I did at both of the craft fairs I attended this year. I had some sales at both, got to promote my Etsy shop, got some great ideas for other products to sell (as well as what not to sell) and in general enjoyed myself both days.

Certain Smiles' Booth, St. Thomas the Apostle PTO Craft Fair, 2014

Certain Smiles’ Booth, St. Thomas the Apostle PTO Craft Fair, 2014

It’s never wasted time if it can be considered a learning experience. And both days certainly were. And they were also great opportunities to interact with fellow vendors as well as customers. I’m an introvert by nature, but put me in a situation where I have to interact and I love it! Especially when I’m talking about something I enjoy as much as crafting.

Certain Smiles' booth, St. Thomas the Apostle PTO Craft Fair, 2014

Certain Smiles’ booth, St. Thomas the Apostle PTO Craft Fair, 2014

However, I now find myself at a bit of a crossroads, asking myself where do I go from here? While I met the goals I had set for myself this year for the craft fairs, what about for the future? As I said, I learned a lot this year. Including that perhaps craft fairs aren’t the best place to sell the products I make. Sure, the customers I had were very enthusiastic about my creations, but were there enough of them to make my attendance at the craft fairs really profitable? Or would I need to focus more on “stocking stuffer” type items to sell – and creating such items is not really in my game plan right now, though perhaps it could be.

So I’m taking December to reconsider and regroup. I’m not stopping creating, not by any means; just refining where I’m heading in 2015. This blog will be part of that journey. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.


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Some Thoughts on Creativity

Perhaps I was better off not knowing the exact definition of the word. You see, I have a 4 x 6 index card sitting on a bookshelf in my den with the following statement in my rather messy handwriting: “I am creative”. However, sometimes I wonder if that’s a lie, or at least a half-truth.

It all started on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, when I rather optimistically sat down with a brand new package of Stampin’ Up!’s Simply Pressed Clay to create something I’d seen in Stampin’ Success!: their bimonthly magazine for Stampin’ Up! demonstrators. The finished product was very pretty and from the instructions they provided, sounded fairly straightforward to accomplish. I’d gotten my supplies (cookie cutters and the clay) about a month earlier and finally had worked up my courage to give it a try. It quickly became evident, however, that I was doing something, or perhaps many things, wrong and in the end I ended up not with a cute little clay dish formed in the shape of my chosen cookie cutter, but with a sticky and messy pink blob. In a last ditch effort to salvage my pride, I thought, well, I have a lump of clay, what could I at least shape it into? Yeah….nothing. Not even a cute little pink heart for my boyfriend. To me it was just a clump of clay, not some grand canvas waiting to be shaped and molded. Apparently I’m not meant to be a sculptor.

So after I cleaned up, and feeling pretty discouraged already, I decide maybe I should look up exactly what it means to be “creative”, pretty sure I wasn’t going to find my name listed. According to the Oxford Dictionary it is: “Relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something”. Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster gives one of the definitions of “create” as “to produce (something new, such as a work of art) by using your talents and imagination”.

I flinched when I read those definitions, because, strictly speaking, then I’m not really creative. I can’t make something out of nothing. I’m not, and never will be, a great artist. I think you are either born with that talent or you’re not. It’s not really something you can develop. For example, either you can sit down and the lines of a drawing flow out of you or it doesn’t and it will always look forced and amateurish.

I know of what I speak. When I was growing up, both my brother and I took piano lessons. I never got beyond a rote style of simply hitting the keys printed in the music book. The whole concept of the musical notation, the rests, the timing, the dynamics of how to play the music (mezzo forte, crescendo, etc.) was far beyond me. I couldn’t make music. My brother, on the other hand, has an ear for music. And he continues to this day to find great pleasure in playing music written by others and music he was written himself – both on guitar and keyboard – for others. I admire his talent and ability.

And, unfortunately, I think, for a period during my early adult years, I let my lack of musical talent negatively affect my opinion of myself as a creative person. I had never performed well in art class in school; I lacked natural drawing ability – I even remember being teased in elementary school because I couldn’t color inside the lines; my pottery endeavors always came out lopsided, and I’m too much of a “rules” person to see ordinary objects and want to use them for abstract art pieces.

But in my mid-30s I taught myself how to crochet. I was – and still am – very proud of that accomplishment. It’s tough though, with cats, to enjoy your own crochet work – too many tiny claws around to pull out the yarn and ruin things. So I enjoyed making baby blankets, afghans and other items for friends and family. Then, after brief spates of other crafty endeavors, came card making. And again, I found something I could be my kind of creative at. Found it BIG time. You see, luckily, in the world of paper-crafting, everyone is encouraged to “case” – copy and share everything. You can see what others have done, use the design for inspiration, and then add your own special style, flourish and flair.

Sometime within the last year or so, I read about a study of children’s impressions of their art work (unfortunately, I could not find a citation for it online; despite a lot of searching). As they got older, they were more critical of the quality of their work and found less enjoyment in it. As I began writing this posting I was agreeing with the authors of that study – that the results were discouraging and show how creativity is squashed by self-awareness. And maybe to some extent it is. But on the other hand, maybe it just reflects that as you grow up, you mature and realize, yes, you are better at some things than at others. And that other people are better at some things than you are. The kid next to you in school had incredible drawing ability; you don’t. It’s not pleasant to have that realization that you are “less than” in any category, but that’s part of maturing, and part of life. You need to learn how to acknowledge that you are not the best in some areas, but then move on and focus on those areas you are good at. You can’t dwell in what you lack or you’ll never find where you can succeed.

That’s why I’m glad I found card making and paper crafting. I’m not claiming I’m the best. Far from it, in fact. I fully accept that there are many, many, many, many, card makers / paper crafters out there who are far more creative than I am. I subscribe to their blogs and am awed by their talents every day.

But I can look at what they’ve created and use it to inspire my own work. I have found that I can learn. Or I can simply find enjoyment in my own acts of creation, whether or not they turn out as spectacularly as others or not. I do this for me. Everyone should have such an outlet.

And so, after the clay debacle, I went online to find out what I had done wrong and for suggestions on what to do right the next time. Sure enough, there were plenty of ideas. I can’t wait to give that clay dish another shot.

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