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    Beyond Craft: Live Creative Everyday

    written contribution by Christi Johnson of Mixed Color.


    Let’s talk about creative energies and how they can support a rich and flourishing life. Wait - you’re not still lying to yourself about “not being creative” are you??

    You are constantly using your creativity in the most simple and the most complex events, when you:

    • decide the route you’re taking to the store based on traffic patterns
    • make plans with multiple people based on everyone's interest and availabilities
    • manage to shove one more thing into that drawer by strategically stacking its previous contents
    • ingeniously fashion the perfect excuse for why you’re late to the meeting / can’t make it to that event / didn’t finish that assignment on time

    The only thing holding us back is when we haven’t yet learned how to focus our creativity.

    In this last installment of the Cultivating Creativity series for DMC, we’ll talk about how we can bring these elements of creativity into our daily lives, and WHY this is so important to do!

    Scientific research shows that engaging in creative acts, which is essentially playtime for adults, is good for stress, improves your mood, and keeps the brain’s wiring vibrant and healthy, making it easier to learn new things and remember ideas and facts.

    By bringing our ideas out of our head and onto paper or fabric (and moving from creative thinking to creative expression), we’re able to improve other areas of our life as well; for example, we can better manage painful emotions or conflicts with others by finding creative solutions to the issues that cause them. We become more open to new experiences and more flexible in our daily lives.


    Floral Motifs by Christie Jay

    Download The Floral Motifs Pattern by Christi Jay

    This is not just a flowery ideal; there is scientific evidence behind this: the discussion at the European Collaborative Creativity Conference in 2019 shared research that shows applied creativity, turning our creative thoughts into action, increased a person's ability to manage daily stressors.


    On the topic of creativity and the brain, some super fun research has shown that creativity is also influenced by the placebo effect.


    Participants in the study were asked to smell a substance that “increases their creativity” and others were just asked to smell the substance without being told this, and those who were told the substance increases their creativity scored higher on original thinking.


    What does this mean? Telling ourselves that we’re not creative (or in this case, that we are) has a direct correlation with our ability to have creatively original thoughts.


    So basically, stop saying you’re not creative if you’d like to be!!


    Cultivating Creativity with a Creative Practice


    Though we can study the effects that creativity has on our minds and lives, the creative process itself resists formula and theory. It’s more like a wild living thing who may be cultivated, nurtured, ignored, or cast out.

    It’s ideas like seeds, some thrive like wildflowers, some require gentle care and attention. By dedicating time for making, without heavy expectations, we can continue to nurture our creative energy, being sure it grows deep roots so that its flowers may bloom brightly.

    Brainstorm with Christi Jay


     Shop With Christi Jay to Make Your Mark. 

    A creative practice can look different for everyone - for some, consistency of time is important. For others; consistency of process is important. If you know your schedule won’t allow for a consistent time each week, then arrange your creative time in a way where the process delineates the container.


    Otherwise, if you're a schedule-it type of person, you know that on Mondays at 8pm (or whatever) this creative ritual has got to happen. And then you can play around with what this process looks like, the important part is to DO IT. Don't create some overly complicated process that you know you’ll never follow through with.


    Even just “burn some cedar incense” or “close the door to my office and take five deep breaths'' can be the defining characteristic of your creative practice, and over time this decisive act that separates your creative time from the rest of your day will help you enter an artistic mindframe much faster, by the simple burn of an incense or closing of a door. 

    Putting Together Your Own Quick Kit



    Christi Jay Creative Exploration Tools

    DMC Threads Pictured: Six-Strand Embroidery Floss


    Let’s make ‘making’ easy!! My favorite way to do this is to have a Quick Kit. When we have to go digging for the scissors, pull out the hoops from the bottom drawer, and where’s my needle case again…? Chances are we’ll spend more time getting ready than actually making.


    By having all our supplies in one beautiful place - in my case this is a tiny embroidered pouch that I love looking at, but a beautiful wooden box or special case is great too - our chances of jumping into a creative practice is significantly increased!

    Project for the Week: Stitching Outside the Box


    For this final part in the Cultivating Creativity series, we’re going to explore stitching on unexpected surfaces.

    What does the unknown look like to you? Maybe it’s stitching on thin silk, or a piece of paper, or some natural materials like birch bark, or a dried leaf.


     For this series, I’ve chosen to embroider a chunky wool sweater embroidered with thick tapestry thread. 

    Geometric Motif Pattern by Christi Jay

    DMC Free Pattern:       Geometric Motif Pattern by Christi Jay

    As a stitcher who works mostly with woven garments, exploring a new material like thick chunky wool means I have to basically throw all I know about materials out the window, play around, probably make some mistakes, and learn new tools to add to my creative toolkit.

    I’ll leave you with a few tricks I’ve learned over the years for your own embroidery toolkit…

    A Few Tips For Embroidering on Clothing

    • Keep it loose, tight stitches cause puckering, something you wouldn’t notice on an embroidery in a hoop, but becomes obvious on clothing. 

    • Before doing any stitching, ALWAYS try on the garment with the design drawn on

    • Consider negative space - this means it won't take forever, and the design will be more dynamic with more areas of negative space.

    • Match your threads to the weight of your fabric. When embroidery is free flowing, as opposed to held taut in a hoop, the stitches lay best when thinner threads are on thinner fabric, and thicker threads and yarns are on thicker fabric. The best way to figure out which threads are best is to try them out! Gather a variety of DMC threads, and try a few stitches out somewhere inconspicuous. Perle, floss, tapestry, and etoile have very different effects, you may be surprised at the beauty you discover.

    Selecting ColorsShop With Christi Jay to Make Your Mark. 


    Thanks so much for joining me in this series of cultivating creativity through exploring different techniques and mediums. We’d love to see your work experimenting with new ideas! Post your results using these techniques, and tag @dmc_embroidery and @christijay so we can celebrate your creative explorations.