I am a huge fan of creative challenges. I find that they enforce creative discipline that leads you to levels. By making yourself create every day, you get much better at facing the blank canvas and pulling an idea out of the depths of your creative wellspring. The 100 Day Project is a creative challenge started by Lindsay Jean Thomson where participants do something creative every day for 100 days. In 2018, I made a different veneer each day. But in 2020, with my travel plans canceled due to the pandemic, I felt that it was a perfect chance to do a more comprehensive and challenging project. That’s when the Polymer Clay Vessel Project was born. Each day for 100 days, I’ve challenged myself to make a container or a vessel out of polymer clay.
You can follow along and be as surprised as me each day with what I make. 🙂 I post each one to my Instagram, here. If you’re not a huge Insta fan and prefer to follow on Facebook, you can find them here. You can also see all of them (so far) by going to the tag on Instagram, #tbbtvessels.
Lessons from Polymer Clay Vessels
As I’ve found with other daily challenges, it can be quite difficult to fit creative time into your day. You still have to take care of loved ones, do your chores, and make a living. Some days I’ve had a lot of time to devote to making a complex and interesting project. Other days, I’ve had to dash off a simple project just to get it done and “on the books”. But every day I’ve learned new things. Here are some highlights (so far).
- Almost each day I experimented about something. And not all things worked. So some days were pretty rough.
- Construction is separate from design, and sometimes the construction is the most formidable part of what I’m doing. Thinking it up and making it happen are different skills.
- With only a single day to get it done, I can’t always devote time to both the decorative aspects and the design/shape. That’s why you’ll see the same shape or decoration over and over.
- Procrastination is a problem. The struggle is real.
- Things went better when I started earlier in the day. But that wasn’t always possible.
- The hardest part is NOT coming up with an idea. It’s coming up with an idea that’s able to be done in a day and with the constraints of materials, skill, effort, etc.
- Conditioning and sheeting the clay is time consuming.
- Conditioning does not require mixing.
- Fresh clay is wonderful when working large.
- Each day’s scraps can easily be combined with more clay to be part of the next day’s project. No clay is wasted.
- Cernit feels quite soft to work with, but if you let it sit a while it will stiffen right up. This makes it perfect for creating self-supporting vessels that are far larger than you’d think was possible. Try pinch pots!
- Neatness matters.
- Clean up your work space each day. Otherwise you spend more time picking junk out of your project than you spend making it.
I’ll come back when I’m finished with a graphic of all 100 days. For now, keep following along on Instagram to read my daily commentary and support me as I keep making a vase, lantern, votive, luminary, dish, or pot from polymer clay each day.