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Back on January 1st, I decided that this year I would finally enter some of Polymer Clay Central's challenges. Last month I sent in my second entry. And while I didn't win -- and I almost didn't have an entry at all -- I'm still glad I entered.

In typical fashion, I waited til the last minute to start on my entry. Then I burned my first beads (I'm still learning the ups & downs of my new convection oven). And would you believe my dog ate my second bead? No, really! Once I finally got enough beads to make my necklace, I struggled with whether or not to send it, since I didn't feel like it was good enough. I decided I'd put in too much effort to just keep it, so I sent it -- only to see a few days later that they'd cancelled the contest (though they later re-instated it). What a mess! And while my name wasn't on the winner's list they posted today, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the good, the bad & the ugly of entering challenges. I'll go in reverse order:

The Ugly

The Ugly: My Burned BeadChallenges are good at getting you out of your rut -- trying something different. Sometimes that works out beautifully. But sometimes it's just plain ugly. Witness my burned bead...

The Bad:

The Bad: My Dog-Chewed BeadTime is precious. I could be making crafts to sell, writing a post for my blog, working on a killer web app, all sorts of things. So how can I justify spending time on something that has no guaranteed gain? (Especially if I have to do it all again because of that darn dog!) So I struggle with doubts -- should I be doing this or something else? And of course, I struggle with insecurity. My work's going up against the best work of some really good artists -- there's no way I can win! Doubts, fears, worries that no one will vote for me... those are some pretty bad emotions.

The Good:

The Good: My Finished EntryBut there's also some good stuff:
  • Feeling Proud: I always feel good when I take a chance & do something I wouldn't normally do. We learn and grow by doing things that scare us. "Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile initially scared me to death." -- Betty Bender
  • Trying New Things: If we always do what we're good at, we'll never grow. So if the challenge topics aren't something I'd normally do, great! It's more of an opportunity to learn! "Trust that still, small voice that says, "This might work and I'll try it." -- Diane Mariechild
  • Getting Great Photos: Those folks at PCC do a fantastic job with their pictures. If nothing else, it's almost worth the cost of postage just to have such high-quality, professional looking photos taken of my work!

What challenges you? Maybe you're inspired by a swap, or making a new style of Artist Trading Card, or sending query letters to magazine. I hope you'll take time this week to do something that stretches your limits. And I hope you'll be satisfied with the results -- no matter how good, bad or ugly they might be.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Challenging Yourself: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly:

» May Polymer Clay Challenge: Things with Wings from CraftyGoat's Notes
Looking for a way to challenge yourself? Polymer Clay Central has announced their May 2007 Challenge theme: Things with Wings. Polymer clay artists have done some wonderfully inspiring work with wings. Here’s a few links to jump-start your creati... [Read More]

» "There are no mistakes..." from CraftyGoat's Notes
In the spirit of Lisa’s comment on my “faux ceramic monkey” burned bead, I thought I’d share these recent quotes from Yahoo’s Polymer Clay People group: “There are no mistakes in art, just unexpected changes.” ... [Read More]


You may see an ugly bead up there, but I see a monkey face - really! And it has kid of a ceramic quality to it, too. You've got yourself a faux ceramic monkey bead! I don't know what you can actually *do* with a faux ceramic monkey bead, but I think that's a better name than "ugly bead" ;-)

Thanks, Lisa -- I totally didn't see the monkey til you pointed it out. You don't know how many times I've said to myself, "If only I had a faux ceramic monkey bead!" :-)

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