Monday, November 5, 2012

Iteration Versus Innovation

Music Light Switch Plate Iteration  "A"

Iteration Versus Innovation

Both iteration (building on a design theme) and innovation (exploration of the unexplored) are solid paths for creativity, and I bounce back and forth between the two in my work. These switch plate covers are an example of my iterative process.

The top one (Iteration "A") is one of my best sellers. It features a stamped image on a polymer clay sheet with a black polymer clay frame. The "antiqued" color scheme is achieved through alcohol inks.

In Iteration "B" (below), I experimented with more of a picture frame style. Like the first, it is still created from hand-cut strips of clay, not painted, but I added more dimension in the sculpt. I also added some gold clay to the black to create a bronze frame. 

Another subtle change is in the "canvas" look that I tried to achieve by adding texture to the center stamped sheet. This version also has more sheen to it because I started with a pearl clay sheet for the alcohol ink base rather than pure white.

There are aspects of both that I like, so I image there will be an Iteration "C" at some point.

The Problem with Iterations

Iteration is a great way to hone your technique and really improve your work, but I find that Iteration becomes my go-to process when I'm stressed. In iteration the chance of failure is reduced. If I'm not careful, I could remain in iteration's comfort zone forever, and I'll miss the next "big" thing.

How do you balance iteration versus innovation in your work?

Music Light Switch Plate Iteration "B"


  1. Ah yes, I understand this one. I get bored easily and have trouble making myself do the same thing over and over. If I've done it before I don't want to do it again. But like you, when I get stressed or tired and can't think of anything new to do, it becomes a BIG ORDEAL so I don't do anything. Or even worse, I fall back on the same old technique but just change the color or other detail that's easy. Endless iterations without having to think about anything. It takes energy to innovate. Sometimes it does come via your shower fairy but most often it requires a certain mindset and often I'm just not there.

  2. What Ginger said!! Lately, because of encouragement from friends, I've been pushing myself to sit longer at my clay table and really "think" (or "feel") - about other ways to proceed.

    You, Marie, have really done something awesome here with the changes you've made to the look of the switchplate covers! This new one is fantastic, like the old model.

  3. Thanks, Jackie and Ginger for adding your thoughts! The mind is so powerful, I just wish it were easier to control!

  4. I struggle with this as I try to envision a life in which i get paid for the things I make with my hands. I hate the idea of making the same thing over and over again and need to find ways to make everything I create new and fresh. This does not meld well with having a craft booth, or Etsy storefront where people can recognize a cohesive vision.


Ooh,a comment! How delightful.


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