Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Crafting Burnout - Do you suffer?

Today's blog post stems from a discussion I had with my sister a few weeks back. We were talking about crafting projects and I mentioned how I had loads of sold out items in my etsy shop that I just wasn't feeling motivated to remake right away. She then told me about all her half finished projects she wasn't up for finishing and *poof* the crafting burnout discussion was born! So instead of a typical kate post with tutorials, links, awesome stuff, or videos I thought I'd deviate a bit and attempt a discussion. After all, I do want to know what you think about the topic and I am curious to see how any of my readers deal with lulls in crafting motivation!

So the question is - do you ever suffer from crafting burnout? Do you get halfway through a project and get sick of it? Do you find you get super pumped to make something and then once you start working on it you realize it really isn't as fun as you thought it would be? Have you ever run out an item on etsy and cringe about the idea of remaking it? Does the pressure of making merchandise kill the fun?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above - not to worry - you're not alone (hooray!)! I often struggle from crafting burnout and find that my daily to do list gets so massive that crafting just doesn't fit on the agenda. But what do you do about it? Do you remake and suffer or leave your etsy shelves bare and miss out on potential sales?

Let's take a moment and look at my top 4 crafting burnout items:

1) Famous Scientist Finger Puppets:

When I started making these puppets I had loads of free time on my hands and was fairly new to the world of embroidery. I found they were a fun practice for my stitching skills and a lovely creativity stretcher as I came up with them! Yay! I then realized that I had spend 12+ hours painstakingly crafting these and when it came to pricing I didn't even know where to start. Sure their materials weren't overly expensive, but the labor was massive! I decided they should be a higher ticket item in my etsy shop and was over joyed when each of the five sets I made sold! Then it came to remaking them. I whipped up another five sets (with some magical cutting help from wendy) and yet again - they were snatched up! I realized it would probably be a good idea to make them again...but crafting burnout occurred...

2) Albi Magnets:

Based on the loving tale of Albi the racist dragon, these magnets set depict characters seen on HBO's Flight of the Conchords (season 1, episode 7). I really loved making these when I started out on etsy because (oo! sublist time!):

a) I love FOTC!
b) sculpting is super fun! Go polymer clay!
c) acrylic painting is super fun too! Double win!
d) they are a super unique fun geeky item to have in my shop!

Hurray! So much fun! I made these when I opened up my shop in october of 2008 and ran out fairly quickly. My second round of remake sold out in a matter of hours! Seriously! I'd list one set of magnets and 30 seconds later it was gone! How exciting! On to my third remake! This time I tried to go a little bit bigger on my production and have just now started to run out. In fact, my abli remaking was my second ever blog post (link)! Now it's about the time to start sculpting up some more sets of albis and yet again - crafting burnout! Ack!

3) Love Robot Cell Phone Charm:

These little gems were made after my friend jacqui suggested it (what a convincing girl she is). I had fun whipping these dudes up with very similar crafty motivation as with the albi magnets (hey - polymer clay and small painting projects are the best!). Despite their small size, they are a fairly time consuming craft (especially for perfectionists like myself) - so when it came to my third round of remaking...crafty burnout (sensing a theme?)

and 4) Embroidered items:

This point is actually going to include a wide variety of items (all involving embroidery and sewing) like my coffee sleeves and change purses. Super exciting to start off making but not at all enjoyable when you're unmotivated to remake them. This was actually my third blog post I'd ever written (link) and I think that post discusses my crafting burnout really well!

Whew! What a list of examples! I think in my case my crafting burnout has occurred because (oh my another list):

1) Not enough free time for crafting (ah the joys of life)
2) Too many items to remake (one is approachable but 4+ is a little daunting)
3) Frugal pricing (yup - I make slave labor wages on those puppets)
4) So many other crafting projects I want to do (i.e. every tutorial I've blogged about over the last year)
5) Preparation for xmas craft shows (I'm selling in shops and shows this fall/winter and that is a massive crafting endeavor to focus on!)

So what do I plan on doing about all of this crafting and burnout? Take it one step at a time! I often get overwhelmed with all the things I take on and sometimes taking a step back and approaching each problem separately is the best way to go. It's very true that I don't want to force myself to painstakingly make projects I'm not motivated about but that doesn't mean I can't work on other projects that help me get ahead on my to do list! I don't think it is worthwhile to suffer when crafting - it should be fun! So I'll throw my dreaded craft projects on the back-burner for the time being and keep on going with some crafts I love working on. In fact - just taking the time to revisit some of my items really puts me in a sculpting mood! Hooray!

So after all this - I'll turn the discussion over to you. How do you deal with crafting burnout? Any life changing tips or tricks?


  1. i don't know if this would help you out, with your particular type of crafty goods, but "burnout" is one of the main reasons why all the jewellery i make is just one-or-two of a kind. i don't mind the repetition of the process in making a necklace, but if i had to make the exact same one over and over i might have to jump off a bridge! (ok that's a bit extreme but you get the idea :)

    p.s. those robot charms are ADORABLE

  2. Hey Kate!

    I haven't experienced a SERIOUS case of burnout yet - But I have discontinued some items simply because I don't want to make them anymore!

    Fortunately I have enough variety in my items that I can just work on whatever I'm in the mood for - For example, simple heart magnets are great when you are lazy because they are easy to do, molecular embroidery requires more effort so I jump at the chance to make a lot of those ornaments when I am feeling up to it.

    I try and make whatever I'm in the mood for - And if I have to create something I'm not 100% excited about, I try and remember how good it will feel to know that I have accomplished something when it's all done!

  3. I get crafting burn out when I am sewing and leave a project. I am sure there are lots of half finished in my sewing room. (But it is such a mess I can't find them.) My goal is to clean that room up as soon as I can find some shelving that I like. Wish me luck, Mom

  4. Oh my goodness! I was actually thinking about this today when I was walking over to the computer to read blogs. I feel so much better now knowing it's not just me. I love crafting! It's my favorite thing to do. I have had my moments where I get burned out on a project or just crafting in general. I feel like I have no ideas or time to finish anything. I think I put so much pressure on myself to come up with new ideas to keep up with my blog but then my brain shuts down on me. I feel like I should be working on something all the time. I decided recently that it was time to start getting ready to open up an etsy shop. It seems like the next logical step. But now I'm trying to make stuff for that and keep up with new ideas for my blog and I'm starting to stress about it. So, I'm going to work on my ideas and take my time and when I have enough done I'll open up. I don't want to lose all of the enjoyment I have in my crafting. That's what it's supposed to be about, right? :)

  5. I don't think anyone makes crafts in order to make money - it's all about the fun and love. However, when you start trying to make a business out of it - or at least make a LITTLE money - it fundamentally changes what you're doing. It stops being all about the love, and where's the fun in that? Unless you had actual slaves (like mom or the magical Wendy - what IS magical cutting anyway?) or employed sweatshop workers, it's just not feasible to make money and stay inspired with the same handicrafts over and over. What a shame! I wonder if there are stats on websites like etsy that track how often sellers "quit" or switch their projects. I'd imagine it's quite common.

    What a rough trade off -- make something new, which takes lots of time and may not be popular, or make something known to be successful that you're bored of making. Yuckers.

  6. I agree with you, Leslie. That's part of the problem I'm having. If I make myself do it the enjoyment goes away. It's about having fun! You're smart! :)

  7. I'm lucky in that while many of my ideas "repeat" (there's only a limited number of irrational numbers, after all!), I have all the freedom I want to tweak with colors, stones, etc. Most of what I do is truly OOAK, unless I get a special request for a reproduction (which doesn't happen that often). So my craft burnout doesn't stem from highly repetitive projects.

    Instead, it's often related to feeling incompetent or not ~special~ enough. The inner monologue in my head goes something like, "Who do you think you're fooling? Anyone could make this. Why should someone pay you for it?" and inspiration vanishes. I'm trying to counteract that by expanding my skillset (branching out into metals), but it's still tough.

    The other contributing factor for me is what Marci mentioned: feeling obligated to be working/crafting ALL THE TIME. That's impossible! Doubly so if you have full-time work or studies to think about. We all need to remind ourselves that we're allowed to goof off once in a while!

  8. Horray for all the lovely input! I'm happy to see I'm not the only one who gets so frustrated with crafting! I think I need to focus on making the crafts I love and go from there! It is all about crafty enjoyment afterall right?

  9. YES. Oh gosh do I ever! Usually, I start projects & don't finish them. I love coming up with intricate jewelry designs, but then wiring all those links, one after another? Urg. Or after cutting & ironing, I just don't feel like sewing it all together.

    I think it's just fear of finally finishing a project & being able to put it out there for critique.

    As someone mentioned above, this is partly the reason my items are one of a kind too - I don't think I could make the same pair of earrings over & over..