Collaboration with other Crafters Can Yield Amazing Results
The image of the lonely artist laboring alone in their garrett,
is all too often true. Crafting is time-consuming. Most of
us grab moments to work whenever we can, often in the wee
hours of the morning or between chores, usually at unpredictable
times and in unusual places. It can take many months to produce
a new design or product line. Working in isolation, it is
easy to get in a rut and keep on producing the same or similar
As an antidote, and to stretch your artistic talents in a
new direction (and have some fun), try working with another
artist -- a collaboration. To make it more interesting, try
to collaborate with an crafter who works in a medium unlike
yours. If you work in glass, then try contacting a smith,
or a potter. If you are a quilter, then a beader might be
fun to work with. A joint effort has many advantages: you
will produce work that is more unique that either could do
alone. You’ll both gain an understanding of the techniques
that makes the others work successful. You’ll even find
that both of your approaches to design differs, and therefore
combining efforts will lead to a truly unique piece of art.
We hope to be able to showcase some interesting collaborations in the months to come, so keep coming back!
Seeing your work through the eyes of a friendly collaborator
will give you new insights on design, colorform and function.
In a collaboration, you have a willing ally to keep you going
in those "slump" periods which inevitably occur.
Collaborations can be formal or informal. If you plan to
make this a formal one, good questions to ask:
- What would this cost in both time and money?
- Why were we doing this?
- How would we work together?
- Would we all work on one piece or would we each work on our
- Did we have a deadline?
A Crafter Collaboration can get Creative
- A collaboration could start with a jar of beads and a
single project of a free-form sculpture, vessel or piece
of jewelry could travel from one person to the next.
- This method would also work well if you and your collaborator
lived some distance apart. Write letters back and forth
as you work to increase your ability to express what you
are doing in words or with sketches. Be sure to agree up
front where the piece will reside when it is finished. Or
offer it as a raffle prize to benefit your bead society.
- Collaborations need not be long-term. Playdays or open
studios are a great way to share ideas and techniques. Start
with a batch of materials in front of each person…
After one hour, each person would pass their project and
their materials to the next person. At the end of the day
the results will be unique, plus spark a round of new ideas
Rules, Deadlines and Schedules
- Define the project. Set limitations on what each crafter
will do. Discuss the project thoroughly, but realize that
as you work, new ideas will be generated. Accept them and
use them when appropriate.
- Set a deadline and agree on whether you will work alone
or get together regularly. If working together, agree upon
dates, time and location.
- Keep a log of the collaboration and jot down notes about
significant design changes, limitations that new materials
bring and how the piece changed as you got underway.
- Agree up front, if necessary on how much money will be
spent on the project and how the proceeds will be spent
- Get commitment to complete the project from everyone in
the group. If it is necessary for someone to drop out, be
clear about why so that the group can deal with this.
- Finally, take time to discuss how the project is going.
Putting your ideas into words makes them more concrete.
Encourage everyone to make creative suggestions and to share
techniques. Try to help stimulate a spirit of camaraderie
and belonging which can carry over into future projects
and result in lifetime friends.