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Creativity without a purpose

Colourful paper collage

I’m showing you this picture above, not because I think it’s something ‘good’ or ‘valuable’, but precisely because it isn’t. This was the result of a wonderful hour of playing at a kids’ craft class that I take my 4 year old to every week with Bristol-based crafts wonderwoman Colourful Minds.

Doing stuff like this is fun and it’s good for the soul. So good for it in fact that it’s bordering on therapeutic. There’s no point to it of course and that’s the great thing about it – it’s aimless, no ‘improvement’ is sought, no result is required. In fact, it’s the sort of stuff a 4 year old does on a daily basis…

A few months ago I read a report on a BBC survey which found that crafts can reduce stress which really got me thinking. When you work in a non-creative stressful office job, making can be a wonderful way to switch off your work brain and use a whole different part of it, becoming really absorbed in what you’re doing. I can really testify to this by the way. When I was horribly stressed and anxious in my last ‘proper’ job, I found jewellery making to be a refuge. It saved me from totally losing it on more than one occasion.

However, when your career IS creative, it’s a whole different matter. Suddenly it’s hard to find the time for creative play. Or at least everything you do finds its way back to your own craft…"What’s this for?” or “How can I incorporate it into my own work?” It’s just not a helpful way to think of it.

If you don’t have a creative job you can find it hard to fit in ‘creative’ things and when you do…… find it hard to fit in creative pursuits that aren’t directly related to your job. In fact being creative professionally can paradoxically mean there’s little time left for actual genuine creativity (you know, when you’re not doing it for a reason, or to sell) I know myself, that you run the risk of measuring every other creative activity by whether it will ‘help’ or ‘add value’ to your own work…..but really this misses the point completely. Creativity doesn’t have to have a purpose.

I encourage my kids to paint, draw, write and make, not because I think they’ll want to do it as a job, but because I know it will make their hearts sing. I love the fact that you can leave a child with a box of cardboard and stickers and half an hour later you’ll have a ‘worm legged submarine’ or a set of miniature cymbals made from buttons or some other fantastical creation.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s time to be more childlike and playful. Let’s go with the flow a bit more….indulge yourself with that life drawing session or pottery class because…why not?!

I’d love to know what you think about this topic so hit me up in the comments below…

Elin Horgan designs and creates handmade jewellery in her Bristol studio. Elin’s beautifully simple handmade jewellery is carefully crafted and designed to be worn every day. You can read more about Elin’s work and the ethos behind her understated jewellery brand on her About Elin Horgan Jewellery page.

If you’d like to enquire about a specific product or discuss a custom piece of jewellery, please have a look at the Bespoke Handmade Jewellery page or email

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