Emily Carlson

Last weekend I found myself with nothing to do, or at least, nothing that had to be done. It was the middle of the day and I didn’t want to look at my phone, watch a show or do anything that involved looking at a screen. I remembered that I had recently purchased a polymer clay earring kit and knew this would be the perfect time to bring it out. 

If you don’t know, polymer clay is a moldable material that you can shape into whatever you like and bake in the oven to create a hard piece. A popular trend for jewelry right now is making earrings out of this clay. I have been inspired by so many young creators who have made the most beautiful earrings that I wanted to try myself. I decided to get a kit from a shop on Etsy that included all of the tools I would need, minus a small plier that I borrowed from my dad. 

I took my time following the instructions that were included with the kit to make three pairs of statement earrings. I learned how to marble the pink, gold and black clay I had chosen as my colors. I used the cutters to make the shapes I wanted and improvised by using a pen cap when I realized I didn’t have a circle shaped cutter. After I baked the clay in the oven, I gently sanded the clay to make it as smooth as possible and attached the metal pieces to create the earrings. 

All together, I probably spent at least three hours doing this project. Even though I only made three pairs, I found myself feeling so good afterward! I realized how nice it was to do an activity that was creative, didn’t involve screens and used my hands. I began to think, what type of research is out there that supports trying a new and creative activity?

According to the NPR article, “Feeling Artsy? Here’s How Making Art Helps Your Brain” by Malaka Gharib, there is a lot happening in our brains and body when we do something creative. Gharib is a journalist and a cartoonist, and wrote that art can help people be more hopeful, lower stress, focus more deeply, and feel better. I think we could all use one or all of those things right now. 

Professor and researcher at Drexel University Girija Kaimal specifically mentioned the use of modeling clay as a type of art that is particularly beneficial. 

“It engages both your hands and many parts of your brain in sensory experiences,” Kailmal explained. “Your sense of touch, your sense of three-dimensional space, sight, maybe a little bit of sound — all of these are engaged in using several parts of yourself for self-expression, and likely to be more beneficial.”

While there are some forms of art that research have shown to be more effective in making humans feel better, any act of creating is going to be good for you. I happen to enjoy using clay, photography, coloring and baking. Others may prefer to cook a meal, paint a picture, or write poetry. Whatever your medium is, taking the time to try something new and creative is a great way to spend your time. 

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