The post is part of an occasional series called "Awesome Handmade Toys." These posts feature toy makers whose work I think is particularly fresh and inventive. I also pin toys to my Inspiring Softies pinboard on a regular basis if you're looking for more inspiration.
I'm a huge fan of self-discipline. I love self-imposed rules because I think they can drive personal productivity in a way that no rules imposed from the outside can ever come close to. I'm also a big fan of setting boundaries as a way of inspiring creativity. Iron Chef is a chief example of the creativity that is born under imposed limitations.
And I've always been intrigued by artists who can take on a daily project. Daily projects by their very nature include both self-discipline and boundaries and they can foster intense creative growth. So I was immediately drawn in when I came accross a website called Robot a Day.
Robot a Day is the creation of Erin, a creative artist from Kitchener, Canada. Erin had been sewing and selling handmade pouches that looked like robots for two years when one day in 2007 she decided to add a mustache to one of them. "A light came on in my head!" Erin said. "I could dress them up! Since I had so many ideas for them I decided to make it a bit of an art project and do one a day, Monday through Friday."
Erin created five unique robot pouches a week for a little over a year. Then she slowed down to making one bot a week "and eventually a bot whenever-I-feel-like-it, which is why I haven't quite made it to 365 yet even though it's been 5 years."
Even so, I think this Robot a Day project is amazing. Working within limitations is a great way to stretch the boundaries of your creativity. I asked more about the limitations she set up for the project.
Erin told me, "For the most part the bots are essentially the same; they're all based on the same shape and size of bot. This was important to me because it meant I had a starting point, it's much easier to make something almost every day if you don't have to completely reinvent it each time!"
A self-imposed pace forces you push yourself to create even when you don't feel like it. Erin agrees. "It's definitely pushed my skills. I've been able to create some bots that initially I had no idea how to make; it's really satisfying to be able to express an idea or gesture you didn't think you could translate to that medium. I think it's also taught me that creativity isn't always a flash of inspiration, but can come from hard work and diligence."
Documentation is a key element here as well. "Having a blog to post it to was really important for me too, it felt like an end goal for each bot; get it online and then it's done!" Blogs are great that way, aren't they?