Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Loose parts

In September of the last year, I wrote a blog entry (http://paperandpulp.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-creative-mess.html) about how I set down some tiny gourds next to my wood-burning tool and it sparked an idea in my brain about using the two together to make a Christmas ornament. I talked about being messy in that post, and about how all of my art supplies are always strewn about but, for me, this messiness leads to inspiration.

I recently came across an idea, called The Theory of Loose Parts, that fascinated me.

“In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.”
– Simon Nicholson, The Theory of Loose Parts, 1971

This theory is being talked about a lot in early childhood education, where experts are encouraging people who design playspaces for children to incorporate 'loose parts' in our environment in order to empower creativity. Loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways, like blocks and boxes, but even twigs, shells and stones.

Not surprisingly to this girl who grew up playing outside in nature, it turns out that children playing with loose parts are using more creativity and imagination and developing more skill and competence than they would playing with most modern plastic toys. After reading this theory, I realized that I was a psychological theory being put to the test. Having all of my supplies and tools scattered about actually promotes my creativity, allows me to see the same materials in new ways and with new potential, and allows me to create new artwork that I wouldn't have created otherwise. Tell that to my family the next time they complain about the mess!

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