What’s On Your Creative Table?

Where do your creative explorations take place, and what do they look like?

what's on your creative table at tinkerlab
On my journey as a blogger, I’ve become a prolific picture-taker and the majority of my photos are of my kids’ art/science/tinkering/cooking explorations. Obvious, I know.

Our experiments and projects take place everywhere, from the kitchen to the back yard. My children have a beautiful, kid-size table where most of their explorations take place, but that doesn’t stop them from taking over the dining table or kitchen floor when inspiration strikes. The kids and I are visiting their grandparents on the East Coast, so picnic and coffee tables are where it’s happening for us this summer.

Do you enjoy peeking into other people’s lives? It’s so interesting, isn’t it? I don’t get too personal on my site, but I do try to share parts of our creative journey because I hope it will inspire you to give some of our ideas a try. I’ve been inspired by enough images to know how easily one picture can pop me out of my seat and get me into a creative mindset.

Enter stage right: Instagram. I’ve become a huge fan of Instagram, where I’ve been able to witness the creative journeys of old and new friends from around the world. I’m riveted by all the cooking projects, in awe of how long it takes someone to knit a pair of socks, and enjoy the camaraderie and support of the almost daily sketches in the devoted tinkersketch group. These Instagrammers are awesome.

what's on your creative table?

Yesterday, I put out a call for images on Instagram. I invited my IG friends to share a photo of their creative table. Whatever they were making, I wanted to see it. Within minutes I saw gorgeous tables full of leaf rubbings, fabric, bottlecaps, pony beads, tea-stained paper, and paper dolls. Special thanks to my lovely Tinkersketch friend Angela, Kara of Simple Kids, Jen of Paint Cut Paste, Amy of Maker Mama, and Jena of Happy Little Messes for jumping right in and showing me that this idea is worth pursuing.

What kind of pictures can we share?

Images shared with the #creativetable hashtag should document a creative project at any point in the creative process. Here’s what works especially well at inspiring other people:

  • An invitation to create: Show the set-up before you start working. Here’s a great example. 
  • Overhead shots: These images show all of the materials well and are easy to understand. Like in this example.
  • Action shots: Show how to use a material
  • After-the-fact: Share how the project turned out
  • Materials: Share all the materials used for the project

What is an Invitation to Create?

An invitation to create is a carefully designed prompt or provocation to make something. One person sets up an inviting selection of materials, and another person makes something from the materials. There’s no right or wrong way about it. While we may have an idea about how the other person will use the materials, it’s ultimately up to them to determine the outcome.

You can think of this as a sort of game with just a few rules. Adults can step in to offer suggestions or ideas, but the child should mostly be encouraged to find her own way.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Clear the table of anything that won’t be used in the invitation.
  2. Artfully arrange the materials to provoke ideas.
  3. Limit the choice of materials to just a few items.
  4. Provide clues about how to use the materials, but keep the project open-ended so that original ideas can flourish.

Join me on Instagram

  • Upload: You can add your Creative Table to Google+ or Instagram, and add the hashtag #creativetable to your post so that everyone can find it easily.
  • Photo Guidelines:
    • Take a picture of your creative table (or floor, garden, etc…anywhere that you and/or your kids create) at any point in the creative process.
    • This can be a close-up of just the materials or of your children engaged in a project, as long as the materials are the main focus. Think of how this table could inspire someone else.
    • Consider the angle and lighting of your shot. Natural light or room lights are better than a flash.
    • Please only submit photos of projects in process, rather than completed projects. The picture does not have to reflect a perfect set-up, and can show your table just as it really is.

So, what do you think? This is all really fresh in my mind and maybe I’ve missed something or there’s a better way to do this. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Love this idea… I instagrammed a quick snippet of our creative table this morning. Hope I got the hash tag right!

    • You got it right, Kate! Tying rubber bands around your pastels is so simple and fun. I’m so glad you’re part of the #creativetable group — I love your ideas!

  2. Oh just how brilliant is this idea? I must focus and figure out how to contribute. Three cheers for being even more of a clearinghouse. (Found this specific post and your launch through Pinterest BTW. Thought you might appreciate knowing that is working to your advantage as well.)


    • I guess I like being a clearinghouse, Debbie. I hadn’t thought of it that way before 🙂 I would love it if you’d contribute. I’ve already received so many creative table images, and will share a post of them tomorrow. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas on how you can play too (just snap a photo of whatever you’re working on, and you’re there!). ~rachelle

Comments are closed.