I don't do theme challenges any more but I remember that it used to be a good way to stretch when I was first starting to move away from traditional quilts. There are a couple I remember specifically.
Our original crit group, formed in 1997, met quarterly at the beginning, and each quarter, we had a challenge based on a quote or a phrase each of us pulled out of a hat, so to speak. I pulled this phrase:
The past is over; the future hasn't started yet, and as you
experience the present it becomes the past. All you have
is this moment: all you have is now.
About the same time (actually, 1998) the guild I belonged to threw out a challenge for a special exhibit at their quilt show. The theme was "flora and fauna" and the pieces had to be, I think, 18" x 18" or some such size. Immediately, an image came to mind and I had a wonderful time making my piece. It was the only one that did not depict plants and animals. It still makes me giggle (and I wonder where the whimsical young woman who made that piece has gone.)
Flora and Fauna Give a Party
While I don't like themes or challenges set by other people, I still believe it is a good way to wake up the sleeping muse if you close your eyes and pick a phrase or a word from the newspaper and do some free association.
How do you feel about themes? Do you find them helpful or annoying, or both?