In the nearly 13 years that I’ve been teaching craft workshops I’ve noticed one common denominator among a surprising majority of my students. Fear of making.
They were able to take the leap and sign up for a class and even show up for it but once they sat down at a table piled high with supplies, fellow students and possibility… anxiety set in. BIG TIME!
Most seasoned sewers know the old adage, “Measure twice. Cut once.” This is super important when you’re sewing but when you’re making something that has a little wiggle room exact measurements and ratios don’t matter as much as your enjoyment and exploration while you’re creating. It reminds me of the difference between baking and cooking. When you’re baking, a little too much or too little time in the oven can ruin your soufflé but if you’re making pasta puttenasca an extra tomato won’t compromise the dish.
As makers we need be aware of the projects that we do that require us to be exact with our measurements and instructions as well as the ones that don’t. It’s easy to get so caught up in trying to make the end result absolutely perfect that we can’t let our creative juices fully flow.
The magical place in making, between doing what we think we should do and what we want to do, is only accessible if we’re able to let go of trying to make everything so perfect. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and a place for perfection. BUT every time and every place doesn’t have to be spot on. Often times, taking a leap and following a whim that pops into your head is how you end up making something truly unique and brilliant.
When I first started painting, I wanted to add some texture to a piece I was working on. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed jars of dried herbs. Just as I was about to sprinkle them onto my canvas, my inner critic chimed in, “Are you crazy? This is so first grade.” I pushed my inner critic to the curb, sprinkled the herbs onto my canvas and then painted over them, giving my piece the textured feel I wanted. That piece was the first one that sold at an art show where I had dozens of works displayed!
As makers, bridging the gap between following ‘crazy’ notions and staying on track is the only way we can create something genuine, heartfelt and amazing. We have to push ourselves to that beyond place where inspiration and intention meet. As Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” If we don’t feel alive and inspired while creating something, how can we expect the person looking at our work to feel inspired and alive? In other words, if we want someone to feel something when they see our work, we must feel something when we’re making it.
This notion of letting go of the worries we encounter while making is the essence of Kim Werker’s book, Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercises & Advice for Getting Creative Even When it Ain’t Pretty. I was lucky enough to attend one of Kim’s workshops at Craftcation 2014 and was so impressed that I was ready to beg her to come back and offer our 2015 attendees some of her amazingness. Thankfully she had such a good time at Craftcation 2014 that I didn’t have to get on my hands and knees.
Kim’s book is brilliant and wholly inspiring. She writes, “My biggest struggles have been with needing things that are different from what “normal” people need and not being able to do what “normal” people do; with valuing creative satisfaction in my work more than the salary I earn; with getting bored very quickly; with not handling that boredom well; with being a crafty self-saboteur; with feeling electric when I start a big project and like I’m about to die when I’m nearly done with it; with feeling physically ill when my work doesn’t afford me independence and flexibility.” If this quote rings true for you or if you’ve ever struggled with trying to be too perfect in your creative work or how to quiet your inner critic, then click here and buy Kim’s book right this very second. We’re also giving this book away, along with some of our other November Book Club picks. If you’re as excited about Kim’s book as I am, order it now and if you win, you’ll have one to gift to a friend.
To enter the contest:
If you want to win ALL four of these books, just leave comment on this post telling us about a time you had an imperfect project turn out better than you had planned. Post your comment by November 26th at midnight to be entered to win. Make sure to include your email address so we can get your address and ship you some lovely things to read.