Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Learning By Doing



I've been wanting to share craft projects on my blogs for some time now but I've been debating about how to go about it.
 
I love the blogosphere and all I learn from it, but I have a problem with it too:  All that perfection can be daunting.  

The materials for each project are laid out in perfect order and the projects proceed logically, step-by-step - without any mistakes along the way - to a perfect conclusion.  The flawless finished project is then beautifully photographed and artfully displayed somewhere within the blogger's house-and-garden-magazine-perfect home.

I'm saddened by how many people see projects on line that they'd like to make, or are inspired with their own wonderful, creative ideas and yet never even attempt to follow through.  They're afraid that their finished project will be imperfect; that it won't measure up to the near-impossible standards demonstrated in those perfect photos seen on line.  
 
In making those comparisons between what we do and what craft bloggers share, I think we're missing the whole point of crafting.  

In real life, the creative process is messy, confusing, and almost always flawed, but it is also a process growth, and discovery, and learning.  The act of making something, however flawed, has the potential to bring us great joy.  
 
Who cares if there's a dropped stitch somewhere in that sweater, or that the batting in your first crib quilt doesn't lie perfectly flat? Who cares that your drop cookies are all different shapes and sizes? Who cares if the first bookshelf you build is crooked and a little homely, or that those colours that looked so great in your mind but look less than great on the wall?

No one but you.  

And I'm here to tell you that you're being too hard on yourself.
 
A failed project will not cause the world to end.

The project police won't come to get you. 

Even if your project fails completely, you've still benefitted from the joy found in the creative process and you've learned a few lessons along the way.  Those lessons - about both the craft and yourself - are invaluable.
 
In my world, the creative process often looks something like this:    
  • I look at an object or a piece of raw material and thing "Hey!  I could make this into a..."
  • I look through the other materials I have on hand to see if any of them can be used to make my project.
  • I go to the store and buy any additional materials I think I might need.
  • I form a hazy plan that I think may work, then roll up my sleeves and - without further ado - dive right in.
  • Some parts of my plan don't work out as planned, so I change my approach as I move along.
  • I return some things to the store, having discovered I don't need them after all, and end up buying other things I hadn't thought I needed at the start.
  • Sometimes things go so badly awry that I set the project aside, intending to rethink it.
  • Very often, the projects I set aside eventually end up in the trash.
  • Sometimes I find a project really boring and decide it's not worth pursuing to the end.  
  • Mostly, I finish my projects and find that, while they do approximate my original idea, they are riddled with imperfections and flaws. 
  • I take the lessons I've learned from one imperfect project and apply them to the next.
  • Without even realizing it, I get better and better at what I'm doing and - although I still see imperfections and flaws in my work - others notice an on-going improvement.

I've decided that when I blog my craft projects, I'll show you the mistakes, the re-thinking, and the flaws just as they really happen - with as many photos and as few words as I can manage. At the end of each post, I'll tell you what I might do differently next time.  
Hopefully, as I share these imperfect projects and the fun I have making them, you'll be inspired to put aside your worries about imperfect results and discover joy in the process too.