Not every crafting experience is the same. Sometimes we feel like we win and other times we feel like we’ve blown it completely. Here are six tips for a successful crafting experience.
Tip #1: Don’t look to the end result for success.
I know you just set aside precious free time. Maybe you spent your birthday money on supplies, and you can already envision holding that super cool something in your hand and snapping a pic for Instagram. But if you realize it’s not about the product, but rather the process, then you’ll enjoy yourself much more.
Think about the entire timeline. You liked shopping for the supplies, you liked the time spent on Pinterest or looking at blogs. You daydreamed in the carpool for days about this. Then you sit down to make it, and it falls apart.
Seeing it as more than the time spent at the table, more than the finished product, helps prepare us when the process is more challenging than we thought it would be, and the result is nowhere near what we thought it would look like.
I’ve spent weeks preparing for a project only to look at the sticky gooey mess that resulted and realized that there was no bringing this one back from the other side. But I learned a lot. I enjoyed most of the process. And I’ll try again. Conquering crafting adversity makes us stronger.
Tip #2: Know your project to avoid classic mistakes.
Asking yourself “what if?” is a huge part of the creative process. But asking yourself, “What if I used the circular saw instead of the chop saw?” without really knowing if they’re interchangeable may not be a great idea. AND some crafty proverbs are considered canon for a reason. In essence, KNOW your project. And the best way to know what you’re attempting is to gather foreknowledge.
In other words, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! I know, a small part of me wants to curl up and die at the thought too, but it’s truly the best way to predetermine success. Try to the best of your ability to follow the recommendations made in the instructions. Does that mean that you need that specific type of air dry clay? Yeah, maybe it does. Does it mean taking it slowly step by step when you love a good creative flurry? Probably. At least the first time until you know your project better.
Tip #3: Give yourself adequate time, and don’t think you’re going to make something awesome if you’re not up for it.
We are not super human. If you’re not feeling well, or aren’t in a good place, then it’s either the perfect time to create or it’s the worst time to create. Just be ok with the possible catastrophic events (and ER visit) that could occur if you forge ahead. Maybe it’s wise to set aside the highly detailed or skill-heavy work you intended to do today, and get out the crayons and coloring book instead. Be flexible and be smart.
Tip #4: Consider the small print.
Ugh. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to make 30 of something to sell, only to realize you used fabric that has “for personal use only” printed on the seam allowance. Some materials and blogs (this one included) limit how you can use them. Do I think it’s WRONG to create supplies for sale and then put limitations on their usage? Ummm. YES. Do I still have the stipulation that you can’t mega-mass produce anything you see on this blog? Yup. You can however make up to 500 of something and sell it. Read the small print, because sometimes it matters. In this case, I’m all about you and not about the man. The source of the material gets to make the rules.
Tip #5: It’s the journey not the destination.
Or the tools you get to put into your toolbox. Or some other metaphor for life. Sometimes the best stuff comes out of our failures, and sometimes the best stuff comes from the process, but sometimes the best stuff just plain doesn’t ever happen. The icky sticky mess from Tip #1 – it was supposed to be cool beeswax food wraps with adorable lunchbox notes and quotes. I was never able to pull that one together. After three more attempts and a trip for a new iron, I just let it go.
I hate that I wasn’t able to make that work and I finally got too frustrated to even want to try again. But I did learn things in the process, and I designed some super cute bee svg files to go with the project. Maybe I’ll be able to figure out a different application for them.
Even after “professionally” crafting for over 12 years, I’m not always guaranteed a win. Neither are you. And in the beginning you know less, so the wins are even less guaranteed.
Look at what you did gain. You tried something, you put yourself out there to learn new things, and you probably picked up some skill with new tools and some experience with new techniques. Those are way more valuable to me than the product. Because the experience and the know-how I gained is what I move forward with long after I have sold the product.
Tip #6: Don’t be judgy.
If you follow this blog at all, you’ll hear me tell the story of the scribble heart. It was one of my first attempts at wire sculpture. I had in mind what I wanted it to look like, and let me tell you, what I ended up with looked nothing like that picture in my head. Completely frustrated and disappointed, I *tossed* it into a corner of the room. But once I got the idea of what I thought it should have looked like out of my head, I was able to go back a couple of days later, pick it up, and really look at it with fresh eyes.
With fresh eyes, it was kind of cool. So I set it on my desk. Then a few days later I looked at it again. And I hung it on the wall. That “failure” ended up being the first thing I sold in my Etsy shop. It was a huge life lesson for me. We invest emotionally when we create, so separating your work from that emotional investment is sometimes hard.
If you give yourself time to see it without prejudice, then you may find you have something that’s different, but better too. Or maybe it still isn’t awesome, and you toss it in the garbage and move on. But you weighed it on its own merit.
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