I appreciate your Feedback. To leave a comment, click on title of post.

March 30, 2011

Crafter's Critique

Are you your own worst critic? Should you be? I have friends who burn paintings they’re not satisfied with. This shocked me initially, but I’m beginning to understand the impulse. After staring at two unfinished (and perhaps unfinishable) canvases for a few years, I’m ready for drastic measures.

"Selma's Garden", my unfinished entry in a spring
PaintOut at T.C. Steele State Historic Site.

Very often, setting aside a project that isn’t working (then returning to it with a fresh eye) works to stimulate new ideas. Sometimes a new perspective can rescue a painting from the burn pile. But sometimes knowing if something is worth saving is harder than saving it.

How often have you been disappointed in a piece that others raved about? Instead of questioning their taste, try to see what they see in it. Next, figure out why you’re unsatisfied with it. Understanding your discomfort can help to ease it, or lead to solutions.

So, what’s wrong with your work?

  • Technical flaws
  • Didn’t turn out like you’d planned
  • Poor materials that didn’t hold up well
  • Didn’t like the color combinations
  • Wrong proportions
  • Doesn’t ‘flow’ well

These are just a few of the reasons (excuses) we find to criticize our own work. Let’s take them one at a time and see how serious these problems really are.

Yes, technical flaws (poor craftsmanship) are frustrating. Needleweaving is done with the ‘good’ side down—meaning that after the weaving is completed and the project is taken off the board, it is turned over to reveal the face of the necklace. Sometimes this is good. It is smoother, and any loose ends are on the back side. But occasionally, flaws show up. I’ve learned not to despair.

First, look for simple solutions. When changing fibers, sometimes a bit of one color shows up where it doesn’t belong. This is a common problem in needleweaving, but easily solved with a light touch of a permanent Sharpie® marker. Or, weave in the correct color over it. If all else fails, add sparkle! A strategically place bead can hide a mistake and might turn out to be brilliant!

If your necklace didn’t turn out like you’d planned, then I’d recommend a different hobby—accounting maybe?

If you inadvertently used poor materials that didn’t hold up well, consider it a learning experience or give it to someone who loves you too much to complain. And of course, upgrade your materials for your next project.

So you didn’t like the color combinations. Why not? Was it the choice of colors, or the placement? Too much or too little contrast? Try to figure out the problem—or maybe the problem is in the eye of the beholder. Colors can have an emotional impact, and what you find unappealing may be just the thing for someone else.

Is something just ‘off’ about the piece? It could be a case of wrong proportions, although this doesn’t happen often since it‘s pretty easy to spot in the pattern. Unless you got carried away and deviated from the pattern—a lot. Take comfort in the fact that you may be the only one to notice.

Related to the problem above, perhaps your necklace just doesn’t ‘flow’ well. Again, you may be the only one bothered by it, but look over each section to determine what you would do differently next time.

And that is the key. You will do better next time, although you may encounter a different problem!  And that’s OK. It’s a process. Of creating, learning and knowing the difference between disaster and discovery.


What was your worst craft mistake, and/or your crafty solution? I’d share mine, but like childbirth, I’ve forgotten the pain and only remember the accomplishment.

No comments: