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Failure is Always an Option

“Right, now - give in and give up, and know that you are going to go 80% down [this path] and realize you have to start from scratch. And that your gonna happen at least twice.”

– Adam Savage

I absolutely love this quote, and I don't share it to demoralize the reader, but to empower you. Adam goes on to talk about how many people seem to think that craftsmen just pick up their tools and materials and “bang” have a wonderful product. But this is rarely the case, what people don't see is the time spent before picking up the tools. The reason a craftsman can pick up his/her tools and make a beautiful piece is because:

  • He/she has already created those 'earlier failure' pieces, and is now experienced with this type of piece
  • His/her experience with earlier pieces has given the craftsman insight into this new kind of piece
  • Because of this experience, that craftsman has been “brain planning” most (all?) of the project before he/she has even touched a tool.
  • And (IMHO) the biggest one: Once the craftsman has started on the piece, he/she can often see a failure coming, and knows how to either back-out of it, or recover from it. And this (again) is because of the experience.

No matter how you look at it, it comes down to one thing: “A good craftsmen is good only because of his/her failures.” It takes time, and it take practice. And when you face the fact that you are going to run into problems, make mistakes, etc. you can then make plans for these little failures. You can use cheaper materials, you can make a model or mock-up, you can make a number of smaller objects before trying the big one.

My Failures

Fig. 1: Examples of First Work People often only share with you their best work, and what is often not seen is the “failures”. Maybe this is because they don't want to share, or maybe they just don't have them anymore to show. I just so happen to have three of my “first works” - and have shared them with you!

My very first pieces of beadwork in three different styles (see figure 1). Unfortunately, I think the picture actually make them look better than they do in real life LOL. You will note that all three of them fall into the 'start small' category, both in actual size as well as a 'small' (i.e. simple) design.

  • Loom beading: The strip along the bottom. It is very 'bumpy' as well as 'curvy'. I don't remember which, but either this one, or the rosette, was my very first piece of beadwork ever.
  • Applique: The rosette top right. Like the loom work, it is bumpy, it mounds in the middle, the design is crooked, the overall shape is lopsided.
  • Brickwork: upper left. I admit, this is a 'better' first run than the others, but this was also done after a number of years of doing assorted applique work. When I started this, I really wanted to a do beaded socket set for my spreader. This smaller project allowed me to learn how to do it, to see that the blue and white did not work well next to each other, and how to pick the beads to keep edges from being 'curvy' in this style of work.

Although the crafts seen on this site are 'Native American Inspired', they are not created by an enrolled member of any tribe. All crafts seen are made by me, unless otherwise noted. Feathers of protected species shown here are either repoduction, or natural alternative.

craftwork/failureisanoption.txt · Last modified: 2016/04/13 12:51 by Kevin Squire