Aim for Perfect but Embrace Innovation

Kimberly Vallance

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Handmade crafts are not perfect because humans are not perfect. Every item a machine makes is exactly the same as any other item the machine makes, which means hundreds or thousands of copies that are impersonal. I love that my hands will create something different every time I start a craft project, even if it’s something I’ve done before. This lack of perfection makes each item unique and special.

Crafters and artists are often learning something with each project – stretching their skills, improving their technique, experimenting.

Learning something new rarely happens without mistakes.

Of course, mistakes can provide key learning in the form of what-not-to-do. But they can also lead to delightful discoveries.

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” – Bob Ross

Call them “design elements” and move on, unless they impact the integrity of the item you are crafting. Even expert crafters and artists make mistakes. But instead of discarding the project, they look at the situation from a different perspective… leading to new techniques!

Learn to give yourself grace.

When you make a mistake, take an objective look at it.

If you make the same “mistake” again, does the project change? For good or not so much?

Does the mistake impact the integrity of the project? Or create an opportunity? For example, when using a palette knife on canvas, a painter might consider pushing that palette knife through the canvas to be a mistake that impacts the integrity of the painting. However, a mixed media artist might see this as an opportunity to bring in another media through the hole. They might even choose to make the same “mistake” again – thereby making it a “design element”!

Can you learn something from this “mistake” that improves either your technique or adds to your knowledge? For example, red paint added to green paint makes brown paint. This is helpful if you want to paint a tree and have no brown paint available. And good to know if you want to paint red flowers in a green meadow!

We are often our own worst judge.

If you hold your project high and move it around, will anyone else see a “mistake”? There’s a very good reason to take a step away from your work periodically. We often see our work through a magnifying lens when no one else will be studying that piece so closely. Step back, take a breath, and relax. Now think of your best friend or greatest supporter. What would they say about your work so far? If you stop pointing out your “mistakes” to someone, will they realize you didn’t follow your pattern or plan exactly? Or will they see a unique handcrafted and special item?

Change your vision of “perfect” as your project commences.

When you start with a firm picture of what a perfect result will look like, prepare to be disappointed. Instead, when things don’t turn out as planned, adapt the plan and aim for a different “perfect”. Aim to be the best you can be. Enjoy the process and take pride in your best. The more you enjoy the process, the more you will work on your craft or art, and the better you will get. The better you get, the more you will enjoy working on your projects.

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