Tuesday, January 6, 2015

3 Reasons to Develop Good Habits:: or :: What I've learned by making Mistakes

1) See my hand?  That's one of the most important reasons why habits, good habits, are important to crafting.

If you don't know me, I make both glass beads, polymer clay beads, sculptures, and jewelry using my handmade beads. 

I developed some bad habits and this is the result:: acute tendinitis of the thumb.  The inflammation is spreading into my hand.  I can do nothing without pain right now.  This is my dominant hand, and it hurts!  What did I do wrong?

Reason #1:  Don't over do anything.  You might hurt yourself.

Know when to stop.  If there's pain, quit.

2) Shaping and decorating a bead or sculpture requires muscle memory.  If you allow bad habits to creep in as you work, your body will develop muscle memory that does not lead you to making a quality product.  You get used to doing something one way, and you do it over and over and over again.  The results poorly shaped and formed beads.  Ask me how I know this.  It takes 6 weeks to break an old habit and develop a new one.  That's a lot of correcting you have to do.  I've done it, and now I work hard to make sure that when I make a bead or sculpture, everything I do is right.  Yes, you forget from time to time, but it does show in your work.

3) There are many times when I've looked at my work and said, "That's okay.  That's what we call creativity."  Yes, a mistake can be a happy one, but many times, if you don't catch a mistake it will glare at you through the finished product.  When I am not careful and do not check my work, mistakes slip by.  Some of them will work out for you, but there are others that can't and won't make your  product saleable or collectible.

When you make glass beads, a crack in the glass might not show up right away.  Cracks have many different causes to them, but the usual cause is cooling the bead too quickly.  I have made beads, cleaned those lovely beads, taken pictures of the same beads, and posted those beads online only to find or, worse yet, have a potential buyer say to me, "Is that a crack in the bead?"  Oh, my, goodness. That bead almost went home with someone who would, reasonably be very unhappy with their purchase if it cracked and broke. 

The habit of not checking the wording on a listing, or the holes in a glass bead, or making sure that the polymer clay bead has been cured at the correct temperature can have serious consequences for an artisan.  Creativity has it's place in the world of the "Happy Accident," but sloppiness doesn't.  Everything is worth a recheck in the world of "artisan crafting." 

Check and recheck your work, no matter what it is you do from the art of cooking to the art of writing.

There's a lot to be said for developing good habits no matter what you do.  Think about good study habits and how important they are to learning.  Think about good sleeping habits, and how important enough quality sleep is to good health.  Think about eating habits.  Too much sugar and fat, and guess what?  You put on the pounds.  Extra weight is hard to loose.  Ask me how I know.  No, don't.  I can testify that it is.  It's easier to do things right the first time than it is to have to do them over and relearn what you already know, at least, that's how I feel.  What do you think?

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