Friday, 24 February 2012

PHILOSOPHY FRIDAY - Making mistakes!

" A man's errors are his portals of discovery." .....James Joyce

Do you remember being in school where you were chastised for making mistakes, sometimes to a point of embarrassment and feeling guilt ridden about them?  If you did not make the grade on a test, you were considered a failure? There was a fear of criticism and being " centred out"?  NAH, didn't think you did!  (-:

This fear of failure was engrained in many of us as kids and yes, this fear still haunts us as adults.  Many are still reticent to try anything new or to take risks in our work because of that dreaded feeling of " failure". 

To make mistakes is human and normal.  It lets us know we are alive and kicking and to address them and face them is an act of maturity. It takes self-confidence and courage to admit to our mistakes.  Even brilliant men like Einstein made stupid mistakes.  Yes, even the stupid one like I made last week.  It was the ultimate case of taking a stupid pill on an empty stomach!

After finishing all of the embellishing on the Olympic pennant, only the construction work remained.  Oh be joy - I was so happy to finally be at that stage.  I decided I needed a lining and carefully measured and precision cut a flannel lining and backing for the pennant.  It was very late night and I was overtired but I was feeling pretty cocky at this point and anxious to get this baby done and off to the UK.  So, I laid out all three pieces carefully and hearing the immortal words of my Mother ringing in my ears, " Baste, baste, baste" - I proceeded to baste the living hell out of it, dodging the photos and embellishments in the process.   There was no way after all that work there would be any signs of slippage or crooked seams - it would be perfection!  I went to the machine and carefuly stitched all around the outsides in a steady rhythm.  Voila - lovely.  I was so pleased that I went around it a second time to reinforce it as I knew these pennants would be handled a lot. I was so proud of how it looked, I trimmed the flannel lining and clipped my curved seams etc. so it would turn inside out beautifully and lay flat.

Baste, Baste, Baste !

I then proceeded to turn the pennant inside out and about halfway through the process, my heart sank to my ankles. This couldn't be! But yes, as that sickening feeling grew stronger, I realized that the lining was now on the outside of the back panel of the pennant and not neatly inside where it was supposed to be. I sat for a few minutes in stunned silence, absolutely gobsmacked that I could have done something so inanely stupid. I then stood up quietly and walked out of the studio into the sunroom and just plunked myself down in a big easy chair and stared into space for about 15 minutes. That was the smartest thing I did all night, for if I had stayed in the studio that mistake would have snowballed into even more panicked stupidity. I wisely turned off the lights and went to bed.  I went into the studio next morning refreshed and meticulously unpicked all the stitching and rebasted the notched edges and clipped lining as I went - it took me ages and was enough to turn a purist's hair grey.  However, I faced my demons,  rectified my mistakes and all turned out well. This indeed was a personal learning experience, one I know will sit with me for a long time. William Jordan once stated " Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom" and I think I grew about a foot last week!

OK, now that was a stupid mistake to which I admitted.  What about mistakes that can be stepping stones and oppportunities?  Well, Janet Jo Smith, a seasoned dye artist who creates exquisite fabrics, commented recently about what she initially referred to as a " failure" but which actually turned out to be a bit of a triumph and in her words " it could be a whole new direction ".  With my theme this week already in the works, I asked Janet if I could link to the post on her site and she graciously agreed.  Read how Janet had a positive outcome from her " mistake"

Mistakes or failures are an essential part of personal learning, significant changes and sometimes a pre-requisite for innovation.  So, what have we learned? 
Admit the mistake.
Don't beat yourself up.
Rectify the mistake if you can
If not, accept it and learn from it.

Don't fear trying something new or taking risks, especially in your art.  When we make mistakes, we grow.

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