Problems

Saturday I got to spend an entire day in my shop. The planets aligned, and only the fallen leaves in my backyard protested my ignoring them. Now, it may be strange that while my commute to the shop is less than a minute, I have to struggle to get to it. But, I still have a day job, family commitments, a blog, a garden to prepare for winter, and household duties. On Saturday, it all worked out, and that evening I looked over a very respectable amount of product completed, ready for finishing or prepared for the next steps.
Just because that day was productive does not mean that other days away from the shop were not. I try to make up for the time away by thinking through shop processes while doing other things.
I am not very detail-oriented by nature, and this is an integral part of my creative day because not all craft or art is intuitive and creative. Some of it is planning, looking for places to improve, figuring out what you’ve done wrong, and finding answers to earth-shattering questions- where the heck did I put the ultra-fine steel wool? In other words, drudge work. So you get nada, nothing, zilch completed in terms of product produced. But you prepare to get things completed.

I have several problems that will never go away, and I have to learn to work around them. The first is that several surgeries left my vision impaired several years ago, and I’ve had to relearn carving with the deficiencies. The second is that I am not detail-oriented, and I’ll miss things that, on later viewing, are pretty important. So, OK, yes, I am very distractable.

Vision changes led to about three years of almost no carving before I decided to get active again. I was glum about the prospects but focused on what I could do, and worked around the deficiencies. For the most part, I now have difficulty carving lettering and doing things like chip carving. Unfortunately, those are things that produced a fair amount of income.
On my second issue, I now rely on photography to check on my slip-ups. As I carve, I now photograph. It’s a perceptual issue, not one caused by my physical problem. When I look at the photo, I frequently see problems in the finish that I missed. For me adapting technology has been a great help. For example, most of my small letter carving now gets done with a laser engraver, and the camera in my phone is a fast and handy way to evaluate problems.

As a fellow crafter, I’ve talked with other craftspeople. I’ve also worked with them as an anthropologist working on field projects or program development. So it’s reasonable to say that there are many approaches to work, problem resolution, and handicaps. But, unfortunately, I’ve read books and attended classes with people who only see one way to make the grade– their way. So my advice is that you take what works for you and ignore the noise.
Skills and tools are great aids in creativity and problem solving. While I’d never suggest that there is a solution to everything I would suggest that attitude, is central to finding your way around problems.

11 Replies to “Problems”

  1. I get exactly what you are saying about the vision and the prep work. Going over things in your mind avoids time consuming mistakes later. I’ve been sewing partly by braille for several years as well. So far no needle through the finger. I could buy a machine with a laser but that would require a second mortgage.

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    1. Hi Marlene, nice to hear from you. You are right the lasers are expensive. The only reason I went ahead is that I still pull in outside income, and have a good chance of making back the purchase.
      Having to think things through not only avoids mistakes but helps keep the mind nimble.
      Being that I am a carver and a wood burner I use a lot of scrap for laser practice. If it doesn’t work I can probably plane it down and use it again. This way I normally don’t waste expensive materials. Any scrap leftover becomes kindling.
      I hope your relocation is going well!

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