The Crafty Polymath’s Guide to Failure

Greetings, friends, Romans, countrymen. I thought long and hard yesterday about whether or not to post, and what, should I decide to take the plunge. If you have read this far, you have probably put two and two together: “a guide to failure?” you thought, followed by “didn’t know what to post…this woman never shuts up! She must have had a setback!” If you thought this, or something along these lines, give yourself 10 points and a hug because you are correct! Then you can slap me in your mind because I am obviously being obscenely bitter about all this and kind of taking it out on you. Sorry.

I didn’t start this post to be sarcastic. Well, not toward anyone, and certainly not in a mean way.

I did start this post to paint a humorous picture of what happens when I begin a craft and it goes terribly wrong. To be completely fair to the interwebs, I am using the format of Cracked articles – a list!

Step 1: Have an idea

This idea must be one that seems inexplicably easy to complete. Preferably it is one that comes to you in that hazy state between wakefulness and sleep, a late-night brilliant moment that absolutely cannot fail because it is obviously so easy. It is so easy, in fact, that you wonder how you hadn’t thought of it while in the craft room earlier. Silly you, the idea just had to wait until your mind was quiet enough to work.

The problem: It’s a lie. Your mind is playing you! Your mind is making all of the steps happen so easily, and if you have done any crafts, you know logically that your mind is full of shit, but you’re too tired to call it out. It lulls you into a false sense of security by showing you every stroke of a brush or clever cut out of paper. It shows you every step you must take, and then it shows you the final product, and it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

Step 2: Begin working

Using the images provided by your brain earlier or the night before, you sit down to begin working. The first few steps are easy. For me, it was a base coat on a new miniature. Simple! Cover the thing in paint and let it dry. It is literally impossible to screw the first step up. Your mind made each step manageable, so you start on high hopes! Maybe your first step was finding the background for your newest scrapbook page. You have plenty to choose from, so you merrily go about sorting your options, looking for that one design that you know you have somewhere because you hadn’t used it yet!

This is where things start to go wrong, but you don’t notice it yet.

Step 3: The first problem (minor)

Here is where the first hint of your mind’s diabolical scheme comes to fruition. There is a minor problem. It is so minor. It’s probably not even worth mentioning! But it’s still there.

In my case, it was that one of the color paints I wanted to use was drier than it needed to be. It was a little goopy (that’s a technical term), not as liquid as it should be for coating a fine miniature.

For you, it might be that you didn’t have the exact background you wanted. You have one that is so similar, but it’s not the same. Still…

Also, just a quick disclaimer, I am not assuming that you or everyone scrapbooks. But it’s the best, most consistent, example I can think of right now. So no offense intended those of you who do not scrapbook. Honestly, I don’t even scrapbook. My scenario is probably wildly inaccurate. So if you do scrapbook, please forgive my ignorance.

Step 4: Find a sensible solution to Step 3

This being such a minor problem, you know that there is a sensible solution. You are, after all, well-versed in what you are doing, and you know how to roll with the punches.

So I added a little bit of water to that goopy paint, and voila! No longer goopy. Okay, maybe a little watery, but that’s what I was going for, right? Problem solved! I was now ready to continue with the plot that my mind had laid out for me.

And, okay, so maybe the design isn’t exactly the same but it will work! At least you have a similar design, right? Go with it; it is sure to come out the same either way.

The secret though, dear reader, is that your mind has now been angered. You have defied its image of perfection, and it is now coiled tightly, ready to spring. Beware!

Step 5: The sensible solution? Yeah, it doesn’t work.

With a reasonable way to maneuver around the roadblock, there appears to be smooth sailing ahead. But that’s not the case. The simple plan that your mind had laid out for you provided no real solutions to potential problems because, in your mind, the world is a perfect place that always has ample craft supplies on hand.

The paint was too watery. It didn’t coat well. And I was working with a bright color (yellow), which I never work with. It simply was not coating. It was too watery, and then it was leaking onto other parts of the figure, which I had already painted, and it was looking sloppy, and it.wasn’t.coating! My husband assuaged me by saying, “Hey. You could just put some yellow ink on it, and that will make it work.” I agreed via grunt.

The design is off just a tad too much. The layout in your mind simply will not work on this new design, and while normally you could think of hundreds of ways to rework it, your mind is being stubborn. Maybe you’ve already started, and in your confidence, you’ve already pasted an accent onto the page, so there’s no turning back now. You figure, well, you can just move everything a half inch to the left, right?

Step 6: The simple solution actually makes things a lot worse

Somehow, your expertise is failing you because, through no fault of your own, I assure you, the solution has become a bigger problem. Had you been flying by the seat of your pants, you feel you could have done a better job at this juncture. Instead, the project is falling apart in your hands, and your mind is thrashing about with a righteous fury that screams at you, “This isn’t my fault! You just didn’t listen to me!”

The yellow ink, so help me, made itthat much worse. Now I had not only watery yellow that did not coat over the base coat very well, but the green was discolored because of it, and the grey-blue of the base coat was simply more pronounced. Since I had had to water down the yellow paint, there was not enough for me to do a second coat, and I was not guaranteed the same color if I mixed another batch. This is when I felt the first moments of panic and hatred.

Okay, so you’ve shifted everything just a half inch to the left. And now the piece de la resistance will not fit on the page. Your measurements were fine; what has happened here?

Step 7: Take drastic action

Your solution made things worse, so now you must throw caution to the wind and do something that, deep down, you know is a bad idea, but you’re seeing red, and you can come up with no other answer.

I painted over the yellow and the ink with turquoise, telling myself that this would make it way better. Gritting my teeth and with an intensity bred of ire, I went about coating over the areas again.

You put the main attraction on the page anyway. Maybe this page was showcasing a photo. You’ll just trim the photo down so it fits.

These are the moments in movies where the villain is laughing manically as they begin pushing levers and turning dials, not really aware of the sparks that are flying in the background.

Step 8: Your gambit doesn’t pan out

The drastic measures you’ve taken are not working. In fact, they are making things worse. Much, much worse. Your mind is in a veritable fit of rage, and it is spitting all kinds of nasty things at you.

The turquoise covered any and all detail work in the pewter. There was simply too much paint on the mini, and in my frustration over the yellow, I had just kept slathering paint on like a madwomen until there was no trace of the offending watered-down color. Except, of course, there were traces. For a color that hadn’t coated worth a damn, I couldn’t seem to cover it all. My sanity started to fall apart and land in tiny pieces on the globs of bright paint in my hands.

This is where you begin to trim the picture, and you accidentally lop off the top of a head. Maybe it’s not the focus of the picture, but it doesn’t work now. Maybe it’s even too small, but regardless of what happens, it is wrong, and your beautiful idea is crumbling to ash.

Step 9: Slowly descend into madness

Your reality is now shattering. Well, not your reality, but the absolutely unassailable perfection in your mind is unattainable, and your mind cannot handle it. Everything you’ve done to fix the minor problems has failed and in fact only made it worse. This is not what you pictured.

I handed the miniature to Eric, “Get this away from me before I throw it.” I went downstairs, feeling dejected and let down by my miniature and my mind, and I sat on the couch to brood. When Eric felt it was safe to approach, he did so, and I suggested that we burn the miniature. This seemed a reasonable reaction, in answer to the pain and suffering that the miniature had caused. Watching it melt down to a puddle of metal was quite appealing. Then I listed all of the reasons that the miniature and everything associated with miniatures was stupid, and he waited patiently for me to finish my tirade.

At this point, I don’t know what you do. Maybe you rip the page into tiny pieces. Maybe you simply walk away, like I managed to do. Perhaps you burn down a small village. Regardless, your anger stems from a place of insanity because your mind is broken by the failure of its seemingly simple plan.

Step 10: You realize that your mind is the one to blame, and you regain control

At some point after the ash has settled, you remember that the ideas that come to you in that hazy space between wakefulness and sleep are always a little crazy. It occurs to you that this is not the first time you’ve done this. And it occurs to you that every time it happens, you forget the previous ideas and failures. The realization soothes you, a cool balm to your ire and frustration.

When it was safe to do so, Eric offered a final solution: strip the model of all paint and start from scratch. This is usually the only solution at this point – to start all over. And it takes some time before it feels safe to do so. But with a clear mind, I was able to think of how I could paint the miniature in a real-world scenario.

This is the cycle of failure for crafts. Unattainable idea of perfection, inevitable fall from grace, and eventual peace. It’s just like the stages of grief.

But practice makes perfect. If you are able to get back on your craft horse after falling, then you will eventually succeed. And maybe one day, I’ll stop trusting my brain and its wild schemes.

Realistically, though, I’ll be making a similar post in a few weeks. So until then…

It’s Friday; I’m in love!

I have been working diligently on a new project, but I hit a bit of snag, and I’m having to rethink the finished product. Therefore, I am not posting yet.

I am also baking brownies. Or was. The timer just went off. Mmmm! Brownies!

So in lieu of showcasing my own crafts today, I wanted to share some ideas. I have been starting to plan Eric’s birthday gift for this year; I want to do something really cool and meaningful, so I need to start sooner rather than later.

He loves board games, and I love crafts, so I am thinking of a few board game-inspired gifts. NOT Scrabble tiles; we already have scrabble tile names, and he’s more into war games. Here are some things I’ve found:

A journal with a board game cover, courtesy of Etsy seller 366thday.

Coasters made from old board games

A box made from a game board

*A table made with a game board, though I can’t find it again. 😦

But I’m also thinking something more along the lines of an original creation that would compliment games he has now. We’ve talked about playing one of our favorite tactical war games with miniatures, instead of the wooden blocks that it comes with, but to do so, we would have to have a larger playing field. The game board is a hexagonal board; I would essentially be making a mat that we could play on instead. I am not good enough to do that yet, which is why I’m thinking about it now, when his birthday isn’t until October.

*sighs* The difficulties of a crafting gift-giver.

I am looking forward to whatever I come up with and the actual project itself.

In the meantime, sorry for the lack of substance. 🙂

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Paczki Day 2012

Disclaimer: I am not Polish. But my husband is, so there’s that.

For those of you unfamiliar with Paczki, they are a delicious tradition of Polish Mardi Gras. Since the season of Lent requires a lot of bland eating, Paczki were a way to use up all of the ingredients that would shortly become (more) sinful. They are essentially donuts – bready treats filled with fruit or custard and cooked in lard. I myself did not become aware of Paczki until I was living in Seattle and met Eric. We found them for sale at Met Market on the other side of Queen Anne, and he was so excited! We bought a couple to share with our friends, and we brought them home.

Now, here I must point out that I am a donut fanatic. While in the Pacific Northwest, I made multiple trips to try donut shops that had any sort of reputation. Bonus points if they had cutesy names. We even took a road trip to Portland, OR one weekend to visit Voodoo Donuts. So when I speak of fried dough, I have a pretty good idea what I’m talking about.

The Paczki were amazing! Delicious. Everything you’d want in a donut and more. My favorite was the lemon curd.

So now let’s fast forward to living in Arkansas, where culture is not the most highly-esteemed part of life. The Kroger in Little Rock said they would have Paczki, but when I went in to ask, the lady in the bakery had no idea what I was talking about. Thus it fell on me to provide the Mardi Gras treat.

I found a great recipe that allowed me to bake them, instead of fry them. Sure, I have a Dutch oven, and I could have fried them, but I wanted a modicum of decency, so that meant healthier options and, likely, safer ones. Grease burns are one of those life experiences I’d like to skip, thank you. Whipped up the dough, bought some prefab lemon curd, and doused in powdered sugar.

They came out okay. They were absolutely at their best when they were fresh and still warm. The batch made more than two people could eat in a day, so we enjoyed them for another day and a half after, but they had lost some of the doughiness.

Anyway…here are pictures! Oh, and if I look exhausted in the pictures, it’s because I was teaching at the time, and I was.

Wedding Wednesday: The Sam & Eric Exhibit

Happy Hump Day!

So, if you’ve read more than one post on this lil blog, you will see that I enjoy puns and alliteration more than should be allowed. Perhaps it’s a throwback from my days of writing MLA papers (MLA requires the use of a creative title), or perhaps it’s just another quirk of mine, but I can’t get enough of the two. Thus, I stumbled upon the idea of “Wedding Wednesdays”, where I would showcase either a DIY/crafty project from my own wedding, or something I saw and thought would be good for you to do.

Today I am showcasing my own elopement/wedding thing (welopement?), specifically the “Sam & Eric Exhibit” that I put together in our bay window for our families to fawn over while they were here with us.

The idea had sprouted before we decided not to have a more “traditional” wedding. I saw it as a take on the, apparently mandatory, slideshow of photos ending with the baby pictures side-by-side. Since the hubby and I are history buffs (he admittedly more so than I), I thought it would be a cool idea to instead have a “Museum of Love” sort of thing, which would house “artifacts” of our meeting, courtship, and so on.

We made a list of things to put in it, and then we decided to elope.

When my folks decided to drive here from Georgia, and we then decided to write a ceremony to share with our families on the beach, I wanted to use the museum idea. So I gathered a few small things, and I put them in our beautiful bay window, which has a convenient bench for displaying such things.

Since we technically got married three days before our ceremony, we had pictures from the courthouse framed, and they served as the centerpiece. We also included our Mariners bobble head, a Red Wings koozie, a Flyers puck, license plates from states we’ve lived in, and a few other trinkets. It was a great way to get people talking (ice breaker!), and it made the window look a little more festive than just looking over at our neighbor’s house.

And for me, it was a great little reminder of why I married the big lug.

Without further adieu, here is a picture of what the exhibit looked like. Thoughts?

The story of Sam & Eric as told by souvenirs.

Twofer Tuesday 2: Miniature Magic

I mentioned in “A Day in Pictures“, or rather showed, that I bought a new miniature at Riders on Saturday. I collect, paint, and play a Warhammer army of Chaos, but I was looking for something a little different from metal and grotesque creatures. Don’t get me wrong – I love my dragon ogre, but I needed a challenge.

Yvette, a figure from Reaper minis, proved to be a challenge indeed.

Take a look for yourself.

Twofer Tuesday 1: Site Review, Geek Crafts [dot] Com

Since I am so new to crafting, I must steal [read: borrow] ideas from the web. But, I mean, that’s what they’re there for, right? And I find a lot of great ideas and projects for the likes of me.

A real bonus is when I can find projects that also satisfy my inner geek. This might be the newspaper print nails I did for my wedding or Doctor Who etched pint glasses. For the record the nails came out…okay…and the pint glasses I am afraid to try, but they are suitably geeky.

So when I stumbled upon Geek Crafts, my  little geek heart went pitter patter with joy. It is pretty much what it sounds like – a website with geeky crafts highlighted.

There were some great ideas on there. I won Daredevil #1 (1993) on Ebay yesterday, so I was looking specifically for some comic book crafts. There are 16 pages of comic-book inspired crafts, and I ogled many of them. With the Avengers movie out now, it was rife with Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and even Black Widow. Nice.

But there are also categories for Anime, Video Games, and even History. If you have a geek bone, you can likely find a craft to scratch it.

However, do not go in search of specific how-to guides because you might not find it. Also be aware that the posts are links to other sites, which, again, means that it might not always come with a how-to.

Of course, if you’re an awesome crafter, then you probably already know how to do a lot of that. For me, the craftily challenged, I usually need something else to go on. Now, of course, I am able to take an idea and find other resources – in fact, I enjoy it – but if you need one stop, you might want to look elsewhere.

I will still be using this site for inspiration though.

Let the geek crafts BEGIN!

 

Stick a pin in me; I’m done

When I woke up yesterday, I had already decided to take onat least three projects, one of them being a sewing project I have been putting off – a pin cushion.

It seemed easy enough, and I thought it would make a good pause between other projects. Hand sewing, for me, can be almost a meditation, an exercise in quiet. More than that, I thought it silly that I had made a skirt, upcycled a shirt, and a few other projects but had not put together two little squares (or circles) to make a cute pincushion. While I have nothing wrong with the traditional tomato cushion, I felt I should follow through on what I see as a Right of Passage.

Besides, I have some great fabric just sitting around!

I looked up a few different techniques and looks, and then I decided to do what I almost always do, which was to just wing it.

How to put this? Okay, yes, I did well in school. Yes, I am a quick learner, and I have done well in pretty much any job I’ve held. Yes, I studied for a few months and surpassed the requirements on the PRAXIS math test to teach. And yet, for all this, I am still not smart enough to remind myself that I need to follow instructions.

I didn’t start sewing when I was young; I come from a family with an inherent bobbin-winding deficiency. With the exception of writing and cutting and pasting pieces of paper, I am still new to the world of DIY to this extent.

I have high aims, though. It is a difficult road, teaching myself how to do these things, but I take great pride in it. Even my failures! And, I should clarify, I did make a pincushion. I just didn’t make it correctly, and I will likely have to make another one in the future. Which is fine.

What’s wrong with it? Well, the button is certainly not sewn on correctly, nor the ribbon, and it is perhaps a bit smaller than I should like.

But what is right with it? It holds pins! Done!

For now, enjoy the picture!

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Great way to end a day

I woke up this morning to a grey sky and rain, which gave way to clouds, and then brightened to a sunny day. A hot, sunny day. And for some reason, the fan wasn’t even on for most of it.

Feeling in rather a crafty mood, I went to the local Goodwill to see what I could find to work with. I have a lot of ideas lately for some great repurposing/upcycling projects, and having worked for Goodwill in Seattle, it has a special place in my heart.

For $13.36, I came away with two glass bowls, three picture frames, a bag of buttons and old sewing gear, two hardback books on Greek Mythology, and a paperback by Robert Holdstock.

The hardbacks I’ll probably sell (I have so many mythology books), some of the sewing gear is going to be sold as well, and I am working with the glass bowls and picture frames this week. I hope to make the frames fabulous and maybe post some items on Etsy.

Once home, I sorted through the buttons, made a pincushion, did some painting, designed the first bowl decor, and then I thought, “you know what would be amazing?”

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Yep. Banana bread. Delicious. I even tried a new recipe that uses apple sauce because I’ve been wanting to try that for a while. Waaaaay moist. I did add chocolate chips for the hubby.

Link to recipe? You got it!

A Day in Pictures

Yesterday, the hubby and I went out and about on the town, so I did very little crafting and much less thinking about what to write. But we did go to some crafty places, and we had a good time, so I am going to post a day in pictures instead.

While I could give details, I think I will let you fill them in yourself.

With the exception of the movie. If you have not seen Snow White and the Huntsmen, save yourself the cash. Or, if you want to, go buy the following films because they are all in the movie: Twilight (I didn’t watch them, but I get the gist), Ferngully, Neverending Story, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Princess Mononoke. There are a few others, but those were the most blatant ones.