Friday, August 21, 2015

You Can Make Beautiful Things

Some crafty friends and I were talking today about practice.

I was a band geek.

Well first, I was an orchestra geek - I played the violin. That was somewhat short lived due to the orchestra teacher underestimating the amount of pushback he'd get from a stubborn little Irish girl when he told me I'd have to choose between orchestra and band (even though the schedules didn't conflict), because there was "no way" I could be good at both.

No way? Was there really no way? (Insert hairflip here)

So I chose band. Because people are not allowed to tell me what I can't do. :)

And boy, did I love band.

There was a team spirit in band that I don't really know if I've found to the same degree everywhere else, because every single person in the band would do anything to make that music sound great. There was no way any of us could be great without all of us being great, and so we cheered each other on, and helped each other where and when we could. Despite the innate competition (who was first chair, etc.), when it was time to play, everyone mattered. And we no more wanted anyone with a solo to make a mistake than we would have wanted a meteor to crash into the stadium during one of our performances.

Music is pretty unique in the arts that way.

And band required SO much practice. I'd say we practiced 98% of the time and only performed 2% of the time.

And what I remember about my practices by myself - really - was failure. I'd start, I'd screw up, and I'd start over. For hours, and hours and hours.

Alllll that failure made me good at what I did. It made it so that during those 2% performances, I got it right. (Most of the time.) And when I didn't, at least I had a lot of people who cringed with me.

This is why practice comes naturally to me in art. But for a lot of people, it's a foreign concept. Papercrafters - who are by and large perfectionists - often want to recreate something they see immediately - in one take.

But that's not how some things work. Watercolor is a great example. I spend hours and hours and hours practicing watercolor - stamping ten of the same image and coloring each one - learning what colors and methods work and what don't. I don't have the patience to read instructions, but for some reason, I have the patience to do this. Part of it is that I'm happier when I'm learning something than when I know something. Doing something I already know how to do is not nearly as much fun as trying to master something new.

So all that to say - if something doesn't work the first time you do it, try it 10, 20, 30 more times and keep your first attempts to compare. I think you'll find you evolve quite a bit.

Today's MIX-ability mixed media challenge on Splitcoast is really fun. The challenge is to smash some plants in your die cutting machine. MariLynn's samples were beautiful - she used wildflowers - and I panicked at first because it's that time of year in Texas when everything flowering is dead. Actually everything not flowering is dead too.

So I went into the backyard with little hope - but I found a few blooms left on what I call my butterfly bush - I'm not sure what it really is, but it has pretty purple flowers on it that attract a lot of butterflies. I snagged three of them and smashed them according to her instructions - sandwich them between two pieces of cardstock and then run through on whatever sandwich you'd use for Framelits. If you have less bulky plants than these you might need to shim.

What was cool was that I was using Whisper White cardstock - which is a coated cardstock - so it actually has a little bit of clay on the surface. This means when water touches it, the clay activates and you'll actually see a little 3D effect. That added extra dimension to the image I got.

In addition, the leaves were pretty juicy, so you can see that at the top where the "ink" of the plant came out. But it's amazing - I couldn't have painted this! Look at the detail that was preserved on both the flowers and the leaves!

Pin It

The cool thing is you actually get two prints - the top and bottom pieces of your sandwich are both arted :).

Now she instructs us to let it dry before rubbing off the plant material. I was impatient, so I dried mine with a heat gun and then rubbed it off.

I LOVE the way this looks and this technique. I'll have fun with it in the spring when my roses bloom.

Look out in your yard and see if there's something you can use. I'd love to try rosemary next.

The stamp, which I love, is a set we got at convention - a My Paper Pumpkin promotion set - I'll have another sample and a giveaway of this set soon :).

Remember - you can make beautiful things. If you practice. 



  1. Yours turned out gorgeous. I like how you get 2 prints and I also like how you never know exactly what you are going to get until you open the cardstock up. Practice makes the result better. I have been practicing smashing these chicory flowers for almost 5 years. Thanks for playing with my challenge.

  2. What a great post! First of all, you are completely right about practice. As a musician (pianist and singer), I know that practice does indeed make perfect, and is necessary. There's no getting around it! Why we don't think that it's necessary for other things -- like crafting -- is a bit of a mystery. Maybe it's all those videos in which we see the practiced technique and think that it's like that the first time! As for the flowers and leaves going through my die cutting machine -- I'm on it. Can't wait to see the results!

  3. Gorgeous card! I am going to go out to my garden right now and grab some flowers to try this with. I am totally with you regarding learning being more enjoyable. I tend to bounce around arts and crafts because of this. I get really crazy about one craft and practice and stretch my limits then, once I feel I can do it, I move on. I find papercrafting has been the exception to this in a lot of ways. I think it's because there are always new stamps and tools and techniques coming to market - keeps my interested...and buying...and with an empty bank account. haha

  4. Your blog is definitely one of my favorite!! I love your thoughts that may (or may not!) go along with a project! Not only is practice necessary-but what a great excuse to spend playing with our "stash"!
    I'm heading out to get some lavender and try this project. And after lavender, something else!
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful creativity.

  5. so pretty....I haven't done it in awhile, so was happy to have some time to play along today. Easy and fun too!

  6. This looks like great fun. Am going to try one of my sunflowers and see what happens. Thanks for sharing. Love your posts. What can't you do?

  7. Wowzers. That's is amazing and you got a twofer to boot. Since our drought makes my yard look like the surface of some distant planet, I'm not sure if there is anything out there to use. I'll see what I can find. As for your band story, ,I too, played in the orchestra and was told that being in both would reduce my effectness at either. Wasn't as strong as you and when my Mom heard, she said the orchestra teacher (who, by the way, was the band master) was right. So I stuck to violin, viola, cello. The upshot is that I play none of those today. The world's loss due to my inability to stand up for myself. Believe me, that no longer occurs. Somewhere along the line a grew a spine.

  8. Great post. I laughed when I read it, as I am exactly the same. I like doing what I don't know how to do. Once I have "perfected" something, I want to do something else. It wasn't a great trait to have when selecting classes in University, but is useful for creativity in crafting now!

  9. Love this post. Now, I am no longer going to think I am the only perfectionistic paper crafter. And believe me, I want to change that character defect, lol.......Love your card!
    Thanks for your inspiring words, of practice, practice, practice....



Every time you leave a comment, a new LOLcat is born. ALSO - don't panic if you don't see your comment right away - I moderate my comments to keep those spammers out, so your comment will show up in short order. Unless you're linking me to Russian brides or Nigerian princes.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...