Learning

Learning Curve!

So, it’s late and I’m sitting up in bed…in the dark…to type this post. My little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, “Kiwi”, is curled up beside me. She doesn’t like the light from my laptop (in fact, she hates my laptop! LOL), so she moves to the foot of the bed, asleep in minutes. My husband is wrapped up in the comforter, sound asleep and snoring softly. And here I am:

It’s like learning a new language!

Right now I’m attempting to learn a new program, and have no experience whatsoever in blogging-web-building-design-whatever-it’s-called, and I feel as if I’m butting my head against a wall (see pic, below). My brain has been inundated with this new computer language. I mean, where is this field it talks about, and does it have pretty flowers? And what in the world does it mean by a parent? Are there also children? Learning something new can sometimes be frustrating! Gosh, I feel as though I AM trying to speak a foreign language that I’ve never heard before. And yet, I’ve heard that the more I do something unfamiliar to me, the easier it gets. If I’m honest (and I am), I can tell you that tonight, I’m already 100 times better at manipulating some of the program than I was two days ago! BUT… instead of focusing on my small design successes, of course I’m stressing out about all the other commands that I don’t know yet (whew…big breath…don’t wake Hubby or Kiwi…relax shoulders…another breath… find out where the text disappeared to…try again…).

I’m of the opinion that frustration can also crop up (ha ha) while learning new techniques in cardmaking. I think we, as artists, have the ability to see the end result before we ever begin! That happens to me sometimes. Long before I pull out the cardstock and try to find where I left my scissors, I know what I want. I sit down with one part confidence and one part trepidation, my Crafter’s Apron tied, and my tools at the ready. Then come the details:

  • Ink-Blending (oops, too much pressure, or, I didn’t know those colors would make brown);
  • Stamping (stamping tool or acrylic block? Kiwi, come back here with that stamp!);
  • Die Cutting (I thought it was about ham & cheese on rye when the instructions mentioned a sandwich!);
  • Heat Embossing (what, exactly, do I do with this antistatic pouch? Is the paper supposed to curl up like that?);
  • Glue (not a technique, but oh my goodness! I had no idea there were so many types of glue!);
  • Interactive Cards (wait…the iris is supposed to close without those pieces coming out, too??) ;
  • Matting (seems I can’t ever get them glued straight); and
  • On and on and on it goes!

Many times, while I’m learning a technique, and because I get caught up in all those details, the end result looks NOTHING like what was in my head before I began!

Yes, learning new stuff can be frustrating for me – at first. It may even be frustrating for me “at second”. But I know that if I don’t give up, I will eventually learn. Now, I said “learn”; I didn’t say “become perfect”. After all, there is no “perfect” in art is there? Most importantly, though, I’ve discovered that I need to have (a) some patience, (b) a sprinkle of positivity, and (c) grace toward myself, because mastering a technique involves a lot of practice. And here’s the silly thing: even if I think I have it “mastered” (I don’t), I can still find fault with it somewhere (“Gasp! I messed up the edge of this card by 0.005 nanometers?? OMGSH, it’s JUNK!”). I mean, really?? LOL

My friend, you and I may get frustrated while learning a new cardmaking technique (or a new computer program), but the good news is that we, as artists, are a determined lot. We may bang our heads against a wall for awhile while learning something we’ve never seen before, but we also have the uncanny knack, and amazing ability, to take the one thing that didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, pull it out of the trash, and turn it into a different, but quite satisfying, masterpiece!

Well, it’s time for some rest. Have fun crafting!! And let’s be KIND to OURSELVES, and to EACH OTHER! I hope you enjoyed reading this, and that it brought a smile or two to your face!

Lisa

***************************************************************************************************************

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT A TECHNIQUE THAT CHALLENGES YOU, PLEASE REPLY IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. I would love to hear about it, and I’ll bet some readers will acknowledge being challenged by the same technique!

Kiwi and I say “Nighty Night”
Crafting + Life · Encouragement

5 Reasons You Might be Getting the “Crafting Crankies”

Good Morning! It’s about 7:30 a.m. here on the West Coast of the U.S., and even though it’s chilly out, there is the promise of a beautiful day. Kiwi is sitting next to me, but doesn’t want me to type; she wants me to throw her “Squeaky”. ha ha

I don’t know about you, but I am really looking forward to doing some crafting today! For the past two days, I have been die-cutting words and their associated “shadows”: “friends”, “hugs”, “thanks” and the like – six each of ten words. And yesterday I glued everything together. When I finished, I had thick, shadowed words which will give some dimension to my cards. And, although I have some nerve issues that cause my hands to shake (but there are ways around that!), I find that gluing paper together really relaxes me.

It’s funny, but I seldom have a problem getting started with my cardmaking. I get excited with anticipation. However, I do have problems stopping with the same excitement! At first it’s pretty awesome: my ideas are flowing; my “to-do” list is itemized in my head; I’m in the ZONE; I’m having fun; and everything is pretty much coming together for some very cool cards. Well, if all these great things are happening, then why, when I eventually leave my crafting area, am I (at times) rattled and irritated? Over the years, I have identified five reasons:

FATIGUE: I’ve pushed myself too far physically, and I’m ignoring it. My back is hurting from bending over my Big Shot. My hands are shaking more. I stayed up too late last night. My mind is tired from focusing too intensely. My eyes are burning from too much heat embossing. I can get really frustrated with my body for not cooperating! I can also get very disappointed that I literally cannot physically accomplish what I want to accomplish. Grrrrrr

GUILT: Whether the guilt is real or imagined, the “Shoulds” have a way of sneaking into my crafting time. I should be helping Hubby fold clothes. I should be spending time playing with my puppy (oh, yeah, and my husband LOL). I should be writing letters to my grandchildren. In other words, I should be doing something – anything – else! The resulting guilt (real or imagined), definitely affects me by sucking out the joy of my creating.

POOR PLANNING: My typical day has two hours scheduled into it for crafting, but sometimes I don’t block out enough time for what I want to accomplish. For example, I may have an appointment in a little bit, but am certain that I can squeeze in 10 more minutes and still be on time (I’m not)! Or, I didn’t realize it was going to take 30 minutes to figure out the instructions for a new technique, let alone try to use it. Yes, I admit it: I get cranky when I have to “craft fast”, or when I forget to take into account the actual learning part of something new (and for your information, I am of the opinion that watching YouTube Tutorials should NOT count toward my crafting time- ha ha). Dang!

MISTAKES: Then there are “Those Days”, where I can’t do anything right if my life depended on it: I glue the card upside down onto the base; I forget to VersaMark over the ink I want to emboss (yes, I’ve done that- @@ -); the die shifts even though it’s taped down; I don’t see the bubbles in the finishing gloss; I can’t find my scissors anywhere; I didn’t put something heavy on my backgrounds and they all curled overnight. Well, you get the idea. I get very “TITCHY!”

INTERRUPTIONS: this is the BIGGEST reason I get rattled and irritated, and finally stop trying to craft for the day. Since I’ve been sitting here typing, my husband has interrupted me I about 10 times: “do you want more coffee?”(actually, that is the only acceptable one! ha ha); “I created a new Pandora Station”; “hey honey, do you think these old sandals will fit you?” (I’m a 7, he’s an 11); “how long do you think you’ll be?” “I dreamed …(listen to me). Then, as I mentioned earlier, there is my beautiful Cavalier, “Kiwi,” who has been quite insistent that I throw her “Squeaky”, making little yips, and jumping up to paw at my arm, to get my attention. Isn’t that the bottom line of most of our interruptions – pay attention to ME, not to your (crafting) whatever-it-is-you’re-doing! And I don’t even have kids at home anymore!

Whether it’s fatigue, guilt, poor planning, mistakes, or interruptions, the result is usually the same – I’m disappointed and cranky that I didn’t get what I wanted, which was time alone to create. Isn’t that a typical response for humans that don’t get their own way? I know it is for me, along with the concomitant guilt over not giving attention to those I love. I realize that I need to stand up for myself and communicate my needs, but I think I also need to work on having some grace toward the interruptors. I guess I need to listen better for the signals that cause my “Crafting Crankies”, and stop (but…but…!) when I first hear them.

Do you have trouble sometimes, like I do, when you have to stop crafting? If so, what are the things that cause your “Crafting Crankies”, and how do you handle them? Please leave a reply, below!

Thank you so much for your time and attention today. I love being able to share my life with you, and I hope you are encouraged!

Lisa

* To be fair, I did get up earlier than Hubby this morning, and I did work on this post during the time we normally have coffee together! 🙂

Encouragement

We All Need Some Encouragement!

It started with my Mom. Mom made learning fun. She explained things well, listened to my questions, and showed me what the craft was supposed to look like before I started, whether it was something simple like making a Christmas tree out of popsicle sticks, or something as complex as making a quilt. When I was a little girl, my mother taught me how to crochet. I remember how fun it was to sit at her feet in the evenings, and while she worked on crocheting a blanket or sweater, I made a single crochet chain that stretched out as long as our house! As I grew, Mom and I began to talk and laugh as we worked together on our individual projects. She would always make time for me if I had an issue with my sewing machine, or couldn’t get a stitch count right while crocheting. However, when she found the problem, she would make me tear it out and begin again. And again. And again, if necessary. Although I shed many tears over my mistakes, Mom was insistent that I keep at it until I got it right. And yet…even though I would eventually “get it right,” and my project would end up looking wonderful, I would still berate myself for that one mistake. And I still do.

Mistakes. Ugh. Who likes ’em? Probably not you. Certainly not me! Nobody that I know of, and most likely nobody that you know of, either. But…mistakes go hand-in-hand with crafting, don’t they?! As a crafter, you probably expect them. I know I do! A wrong stitch. A bad alignment. Gluing something upside down. The ubiquitous smudge of ink. And, like me, you’ve probably learned how to either fix the mistakes, or somehow cover them up (I mean, really, how much extra Gesso, glue, or cardstock do we have to keep on hand?! LOL). HOWEVER, even though, as crafters, we expect to make mistakes when we create something, and even though we have learned many ways to cover up our mistakes, making mistakes may still result in having feelings of irritability, humiliation, embarrassment, disappointment, self-doubt, and/or discouragement. We may struggle with feeling like a failure, or experience subdued enthusiasm over our once-exciting project. And when crafters lose their M-O-J-O, they may not craft again for days, weeks, or even months. Wouldn’t you agree that most people, when they make mistakes, need encouragement? Well, you can bet your Stickles that I need LOTS of encouragement!

It seems to me that it usually only takes something simple to bring a smile to a discouraged crafter’s face. Sending a text message, mailing a handmade card, or making a phone call. Meeting at your crafty friend’s house and brainstorming ideas over coffee. Maybe all it would take is beginning to craft something together – anything! Those small acts of kindness can have a HUGE impact, and you may have just helped your friend over his or her Crafter’s Block! And who knows? Maybe you just encouraged yourself, too!

When it comes to encouraging others, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of crafters and non-crafters who could benefit from our crafting kindness. In my case, it’s sending handmade cards to friends and neighbors. I have also discovered a non-profit organization which not only accepts handmade cards throughout the year, but also distributes them to senior care facilities all over the United States and Canada. So here I am, a 60-something retired and disabled woman, living in California, working up designs in her 10′ x 10′ craft room, and then playing with cardstock and ink, stamps and dies, glitter and glue (and anything else I can find at the craft store! LOL) in order to have one of my handmade cards sent out to some 87-year-old soul sitting alone in a room, unable to have visitors due to COVID-19, and feeling discouraged. And the card that I made in my anonymous space might – it just might! – put a smile on that soul’s face, knowing that someone cares.

And that’s what I’m about. 🙂

How do YOU encourage others through your crafting?

Comment Below!

**************************************************************************************

FUTURE POSTS

My upcoming posts will be about all things crafting (with which I have experience!). I’ll also be sharing stories from my life- the good, the bad, and the, umm, opportunities. LOL I think that, once you get to know me some, you’ll realize that you’ve found a friend, and that you’re not alone in this thing we call LIVING.

DISCLOSURES

My posts are mine; nobody else’s! I will never post negative reviews. I’m not an expert, and I don’t work for, or get paid by, anyone. If I talk about a product, it’s because I use and like it. I’m just a fellow crafter who wears her Crafter’s Apron just like you, and who wants to share with you some things I’ve learned, some mistakes I’ve made, and some successes I’ve had, with the hope that you will be encouraged and inspired!

Thanks for reading this. I appreciate it so much! Talk to ya soon…