Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sometimes I'm a Scaredy Cat

I signed up for the Bead Soup exchange yesterday (thanks for reminding me, Heidi!). And to celebrate, I figured I should add a new post. The tone of this one is somewhat contemplative and a bit introspective, with a dose of honesty.

I received my weekly email from Magpie Gemstones (http://www.magpiegemstones.com/) alerting me to a new shipment of beads and a sale on turquoise; all of Magpie's beads are great, but her turquoise is absolutely stunning. Also included in the email was a link to an article entitled "Excellence Versus Perfectionism: The Healthy Jewelry Artist--Part I." www.magpiegemstones.com/perfectionism.html

As soon as I saw the word "perfectionism" contrasted with the word "excellence", I knew this was going to be an article that would hold some painful truths for me. And, of course, it did. The sentence---"In its pathological form, perfectionism is a belief that work or output that is anything less than perfect is unacceptable"---pretty much sums it up for me.

I don't think I'm completely neurotic, yet (ha!); I still produce. Some pieces practically make themselves and I'm very pleased with the outcome. But sometimes---especially if I'm making something for a family member or friend---I worry about the end product to the point that I'm paralyzed and can't get anything done. Or I re-do one tiny thing over and over and over...

And the worrying sucks all the fun right out of it.

I also tend to get this way when I'm writing articles related to archaeology. I haven't identified what factor makes me tense up, but I'm pretty sure the phrase "peer review" has something to do with it:)

Anyway, I recently got this tense, scrunched-up feeling while making a necklace for my sister's 40th birthday. She sent me a photo of a similar necklace and I could tell she loved it. So I conspired with my mom, who generously paid for the "ingredients" (that's how I refer to components for a specific piece), and I got started---well in advance too. My sister's birthday was in early April. I started the necklace in January.

I just mailed it to her last week---almost 4 months after her birthday.

How could that have happened? How could a little (or not so little) nervousness make me miss a deadline by so much?

Two factors were involved: 1) I wanted to make the clasp myself out of silver clay, which I had not worked with before. [By the way, I LOVE silver clay. It's awesome and it's easy-peasy to fire with a micro-torch, as long as you follow the rules. 2) Ummm, well, I wanted the necklace to be perfect. Completely and utterly perfect without a single mistake from start to finish. Ha! Delusional.

There was a learning curve with the silver clay...to be expected, right? I was really unhappy with the bar part of the toggle clasp [Women in my family like BIG toggles. They want the toggle to function as a pendant or centerpiece. Big toggles are very hard to find, hence my interest in silver clay.] I must have made 6 or 7 bars. I couldn't make one thick enough to support the weight of the round part of the clasp without having to switch from torch firing to kiln firing. That's one of the constraints: your piece shouldn't weigh more than 25 grams, be larger than about 1.25 inches in diameter, or thicker than 2 mm. Jill Erickson has a great 'how-to' video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZRLhX2z6BM.

So...3 months later, with lots of nail biting and teeth gnashing, avoiding my mom and sister because I'm so guilt ridden because of my tardiness, I finally decided if I didn't try another approach the necklace was never going to get finished. I grabbed a piece of 12-gauge wire, twisted a loop in the middle, smacked it around on my block, and voila. Done. Not exactly what I wanted, but I told my sis I'd make her another one. She says she loves, loves, loves it. Her words, not mine. I'm still not sure I believe her, no kidding.

Submitted for your approval...or not:) I'm gonna try not to worry so much.

This necklace is about 16.5 inches long. I've loaded it with very large freshwater keishi pearls (some are almost 2 cm across). My sister-in-law calls keishi pearls "smashed" pearls and I love that name. The pearls in this necklace are very similar in size and shape to corn flakes.

Sprinkled between the pearls are faceted quartz briolettes. I used the .019 diameter sterling silver soft flex because the components are heavy. The clasp is made from silver clay and silver wire, of course.

I'm warming up to this necklace. In general, I had better hurry up get over my weirdness. I have 6 necklaces to finish by August 26th. That's the date of our annual "girly" get together, aka. The Tata Party. Six necklaces including one for my mom, one for my sister, and the other four for a group of wonderful ladies that I'm lucky enough to be friends with! I think these will go quicker. I'll post 'em as they get done. That means they'll all be up on my blog by the night of August 25th, ha!

"If I strive to be perfect, I’ll never get where I’m going. Yet, if I strive for excellence and work to improve, I have hope." ---Karen Meador, Dream Catcher Designs http://www.dreamcatcherranch.net/designs/


  1. Yay! You got the photos to work - looks good - I like how you have 'em with the text wrapping around. Anyhoo - don't be so perfectionistic! This necklace looks fantastic, and only you and your blog readers (because you told us) will think twice about the wire toggle bar. It looks great. And I looooooove the pearls with the interstitial brios like that. Gorgeous :)

  2. Blog, Char, blog!! I love ALL of your jewelry and I treasure the pieces you've made me. To quote you back to you, "I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE" my Charski pieces. Don't sell yourself short...you make beautiful stuff. Remember what Vaughn would say, when you're 85% done turn it in! xoxo Elle

  3. Perfectionism is a curse. I should know. I am blessed with it too. Always thought being a double Virgo had something to do with it. I now know that a**l retentive elementary school teachers are to be largely blamed for it:-)

    I am a total left brainer too and write about it on my blog.

    Your necklace turned out beautifully!

  4. Stunning.
    Be kind to yourself.


  5. You folks are too kind! Thank you so much!

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