Sunday, June 10, 2012

On Not Being a Perfectionist (or Perfect!)

starting a new bookmark using 2/20 mercerized cotton

Last night we watched a couple of episodes of Mastercrafts - a BBC 'reality' tv series.  On one of the episodes, one of the participants was a 'perfectionist' - in his effort to create perfect work he would over think and overwork his materials winding up with rather less than perfect results.  And taking a rather long time about it.

I have a confession to make.  I am not a perfectionist.  I am all too aware that I am not perfect and that - mostly - I do not create perfect work.

The cloth I cut off the loom this morning certainly reflects that as it is far from perfect.  I was pushing the materials to their limit in terms of what it would willingly do, but I was also striving for a particular quality of cloth.  As a result I had to cajole the threads to behave in such a way as to arrive at that particular destination.

There are 'flaws' in the cloth, but nothing that can't be fixed before wet finishing.  And some of the 'flaws' simply won't be visible to anyone else but me.

And that, I think, is the difference between someone who strives for perfection (me) and a perfectionist.  I am willing to settle for good enough, knowing that good at least gets me usable cloth.

I am also aware that once cut from the loom the job is not yet complete - the web still has to be finished and there are a number of adjustments that can be made at the next stage of the process to bring the cloth more closely to 'perfect' than by worrying away at the loom messing about with it.  This stage is sometimes referred to as 'dry' finishing - it's where you inspect and repair any flaws that can be fixed.  And then it is wet finished - where quite often small inconsistencies magically fade away as the threads relax and shift to areas of least resistance.

Am I happy to be done with this warp?  Oh yes!  Am I happy with the results?  That's a more difficult questions to answer.  The cloth shows the quality I was striving for.  As a teaching example, it will do the job.  Am I disappointed it isn't 'perfect'?  Yes - but I also know that I was pushing the materials and trying to force them to do something they didn't want to do.  I'll be much happier once I've done the inspection/repair and wet finishing, trusting the magic in the water to disguise the less than perfect technical execution of the cloth.  I'll settle for 'good enough'....

Currently in between books - started two that, while well written, did not 'grab' me in terms of their content


Jane said...


The BBC mastercrafts series looks interesting, how did you get hold of it? The website /iplayer seems to not give me any option to watch again unfortunately :-(

There is a lovely paragraph in Denyse Schmidt: Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration - about embracing wonkyness

And I happen to think that imperfections are what make handmade things interesting, and obviously unique.


Laura Fry said...

Hi Jane, Someone gave me a dvd with 4 of the episodes on it. I don't know how to watch them via the internet.

While I strive to make 'perfect' cloth, it rarely happens. There is a balance between accepting a result, even if it isn't perfect, and continuing to strive for perfection and winding up with nothing.

I should say that the 'perfectionist' did eventually turn out lovely product. :D What an amazing experience to participate in the series.

One of the people in the weaving episode has gone on to become a weaver/designer - search for Holly Berry - she's just had an article appear in Making(?) magazine (UK).


Jane said...

Hi Laura

I'll have to look on eBay for DVDs etc then

Holly Berry had some work on display at the Brighton Made fair last year - was incredibly tempting to buy a blanket - would be interesting to see her journey


Laura Fry said...

Holly has a blog if you want to follow her on her journey. :)