Welcome to an Aethelflied has views post. Allow me to start with the following:
You are your own worst critic.
We as artisans want everything we do to be perfect. We want the lines in our illumination to be perfectly smooth with no wobbles, we want our metal work to have no dents or sharp bits (that ought not be sharp), we want every shot we throw to go flawlessly, we want our thread perfectly even and our weaving to be without a single error. Otherwise it’s not good enough. Fuck that shit.
No really. Forget about that. It is never going to happen and you’ll suck all the joy out of your own hobbies if you only accept perfection in your own work. And honestly? If you’re doing any kind of historic recreation? Perfection means you’re doing it wrong.
The things we are recreating were first and foremost functional. Does your object work for its intended purpose? Then you did it right and it is wonderful. Are there ways to improve? Yeah sure, and you should aim for that next time. But that should be the goal, better than or as good as last time. Not perfect.
And here’s the other important thing: You have permission to fail. No, really. You can fail. Yes you. And you. Fail big. Fail in new and exciting ways. Fail in ways that result in ‘no shit there I was’ stories. Because failure means you at least tried it before deciding you couldn’t do it. So long as you have all your body parts and no one is for real dead? Failure is good.
Going back to what I said about the objects we’re recreating being first and foremost functional. Super well made objects, or objects made deliberately pretty and impressive, were more likely to survive. That skews our sample bias towards stupidly fine work. Things that were used until they wore out don’t survive. Cloth rarely survives enough for us to see warping or treadling errors. In a fight the lucky shot won, not always the fighter with perfect form. We are comparing ourselves and our efforts to master works. Or at the very least to the work produced when someone has been doing it multiple hours a day, every day, since childhood. Unless you’ve had the same level of practice (spoiler: if you work full time or can buy your linens you have not) then your work is more than likely not going to be as perfect as extant examples.
On top of that, we live in an era of machines. Machines that can replicate things flawlessly because that’s All They Do. Comparing your output to that of a machine is silly and leads to madness.
In short: fail, fail big, and be proud of your mistakes.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to take my own advice and NOT count the treadling or threading errors in my most recent silk. Or over analyze my wonky hem line.
One thought on “Perfection is Not Period.”
Great advice. Do listen to it, because from here, through this iPad screen, what you make is lovely. And impressive and inspiring.