“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
This is one of my husband’s favorite quotes. I’m not a man (duh!) nor do I fish, but I know exactly what he means when he says it. And it’s the first thing I thought of as our most recent Creative Cutters meeting finished up for the night.
You may already be wondering what fishing has to do with crafting. Stick with me for a few minutes and I’ll explain.
Like any good instructor, I test all projects (often multiple times) before I teach them. I try to anticipate where a student might have difficulties and brainstorm ways to avoid those difficulties. In class, I strive to create a positive and stress-free environment. If something happens, we back up, start over, and work our way through one step at a time until we figure it out.
Over time, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and roll with the punches. I’ve dealt with technical issues, mis-cuts, weeding mistakes, melted HTV, power failures…you name it. It’s all part of the process.
But there are some things you’re just not prepared for.
Not at all.
Like never in a million years.
Like a project that just refuses to be successful, despite being tested.
In other words, a project fail.
Yep, you read that right. A project FAIL! In one of MY classes, no less!!! A simple project. A cute project. A project that I’d tested just like any other.
See this bright and cheerful chalkboard sign? I thought it would make a perfect project for our group to make on the eve of the first day of Spring. We’d only need a few things – the blank chalkboard, a stencil, paint, and some sponges. Sounds easy enough, right?
But “easy”, it wasn’t.
Not at all.
Like never in a million years.
I’m still trying to figure out what happened.
As usual, I began with a few instructions. The stencils were applied, the paint was poured, and everyone started to paint. Sponge painting is simple. It’s relaxing. It’s FUN!!!
Everyone in the group was having a great time! People were mixing and matching colors and adding their own artistic touches to the design. There was lively conversation and lots of laughter.
And then it was time to pull off the stencils.
I don’t want to be over dramatic here. It’s not like I heard screams or gasps or anything else of that sort. (Pause for dramatic effect.) But there was a noticeable absence of the normal “oohs and ahhs”.
That’s when I suspected we might have a problem.
I did hear a lot of “May I please have a touch-up brush?” and “Hmmmm, I wonder what happened here?”.
That’s when I knew we had a problem.
Seems that the beautiful acrylic paints we were using (you know, the same ones I tested) did NOT want to settle into their new home on our cute little chalkboard signs, preferring to remain instead with the lovely (although useless by this point) vinyl stencils. No matter what we tried, that paint wasn’t giving up without a fight! Some people’s paint had dried while other’s was still wet. Didn’t matter. Some paint was thin and some was thick. Didn’t matter. We used X-acto knives, pointed weeding tools, teamwork, and patience. DID. NOT. MATTER.
Oh, we had a few successes…thanks to sheer determination and a healthy dose of touch-up paint. But the majority of us went home with a blank chalkboard. (Because if the paint will pull up that easily with the stencil, any bits of paint that taunt you by remaining on the chalkboard can also be easily removed. Go figure.)
For the first time in the history of Creative Cutters, we had a project fail.
Or did we?
As you can imagine, all of this was quite discouraging. I had been looking forward to seeing everyone’s finished signs – painted all bright and cheery – not a bunch of blank black boards staring me in the face. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what anyone else anticipated either. (Talk about unmet expectations!)
But the evening itself wasn’t a failure at all, not by any stretch of the imagination. Some went home with blank chalkboards and others with painted chalkboards that didn’t turn out exactly like we planned, but we ALL went home with something better. A MEMORY. A GOOD memory actually. Some might even say it was a GREAT memory!
So you may think I’m crazy (and I kinda am at this point and maybe you are too for sticking with this story all the way to the end, LOL!), but with apologies in advance to Mr. Thoreau, I’m going to paraphrase by saying:
“Many people craft all of their lives without knowing that it is not a finished project they are after.”
Despite all the troubles we had, everyone was still laughing at the end of the night. (Ok, maybe not “everyone”, because I certainly wasn’t laughing, but most everyone…) No one seemed stressed (that’s one point in the success column!). They even THANKED me as they left and told me they’d had FUN! (Huh?)
Maybe they were just trying to be polite, but I don’t think so. I truly believe it’s because when all is said and done, each of them know what we’re really after when we get together – not a finished project, but a shared experience. Time with friends and time to chat. A couple of hours to just forget whatever else is happening in the world and have some fun.
And this time, the teacher is the one who learned the lesson. Even when a project doesn’t turn out like you planned it, there really are no fails when you’re spending time with friends. And what a great group of friends I’ve got ♥.
Until next time,
P.S. While you’re here, why not leave a comment below and share one of your own crafting mishaps. I’m also soliciting tips on stencil painting, because clearly I still have a lot to learn 😉 .
Lycia is a lifelong crafter whose goal is to help others find value, confidence, and joy in whatever they create. She geeks out on using technology to supercharge craft projects with Silhouette Studio, Design Space, Glowforge, sublimation, etc.! Lycia teaches these skills and more through online tutorials and videos as well as in-person classes at both the local and national levels.