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Keeping enthusiasm for a piece


#1

I was just wondering whether others experience the same phenomenon
as me - I’m sure they do as we’re all human. I find that ideas come
into my head for pieces I want to make, and I am really enthusiastic
about them. However, once I’ve started to make a piece, an idea will
come into my head for the next piece and I find that my enthusiasm
for the piece in hand dwindles to the point where sometimes, I really
can’t be bothered to finish it!

I have a drawer full of half-finished pieces, or pieces which are
finished but for stone-setting and final finishing. It’s a different
story if I’ve actually been commissioned to make a piece, as
obviously the money is a motivating factor in itself. So on that
score, this may not apply to many people on the list as the majority
of people are actually earning money from what they are making. I’m
still plowing through a seemingly endless list of freebies that have
been promised to family, friends, family’s friends and colleagues,
etc.

Do others find that they have this lack of enthusiasm once a new
idea pops into your head? If so, how do you cope, and force yourself
to go on and complete a piece?

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk
http://helensgems.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#2

Hi Helen,

My excitement for a piece used to lasts until I figured out how to
make it, once I hit the finishing stage I would become board with the
project. A bit of determination and practice has changed this for me.
I now wont let myself start another piece until the last one is done,
unless its for a commission or another necessary deadline. This way I
usually get through the work, but don’t spend much time enjoying the
final piece, as I cant wait to get into the next one. The next step
in my plan is to work based on a calendar and to remember to build a
crate and document my work as a final finishing step.

So really its persistence and practice.

I hope this helps
Christine
www.christinebossler.com


#3

Helen - I often have the same problem. Half of my business is
commissioned pieces and those get done right away. The other half is
my own work - whatever I dream up. I have a special dish on my bench
with half finished things just sitting in there and they are
"looking" at me waiting to be completed… Funny.

One piece sat there at least a year and then wham!! I had a idea to
change it just a little and it turned out much better than the
original plan. So, I guess I am saying that procrastinating is
sometimes ok. I would really love to take all of those pieces and
show them to a dozen other artists and not show them the completed
sketch and have them draw up their own ending… Wouldn’t that be
fun! This is really no helpful advise but I definitely have your
same issues!!! Take Care Joy


#4

I don’t put the piece away (out of sight). I will draw the new idea
in my journal, then, I may start on the new idea, but the original
piece is still there so I will come back to it and finish it. The
adage: “out of sight, out of mind” is quite correct, that is why I
don’t put it out of sight.

John
John Atwell Rasmussen, Ph.D.
Geologist and Gemologist
Rasmussen Gems and Jewelry
http://rasmussengems.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#5

Hi Helen -

However, once I've started to make a piece, an idea will come into
my head for the next piece and I find that my enthusiasm for the
piece in hand dwindles to the point where sometimes, I really can't
be bothered to finish it! 

This is exactly my besetting sin - starting something and having to
find ways to motivate me to actually finish the piece, when my
brain’s running ahead of itself with new ideas. After all the ideas
are the fun part, the actual nitty gritty of getting it done it the
horse-work, and after the initial surge, all the fun goes out of it.
I think it’s normal to want to be getting on with the next piece -
after all, the next piece, like the grass being greener etc, is
always that much more alluring or attractive, until you get to the
drudgery of that piece too!

I find the best way for me is simply to set myself a target of
completing x number of items in a week/month, while allowing myself
to get started on new pieces or start designing them and gathering
the “ingredients”, testing things out, etc as long as I keep to my
target. That way I’ve always got something to enthuse about when the
hard work bit gets me down. I think it’s the two sides of the brain -
the part that comes up with the ideas, wants to play with colour and
texture, and be constantly stimulated (like a child!) - but doesn’t
like the hard graft bit, and gets depressed and defeated when it’s
expected has to carry through.

Committing myself to finishing x number of items per week or
whatever allows me to skive off some days and just play with ideas
for new pieces - I just have to be disciplined enough the next day,
which comes more easily if my creative brain’s had its “playtime”.

Of course, that’s the idea - I often fall by the wayside, but it
works for me, by and large!

Sally
(UK)


#6

Hi Helen

This has been the bane of my life! My very large studio is crammed
full of projects that have settled in various stages of being
unfinished. It is a pity since many were great ideas to start and I
now have a small space in which to work. One day, I keep saying, I
shall clean it up, chuck out the things I know I shall never want to
pursue again, and have the room back!

Meanwhile, I have slogged through those distracting moments this
week and am nearly finished with a pair of fabricated earrings in 14k
and amethyst. This is monumental since I have always been a wax
carver and cast my pieces. Soldering has not previously been my
strong suit. So we shall see how they turn out, I’ll send you a pic.

Hang in there, to lose interest is human, to persevere is divine.
(LOL I crack myself up!)

Nel


#7

Helen,

Your experience is bass ackwards from mine. A fully designed piece
with all of the construction details worked out, I know what it is
going to look like in my mind, starting is extra work. I have to
kick myself to start it, but once started it is quickly finished.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#8

A friend used to keep all her half finished work and mistakes in a
drawer. Occasionally she’d lay it all out and make a necklace.


#9
A fully designed piece with all of the construction details worked
out, I know what it is going to look like in my mind, starting is
extra work. I have to kick myself to start it, but once started it
is quickly finished. 

i disagree much with this post, i most times have to be working on
the piece with design intentions in mind, looking at it straight
on, peripherally, gaze at it, try it on bodies, think of adding
different or more materials, so there are many critical changes,
so to speak, they happen from looking at it and moving it in my
hands, many are not quickly done at all, but if perseverence is
one of your strong points, i mean 30 year perserverence- comes from
interest!!, many, many incredible designs will flow, stretchiest
example; i made beautiful doodle patterns when i was young, did them
seriously after a while, just thought they were beautiful, like
moire patterns, in the last 5 years have incorporated them into 3d
carved jewelry pieces, am freakin happy, but i have just started
down this road, can do it in all kinds of shapes, sizes, stretched,
whatever, ad finitum, dave


#10

Hi All

now my problem is having enthusiasm at the start, i might come up
with an idea or my girlfriend will give me an idea (i must admit her
ideas always turn out to be great ) but sometimes i just cant be
bothered, but once i get started my enthusiasm is there from start
to finish, sometimes i might start 7 different pieces and then loving
every second of it from picking up the metal until i show it to
magdalena ( my girlfriend ) with a big happy smile on my face, if i
have an idea but i think it might suck if i get the thumbs up from
her i know its gonna be a great piece and so far it has been

regards
jason


#11

Helen

I know exactly what you mean. I too have a box of pieces started and
never finished because I have lost interest in them. Sometimes I
have revisited pieces years later and done some reworking on the
design which has revived enthusiasm. One design spawns another and
sometimes the latter becomes more exciting. I often get more caught
up in the technical working of a piece and lose sight of the design
so the end result is not so exciting as the process of making it.
Also I think I become too familiar with a piece that has taken a lot
of time in the making so it no longer has any novelty for me although
it may have for others viewing it for the first time.

One thing I know I should spend more time on is design development.
I get an idea and rush into making it or I feel pressed for time to
get some work done for a show date or something and don’t put enough
thought into the design so the stuff I produce I think is boring and
ordinary.

However, as you say commissions are a whole different ball game. I
spend more time producing design options for the customer and I see
the project right through usually with a much more satisfying
result. It seems so much easier to put enthusiasm into something that
you know is wanted and is going somewhere.

Well today I should have lots of design inspiration. I’ve spent the
day walking in the Sussex Downs and it has been stunning. Keep making
beautiful things.

Collette (UK)
www.collettebatho.com


#12

Dave,

i disagree much with this post,, i most times have to be working
on the piece with design intentions in mind,, looking at it
straight on, peripherally,, gaze at it,, try it on bodies,,, think
of adding different or more materials,,, so there are many critical
changes, so to speak,, they happen from looking at it and moving it
in my hands,,, many are not quickly done at all,, but if
perseverence is one of your strong points....

I guess we will always disagree. If I need to make a specific piece
(IE, the one the client has approved) there is no room for
exploration, I have to know what I’m going to be doing before I
start. Can’t quote$ without a plan.

Like going out for a walk, if I need cat food I always walk west a
mile then turn north for 100 yards. If I want natural inspiration I
pick a random direction (and hope that I miss the river :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#13

Hello,

When I begin to design earrings, for example, for an upcoming show or
exhibition, I will assemble stones that interest me and design up to
six pairs at a time. When I begin to make the earrings, I return to
the first of the designs, and it feels fresh to me and I get enthused
about making that pair. As I progress to the each of the next
designs, I am intrigued by the designs anew.

I do find that as I work on a piece, once I’ve ‘solved’ the
construction/design problems, that I want to get on to the next
piece. Ah well…the delights and dilemma of being a one-person,
design and make studio.

Linda Kaye-Moses


#14

Helen - For many years I worked within this problem. Starting items
that I really enjoyed, but putting them aside unfinished because the
joy left and the enthusiasm for the next piece swept me away. I had
to force myself to exercise some discipline and realize that because
I had lost my personal enthusiasm for an item didn’t make it
something that someone else would love. Some of my items that I have
had the most success with have been items that I had set down and
then forced myself to pick up again. Now I don’t allow myself to have
more than three working projects at any time.

Sandra Graves, Artistic Endeavors with Wings of Light


#15

heres a formula for you maybe some one already posted it. 1%
inspiration 99% persperation. maybe one piece out of a thousand is
worth feeling excited and remaining enthusiastic over that one piece
is the reason you labor through the other 99

goo


#16
Starting items that I really enjoyed, but putting them aside
unfinished because the joy left 

I guess the real answer to Helen’s original question is
perseverance: Sit down and do it anyway!! Which easier to say than
do…

I’ve had in mind to point out a bigger story, though. Steve Jobs is
well known as the founder of Apple Computer - innovator, inventor,
wizard. I’m not an Apple person, but you gotta give him credit. His
company was voted out from under him, though, because he was a lousy
businessman (which is to say, likely far better than you or I). At
the time the story and analysis was that his was a common problem,
that of entrepreneurs - they are into the thrill of the chase and
the excitement of jumping out of the plane with an umbrella for a
parachute. When the time comes to tally up the books or think about
labor relations, their eyes glaze over and they fall into a deep
sleep - just not day-to-day managers at all. It’s like turning a
race-car driver into a shoe salesman… No real point except that we
are not alone… Human nature and all that…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#17
Starting items that I really enjoyed, but putting them aside
unfinished because the joy left 

My apologies in advance to those who will take offense at my
statement, but, this just isn’t a professional attitude.

If a person intends to seriously pursue the making of things, whether
as vocation or avocation, then the finishing and completing of things
is part and parcel of the undertaking.

Most of us do a lot of repitition of task in building and developing
and refining our skills. If this bores a person, or lacks sufficient
joy to keep the tools moving until the work is accomplished, then do
something else instead.

A bored jewelry maker is a not sufficiently devoted to the craft
jewelry maker. Practice, a lot. Make the same things over and over
and over (as John D will chime in) until you are very good at doing
them.

That is where enjoyment of craft should eminate, from the joy of
possessing skill and confidence at what you do, and doing it well,
not just from the enjoyment of being excited about some of the things
being made.

Michael David Sturlin
www.goldcrochet.com
www.michaeldavidsturlin.com
http://michaelsturlinstudio.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#18
That is where enjoyment of craft should eminate, from the joy of
possessing skill and confidence at what you do, and doing it well,
not just from the enjoyment of being excited about some of the
things being made. 

This is well said, if a bit harsh. I’m glad someone said it better
than what I was thinking. I’m baffled by the feelings expressed by
so many.

Sure, a piece that goes badly or is very involved may benefit from
being interleavened with other work. Sometimes it is necessary to
take a break. But it’s a process, not just a product, and if you
don’t thoroughly enjoy the process, even the challenges, then I
agree, you should look elsewhere.

Design is easy. Anyone can come up with an idea of something they’d
like to wear or sell. “Ideas” are a dime a dozen (not good ideas,
maybe). It’s all about the execution.

Noel


#19

I’m with Michael Sturlin on this one. 95% of making jewelry is doing
the repetitive, boring work. Bending the wires over and over.
Soldering the jump rings closed over and over. Setting stones over
and over. That’s the way it is. (And that’s how you get good at it.)
That 5% creative piece may be a nice rush but it is most assuredly
not what making jewelry is about. (Well, unless you’re one of those
"designer" jewelers who doesn’t actually MAKE any jewelry.)

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#20
95% of making jewelry is doing the repetitive, boring work. Bending
the wires over and over. Soldering the jump rings closed over and
over. Setting stones over and over. That's the way it is. (And
that's how you get good at it.) That 5% creative piece may be a
nice rush but it is most assuredly not what making jewelry is
about. 

This is why I work on several–maybe 5 pieces at a time. When I was
in school I took my TA (teaching assistant) out for a beer and asked
him candidly what my short -comings were ( as a metalsmith).

Without hesitation he said "You never finish anything. You get bored
with it.)

This and untidy craftsmanship were my hurdles. Others came up and
continue to but those were the big ones for me.

Working on several pieces at one time keeps me engaged, makes my use
of time much more efficient and helps me solve problems. The solution
for one piece often lies in another… It also makes the work relate
as a body.

I also think that Michael is spot on with his post. One of my pet
peeves regarding artists is that we sit with legs crossed and eyes
closed waiting for inspiration to strike. As we all know, so many
times it’s just a matter of pushing through.

Work produces work. Idea begets idea. Design leads to design.
Andy Cooperman