May 15, 2016

When Bad Instructions Lead to Bad Improv

When the creative juices have slowed to a snail's pace, I have no problem resorting to the use of a pattern to make something, anything, instead of just staring at my studio desk.  Over the past couple of years, I have added a few patterns for sewn and stuffed creations for help with my stifled creativity.  Tired of a blank brain on the art front,  I finally opened one of the patterns to look over the materials list and read through the instructions.  Just a few steps into the instructions, I noticed things like materials listed appeared nowhere in the actual instructions.  Then there were the confusing directions to do things like cut two pieces of ribbon followed by instructions about what to do with the middle piece.  Middle?  Of two pieces?  Huh?

The distraction of the obvious errors, including conflicting instructions and missing information, made me think that I should just move on to a different pattern.  Maybe these errors were an anomaly.  I opened the next pattern and began reading through those instructions as well.  They were worse.  I can't silence the my mental red pen and felt compelled to let the author know, without being impolite, that there were issues with the instructions that needed clarification before I got started.  It was hard to find a functioning means of communication with the creator, but we finally connected via email.  One of my questions lead to the creator realizing this was a big error in the years-old pattern, and the "clarification" for a different step that was still just wrong: 5+3+5 is never going to add up to 8.  Sigh.  At least I have years of sewing experience and figured most of it out by myself.

I got to drawing, sewing, cutting and stuffing and found myself enjoying getting messy with this silly project.  I question some of the steps, thinking that this just doesn't look right or thinking that I could save myself a messy task by doing some things out of order.  At least I'm doing something creative, even if it is editing instructions and poking myself in the fingers until I bleed.

I've done stuff like this a million times, so I just put on my smarty-pants and improvised on some of the instructions.  Bad idea.  Pants were not so smart.  The most thing to remember for future similar projects   (and should have remembered!) is not to gesso fabric that requires being hand-stitch later to avoid having to paint in nooks and crannies.  It's like trying to poke a needle through a sheet of plastic.  So I have the body of a bird on wire legs too flimsy to support its weight (even though I used wire one gauge thicker than the pattern called for) so it looks like a drunk on the sidewalk.  Do I bother to finish?  Throw it out and start over?  Or do I challenge my inner-Tim Gunn and figure out how to just make it work?

I say, "Start another project and hide the mess!"  Yup, I'll come back to this fiasco leter.





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