An open letter to Kim Werker

I finished Make it Might Ugly today. Look at me, reading (!!!) a whole book. Audiobooks have been the most practical book format for me lately, but I really appreciate when I find — or make — the time to read.

 

Proof I’m OK making something with no specific purpose in mind. What to do with a pink and blue glass Bigfoot?
 
It feels good to have not only finished a book, but it’s great to have stuck to the commitment I made to myself to blog weekly about some kind of crafting book. It’s just the kind of challenge Kim suggests in the book. How nice to know I’m on the right track.

But first: In deciding on the title of this post I had to think about open letters and look into whether or not they’re ever complimentary. So what if they’re not! Writing a nice kind of open missive is exactly the kind of thing that I imagine Kim would suggest in one of her assignments to “flip” a project.

Back to the book …
No matter how often we — as makers and humans — come face-to-face with the idea that everyone deals with the demons of perfectionism, creative block, self-doubt, it’s still nice to hear about peers — fellow crafters — who have the same issues. So much of what we do is done (happily) alone, but the result is a sense of isolation. And when we check out someone’s website or Facebook page or Instagram posts, it’s easy to think that that person has it together. He or she knows what’s what and has banished creative demons for good. What I love most about Make it Mighty Ugly, is that Kim gives readers example after example of artists who, while still plagued by those demons, manages to stare them down and vanquish them even if it’s just one project at a time.

I don’t think that I suffer much from creative block. The bins of random resin, clay and wood pieces stashed in my work space serve as proof. 

 

These unpainted pieces of paper clay have languished for years.
 
Fear of failure, while regularly peering over my shoulder, is more of a pest than demon. And then there’s self-doubt. I can’t count the times that I’ve spent a day at the market or in my studio wondering why I keep doing what I’m doing. Those are always the times when I hitch my personal happiness to some kind of financial success or other external validations. While compliments and sales are nice, I do believe that I’d be making something no matter what. It’s when I really feel the giddiness of making something fun or different or downright cool, that I know why I give so much time to doing what I do.

I also liked the fact that the book plays up the importance of community. Sure I had friends who were willing slaves to their sewing machine or fondant, but I’ll never forget attending my first Art and Soul retreat and talking to a woman whose boyfriend came over one night to find her gluing Barbie shoes to a picture frame. Ahh … I’d found my people. I’m a bit of a wallflower/lurker type, but when the opportunity arises, or the need in me to ask a question or say something in general, bubbles up, I can’t be shut up. (Just ask the beau or my family.)

At the heart of this book, and shared in a number of voices within, is the message to just (please forgive me!) do it. Find your thing, your people, your schedule, the time, the supplies. Follow your bliss! Scratch that itch. Etc., etc. We all know the cliches. We all know what we need to do. And so, I should wrap this up and get to it.

The bottom line is that I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a nudge or a swift kick in the pants. Sometimes all we need is that reminder that we’re not alone in our doubts and fears and blocks. I also recommend it as a regular title that I’ll want to revisit. I’d marked so many pages with scrap paper bookmarks, that it looked like the book was slowly exploding. I even found, near the beginning, a tiny leaf that hid in my jeans cuff a few weeks ago. I saved it in the book, of course. I mean, you never know when you’ll want to submerge a leaf in resin. And that leaf needs to be flat. 

 

This leaf is begging to be stamped.
 
Actually, I want to stamp on it and then cover it with resin. Will it work or look good? Who knows. Is it worth trying? You bet!

One thought on “An open letter to Kim Werker”

  1. “The bottom line is that I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a nudge or a swift kick in the pants.”

    Why are you looking at me like that?

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