Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Perfectly Imperfect

Something I've struggled with my whole life is trying to be perfect, and I've always been very hard on myself when I didn't do things perfectly. I've come to accept that it's impossible to be perfect till we die and go to Heaven, and that I'm not a bad person if I'm not perfect. I can do things with excellence and try my best, but at some point I have to relax, have a sense of humor, and accept myself as I am.

The flower pictured here is one of the first things I ever made with clay. I still love the colors but it's very thick and heavy compared to what I make now. And here is an angel I made while taking a stained glass class around 1995.

While I was taking the class, a friend was kind enough to lend me some of his tools so I could work on some projects at home. One day I was filling him in on my progress, and complaining about how difficult it was to cut the pieces of glass and how crooked all my edges were. He had a lot of wisdom, having worked with stained glass for over 20 years. He said, "Just think how beautiful it will look, when it's hanging in the window, with the light shining through it."

After trying for two years, I concluded that stained glass art was not for me. If I wasn't cutting my fingers, I was burning myself with the hot solder, and no matter how much I practiced, it never got any easier. Then I discovered clay and it was so much fun! But of course, my perfectionism set in quickly. I kept pointing out uneven places and fingerprints and other imperfections to my friends, but they all said, "That's what makes it look handmade instead of stamped out perfectly by a machine!"

My friends helped me to realize that my art didn't have to be perfect to be beautiful -- and what my friend said about the light shining through is a metaphor for ME too. I have value and beauty and can let God's light shine through me, even if I'm a work in progress with many flaws. :)

Here are some quotes I found about perfectionism that I really like:

Certain flaws are necessary for the whole. It would seem strange if old friends lacked certain quirks.--Goethe

No one is perfect. That's why pencils have erasers.--Author Unknown

The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form.--Stanley J. Randall

It is reasonable to have perfection in our eye that we may always advance toward it, though we know it can never be reached.--Samuel Johnson

A man would do nothing, if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done.--John Henry Cardinal Newman


kim* said...

Hi Judy,

I liked this entry, it made me see that we should like ourselves for how God created us. Although try to do better each time but not to the point of driving ourselves insane and quitting :)

Malicious Intent said...

Really glad you wrote that. Because it is true. I tend to be a bit hard on myself with my artwork at times. But over the years I realized that people didnt see the "mistakes" that I saw. They were unaware of what I considered to be inperfections with what I did. So I started to relax a bit.

I think folks enjoy your craft so much because it does look hand made, and a fingerprint is proof that it truly made with loving hands and that no one else on the planet has one like the one you have. That is so much more valuable than any cookie cutter crap they sell at Walmart.

In this economy, it is especially important that we support each other and lesson the demand for cheap imports. I do not buy my gifts from those stores, I come here or other Etsy sites to meet my needs.

Nice quotes too...you know how I love quotes!

PolymerClayTutor said...

I used to try and hide my mistakes. Then one day realized that was how I learned... by making mistakes. Now mistakes are celebrated and shared... much easier to do than trying to be perfect! ~Cindy Lietz