The Process of Failure



Recently, my daughter came home from an art class upset because her drawing "wasn't working out."  She thought herself a failure because she had to start the drawing over again. My response to this was to show her my special bag of failure.  

For the better part of the last 6 months, I have been amassing a large zip lock bag of completed silver and polymer work destined to the silver recycling plant. When I showed her the contents of my bag, I explained how each piece failed to make the cut.  Some were too heavy, others too clumsy, some malfunctioned, some warped, some just did not work aesthetically for me.  The list went on.  The point was I spent hours (sometimes days) working on a piece only to eventually toss it in the "garbage" recycling pile.  In fact, until late September, nearly everything found its way into the bag.    

I explained to my daughter (who is only 7) that it is good to fail, because through failure you get better.  Of course it is a bit more complicated than that.  There is a skill to recognizing when to abandon something, knowing when to let go of an idea that isn't viable. However, it is often equally important to keep trying something that  doesn't seem to be working, if only to understand why it isn't working.  

What I am talking about here is process.  I am new to craft.  My background,  and education are in "fine" art which (for the better part of the last 60 years) has emphasized process above all else.  The idea is that the  process of art making is more significant than the art object itself. The art object serves to reflect this process. In craft, the opposite is the case.  The art object is more significant than the process.    Process is important only in how well it  serves the creation of the art object.   

The interesting thing is that failure serves both "fine" art and craft equally.  It doesn't matter if you are trying to make a functioning watch out of nothing but sheet metal, or watching how you make marks with a crayon on sheet of white paper, failure serves your growth.

So I have included here a photo of my nasty ever growing bag of failures, as well as some glitzy photos of my more successful pieces.  The funny thing is in looking at them both, while I am proud of my more successfully completed pieces, its my bag of recycled silver that tells of how I got there.        



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