There's never time to do it right…

… but there’s always time to do it over.

I’m wrapping up an interior painting project, and it’s taken far too many coats and iterations for my taste. I can’t tell whether it’s because I’m using inferior paint (local big-box brand), bad technique, or that 3 coats is a reasonable expectation for a deep red color to evenly coat a wall. But worse, I’ve gotten sloppy around the edges, particularly the ceiling. Rather than take the time to laboriously mask the textured ceiling with tape, I rollered close to the edge, sometimes nicking the white ceiling with a splotch of red. Oh well, I told myself, I’ll just touch up those red spots with white later on.

Now the walls are essentially done, and I’m ready to move the furniture back and reclaim my living room. But wait! Those red splotches remain. That means spending one more evening (at least) on retouching, one more evening I can’t spend doing something a little more relaxing at home. Would I have been better off spending the time to mask the ceiling? I guess it depends on how long it takes to touch up the ceiling.

I’ve read from other furniture makers that we craftspeople are our own worst critics. We see – no, we know about the flaws in our own work, and assume that everyone else’s eye will be drawn immediately to the glaring blemishes. Truthfully, visitors will look at my walls and probably not gasp at the subtle blemishes that I know are present (but can truly barely see myself). Nor will they be distracted by the minor flaws in the dining set. Over time, I’ll stop seeing them myself, too.

I’ve been visiting craft shows this summer (one more coming up tomorrow) and am paying close attention to the fine woodworker’s exhibits. I’ve been shocked at what some people consider “ok” — band saw marks left in the interior of boxes come to mind, or wooden bowls with sanding lines still visible if you hold them up to the light at the right angle. I’ve had a perfectionist’s eye to my own work, in part because I don’t have to worry about making a living with it. But I’m learning to draw the line at “good enough” — still maintaining a high bar, but not an impossible one.

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3 thoughts on “There's never time to do it right…

  1. Well what I admire in the amount of patience you have. Truly some thing I have to work on. As well, when you are an artist, you do have an eye for true craftsmanship, which separates you from the novice. Thanks for stopping by Larry. I hope you had a good summer and life is going well.

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  2. nice to have you back. A very good reason to get back myself! I smiled when i read your comment about something being "good enough" My art teacher often uses that phrase often which i love. I suppose it is quite comforting. You don't feel patronised by one giving you false praise (since you're very well aware that your work isn't wonderful) and yet it lets you off the hook and allows you to move on. Be good x

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