Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life Lessons Learned from Bookbinding--Part 1

I posted the following list on my Facebook page and a couple of people asked me to explain what I meant. So, I thought that I would expand on these ideas.

1. Sometimes, you just need a hammer.

Sometimes I need to get away from being absolutely perfect in my creating and concentrate on the process or the outcome. I was taking a class on box making and I just could not get the lid to fit on perfectly. The instructor came over, analyzed my problem, took out my English hammer and banged on the corner of the lid, and Voila--it fit. She said--sometimes, you just need a hammer. She later went on to explain--the recipient isn't going to know, or care, how the materials where put together. As long as you are proud of the final product don't overly concern yourself if it isn't exactly perfect.

2. Use the restroom before doing an extended project.

This is more of a practical issue than anything else. The problem for me is that I get so wrapped up in a project that I don't think about other practical matters. I was in the studio and couldn't understand why I had such a headache--until I looked at the clock and realized that I had already been in the studio for 10 hours and had forgotten to eat breakfast AND lunch. In other words, don't lose sight of the practical issues that need addressing.

3. Always start with a clean workspace.

This is a throwback to my mother. My mom was always sick when I was growing up. Often, she would be hospitalized and she hated to come home to a dirty house. Her rule--you never should return to filth. One time, she came home from the hospital a day early and we hadn't had time to clean the house. I thought that we would have to return her to the hospital because she was so mad. If you start with a clean workspace, then you aren't fighting over stuff you don't need. Or, you can find those items that you really need because they are in their "starting" place. Finally, a single mess at the end of a project is certainly easier to clean up than multiple messes because you were too lazy to clean up the last time.

4. Start the complicated stuff after a break or in the morning.

I learned this lesson when I was studying during college. I have always been a morning person. I am one of those obnoxious people who wake up happy. I would always retain information or write better when I woke up in the morning (even if not well rested). Conversely, after 8 pm, I am unable to retain any information so I have to do work upon which I can really focus (like balancing checkbooks, or minutiae). So, if I need to cover something in book cloth, or use expensive materials or calculate/measure, I always do these things after sleeping or taking a nap. If I need to do repetitive work, I do it late at night before going to bed. Cutting strips of paper, or folding paper or sewing signature are all projects done at night while listening to the TV.

5. Lots of small coats are always better than one large coat.

Bookbinding has taught me patience. I can have the patience of a saint for others or while teaching but I have absolutely no patience with myself. I have learned that rushing projects, especially while using expensive materials, can become very costly or frustrating because you usually have to start all over. Thinking that one big smear of top coat will be better than several lighter coats with time to dry in between is simply a lesson in futility. Trust me--I have definitely learned this lesson the hard way.

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