One of the most liberating pieces of advice I’ve received came during a workshop with Dayle Doroshow. As Dayle was demonstrating a process she said “And if you can’t fix it…feature it.”
How is that for a freeing motto?
How often have you made a mistake somewhere during the process of your creating? You look at what just happened and, perhaps after an expletive or two, you might claim defeat and toss the piece into the trash or add it to the pile of “I’ll fix it later” pieces.
Depending on the extent of the goof-up, you might be able to squish the clay and start over. Works on canvas can be repainted or get another layer of gesso.
But sometimes the goof up isn’t evident until the piece is finished. This happens to me periodically when making my wine bottle stoppers. The wood core is covered and all the edges sealed. Into the oven it goes and after it is cured and removed from the oven, then I see it…the dreaded air bubble.
Air bubbles on the stoppers typically result when the clay did not make adequate (that is, secure) contact with the wood core. When they appear, it is usually near a seam making the bottle stopper look like it has a wart.
Sometimes the air bubble can be removed and possibly repaired. More often than not, that isn’t the case and the stopper gets tossed into a pile for some reuse project. However, the other day the muse practically knocked me over with an idea.
Froggies or other creatures as embellishments to hide the offending stopper wart, er bubble. The structural integrity of the bottle stopper remains intact and now the stopper has even more personality.
Another instance where I’ve had to apply the “If you can’t fix it…feature it” motto happened to some pyramid shaped Santas. Originally flat on the bottom, I decided to give Santa a lift and added a pair of boots. Most of the updated Santas were fine but a few were a little tipsy. This is often part of the challenge when working with a triangular shape that is balanced on two feet instead of three. (Yes, creating a three-legged Santa did cross my mind.)
My first idea was to give Santa a devil tail or perhaps attach a bag of goodies that had spilled its contents. Instead, I came up with this:
Santa needed a quicker way to get around the North Pole. So he slapped on some skinny boards and started cruising around. Wouldn’t you know it, he got distracted by some elves building a snowman and found himself entangled in a set of Christmas lights. But he stayed upright the entire time!
So if you can’t fix it…feature it, work with it, adapt it, hide it, manipulate it; try not to toss it. See if you can re-invent it.
If you have a piece of art that you’ve reworked from its original design, send me the link and I’ll be happy to share it here.
And thank you Dayle for this great piece of advice.