The better your technique, the more impossible your standards.
The craftsperson biggest enemy is perfectionism. Every creation exists in two dimensions – in the imaginary idea realm and in the material result and more often than a non-crafty person would suspect these two have mismatches. Each imperfection is experienced as failure. On the other side if one continues to alter its creation it will never be finished.
For practitioner, the ‘obsession with perfection is prescription for a failure.’
In his attempt to define ‘good-quality work’ Sennet draws a differentiated line between correctness and functionality. ‘Following the absolute measure of quality, the writer will obsess about every comma until the rhythm of a sentence comes out the right, and the woodworker will shave a mortise-and-tenon joint until the two pieces are completely rigid, needing no screws. Following the measure of functionality, the writer will deliver on time, no matter that every comma is in place, the point of writing being to be read. The functionality minded carpenter will curb worry about each detail, knowing that small defects can be corrected by hidden screws. Again, the point is to finish so that the piece can be used.’
When it comes to my crafting philosophy I am an absolutist, I always lose time on the details and have hard time to identify when I should stop. And sometimes there is really fine line and exactly one movement can either ruin the whole thing. Anyway, with my work for the festival’s decoration now and the making of audience award statuette I am conscious of the expectation to deliver good quality product in certain time. And I can feel the pressure. There is big difference to do crafty project in the free time just like any hobbyist and to create publicly distributed thing which is supposed to engaged people in certain way.
Aiming for perfection such as made-by-machine where each detail falls exactly where it should can lead one to grief and make the progress impossible.
After all handmade items are appreciated because their distinctiveness which most of the time is cause by their imperfection. Allowing oneself to make mistakes is freedom which every artist should respect and it often can cause changes and improves on the final look.
Voltaire has a point saying that:
‘only someone who accepts that he or she is likely to fall short of perfection is likely to develop realistic judgements about life, to prefer what is limited and concrete and so human.’