Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Torah Mantle (Part 2)

It was a long journey, but this weekend I finally completed the Torah mantle.

I worked on the final patch over the weekend during brunch at Home Ec.  As I worked the final appliqué stitches, I actually felt myself getting choked up--because I was nearing the end of my largest and most significant project to date, and because I wished that Auntie was here to see it.

Over the several months I worked on this project, I learned a lot of important lessons that I will carry with me as I continue to hone my skills.

1.  Ingenuity
With its polyester (?) woven fabric and construction, I had to figure out entirely new strategies for stitching compared with what I had done in the past.  My solution was to embroider designs onto cotton fabric patches, then sew the patches onto the fabric.  The result was a design that was easier to stitch while adding more color, which is what my customer wanted.  You can see the individual patches in my Flickr album.  If I am open to new ideas, I can stitch with more unusual materials.

2.  Entrepreneurship
This was my first commission, and I have a much better sense of how I will deal with paid work if I choose to do it again in the future.  I learned to get as many details as I can, and to advocate for myself while also listening to the customer's needs.

During this time, I was reading a thread on "Ravelry" in which knitters and crocheters gave ideas on how to respond if someone says "you could sell those!"  Many people would answer, "I do this as a hobby.  If I sold them, that would be work, and work isn't fun."  That is a real concern when considering whether to turn a hobby into a business. Suddenly, you can't just make anything you want because you need to devote some time to the project that you are selling.  I discovered some tricks that helped me balance my crafting time.

For example, while I was in the final stages of sewing on the patches I did all of my work at Home Ec.  It was easier to sew there because I could lay the cover flat on a table and avoid distractions.  (Note:  I don't consider chai tea and mocha-frosted cookies to be distractions.)  The cover was bulky, so I began keeping it at my day job's office to avoid lugging it back and forth on the bus.  I discovered that when I kept my commission work in a separate physical location from my house, I was much happier and relaxed at home.  If it wasn't in my house, I did not feel the pressure to work on it 24/7.  Lots of artists and crafters rent out studio space in which to work.  That won't be possible for a long time, but I now understand the psychological value of maintaining separate work and home spaces.

3.  Perseverance
There were times when the project felt overwhelming, and I was so close to giving up.  After waiting for the panic to subside, I would come upon an answer that made the job easier.  My customer was depending on me, and believed that I could do a great job.  Sticking to it was worth it, and I feel like now I can accomplish anything!

As I held the finished project, I said a prayer known as the Shechecheyanu.  It is an all-purpose prayer to thank G-d for bringing us to this moment in time, and it seemed appropriate to say on a new work of creation.  May I continue to create beautiful objects and grow as an artist!

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