Thursday, September 09, 2010

I heart criticism and copper

So ladies and gents, I had my very first jewelery making class today!

We writers sit down and write all day, using our brains and our hands. I need a little physicality in my life. making! It was meditative and technical...but whimsical too. I loved it! I was still using my brain and my hands but I could touch the tools! (Have you ever tried to pick up 'dialogue' and hammer it into a scene of metal?)

At one point, I thought I was done with my piece, but I wanted to use some different tools. So I asked my teacher what other things I could do to it. She pointed out some places that needed to be smoothed out and showed me what shape of sanding tool to use. I smiled, thanked her, and sanded.

Being the obsessive writer that I am, I thought about writing. Why can't it always be this easy to ask for criticism? When I asked for criticism on my novel about six months ago, my stomach twisted up and I had a dumb grin on my face. I was...too happy. Weird. I asked my betas questions. I listened intently, and I did the best I could to address the issues they found. But it wasn't easy. Or all that fun. It was nerve-racking. (BTW, my response to nerves are a blank stare at home but a dumb grin in public.)

A few weeks ago, I went to a writers group, and read a piece. They said it was good, powerful, and strong. I asked for criticism. It was easy. I wasn't emotional about it. I just hoped that someone could help me.

Learning how to take criticism requires work, practice. It truly is a skill.

I'm glad that I'm getting better at it. Throughout this whole class, I'll be trying to make pieces that I like. Its not about pleasing the teacher or the other students. Its about having something to take home that makes me happy.

I've come a long way. Today in class, I did not ask "How should I stamp this?" "What else should I do?" "Do you like it?" "Is it good?"

What I asked instead was, "What else could I do to this that would teach me another tool?" I knew what I wanted, and I asked the right question.

When I'm done with my rewrite, a round of edits, reading it aloud to my husband, and another round of edits, I will give it to my betas. It will be much more anxiety-inducing than making jewerley, but hopefully the idea that creating...making...shaping...learning...are all FUN! really rubs off on me.

Asking for and making use of all types of criticism can be...FUN! 

I hope that you can take a moment and heart your WIP, no matter what stage its in.  

I was given a 20 gauge sheet of copper. After using a saw blade, a drill saw, and various sanding and stamping tools, I present to first handmade piece of jewelery that did not involve a bead! It is a very silly thing, but I like it.

I'm thinking it could become a choker. I just need a black leather cord! Oh, and in case you're wondering, the D's are for me, and the G's are for my hubby, Gabriel. I tried to put just one G and D but I did the D backwards, so I flipped the thing over and tried again. I did it backwards AGAIN! So then I just went all willy nilly on it. 

I invite you to spread the love. All the silly stuff leads to the good stuff. All the comments that are hard to hear lead to the ones we all want. 


  1. Taking criticism is definitely a learned skill! The first one is usually devastating but then we look forward to learning!

  2. I love that you make jewelry! Awesome! And crits are meant to help us grow, in any form. They may hurt sometimes, but the message is, there's potential and we can do better.

  3. I love that heart!

    LOL on the timing of your post. Crits are hard. But not because they can sometimes hurt. They're hard because it's sometimes tough to know what to listen to and what to ignore. Most of the time I agree with the critter (despite what it sounded like on my blog yesterday), but if I'm not sure, I write a note to return to the spot. Usually an hour later, I'm back there dealing with the issue because I know the critter was right.

    And sometimes we have ignore the comments and listen to what our hearts say. :)

  4. Oh what a beautiful piece. I love it!!!!

  5. I think the same kinds of things in rewriting, smooth and polish. But it isn't always clear what needs that special care and what doesn't

  6. Great first piece of jewlelery! Glad you had fun. Learning our craft called writing should be as fun, but yes, I know sometimes I forget that too. Thanks for the post.

  7. I agree with you about the nature of criticism. Compliments and adulation feel good, but I learn from criticism and in the long run that's more valuable. So often I think people are afraid they'll hurt someones feelings if they offer criticism. If done tactfully and constructively no one's going to hurt my feelings. I don't want personal attacks, but I encourage personal challenges that will help me grow.

    I don't get this much in blogging, though I would like it and try to encourage it in my blog pieces. Sometimes I try to offer polite criticisms and give suggestions, but frequently find that this is ignored with no response. The ones who do respond however are gracious and receptive, which can be the beginning of a great blog relationship.

    For me, the hand extended in the spirit of helping is a welcome hand.

    Tossing It Out

  8. Good crits are easy to take. Bad crits can be discouraging.

    It's knowing the difference that hangs up people.

    It has nothing to do with whether it's writing, or jewelery, or woodworking (my hands-on creativity is woodworking), or painting, or any other thing you do.

    It has everything to do with the delivery.

    Ignore badly delivered crits, take the rest for whatever value you can find.

    And be careful who you let crit anything you do. There are people I would never submit my work to, only because they are so harsh (and unrealistic) in their judgment.

    - Eric

  9. It's true. If we can't cope with criticism then we can't grow as artists, either in writing or jewellery making.

    At the same time, there's an art to giving criticism also, in a way that is constructive and not hurtful. That takes skill and practice.