Setting goals…

…is not something I try to do. I don’t like to be disappointed so I figure if I don’t bother to set myself goals, then when I fail, it’s not a big issue.  I’m trying really hard lately to have more confidence in my work and myself, which seems to be going quite well but there are still those odd moments when these nagging and critical voices in my head (they sound like my mother) seem very loud.  I’m really lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband, who has been my own personal cheerleader for the past 31 years. His favourite line of all when I’m being self-critical is ‘Don’t talk about my wife like that!’ Eventually that kind of support becomes louder than the nagging voices of my past but you know, those little snips and barbs are still there, chipping away at the positivity wall that he has helped me to construct.
The past two weeks have given me a bit of a boost, confidence wise. I had a two page feature article written about me and my work by the Aberdeen Evening Express with lots of photos of my mice and one of me looking terrified sat at my desk.

It’s a well written article but I realised when I read it, that my answers about my work and myself, must have given a totally different impression of the person that I am. I was so wary of sounding proud or confident that I came across as a bit of a bloody twit. I downplayed my talent, it became more about these whimsical little toy mice that I make and less about my art. I didn’t mention my birds, those fabulous embroidered creations that can often take days to make. It was more about mice wielding baseball bats and the charming little Garcia mouse that I made for one of my favourite actresses. Aww look at the little grandmother who sews teeny tiny mice out of tweed! Bless her, she has no confidence in social situations and is scared of doing a craft fair.  NO. Just NO.

So, with that in mind, here are some goals.

I’m framing that article to remind me that I am not just a grandmother who sews adorable little mice. It’s going to sit right in front of me on the wall, above the tatty looking radiator behind my desk. I should have said to that photographer, let’s have a lovely photo of me in the big comfy chair, surrounded by my books and sewing shizz looking out onto my garden. Speak up for yourself woman.

I’m going to apply for next year’s NEOS (North East Open Studios). I am. I’m going to fight the shyness and put up with the possibility of strangers walking into my house and wanting to talk about my work. This is where the doubt creeps in…what if no one shows up? What if I don’t get any visitors? What if one of them is a serial killer who wants to make a giant mouse out of my skin??????

I’m going to do a craft fair. Yes, I know. I said it. I’m not sure which one to apply for but I went along to a great one yesterday, full of absolutely lovely people selling their gorgeous stuff. They were so friendly and that kind of gave me a little bit of confidence that maybe I could be a part of that kind of community. I just have to apply I think. Once I’ve applied, that’s it, no backing out. If I give myself no way out….

I’m going to have more pride in my work. If I don’t, how can I expect anyone else to? It’s that old self help theory ‘how can you expect anyone else to love you if you don’t love yourself’. It’s true. So when someone asks me what I do, I have to put those big girl knickers on, pull ’em up good and high (not wedgie high, that’s not a good look) and speak about my work with love and pride.

I can do this.

believe

 

I can do this.

Shall we be brave together? What do you need to do? Are there any goals that you have lurking around in your heart or head but don’t feel confident enough to either vocalise or aim for? Let me know here or on my FB page and let’s push through all those sharp elbows of doubt, together.

We can do this……

Your inner voice ‘can we?’

Yes we bloody well can!

The top 5 things…

….not to say to a crafter or artist.

We’re a fragile bunch. We sit at home on our lonesomes, drawing, cutting, sewing, glueing, writing, wringing our hands. Some of us are mums, carers or have a day job that soaks up our creative time, making every stitch precious when we finally get to ‘make’. Some of us actually get to interact with other human beings on a regular basis. But all of us, to a one, struggle with having confidence in our work and what we do. You, the husband, the daughter, the mother, the sister tell us it’s great but we don’t believe you, you’re supposed to say that sort of thing. It’s only when strangers tell us these things that we sort of believe it and even then that’s a struggle for us, wondering what their game is, being kind!!

This is why, when you hear a certain phrase, that your blood runs cold and you wonder why you even bloody bother. There’s a hot mass in your stomach and your body tries to turn itself inside out. Most of the time we don’t get to hear these lines. I’m sure there are people who look at my mice on my FB page and think ‘HOW MUCH?’ but I’m lucky, Facebook hasn’t yet invented eavesdropping via post/comment. Not yet anyway.  I’ve had some comments in the past, which I respond to. How I respond, depends on my hormone balance on that given day. Catch me on a good day and I’m smiley and jolly, all the while imagining the commenter’s death at the hands of the sharks in my shark tank that I now have in my Volcano lair.

No one has caught me on a bad day. Yet. If they do, you’ll know it.

Here’s the list, in no particular order…because frankly, they’re all bloody rude!

‘I could make that’ – could you? really? You star! Go home, buy all the materials, draw the pattern, sew it up. Let’s see how long that takes you. Then bring it to me and show me.

‘My kid could make that’ – please refer to the previous comment. Off you trot and take your amazingly talented Tarquinus-Jackajohn (age 5 and 3/4) with you.

‘How much? I could get that cheaper in *insert retailer here’ – Off you jolly well go then. Then bring said item back and show it to me. It will often be mass produced, usually by children in far away countries for a pittance. That is why they are so cheap to buy. I’m not dissing major retailers by the way but anything you buy from them is going to be mass produced, it’s how they keep the prices so low.

‘I’ll get my friend to make me one’ – This one grinds my gears. It’s on a par with the people who come onto my facebook page and tag a friend who’ll then say ‘sure, I’ll have a go’. Let me tell you buttercup, that’s copying and if you want to do that, kindly bugger off. I’ve seen too many lovely people torn apart by finding out they’ve been copied. Trust me, if you are rude enough and so lacking in social etiquette to write that stuff on my page and I find out that you have copied my work, not only will I be sending a cease and desist letter but I’ll name you on my page and let my lovely followers loose on you. Think Liam Neeson from Taken, only more soft, womanly and angrier….some may even carry knitting needles and trust me, they know how to use them!

‘I’m running a charity event and would love to have one of your pieces for a draw’

NO! In my early days of crafting, I did this twice. The first time I got a lovely response from the organiser, with a thank you email afterwards. The second time, I didn’t get so much as a thank you message on facebook. That was someone doing a charity trek thing. I can only assume she fell off a damn cliff because she was obviously unable to write a simple ‘ta very much’. I’ll choose my charities thank you.

These kind of comments are why I don’t do craft fairs. I don’t think I could handle it. The extra loud whisper as they walk away or if they are extra rude, say it to your face. I also don’t want to have to bail my husband out of jail after he’s rugby tackled said offender to the floor and kept them there till they’ve apologised.

If you lovely lot have any other priceless lines of rudeness you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them. As a crafter I’m pretty sure I’ve heard most of them but you never know, one of you might have a rare gem to make us all chuckle 🙂

We are all thinking, sentient beings. Crafters and Artists are just that little bit more sensitive, please try to remember that when you are holding a piece of their precious work in your hands. Try to be kind. You don’t have to say it’s awesome. Just something like ‘you must put so much time into your work’ makes all the difference.

Amanda x