Mistakes or Design Features?


Everyone makes mistakes–and part of my job is to encourage you to make them! Yes, you read that right. If you're not making mistakes, chances are you're not trying new techniques or new materials or stretching yourself creatively. The question is not whether or not you'll ever make a mistake on your beading project, it's what do you do about it? Do you redo it? Do you try to cover it up? Or maybe you'll use mistakes as inspiration for a future project. When I interviewed Carol Blackburn, author of Making Polymer Clay Beads, I asked her the difference between her former fiber career and her new jewelry making career. She said, "When things go wrong with polymer clay, it's a design opportunity, but with knitting you have to unpick and start again!"

In this week's free project/article, "Turn Lampworked Mistakes into Beautiful Beads", lampwork artist Monica Howard shares her tricks for turning broken or cracked beads into wearable pieces. Even if you're not a lampwork artist, dealing with mistakes is something that we all do. Part of the decision of what to do when I make a mistake depends upon where I am in the project. Here are some options I've considered:


 Live with it

If I'm making a project just for myself, I may choose to live with a mistake if I've already finished the ends. (If I haven't, I'll just redo it.) Since I'm often creating jewelry for myself in a make-it-tonight, wear-it-tomorrow frame of mind, I just shrug off the mistake. Sometimes after wearing the piece, however, all I can see is the mistake and I do end up redoing the piece.

At left: One of my "mistake" bracelets. I meant to make it symmetrical, but notice the different number of beads on either side of the center.

Cover it up

This is the beading equivalent of wearing a hat on a bad hair day. This includes doing things like using Sharpie pens to color thread or adding fringe to a project to cover up a mistake. For me, this feels like a murky area–is it artistic freedom or is it just bad workmanship?  I'd love to know your thoughts on this!

Start over

This is my choice if I'm making something for someone else, including magazine and contest submissions. I abandoned my first attempt at a square for the Bead It Forward Quilt because I didn't realize until too late that I had miscalculated the number of rows. Since this was a charted design intended to be placed just so on the square, I could not simply remove a few rows to make it the right size. Sometimes it just needs to be perfect!

Fix it

Sometimes you can fix your mistake without starting over completely. For example, when working on my second attempt at a square for the Bead It Forward Quilt, I got off track.  (Too much CSI and not enough beading!) A couple of rows later, I noticed that a few beads were in the wrong place. Rather than starting over completely, or even undoing several rows, I simply cut out the few problem beads and restitched that area.

Get Inspired


Sometimes a mistake will generate a new idea. For example, when I was working on a second version of the Ladder Rings project, I accidentally added an additional, slightly smaller bead to the edging and noticed that it made the edging ruffled instead of smooth. Because of that mistake, I ended up deliberately adding more beads to the edging of the silver and brown ring, creating a unique variation of the original project.

How do you handle mistakes? Share your thoughts on the website.

More Free Projects: Today's free project/article is: Turn Lampworked Mistakes into Beautiful Beads by Monica Howard. If you're not a lampworker, remember that you can always check out our free project library for other projects you may have missed. Use the topics page to find projects by type or check out the popular projects page to see what's hot.

Michelle Mach shares free beading projects and tips every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have questions or comments for Michelle (including suggestions for future free projects), please post them here on the website. Thanks!

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