Monday, October 5, 2009

At which point do you give up?

There are always at least two options with the creative struggle. Keep going and try to turn a sow's ear into something better, or give up, knowing that you have tried everything you can think of but now you really need to move on. I find about half the time perseverance will pay off and after countless trials and auditions, I am happy with the result. The rest of the time I feel like I have explored all the same options, but the result is still a mess.

The 'respond to the piece' mantra works particularly well for the more abstract works, where you have a starting point but no fixed idea of where the end point will be. However, I am just as likely to find myself in a no through road when I have a clear design, but I just can't translate it into my vision.

It seems, looking back, that the things which came together in a hurry have been the better and more satisfying works. The ones with ongoing problems often don't get to a happy solution.

Of course, every dead end is in its own way a learning experience. Mainly I've learned that I don't enjoy dead ends!

I think there is a difference between this dilemma and the kind of working method where you know you are going to make a few samples to see which is going to work best.

How about you? Do you know when to give up?

Julia in NZ


  1. I don't like to give up. I have never had a lot of ufos or wips. I also enjoy the challenge of fixing something that has gone awry. I have one on the design wall right now!! If all else fails, I will cut it up and make postcards!!

  2. I also don't like to give up...I'm very stubborn. But I lose interest in the project, I know it is time to put it aside. I usually keep in on the design wall for awhile and ponder it and try a few things when I have more patience. If I just don't care for it anyway, I put it in the stack of UFO's that I use to cut up for other projects or for backs of quilts. It's good to push through the frustration but it's good to know when to give up (or put it aside)

  3. I have learned that sometimes a piece wants putting away till you can learn how to do the vision in your head. Maybe it is that I haven't got the skill for the technique yet, or maybe I haven't developed the best way to achieve the design principle it wants.

    I have learned alot of things through journal quilts and pieces for this group that have given me the skill, knowledge, experience and confidence to go back and make something the way it should be.
    Sandy in the UK

  4. I decided many years ago that not everything needs to be finished. Sometimes the point at which you left it is where you learned the lesson of that particular piece. I tell classes that not everything needs to be completed. Some things are just "learning lessons". I believe that is especially important when you are feeling your way toward a new piece of quilting knowledge.

  5. Sometimes giving up merely means that you're ready to take real risks. Once i decide a piece isn't working and is not going to get better because I've tried everything i can think of, then I can cut my losses and do the most daring thing I can think of with it. Scissors ready! Maybe i'll cut it up. Maybe I'll rearrange the parts. Or add elements. Or use it as part of another piece. And maybe I'll leave it in the closet or toss it entirely, but first, there is that moment when I have nothing to lose. It's actually a GOOD thing.

  6. Most of my ufos are of the traditional kind. I've found I get bored very easily. Sometimes these work as parts of an art quilt if I just let my mind take me to that far away place where I can put aside all the time spent on it and let it morf into what it wants to be when it grows up.

    I'm still working on what I want to be when I grow up so I rarely give in to failure. One piece that started as a FFFC really wanted to be something else. I worked with it later and posted the results of the grown up art quilt. I recently showed it to a workshop group and it knocked their socks off. This was validation to never give up and let the piece find it's own voice.