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January, a perfect time to tackle UFOs (unfinished objects)

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Did anyone else feel the need to clean their house on new year’s eve? I know many people were having parties, seeing fireworks, having fun while I was slaving over a hot vacuum cleaner but I had this compulsion to see in the new year in a tidy, clean home. (Which perhaps says a little too much about my home ordinarily but I do live with a moulting ginger tom).

This short-lived upsurge in house cleaning reminded me that I have some UFOs lurking about; some unfinished objects.

So let’s be honest here. Do you have any UFOs on your workbench? Things that you started making but couldn’t quite get finished because

  1. it didn’t look at all like you had in mind
  2. you lost momentum with it
  3. you suddenly had a great idea for something else
  4. Christmas was so busy there’s now a thin layer of dust over all of your jewellery making equipment
  5. all of the above?

experience

It is easy for us to end up with unfinished objects and I suspect it’s not just me (I can see something right now that has been there for about two years, low estimate). When I asked the LJS marketing co-ordinator Bronagh if she thought this was a good idea for a blog post she called herself a ‘veteran UFO collector’. I imagine the two of us are the tip of the iceberg.

So, here’s what you can do about your UFOs:

1. Leave them and do nothing

This is a fine strategy if it is a strategy and not an avoidance issue. If your box of UFOs pulses menacingly at you every time you glance at it reminding you of ‘all your failures’ (the box’s words, not mine) then you need to move onto step 2.

2. Look through your pieces with fresh eyes

Take a deep breath and open the box. Look at each piece in turn and decide what to do with it. DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH IT. Putting it back in the box isn’t an option.

3. Finish some things off and ditch/recycle the rest

I’d spent a long time making something complex out of silver clay and I knew deep down it wasn’t working. I left it aside for quite a while but when I looked at it again I knew it would be a waste to fire it. So I put it in my silver clay grinder (aka a coffee grinder) and ground it up.

All of this needs to be done with minimal psychological damage to yourself. Ha, yes I know what you’re thinking; if minimal psychological damage were possible you would already have done this. So here are your superpower super mantras to help you through. You are to repeat these over and over until you are immune to the negative power of the UFO.

This was a great idea at the time.

It was or you wouldn’t have tried it. Perhaps in the execution it didn’t quite work but that’s what learning is.

Starting to make this gave me an even better idea

This is the only way we get better ideas, by trying things out. Maybe your UFO is a prototype for a brilliant idea that came to you later. If that’s so, leave it as it is, frame it and give it the title ‘the birth of an idea’. Put it in a prominent place to remind yourself that there are no mistakes, everything is learning.

Knowing what I don’t like is just as valuable as knowing what I do like

Sometimes we berate ourselves for trying new things and finding we don’t like them. Please try to stop this or limit it to ten minutes of berating per week. Knowing you don’t like something can help you focus on what you do like and that can only be good.

So, repeat after me:

This was a great idea at the time

Starting this gave me an even better idea

There are no mistakes, everything is learning

Knowing what I don’t like is just as valuable as knowing what I do like

Take a deep breath and open the box.

Anna Campbell is an experienced teacher and enjoys all types of jewellery making including beading and silver clay. She runs her own business, Light Boat Jewellery and has made jewellery for celebrities. However, before having a jewellery business she studied psychology and has taught psychology at university level and loves it when her two worlds collide.