Saturday, November 3, 2012

Patience for Beading and Big Projects

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

As I write this, it's actually Thursday. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I'll be off on an adventure, so I'm using Blogger's scheduling feature. I'll go into more detail later, but let's just say, it's something very fun and exciting, and I can't wait for it to start!

"You must be so patient!"

That's one of the first things people say when they see my beadwork. It never fails to amuse me because honestly? I'm the most impatient person I know.

(Half of my red Galaxy collar. It took a month of constant beading to finish!)

The sensible side of my brain recognizes the importance of hard work and persistence and likes to say that it's the journey, not the destination, that matters. But the other side, the often louder side, is in love with end results and instant gratification. It wants to get to that reward as soon as possible, or it has a tantrum!

Over the years, my sensible side and I have come up with a few tricks to keep the impatient side quiet while we work on large, detailed projects, and I thought I'd share a few of these with you. That way, if there's a project you want to tackle, like a beaded cuff or collar, you can take impatience out of the equation!

 (The impatient side took a nap while I made most of this necklace.)

  • Get comfy. One of the first, and best, things I do when I start a big project is find a place to work that's comfortable. This doesn't just mean that it has decent lighting and is hand, back, neck, and shoulder-friendly, even though those things are important. 
It means that my workspace lulls my impatient side to sleep because it's warm, safe, and cozy. When I'm on my red couch, snuggled up under a blanket and a pile of beads, the impatient side thinks we're taking a nap, which is the best form of instant gratification in the whole world. Especially if there are fuzzy pajamas involved!

  • Distract yourself. Once I have a nice workspace picked out, I set up a distraction for my impatient side in case it wakes up from its nap and starts asking me... are we done yet?
My go-to distraction has been Hulu. I've been following Pretty Little Liars, Grimm, Once Upon A Time, and Teen Wolf, all of which add to the fun slumber party feel of my workspace, but I've also checked out some Japanese animation like Death Note and Shiki. The subtitles force me to look up from my work and give my eyeballs a break, and I've even picked up a tiny bit of Japanese.

Recently I've gotten into podcasts, too. I love Blogcast FM and Self Publishing Podcast. Srini's interviews are always interesting and thought-provoking, and Johnny, Sean and Dave are absolutely hilarious. It's like hanging out with three of my best guy friends.

  • Take breaks. Even the best work environment can't keep the impatient side happy forever, which is why I try (emphasis on try) to take breaks every half hour or so. I'll get lunch or a snack. I'll walk around. I'll hula hoop in the living room. In my experience, all it takes is ten minutes, and I'm ready to start beading again.

  •  I also like to make beading my break.  I've noticed that nothing's more fun for the impatient side than taking a break from something boring, like cleaning the house, to do something interesting, like beading. Isn't this great? It says. We're supposed to be working, but here we are, having fun! We're so bad.
(A large sequin collar. Piles of sequins are so much better than piles of dishes!)

  • Set micro-goals.  And if the impatient side is really ornery on a particular day, I trick it into thinking the project is finished by setting very small goals and stopping when I meet them. I'll tell it, we're just going to bead this section today. Or that the project is finished when we add the fringe to that pendant. And it relaxes, knowing that when the goal has been reached, we can move on to something new. 
(Each side of this necklace was its own little project. So was the focal.) 

I've started to enjoy putting large projects together out of smaller components for that reason. Each component is a little project, and when I sew them together, it doesn't feel like such a big task. Which is, incidentally, one of the ideas behind Cyndi Lavin's latest eBook

(Maybe I'll make a bunch of these little hearts and put them on the same necklace.)

  • Indulge... up to a point. My sensible side and I have realized that we can't always work around the impatient side -- sometimes we have to work with it. So I let myself work on multiple projects. Right now, I have at least four I'm working on, and I switch from one project to another when I find myself getting bored.

I should mention, though, that it's easy to go from having just enough projects to having too many, which can make me feel overwhelmed. So I recommend setting limits. Four beading projects is a good limit for me. For you, it might be two. If might be five. It might be ten. The only way you'll find out is through trial and error.

So if you've ever wondered how I'm able to get so much beading done, these are the little tricks I have up my sleeve! Now I'll hand the microphone over to you and ask: what are your secrets for tackling big, detailed projects, whether they're beaded or otherwise?

Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing your thoughts, and have a sequintastic day!


  1. I have a very impatient side too and your tips are great! Working in small components and putting them together is a big help with the problem side!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the tips!

      I took a class with Sherry Serafini the weekend before last, and she says she has a "component box," with all kinds of beaded components she's saved for a rainy day. That way, she can take them out and play with them and see if inspiration strikes! I love this idea and am starting my own. :)

  2. Great read thanks... I just have the goal in mind to finish and to start something new; I feel that the first part I do it with real pleassure, then it starts to get a bit boring, then I see the end I enjoy thinking about posting it about taking pictures :) so this what carries me through.

  3. I get that comment too and my reaction is similar. I find embroidery quite relaxing and meditative so once started there's usually a flow that makes me forget time. It's hard to get bored or impatience when in such a flow. Besides, everyone knows seeds are addictive...

    But some times I think people underestimate their own capacity and overestimate how long it takes to make a small seedbeaded piece (those who've never seedbeaded tend to find even small pendants complicated and time-consuming).

    You have some really good points in the post! I too really like the component approach. That approach is also creative as one can change the design several times, moving the components around before stitching them together.

    It's also really about finding the right tactics for one's personality -- and the right amount of carrots and whips...

    A few tips of mine:

    * music can be a good way to boost the energy levels when the work feels a bit dull or boring and taking a break doesn't help (there's always some part of the work that's more boring than others). Choose music depending on whether you need to relax or perk up.

    * One good tip for newbies is to use slightly larger beads. It makes off-loom beadweaving faster and when embroidering they cover larger areas in one stitch. Another newbie tip is to avoid the slowest stitches. Combine the two and the work speeds up.

    * Another thing I like is to make a "background" first and then add embellishments. That way it looks finished faster so one doesn't have to look at a piece that doesn't seem to progress as you just add a little every day. When embroidering one can also use an attractive background that doesn't need that much beading or floss (if one were to get bored with the project).

    * Personally, I sometimes need a special workspace. Sure, it's comfy to bead in bed, but it can also be easy to become too relaxed and tired. The workspace -- which can be as little as sitting on the other end of the bed -- can also be good when one needs discipline. When one part of the brain just don't want to work, but you know you have to get started anyway.

    * The bigger the project, the better to use techniques you really master. There's nothing more boring than constantly having to rip up mistakes. Save new stitches and methods for smaller projects.

    1. Maneki, these are all awesome tips!!! Thank you so much for sharing them.

      I use music, too, and I fit my music to my mood. When I'm feeling slow, there's nothing like Lady Gaga to get me going. :)

  4. Nice! Beautifully written - I found myself nodding along as I read your suggestions, checking each one off in turn. Though interestingly, tv only works well as background if there's someone else in the room. If my husband is home in the evenings watching tv, I can happily bead sitting on my corner of the couch and half watch whatever he's watching. But if I try to use it as background while I'm alone, I get caught.

    So I normally use music or audio books as my background. I especially like audio books as I tend to stay at the beading table longer, waiting to hear what will happen next. :)

    1. Thanks, Karen!

      Ohhh, audio books are a great idea! I used to listen to them in the car on the way to visit Mr. Sequin, and they made the time pass so quickly.

      I'm going to the library today, hopefully. I might have to see what kind of audio books they have. :)

  5. Hope you're off doing something fantastic! Great post, and feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment! I think I need to go on a blog hop diet, or blog hiatus!

    I find it can be tough to balance between find quiet moments to create, and then time to write about it. What I do is make a calendar (day-by-day) by hand and map out every project due date. I try to space it out as I get excited about a project and jump in, but then forget about one that is due! So this way I at least attempt to stay focused.

    I also write posts and pre-schedule them as I might be working on a project right up to the deadline and not have enough time to write it up! but my hop today was right up to the wire, with not time to edit. so went live with mistakes - which makes me crazy! sigh.

    the thing is that I really love blogging AND making jewelry. And I want to put my all into each and every one of my projects. I just might need take a breathe from time to time.

    1. It can be so tough to juggle beading, blogging and life stuff all at the same time. There's definitely something to be said for taking a break -- I see it as an important part of the creative process.

      I loved this article on different kinds of breaks. Maybe it'll help you, too!

  6. Your designs are fantastic and I love the incorporation of colour! I can so relate to a lot of what you wrote. as I read I was nodding my head saying yep - that's me! Great post.

    1. Thank you, Caron! I'm glad you can relate.

      (And also glad I'm not the only one.)

  7. Great advice, great way to think about your projects....Turly lovely work. xox

  8. Beading is so meditative. I always liked the freedom to stop thinking for a while and just do. With art and painting it just isn't like that. There is no time to think really. Unless you put it down and come back later......

    1. That's a good point about painting. When I work with acrylic paints, I always have to hurry before the paint dries, but that's never a worry with beading!

  9. Yes, yes, and yes! You hit on so many of the brain tricks I use, too (although I'm gonna have to find a hula hoop...)

    Another trick I use is to switch up to an immediate-gratification project like a couple of pairs of earrings. The relative speed of the project and the different scale of the beads can be a great break!

    1. Bobbie, I think you'd love hula hooping. I have several hoops that I made out of irrigation tubing and connectors. I even have a portable one that I can take apart and put in my suitcase. :)

      Also, I like the immediate gratification tip! Thanks!

  10. Great post, I have learned over the years to relish the journey it makes the destination so much exciting to be going on an adventure, have fun. I always love seeing your work, so inspirational.

    1. Thanks, Kepi! <3

      The adventure was awesome, and I can't wait to tell you all about it! Hint: there was Sherry Serafini involved. And cupcakes!

  11. When I'm working on long, time consuming projects, I always watch TV shows during them. Typically I just turn on netflix & go through an old favorite series [never anything new because then I won't pay enough attention to my project!!]. Currently, I'm working my way through Desperate Housewives again!!


    1. Watching things you've already seen is a great idea, Linda! That way, you don't have to worry about missing the interesting parts when a project is MORE interesting. :)


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