Collecting: A Method of Criticism Management?

“The collector spends so much time shopping and planning because it is safer.  When she buys those beautiful fabrics, the clerks “Ooh!” and “Ah!” over her wonderful choices.  Compliments over might-have-been quilts – this is good enough for the collector.  If she were to cut up those beautiful fabrics, people might not approve of what she did for them.  Better and safer to collect.”

Mary Lou Weidman Whimsies and Whynots: A Playful Approach to Quiltmaking page 8

Have I been this person? 

I think I have.

Weidman writes about quilting but the premise can be applied to a lot of my hobbies, past and present.  The beads I bought without even a half-baked idea what I was going to do with them.  Bits and bobs that looked “useful” for dollmaking.  Notions purchased at a yard sale because they were so cheap.  And of course, quilting and fashion fabric, bought because the color or print inspired a great idea at the store, but in reality there was little time or energy to take on another project above and beyond my current list of UFO’s.

It is easier to collect.  So satisfying to treat oneself to fabric and craft supplies and to dream of beautiful uses for our purchases. Buying supplies without a concrete plan for their use has long been a bugaboo of mine and I have had to moderate my own spending impulses when it comes to my hobbies.

But why have I been such a collector in the first place? 

I haven’t thought about it before, but maybe I can openly relish my creativity when there is nothing for anyone to criticize.

Even something we have worked over ever so long and know that it looks good can generate a disparaging comment from the ignorant or unthinking.  Temporarily forgetting that mistakes are integral to learning,  often loved ones can be surprisingly hard on our fledging results as we learn a new craft or technique.  As if not getting something right the first time means you will never get it at all.  Or sometimes we unknowingly generate a flicker of jealousy that is expressed as a criticism or lack of enthusiam for our project.  And sometimes, things just don’t turn out right.

You don’t know how much is enough until you know how much is too much.   When it comes to stashes most crafters quickly learn to balance the three key elements: space for materials, budget constraints, and that hard to describe, but you know it when you have it perfect volume that enhances creativity but is not too much to bog down one’s mind, or too little to get any flow.

But how does a crafter handle criticism?  What do you think of Weidman’s idea that collecting is a way to avoid criticism?  And how do you deal with either unfair or unkind criticism of your work?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sister
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 19:42:47

    Hmm, I’ve been lucky that no one has criticized my work, except my husband. And he’s overly critical of EVERYthing, so I discount it. I worry that in blogland, though, people would never say anything critical for fear of being rude (well, I’ve seen some really rude comments, but not usually about clothes), when I would actually appreciate constructive criticism. Well, there was that one striped dress…people WERE honest about that one.


  2. Clio
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 09:31:32

    never thought about it this way. I am always waiting for the perfect idea or project to use on my most beautiful fabrics. Turns out I sew more clothes in the crappy fabrics and left-overs from my mom just because I don’t mind screwing them up. This summer I finally realized that and started working on my ‘good’ stash.
    Maybe it has got more to do with perfectionism than fear of critics (or are those two the same?) 😉


  3. Mary Lou Weidman
    Sep 25, 2011 @ 00:07:31

    Wow, I love that I ran into this and you worded what I said perfectly in your own way. Collecting IS the ultimate compliment to your own self and you “think” you are going to make something fabulous out of it and can show others in hopes that they will be impressed by what you collected, after all it is safer than making something and have them say something really critical. I stand by this and think this is common with quilters. It is just easier to be strong and not care what criticism’s come your way….but sadly these people are the minority, I think. The critical people far outnumber the cheer leaders……..


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