In 2014, I was accepted to my first craft fair. I was over the moon. Not only was it a popular, well-respected show, but it was going to be in Austin during South by Southwest, which I always wanted to go to. I made so much inventory. One of the things I made was this 3D "X" necklace on a ball chain. (SXSW. Get it?) I packed up all my stuff and headed to Texas.
In my excitement and green-ness, I packed the jewelry all together, albeit carefully, so was shocked when I got to this:
Oh my. So first day of a three-day show, my big debut, I spent a few hours untangling this mess. I would talk to customers, of course, but also was head-down, concentrating, frustrated with this ball of chain. Not exactly how I pictured it. Fours hours later, I was free.
Big lesson #1 was that jewelry is sneaky and will tangle even when you can't see how on earth it can. Best to always pack necklaces with delicate chain in their own compartments, or be prepared to waste a lot of fucking time.
But the biggest lesson was patience. That's actually the biggest lesson I've learned in general from making jewelry. Chains tangle. Tiny components drop on the floor, never to be found again. Good work takes effort and time. Things melt. Sometimes you just have to scrap it and start all over again. Patience.
I was not a patient person at all when I took up jewelry. (I'm not using the past tense there to mean I'm totally patient today, but I have grown in my patience.) I still have a hole in my window sill from throwing my pliers so hard. I'm not sure how the tools have survived my throwing them so many times. (Solid tools!) My husband got me a DAMMIT Doll to pound to save the tools some abuse. Day by day, I learned to keep calm because the explosion doesn't help anything and that's the nature of working with tiny, delicate things.
And yes, that's the nature of life, isn't it? There's not always a quick and easy solution. Things get messy. You're not even sure how it happened, but you're standing there staring at the ball in front of you, dreading having to deal with it, and not even quite sure where to start.
Obviously, this is still happening to me. This was the embroidery thread I was using for my threaded cuffs this month. I was trying so hard to keep it smooth, and in no way did I ever roll it into a ball - but here it is.
What I found worked was starting at one end, and then working slowly through it, inch by inch. At times, there were big, multi-knots that took extra effort. At other times, just a slight tug unraveled a nice chunk of it, seemingly without effort. But it was important to have patience because as soon as I felt that waning, I started to pull unreasonably hard, made the knots tighter, made more knots, and just got clouded with frustration. Slow and steady. It got worked out eventually.
Patience is not easy. It doesn't just happen by hearing, "Be patient." It takes practice, catching yourself getting freaking frustrated and taking a step back. It's OK to feel frustrated, it's OK to show anger, emotions are all natural, they just don't always help the situation. Maybe you need to go vent for a minute, then come back. Maybe come back tomorrow. More ideas: Ask someone to help. Go for a run. Take a few deep breaths. Ask, "how will getting angry help this situation?" Get a DAMMIT doll (highly recommend). Meditate. Opt for gentleness. Try things out until it feels right. There is no way we are patient all the time, but practicing patience opens us to more clarity and peace. Something we could all use.
Any ideas you have on patience? I'd love to hear them - share below!
:: The Benefits of Being a Patient Person by Mindful.org
:: Practicing Patience for Increased Success on Entrepreneur.com
:: TED talks to help practice patience (8 of them)
:: Quotes on patience by Brainy Quote
:: The Simple Exercise That Can Help Untangle Your Life from SuperSoulSunday with Oprah (video 1:59)
:: 3 Steps to Untangle Necklace Chains by Makaro Jewelry
:: "Patience" by Guns N' Roses