Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ripping Out...

Years ago, when I first started doing bead embroidery, a good beading friend suggested, "Why not make a rule that we'll never rip anything out!" And so we did... for years, neither of us ripped.

I learned something from those years. At one or more times during the process of making each piece, I've hated it and wanted to rip. But when I just keep working, adding beads I love, eventually, I come to peace with it. In the end I've been happy with all of my work, even the pieces that have parts I hated during the process.

Here are two types of beaders at opposite ends of a continuum..

Beader #1 draws and carefully plans each piece, taking time to really think about it before she begins. She shops as needed to make sure she has just the right beads. She has high standards, and will rip out anything that doesn’t meet her vision. She wants to get it right, and sometimes completely abandons a piece, starting over with a fresh idea, when her work doesn’t meet her expectations. Beader #1 makes some amazingly beautiful pieces, some OK pieces, and some that are not so good. Her work gives her and others pleasure.

Beader #2 picks up some materials she had on hand, and with a hint of an idea, she gets right to work. She forges ahead no matter what, rarely ripping anything out, even though sometimes she’s not sure where her piece is going or if she likes it. She works rather quickly, and her friends admire how much she accomplishes. Beader #2 makes some amazingly beautiful pieces, some OK pieces, and some that are not so good. Her work gives her and others pleasure.

What do you think?


  1. I guess I'm Beader #2, though I do rip out, sometimes extensively, when things seem to need it. I have never regretted this. Sometimes something just doesn't feel right, and needs to be restructured. Often I reach a point in a piece where I an totally and deeply "in hate" with whatever it is that I'm doing. I push ahead anyway, knowing that by the end, I'll be satisfied with it. I tell mywself that the beads are always beautiful, which they are, and that gets me through. I very, very rarely ever just stop and start over fresh. It just doesn't occur to me to do so.

  2. Ohmygosh, you are the bead goddess. Nobody's ever given me permission, before, to make pieces that are mediocre or bad in pursuit of making what tickles my mind. I've been too scared to announce my pieces on the BJP blog because I didn't want people to see that I tried and didn't do the uber-cool pieces they had done. Now--less fear, more fun. What a wonderful post--thank you!!

  3. Like Lois, I'm definitely a #2 beader. I rarely rip unless it's a piece of jewelry that has to be precise. Since I do mostly freeform pieces, I figure I can always embellish it if I don't like it. It's kind of fun coming up with ways to overcome mistakes. It stimulates the creative process. Of course that may be why I have a number (wont' say how many)of UFO's. LOL.

  4. Hi Robin!
    An art quilter whom I very much admire, Erika Carter, once told me that it is GREAT when you get to that point when you hate a piece you are working on.
    "Because that's when you take risks."

    I've never ever forgotten what she said, so I always forge ahead during those times, and never rip out!

  5. :-) I'm Beader #1. But I do rip and I do sometimes leave it as it is and it always turns out exactly how it should.

    And that's why this one here has water that is turbulent when my original plan was calm and placid.

  6. Heck I think I fall thru the crack here Robin. I am a little of both but I don't rip the whole thing out ever.

    I do find with my more sculptural pieces that I undo rather than rip out until I get the effect that I want

  7. What I am hearing here is that how ever you bead there are times you will be happy with it and times you won't be but forge ahead somehow and things will be fine in the end whether it's a great, okay, or so-so piece. Sounds like everyone fits the bill! (I fall between the two, sometimes leaving and working with something I don't like and sometimes ripping when I have figured out what didn't work and what will.)

  8. I am definately more like beader #2, although when I feel anxious about "what next", I remind myself that I could, if I wanted to, rip out anything - nothing is totally permanent with beading...a few snips and it's gone! This really helps me to just forge ahead, and I find I don't end up ripping out anything. However I do often keeping adding to a piece until I like it.

  9. Yes, we all lean either toward Beader #1 or #2. The significant thing is that, in either case, the outcome is the same... some excellent pieces, some OK pieces, and some not so good pieces. That's what fascinates me.

    To Barb ~ Not only do you have permission to make so-so pieces, but also I believe it's inevitable. All of us will make some so-so pieces, even the stars in this business. I have, for sure. And now that the inevitability is clear to me, it's OK! I don't get so stuck by the possibility/probability of it anymore, because there's just no getting around it. As an anonymous author once said, “A person who makes no mistakes usually does not make anything.”

  10. I think Beader #1 needs to nourish her dreams. Sometimes when I plan and plan, I still don't end up where I thought I would but at least I gave my initial, powerful vision a real chance to come into being. When I sit down to work, and the powerful force that tells me where to go takes over but I don't have any opaque beads -- well, it's just an ugly situation.

    Thanks again for the great workshop last weekend!


  11. Amen, Sister! Since we all end up with the same result, we should not worry about which one we are.

    I keep trying to get my beading and embroidery friends to loosen up, and they look at me like I'm nuts LOL

  12. My family says I am definitely #1. They have reminded me I get "eyebrows of fury" when I run out Timtex.

  13. I don't believe there can be any "cookie cutter" approach to beading. The art simply lends itself to many approaches. And there are many forces at work in both energy and creative processes for each individual in doing so.

    After spending nearly a lifetime of writing training seminars and then training people, I have found that rarely are two people alike in the way they execute something.

    In the end, it is how we perceive what is to be done and ultimately find the way to do it. I had two art teachers who were at opposite ends of the spectrum: one insisted on doing a project EXACTLY the way she wanted it done; the other expected us to explore and experiment until we reached the vision we were trying to achieve. Needless to say, the latter was my favorite mentor . . .

    Kathy V in NM

  14. I am smack dab in the middle. I tend to plan the pieces I make a great deal because I like the process of designing. That said I seldom rip things out, Occasionally I do an inch or two of a necklace and change my mind about my colors but with my bead embroidery I never rip things out.

    As part of the planning phase I do look for beads that feel right for a page or if I know that I will need colors that I don't own I will buy them but I also tend to plan to a point and always try to listen to what a piece is telling me so that I know where to go with it. That is especailly true with my bead journal pages where I have listened a lot and the pages are definitly full of ideas on where I should take them and once I get working on them seldom worry if I don't have this or that bead, figuring out how to get the look I am after is part of the challenge.

    I haven't had a beading piece that I have hated yet, occasionally I am uncertain of the next step and need to step back for a fresh perspective but that is usually all that it takes.

    Maybe I have a split personality, a little bit right brain a little bit left brain. And happy with both, You are a gem Robin and make us all think.

    Take care, Angie

  15. Hi Robin, I'm a #2, but leaning towards #3..... I hate all my work, am unsure of how it looks, or what I am doing, usually with no plan what so ever of how it's going to end up... I never rip, I just keep adding and adding or pushing in a different bead here and there... and eventually finish and think "yep, Ok, that's what I meant....." - Pam T (madness)

  16. We talk about the outcome but it's also very much about the process too. I rip out when I'm learning a new stitch and it isn't going well. I rip out when the colours that I thought would work, really don't work at all. I am still learning about colour and stitching.
    I believe for some people, the planning part of the process is what they love and for others it's the intuitive aspect that engages them. So process is also integral aspect to any project.
    All that being said, I am both. My August block is definitely planned. I drew out the figure and I am creating a block with definitely design elements.
    My September block is all intuitive. I really don't know what I'm doing, I've ripped out one thing and I'm going with the flow now.
    Both types of beading are fun! And both have their own purpose - I guess it would be cool to try beading opposite to how you normally do it to create a challenge for yourself!

  17. I'm always ripping things out, but I think it's because I don't plan carefully, and I design as I go along, so if I don't like something, I just get rid of it. To me it's part of how I bead, and I don't agonize over it. I've had to embrace that part of me, actually, and accept that that's how I work. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  18. I think you're forgetting Beader #3. She carefully draws & plans out each piece, taking time to think about it before beginning... But, although shen has a drawing, it is still only a hint of an idea - subject to change at any moment.

    She might shop for a few new colours, but mostly she just digs through her bead stash to see what she can use... Then, she gets right to work. She forges ahead, and never rips anything out... in fact, if something doesn't look right, she just beads right over top of the other beads....

    Beader #3 is me=:)

  19. when I first started beading I was mostly #1, but over the years I've found I enjoy being #2 much my beading journey is mostly a trip from #1 to #2...and I guess that's pretty much my life too.
    I feel like a spring is slowly uncoiling inside me and I love it!

  20. I am so beader # 2. I do try and plan and draw, but sometimes you just have to work, and unless a I have a thread showing I can't get rid of, I generally don't rip. Too much time, effort and my slogan has always been, that: adventures happen when you haven't thought ahead. Yep I'm beader #2

  21. I'm more like Beader n°3. I plan some parts, and improvise some parts. I rip out not very often, but when I do it's because a bead or a pattern provokes a physical reaction in me.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Robin :o)

  22. Well I am beader 1. I have learned from doing cross stitch that if you don't like something you cut down on time if you will just make the decision to rip it out NOW rather than hoping that you can cover it up.
    That said I don't rip out much, and I rarely start over on something. If it is very far along I will make do and it will turn out OK.
    Right now I am thinking a lot about how I am going to do the leaves for my Leaves Of Change hair barrette. Someone wrote on another site that in painting you do the leaf the way it grows. So I have been imagining how it grows and how to make the beading work in that direction. I often stitch things in my head first that way it doesn't take as long to ripe it out. When the ideas have crystalized I will start.
    At other times nothing that I envision really works 100%. I have to just push on ahead and see what happens. Sometimes I will act like beader 2 and just feel like winging it is better for this project and see where it leads. Getting the project finished is the goal, not perfection.

  23. I act like beader #2. I tried to plan my beadwork couple of times, but it didn't work out. I came to shop to buy "right" beads, but I bought completely different ones, just because I liked them.
    I usually start beading without plan.

  24. OK, I so like Lone Beaders number 3, that describes me best. Angie

  25. I am *so* beader #2. I just go with it. Occasionally plan an entire piece with lines and circles and rows, but usually just grab the crayon/bead and go for it.

    If I buy beads for a specific project, I tend to forget what I was going to do and then use those beads for something else, then go back to the plan and adapt it for the beads that I have left.....

    Sooooo much a #2.

  26. I'm #2. I get my inspiration while working with my materials, and often have to start working in order to spark my creativity.
    If I really hate a piece, I often cut it up (I work with metal, then add beads once I have a form made that I like) or hammer it, or melt it, or something until it takes a shape that I like better. Sometimes I let a half-finished piece sit for months until I'm inspired to do something with it.

  27. I confess that I abhor ripping any stitches I've made out... in fact I have not yet done this. I am working on a doll I started TWO years ago, it sits unfinished. I stated last month, I will rip out some of the stitches and begin again. Nothing happens. I believe I will start it where it is left off. In life I believe that EVERYTHING happens for a why then would I treat my art any differently? lol Yes, style and technique change in two years timeframe...but I'll enjoy the challenge of blending in what I know now with what I did not know then...that is, when I start this proj back up again; like I said, it sits still, just staring at me.

  28. I am definetly beader number 2... My only idea to start out with is usually one main bead or face cab... the rest just comes as I go thru my beads and start beading...

  29. I am probably beader #2. I dont like to rip things out-partly because Im lazy,but also because I think it hasnt decided to be beautiful yet. I feel like its an exercise in patience-a character defect of mine. Sometimes I have to put pieces away until a later time.

  30. I'm a bit of a mixture. I plan some pieces but will take out beads that don't look "right" to me - even learned to knot my thread after each section so as not to lose previous work! I also do the #2 thing, but find I have less confidence when working this way. I'd like to be more 2-ish but have to grow into it, learn to enjoy the play.

  31. Hi Robin,

    I could have sworn I posted a comment here days ago... I’m not sure now where I posted it :-)

    With very few exceptions I tend toward beader #2, rarely planning much other than a color scheme and using what I have on hand.

    With the few pieces that I planned out in detail - I found them to be a bit more stressful since my expectations were set, therefore harder to meet for me anyway. Since beading is my sanctuary from the unavoidable stresses of life and my full time job, I avoid bead related stress as much as possible.

    I relish the journey as much (or more) as the end result.

  32. I am definitely number 2 because I don't really like planning stuff - I usually have the briefest idea of what I want but I will rip something out if I am really unhappy with it. Does that make me a mixture of number 1 and 2?

  33. Hello all, I am beader #2, too! I probably would have ripped some of the work out of both of my pieces, but I wanted to stay improvisational (just having come from Robin's improv beading class!)

    In other areas of my work I tend to be a beader #2, I never liked to start over. But I am learning that sometimes especially when I am learning a new skill, that I do have to practice and start over.

  34. Hi Robin! I enjoyed looking at your blog. I'll keep an eye out for your books. I noticed that you went to the Chicago Quilt Show ... are you going this year? I have a quilt with the Mancuso World Show. My quilts travel more than I do!

  35. Gosh , seems there are a lot of #2's. I think that's me too, but I do agree with sacredheart about not liking a piece. I have tried to live with it and keep going hoping something wonderful will happen and it never does, so after a lot of time wasted I rip it out!
    Oh well, just playing with the beads is a happy experience!!!

  36. I am a mixture of #1 & #2, I find it hard to plan anything out first, I love how I get a hint of an idea and let it evolve ... if it doesn't "work" I usually set it aside until I feel inspired to pick it up again - and it is always for a reason.

    I love your work and your blog!


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!