Sunday, 22 April 2012

Learning From Your Mistakes

Before undertaking my degree all my construction skills were self taught and everything was on a basis of trial and error.

Learning to understand commercial patterns, getting my head round the working of a sewing machine understanding the qualities and limitations of different fabric. One of the big advantages I have aways had on my side is the amount of time I spend practising my skills. The moment I started making costumes and learning about the history of clothes I have been immersed and because of this I spend many hours a week creating and learning and improving. It has got to the stage now where If I am not constructing something after a few days I can get quite agitated but I see that as a good thing.

When I look back at old projects that I have not got round to completing for whatever reason, I can always see straight away how much I have improved; which means more often and not the project is a lost cause because as I strive for the highest standards in my work so the old work is just not good enough any longer.

All of this is relevant to SDP. Ballet, and indeed my other interests in historical and corsetry are all what I would consider to be at the high end of costume making for performance- in terms of the level of competence needed in their construction, and as such, demand exacting standards. I talked in one of my last blog posts about being honest about my work and where I am at and this is no different.

What I am really learning in this unit is that for my work to be at a professional standard then I will need to carry on perfecting the skills of my trade and taking on board everything I am learning from my tutor-most of which is privileged knowledge, and then to just keep on going, it is more than a good opportunity. 

The romantic tutu we are making is the first one I have ever made, right now, taking all the experience and hours of practise I have behind me I am giving it the best I can, and I feel like it is a good example. But in truth, just like my other old projects, in time I will look back and wonder how I ever thought it was more than "just okay" as an example of a professionally constructed ballet costume.

So really this post came around because at the moment I have the luxury of taking my time to get everything perfect with this costume, and I have been. But I have also made mistakes, but I believe that mistakes are good, necessary in fact. I remember making a huge mistake last year when constructing a costume, and wasting some very, very expensive fabric. Yet I know, painful as it was at the time, I will never make that mistake again.

This is leading me to keep a visual catalogue of the mistakes I make on this unit and keep on adding them so I can look back at the end and see where I went wrong with the intention not to repeat my follies.

Yes, this may seam trivial, in the creation of something artistic will it really matter if I have a stitch line that is 0.5mm out? The answer is yes it does. The whole point of a ballet costume as stated by Dexter is that it should appear to look "as if it was made by fairies", and this comes down to the level of careful construction and eye for line in the application of decoration as well as how you treat the fabric.
It follows of course that if I am going to expect that standard for the ballet costume I make, then I will make all my other costumes to the same standard and it is this that will bring my work up to professional quality.

It is the same for my corsets. Even though I am getting better all the time, I know it is not good enough to sell to the kind of clientele I want to target. If I want to create individual pieces of wearable bespoke art and charge the kind of price that comes with all those hours of work and dedication then I must be self critical and honest. Which once again all starts by to owning your mistakes.

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