Creating projects, or mistakes?

Do you wonder how some DIYers seem to pull off seemingly endless effortless projects one after the other, from  material scraps or a pile of craft nothings? Me too.

For I am not a builder.

And I am not a crafter or sewer.

I am a buy-a-piece-of-junk-and-arrange-it kinda girl first and foremost.

There’s great worth to what I do. I don’t HAVE to know how to build, and I save alot of money. It’s pretty hard to fail by arranging ready made stuff.

However!! You at times get these things that need things done to them. Enter: building and crafting.

I don’t have a hubby to run to for an extra hand, so how do I get around this? I have to pick up the tools and figure things out. I call friends on occasion for guidance. But that’s generally after the bruised knees have already taken place.

If you don’t pick up some tools now and then, you’ll never be able to learn how to do whatever it is you want or need to do. You will constantly be relying on someone to do it for you. And sometimes that can mean a loooong wait. 😉

Ok. Honestly? I just wanna do it myself. Pride? Ohhhhh yes.

This little contest I’m a part of? It’s been pushing me WAY out of my comfort zone every week I’ve created something new.

Remember this? This thing took the entire ONE WEEK of spring break to do all these steps. New things I had to do and figure out:

– buy clear spray for the first time (which one to get?? Oh the stress!)
– figure out how to mount heavy things indoors so it doesn’t really show
– find where my mounting stuff was
– find the right tools (that weren’t stripped)
– figure out a bbq wire brush did a better job at hacking off loose rust than my reg scrub brush
– exactos are terrible bulletin board cutters
– wrap burlap (for the first time) on that scruffily cut bulletin board and let’s throw in radius corners for a first time too
– find my glue gun and glue sticks after trying other glues that did not work
– figuring out drilling small holes in the wall is better at finding studs than using a glitchy stud finder
– how to take decent photos in the darkest/brightest little corner of the entire house (3 photo shoots later)
– how to entertain a 10 yr old for an entire week while building this
– make 101 more mistakes along the way
– give up 10 times, then try 20 more times

The list truly is longer than I’m even revealing. But all those steps took effort. Every one of them. And some of the steps landed in the dumpster. BUT, every step got me just abit further education wise.

It’s so much easier to go buy that old dresser,  clean it up, prop stuff on it, stick a fork in it and call it done. Creating from a pile of nothing? Whoooole different story.

For those that craft and constantly create from nothing, I commend you. You are amazing. AMAZING. Creating new things from virtually nothing is exhausting and exhilarating. But there is great worth to the effort. I know now how to do a few more things than the week before. And that added to the ‘ol brain card file immensely.

Still on my list of wanna-dos…

– how to build stuff out of wood with real frameworks and everything
– removing the fear out of all things electrical so I can put in my own lights (done it but don’t like it)
– figuring out why my stud finder does NOT work
– figure out my tablesaw (not excited about this one)
– how to sew a slipcover. AFTER my sewing machine is uprighted and working again.
– to have the guts to lift and reseal a toilet again (I thought once was enough but apparently not)

And my ultimate goal in life? To know how to build ANYTHING my little heart desires. And that’s a tall order.

(all the So You Think entries to date HERE)

I generally don’t build stuff, so these three are my latest attempts. One a week. Oh my gosh, my brain cells will never be the same. Many many failures took place during these three tasks. But I gained something with each one.

Failures dictate valuable learning experiences that didn’t work so you could figure out HOW to make it work. There is great value to creating a dumpster full of flops, although you may not feel it at the time.

My point to this post? Be proud of your new creations and failures alike, for you are on the grow! One hack at a time.

How about you?

How often are you pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone with projects? What’s on your list of failures you’ve yet to master?

And do you too wish it was legal to have a burn pile in the back 40 to save on dump charges for all those failures? 🙂

And, just a note of thanks for continuing to vote each week and being a part of this fun little showdown. I’m  really enjoying sharing this event with you and playing with the other contestants I also highly consider my friends.  It’s alot of hard work, but even more fun. 🙂


WHITE voting until Friday.

NEW post Sunday night.

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Categories: Inspiration

44 thoughts on “Creating projects, or mistakes?

  1. Oh I love the stuff you create. You seem to make anything beautiful. I only wish I had your talent. I have a ton of failed projects. Most I don’t share on my blog, some I have though. I was definitely out of my comfort zone when I built the bed with my friend. However, it has become a new obsession of mine. It was scary at first, but now I cant wait to build more.

  2. I would love to find out why my stud finder wil not work also!!!!!!!
    And I DO NOT like to have to ask my hubby for Help, If I can’t make it my self, I didn’t make it.
    I love all your Ideas and designs. 🙂

  3. I started rehabbing house in Seattle about 9 years ago. I learned how to do a lot of stuff and am pretty confident building walls, installing drywall, mudding and taping, laying vinyl flooring, etc. However, since I purchased my own home and have a lot of projects I want to do, I have discovered that I am afraid to try anything new unless someone is standing there with me. They don’t even have to have any experience! My first big project this summer is going to be a deck platform. I am doing it alone, without supervision. I am scared to death but I know I will feel like “superwoman” when I get it finished! Women like you who appear to be fearless in the shop are my inspiration. I am so thankful that so many women blog and share their talents. It makes it much less scary for women like me!

  4. I do push myself out of my comfort zone. My kitchen tile was a perfect example. I was nervous about doing. Was actually having fun and just starting to get confident and then the hole happened. A brief panic attack and then I calmed down. See, I do have a builder for a husband. He knows how to use tools. When I ask for help I get told he will when he has time. It’s like being married to a mechanic. You got the worst running car on the block. He has now moved his sister’s fireplace twice for her. She hasn’t even decided if she likes it where it is now. Our fireplace is just sitting in the living room for 6 years now, not working. I’ve learned how to do things so I could get them done. I have to say you get a great sense of satisfaction from it.

    I wish I had an imaginative mind like yours though. Love the bed organizer. What a clever idea! I never would of thought of that!

  5. My big step out of my comfort zone was reupholstering a chair…not a dining chair but an arm chair! I was so scared to do it thinking I wouldn’t be able to finish it and it’d look like garbage! Well I pleasantly surprised myself…I learned a lot…made a lot of mistakes and I’m happy I did it.

  6. I have to tell you that I love that piece you made out of the mattress springs! I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone in the painting of the two pieces of furniture I did this year. To some that is nothing, but I don’t usually paint furniture and really pushed myself to actually put paint to wood on these pieces.

  7. Figure out why the stud finder doesn’t work and you will have solved the mystery of the universe!! And I too love the mattress springs piece. So cool!! Looking forward to seeing your newest project!
    Oh and how did you entertain your son while you built it?? LOL!

  8. I was divorced a few years before I met Mr. Charming. So I learned to do an awful lot on my own. Now that he’s around he is more than willing to lend a hand when I need it. He’s extremely patient and helpful and always supportive no matter how bizarre my requests can
    But I DO know what it’s like to be in your shoes, and I commend you for it. It’s a feeling of accomplishment nothing else can quite give you. You do it on your own Donna, and you’re terrific at it!

  9. Usually okay mostly our projects turn out to be mistakes that need over-compensation of fixing. We end up having a project that looks better in the end and people think we planned it…ooohhh if they only knew the truth.
    Check out my blog called, Carpentry for Dummies by Melissa….now that is the truth..LOL

  10. My mother told me not to marry a man unless he could fix a sink, toilet and a car. He can fix all those things but when I want something fixed…I feel sorry for my hubby usually when he starts fixing something he has to fix something else before he can start. I haven’t been able to tackle any of the projects I’d like to (we have an infant) but I am hoping as the weather warms up I will be able to get a few of them done. That’s after I burn all the trees we lost in the ice storm-oh wait the chainsaw is broken.

  11. What I love the best about this post is how you described what you learned from trying to figure out how to get what you want. I never would have thought of a BBQ wire brush for rusted metal. And I have a metal piece I want to clean up and maybe paint or seal. I posted it on my blog for help and nobody much has said a word. Then I come here and find exactly what I need. I think you should do this more often. Because those of us out here dont often have a clue where to start and often wont try just because of the very things you did try. Thanks.

  12. Oh good, I’m not alone in this!! 🙂

    #10 Lisa, Thanks! I’m on my way to check it out.

    #13 Seanymph, awesome point. Trouble shoot out loud, is that correct? Duly noted! I’ll try and do more of that.

    Basically put, most everything I do is trial and error. I have no manual telling me how to do things (ok, I do but it’s too complicated!). Truly the best way to figure things out is to just think, then try. I often pace my yard or house when needing something having NO idea where I’ll find the answer. 99% of my solutions come from doing just that. I need a revolving scenery to give me all my options.

    When in doubt? Go for a walk. 🙂

    FJ Donna

  13. #8 slommler,

    How did I entertain my son while I took a week to build that thing?

    – rented new movies
    – got him involved in helping
    – stopped frequently to do special things together
    – chose selective hearing to tune out the whining

    It was the longest and quickest week of my entire life. 🙂

    FJ Donna

  14. Donna… you know those bumper stickers that say something like “a bad day fishing is better than working” or whatever… mine is sawing. I love, love, love to saw. I like to create, but sawing is what I love. When I bought my first saw, I couldn’t decide whether to buy a table saw or a compound miter saw. I went with the table saw. Not that one SHOULD do cross cuts on a table saw, but a table saw can do so many things. Am I afraid of it? no. Am I aware of how powerful it is? yes. I can’t wait till you feel at ease with your table saw. Once you conquer that, there is NO stopping you girl! You have visions, and once you have the know-how… look out!
    Seems like you need a few more tools in your arsenal. Box cutter, not exacto knife! 🙂
    Stud finder? not a lot of help here. Just remember the 16 inch rule… it will help you find the studs easier. Oh, and if you can’t find the stud, call on Ms Molly. 🙂
    I too do all my stuff husbandless, so I know where you’re coming from there.
    Thanks for such a great post. Usually when they are wordy, I just look at the pics. 🙂 Not today.

  15. I love my husband to death, but he’s really not handy at all, so it’s learn how to tackle this if you want it done… I remember once he said, “Are you sure that’s going to work?”
    I confessed to him, “Honey, I’m never sure anything I do is going to work.” If that was a prerequisite, I wouldn’t do anything. I’m currently trying to work up the gumption for a rain barrel and a compost bin… crossing my fingers.

  16. Maybe my stud finder is from the same family as yours, because mine never works either! Damn things! Hubby usually just thuds a fist on the wall till he thinks he’s found one and then hammers away. It really bugs me that most of the time he’s right, cause I sure can’t figure it out. Once I have found one, though, the 16 inch rule works great to find more! 🙂

    All my big projects had to be put on the waiting list since I’m preggo. (No sanding or spray painting! 🙁 ) but as soon as this baby is out, I’m getting back into it! Keep up all the good work on your projects!

  17. Comfort zone? Since I met YOU, Miss Mustard Seed and Polly at Make Mine Beautiful, I don’t even recognize myself. I think my husband is falling in love with me all over! Kinda cool!

    Every time I start a project and FINISH it (can someone shout, “Miracle!”, here? LOUDER!!!) I stand back beaming with such pride and in awe and disbelief. “Did I just do that?”

    My piles are smaller than most, only because the materials I use are smaller. The ideas are huge and off the map for this artist in her studio – yep, you heard me right!!

    Wait til you see what I’m working on. OK, it’s not FJI, but it’s me and mine and enhances my little life here!

    OH, and my husband is the man. I mean, this guy can take scraps and turn them into fabulous creations. We do NOT create well together. Except in the baby department and our music. He builds his way in his space and I build/create in mine. Totally separate. And it’s really cool that we finally figured that one out.

    Am I off topic here?

  18. I have a burn pit too, but I have to save things from it… Mr. throws good stuff away! He’s so hard to train! I didn’t get too excited about any of my projects until I found you late last fall. (Thanks for proving I’m not nuts) All winter long I have been itching to get out there again with my random orbital sander, hammer and spray paint. I’m scared of power saws though!

  19. If you didn’t ‘fess up we’d never know – the results look effortless. I finally tossed my stud finder and tap on the wall with my knuckle (you know, and listen for a hollow sound or not) – know what? I have great results! You rock, girl! Oh, and I do have a hubby, but he’s on the road so much I do an awful lot on my own.

  20. Donna…you are such an inspiration…You are so very creative and I love that you wrote this post.
    I want to learn how to use wood working tools!! Manual and electric!
    I gotta say…I love all these challenges going on in blog world…it definitely exercises the brain!
    And the more I make things…I hope I will get better at it and more creative! I am more of a visual displayer and not a creator!
    I haven’t LOVED everything I’ve created and I change my mind/taste ALL the TIME…

    Anywho….Love your blog and your house…

  21. oh donna,
    i LOVE the crib spring command center. you did such a great job designing the components and using other items to complete it. you rock girl!
    ~judi 😉

  22. As a woman who is married to a man that is often halfway around the world, I’ve had to learn to do things myself and not be afraid of making mistakes. My father could build anything, and my mother was right there beside him, so although I can’t build just anything, I know I have the skills to accomplish anything I put my mind to given a little time and patience.

    I would also love to be able to sew a slipcover, but that’s a ways off for non-sewing moi! Blogging has allowed me to embrace my decorating quirkiness and to push the envelope of what can be done in a few days time! Keep on keepin on, I love your stuff!

    Kat 🙂

  23. Oh Donna, I love this post, it should be called keeping it real. This is what we all hate to admit, that we really didn’t intend right from the beginning that the project would look just so.
    Oh, and yes, power tools are scary. I have them all and every single time I use one I feel a tinge of fear. Keeps me from getting foolish with it.

    And yet, for me anyway, the fun of the whole thing is not the finished project, but the time it takes to conceptualize and figure out how to make it all work in the end. These things we do don’t come with blueprints. We have to figure it out as we go and sometimes it doesn’t work the first or second or third time. I spend a lot of time just looking at my stuff, sometimes going back and forth checking out the possibilities before I actually commit to using a piece. (what if i ruin it?)
    I make rules for myself, no running out to buy anything for a t2t project, everything, (including hardware) has to come from what I have on hand, curbshopped or thrifted or leftovers. Makes it challenging, but in the end I love the final result all the more, knowing just what it took to make it happen. Finding homes for my stuff is always the hardest part, especially if the new home is with someone I don’t really know. Gosh I hate to sell stuff just for this reason.
    And talk about wordy? I’m the queen of wordy, and appreciate everything you write. I read it all and want more. Pictures aren’t everything.
    However, I do believe that your graphic arts background does give you a leg up on the rest of us. I’m always stunned at what you make happen with the least likely items. It makes your style stand out from the crowd. I am definitely a fan.
    Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

  24. You are doing an awsome job !! As a single parent with four children (there all grown now) & a very limited income I was forced into learning how to do repairs , now Iam glad , as doing anything power tools is fun & doing the wax thing for toilet’s does not scare me anymore ! Thanks for a great blog !

  25. ♥ you Donna!! You are so humble!
    YOu are much better at building and crafting than you give yourself credit. And the electrical things? YEah, they scare the crap out of me too- in the same way a child with a balloon does (you never know when they are going to go POP!) I have to learn how to push through my fear of New Territory and just do it!
    Power tools? I have had to learn to use them, too. Because I am perfectionist and my hubs is a “eh, it’s good enough” kinda fellow. But here’s my little secret on finding studs- lose the stud finder- those stupid batteries always seem to be dead when I really need it! I just go to the nearest corner, and count 16″. There’s your stud! They are almost always 16″ apart and away from a corner! 😉

    You always inpsire me. Good luck with SYTYCD.

  26. Donna, girl this turned out ridiculously beautiful. I wish I still had that old baby bed spring I had. I would have never thought of this. And that planter was just perfect for it, or at least it was after you did your magic. My mind would have never even went in any of those directions. Come spend a week at my house and let me learn for you Master. Hugs….Tracy 🙂

  27. Funny we really seem to be on the same track here. I just posted a project (inspired by one of your pictures btw) that totally failied first time round and that still isn’t perfect.
    And just yesterday I was standing in a shop eyeing a heavy duty miter saw that was on sale thinking can I justify buying this and then I chickened out, it looked so intimidating. Maybe I should go back…? I have project I have been putting off that I could really use if for.

  28. I went to college, after my children were older and took cabinetmaking. I can see a photo of a piece of furniture and figure out how to make it. I mean make it properly with actual woodworking joints and construction that will last, not just glued and screwed or nailed. (I use the table saw daily along with other tools, and the most important thing is to know the safety rules with each tool as they can really do a lot of damage.) I am trying to sell my things, as how many tables and hutches can one keep, but it’s really hard finding a store to take my furniture and pay me more than $2 an hour. It takes time and skill to make good quality things that will last and with this economy people want a hutch for $200 that I want to sell for over $2000. 🙁

  29. I can not imagine you would have a pile to burn! You would find something to make out of it 🙂 You are the ultimate re purposer!

    My comfort zone is getting stretched right now just trying to get my own blog started! I spend way too much time trying to decide on how it should look. I drive myself nuts.

    I want to learn to use a router so I can cut out the inside of my cabinets and put in glass. I’d rather buy a new router and do it myself then pay someone to do it for me!

  30. Great post, Donna! I have a hubby to build things, but I often get impatient waiting for his time, so I plow ahead myself. I’ve made many mistakes along the way, but there is great pride in doing something myself. I always tell him that I’ve been doing “big boy stuff” when he comes home and I can’t wait to show it off.

  31. Great post Donna! Makes me think, and makes my head hurt. I’m constantly pushing myself, especially these days. I have so many ideas, but have told myself for years I am not artistic. Now, I’m trying to un-brainwash myself. It is a long and scary road.

    And if you ever need sewing help, give a yell.

  32. Thanks for sharing. You’re designs are always so wonderfully put together. Pair that up with your beautiful photography and it does look effortless to the viewer. Sometimes mistakes can take you great places you never would have been had your plans all turned out right the first time.

    Looking forward to what you come up with Sunday on SYTYCD! Have a great weekend!

  33. Donna, you never cease to amaze me. I can barely keep up with all the cool things you post, but this one is just too awesome not to comment on. I love it.

  34. To fix the toilet. First, go to a real plumbing shop that actual plumbers work out of. (they will have the best materials) Get a top quality wax ring and new johnie bolts. Just having the right stuff makes the job so much easier. Also, get all the water out of the toilet. Dump a bucket of water in to flush it. (after you’ve turned the water off and gotten the water out of the tank.) This keeps the mess to a min. Good luck!

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