I used to think that if I made something ugly or if things went wrong with my materials that it meant a) I'm not talented enough and b) I should give up and do something else. I called it the "bail factor." Because this outlook made me bail. All. The. Time. I didn't realize that becoming an expert at something took time. And patience. And commitment. And not giving up – especially when things go wrong.
About a month ago I came up against a problem that normally would have set off the "bail factor." I couldn't find the solution quickly enough for my self-defeating thoughts to tell me "this is too hard . . . forget trying to support yourself making things . . . just get a real job . . ." In retrospect the problem was small, but at the time it was insurmountable and overwhelming.
Here's what it was: the white ink I was using felt too stiff for napkins. It was perfect for pillows because most people aren't putting pillows on their face. But I wanted my napkins to be soft, which was one of the reasons I chose European linen to begin with. Linen softens over time and becomes broken in with washings. And the white ink was ruining all that.
But this time, instead of bailing I decided to run a series of tests. Because that's what experts do. They take a scientific approach instead of an emotional one. They eliminate the problems through trial and error. And they stick with it. No. Matter. What.
So I tried various dilutions of ink to print paste, as well as different washing times and temperatures. I logged my results and eliminated the variables. I tested and re-tested, over and over until I finally had the perfect result: soft, white ink . . and another step closer to becoming an expert.