Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Overthinking 10,000 Times

Last week, I wrote about needing 10,000 hours of practice to master something. I've pondered that thought for endless hours in the past week and a half.

I know from experience that there is nothing that will advance lampworking skills like parking my bottom behind the torch. Practice makes perfect....or as my childhood band teacher used to say, "Perfect practice makes perfect!"

But what about all the other things I do to learn to perfect my skills?

  • Reading books, tutorials, blogs & forums full of advice
  • Watching demos in class or at other glass events
  • Prepping to torch...dipping, sorting glass, labeling glass
  • Cleaning beads
What about all those countless hours? Don't they count for something? Do they advance my skill level??

After considering all these things, I think yes and no... (typical Pisces!).

Reading and studying, creating notes for the torch session most certainly does increase my skills. Just this week, I was determined to master drilling holes with a tungsten pick. Despite my watching countless demos, it was asking a question on a forum and reading the myriad of replies that finally got me to understand the heat issue I was having. The very next session yielded many pick drilled buttons and hearts!

Watching demos - yes. Seeing demos at my bead group often inspires me to come home and stretch in a new direction. Or, sometimes I see a demo and realize how a technique can apply to something else I'm working on.... I saw one of my fellow Flame Surfers demo her technique for handles on a vessel and KNEW I could improve the loops on my hearts with the same method!

And watching master teachers... that is priceless. But maybe it's not the same as sitting there and doing the work...maybe that counts for 50%?

Prepping... of all the prep work I do, I would say labeling glass, pulling and sorting is the most helpful. It just helps to see and touch it. I know that Anice feels rougher than regular white or that the white rod is whiter when closely compared. But still, should that time "count?" Probably not.

And cleaning beads? While it is good to see what came out of a torch session...how colors reacted, was my heat control good, does a new design work??? Ultimately, I've decided not to include that time.

So where does that leave me??? While I have no idea how many hours I've added up to this point.... some weeks I torched every day. The week I spent at Bead and Button, I torched every day, all day. But there were weeks when I worked at a real job and couldn't torch at all. So, even though this is a gross underestimate, I'm starting at 1500 hours up to my class last weekend.

I'm going to keep a running tally in the bottom of the blog. It's going to be an interesting journey keeping track of this!


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