R. B. from St. Louis, Missouri asked, "I’m just starting to do woodworking. Do you have any advice on what kind of project to begin with?"

Dear R.

Most of the time, an instructor will tell you to begin with a small project for several reasons. First, your project will be completed quicker. You will have more immediate gratification, which may keep you practicing more. Second, if the project goes badly and you must scrap it, you won’t waste as much material. Third, you will be more likely to have a positive experience with a smaller project.

Even with all of this good advice, there are many of us (me included) who prefer the challenge of a larger project right at the beginning. Here’s a success story. When I was 10 years old, our teacher was giving us a history lesson. In order to emphasize the lesson, we were given the task of carving something out of soap to represent U.S. history. Some carved the liberty bell or the state of Illinois, but my challenge was the bust of Abraham Lincoln. At the completion of the assignment, I was amazed that my bust actually looked like Abraham Lincoln! I remember thinking, who really did this? Couldn’t have been me, right? This time, a huge project became a success for a fist time challenge. I’ve continued to carve in soap and in wood as a result.

Now I also have a personal failure story. I was in college and wanted to learn to knit. I got a pattern for a sweater. How hard could it be? I’ve usually had success at first-time projects. Well, this sweater hung 4 inches past my shoulder and hand and down to my knees. It was difficult to even recognize that it was a sweater at all. I tried washing it, steaming it and nothing was going to make it right. Eventually, I took it apart and wove it into a wall hanging. I have not tried to knit again, but content myself to use fiber by crocheting and weaving. Come to think of it, this winter may be the time to try it again….maybe a scarf to start with!

So small projects may or may not be the deciding factor. I’d still recommend it!

Thanks for asking!  Lynnette Schuepbach

Lynnette is an author/illustrator who sees creativity in every aspect of life. To find out more about her and creativity, visit her Web site KidsDoRead.com.  Her children’s books create curiosity in children and speak to sibling rivalry and bullying.

Lynnette serves as chair of Art in the Park on the second weekend of October at the Lindendale Park in Highland. Many local artists will be exhibiting there. It’s her pleasure to be a part of this opportunity for you to experience “World Class Art in a Hometown Atmosphere.” More info at www.highlandartscouncil.org.

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