Stuck — we’ve all been there.
You’re working on a piece you really love. In your mind’s eye it’s going to be gorgeous. But along the way, something goes wrong. You can’t quite put your finger on it but you’re just not happy with the results. The joy is sucked out of your project. Now what?
More often than not, finding a fix takes a change in perspective. You need to let go of how you originally saw the piece — since it’s not working —so you can envision other options. I’ll admit that’s not always easy.
Sometimes I’ll walk away (or take a ski break) for a few hours. Other times, I’ll need days to pass to let ideas simmer. If I’m lucky, when I return to the piece and look at it anew, a solution jumps out at me. If I’m still stuck I’ll ask friends to take a look and give me some feedback.
I was reminded of the importance of perspective in a recent bead meetup group. A student of mine hit a roadblock with her project and felt completely stuck with how to proceed. Lauren had designed a bead embroidery piece she intended to use as a pendant, building around a central rectangular stone. As she added beads, pearls, and stones, the piece grew into an intentionally asymmetrical square.
“A square hanging from a chain just won’t work,” Lauren said. “And it’s too big to be a pendant now. It’s awkward.”
“No, it’s not,” I said. “I think it will be fine.”
Lauren looked at me with disbelief. “How?” she said.
“What about this?” I asked, rotating the piece 45 degrees. The square became a diamond.
“That totally changes it,” Lauren laughed. “I can’t believe I missed the obvious!”
Lauren had gotten stuck because she could only see the pendant from her original perspective: as a square. It took a tiny nudge to help her see other options. The solution is almost always right in front of us … or someone else.
In my own work, I often shift my perspective — looking at a piece from multiple angles, judging its visual harmony. Sometimes what started as an earring turns into a bracelet — or a bracelet becomes a necklace. Being open to change is what’s important. Be brave about adding and subtracting beads, swapping colors, sizes, and shapes. Sometimes a little change can move a piece from unbalanced to balanced.
The next time you feel stuck, try to let go of how you originally envisioned the piece. Consider other options even if they seem unlikely. When you get it right you’ll know it. While it’s hard to define harmony with words, you’ll feel it in your gut.