With the gift-giving season nearing, I wanted to address the dreaded topic of overwhelm that rears its’ ugly head for many crafters. Because we can make something, we often decide to make stained glass gifts to give. And not only do we decide to make one or two, we often decide to make something for everyone (or at least that’s how it ends up feeling!)
Don’t worry. You’re not alone! I have personally fallen victim to this line of thinking more times than I care to remember.
Let’s start with the definition of overwhelm which means to “bury or drown beneath a huge mass.”
That doesn’t paint a pretty picture at all does it? But I think we can all agree that it’s an accurate assessment of what we feel when it’s happening to us.
I’m describing the normal lead up to Christmas but this could really happen at any time of the year when you decide to make stained glass gifts to give.
You see, we bite off more than we can chew and then suffer the consequences. And with Christmas, this usually happens on top of the regular stress that the season brings.
But we get excited don't we?
We see all sorts of wonderful ideas and projects and say “Oh that would be perfect for so and so,” and “That would be perfect for this other person.”
We have good intentions.
And, we think that there's enough time to get it all done.
Just remember you're only one person, and it takes a little planning if you want to do all of the things.
Survey of Stained Glass Crafters
I polled my audience to find out if they tend to be overwhelmed by making stained glass gifts leading up to the Christmas season.
Unsurprisingly, 76.5% of those who answered the survey replied “Yes.”
Now you might think that perhaps these were all new people at the craft of making stained glass who
- are still learning
- might be a little slower at making because they're still new at it
- haven't been through the season before to plan well enough ahead.
And these are all valid thoughts but let me assure you, that’s not the case! You see, I also asked those I polled, how many years experience they had at making stained glass.
And would you believe it?
The range varied from one year to 35 years!
This isn't only something that newbies experience. Feeling overwhelmed happens to glass crafters of all experience levels.
So I asked those who completed the survey...
"What have you tried doing to stay organized and reduce overwhelm?"
Here are some of the answers I received:
- PLAN! Stop producing and create a daily plan - day 1 do x, day 2 do y. Then check a calendar and work backwards to determine what’s reasonable. Add in 2 “whoops” days because I always think I can do more.
- If I am doing a lot of small stuff like Xmas ornaments I try to do it as an assembly line. Put patterns on the glass for all of them. Cut everything. Grind it all and then do all of the foiling. Once that is done I set up a few at a time to be soldered. Clean, patina and or polish, attach the hanger and away we go!
- Just getting started is my problem. I can make patterns with no issues but the anxiety over cutting and foiling stops me from moving forward. I know practice will help to reduce the gaps and issues related to soldering but that is what stops me now. Reading blogs and sharing tips on Facebook seems to help. (Read this article to learn more about gaps in your projects.)
- I use stained glass groups on Facebook to get ideas and try to help others. It seems the act of helping others gets me 'unstuck'. (Join the Make Stained Glass Facebook group. It's free!!)
- Make a schedule and try to keep to it. Example: cut glass on Monday, grind on Tuesday, foil Wednesday and solder Thursday and the rest of the week.
- I have a box of finished suncatchers separated in baggies. One day is a foil day and then the next day is a soldering day.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to start the project. Keep your area clean after each use. Don't pick projects that are too complicated or ones that will take too much time.
- Start early. I tend to procrastinate, which causes me to rush, making errors, getting frustrated and eventually quitting.
- Plan an hour at a time.
- I'm a newbie so I'm making several of the same item, just switching up the colors to match the receiver's personal style. Next year, I'll probably go crazy trying to make something different for each person. Better start in January, right?
- Set weekly targets.
- Organize,organize organize.
- Don’t do too many.
- Plan ahead and make sure all supplies needed are on hand.
- Focus on one project at a time.
- I write down what I need to make for each person so I can check them off the list when I’m done.
The next question asked in the survey was, "Did it help?"
The results came back
- 75.8% Yes
- 18.% Somewhat
- 6.1% No
So you can see that the suggestions above helped or at least alleviated some overwhelm for 93% of those making stained glass gifts. That's huge!
Next I asked...
“From your personal experience, if you could share one tip to help someone else in the same situation, what would you tell them?”
- Limit yourself.. pick only a few stained glass gifts. They always take longer than you think and sometimes life interferes... There's always next year for the people you didn't get this year. Something to look forward to…
- Too often I want to do more than time allows- be realistic with your time- this is supposed to be fun.
- Keep work area tidy. I get overwhelmed when there is a lot of clutter. Unfortunately I seem to get that way often and have to step back a moment and get organized and clear the clutter.
- Breathe. If you are feeling stress I find glass work doesn’t go well and you spend more time because of mistakes. Walk away and come back when you are feeling more relaxed.
- Schedule time for glass work.
- If anyone else you know does stained glass, I would plan a day for a get together. Solder and chat all day while getting things done.
- Keep practicing, cutting and soldering. You’ll improve with practice.
- Start small.
- You don’t have to be perfect.
- Remember that your family and friends appreciate the fact that you made them something.
Asking about making stained glass gifts brought out some really helpful tips from Living Sun Glass readers.. I found myself agreeing with quite a few of them and nodding my head in agreement as I was reading them, because I remember what the overwhelm feels like and I know that some of these things have helped me too.
What's the takeaway from this?
I think reducing your overwhelm in making stained glass gifts really boils down to four main steps:
You need to decide what to make.
Look for designs that are reasonably comfortable for you to do. Think of what sorts of things you could make for each person and let that guide your search.
A great way to keep track of inspiration and ideas and online patterns for stained glass gifts, is to create a Pinterest board for these ideas. (Find all sorts of stained glass inspiration and ideas by checking out my boards and follow me on Pinterest!)
Now that you have a mountain of ideas, it's time to pare down and make a decision on what you're going to make and for whom.
Think about the supplies you will need for each project and take a look at what you already have on hand. If your budget is a little tight and buying more supplies isn't in the picture at the moment, choose projects that you can make with the stained glass supplies you have.
3. Be realistic
Remember that you're only one person! Consider the number of gifts that you can actually make in the time you have leading up to the holidays AND always allow extra time because sometimes things get in the way of even the best laid plans.
Think about the amount of time you can dedicate each week to getting things done. Breaking things down into weekly goals will help take the pressure off and allow you to enjoy the process of making.
4. Get support
Being part of a community with others who have similar interests to your own, can be super beneficial.
If you feel like you're stalling out for ideas, you'll get to see what others are up to and possibly find the inspiration you're looking for.
If you feel like you tend to get stuck on projects or sometimes have something happen that you aren't sure how to fix, having a group of people to share your questions with can be the biggest asset you have. And, as one reader said, helping others can sometimes help get you unstuck and motivated to work on your own projects.
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