thriving under deadlines

September 16, 2015

making pillows // doonyaya.com

It’s been a week of production, preparing for a photo shoot of my house by Joe Maer and Jim Franco, that will hopefully lead to a publication somewhere cool. Or not. Getting my house photographed and staged by a professional team is exciting enough. Plus, Joe and Jim also offered to shoot some “beauty shots of my linens,” which sounds racier than it is, but in my world anything that doesn’t include folding piles of dirty boy laundry is thrilling.

making pillows // doonyaya.commaking pillows // doonyaya.comAnd deadlines get me all amped up and busy. They give me a purpose and direction. So I’ve been jumping between printing, prepping and organizing products, consulting and overseeing sewing production, making decisions about thread, tracking down midcentury lights and matching bulbs, finalizing designs and patterns, dropping items off, picking items up. . .and hopefully getting my bangs trimmed so I can feel a little bit pretty for the photos.

But mostly, having a deadline forces me to make decisions quickly. There’s no time for hemming and hawing. I can’t research and debate the quality of various thread content at 2:00 a.m. – one of my favorite pastimes after a Netflix binge. I have to pull the proverbial trigger. Which goes way against my natural inclination to obsess about the details. Which I can do. For. Ever.

making pillows // doonyaya.comIn fact, my super inspiring business coach, Kathleen Shannon, recently wrote about the importance of decision-making for success. Since I can’t say it any better than Kathleen I’ll quote her: “The ability to make decisions with ease and speed is something that sets successful creative entrepreneurs apart from the rest.” Which is similar to what the business grand-daddy guru Dale Carnegie has to say about the importance of swift decision-making as a necessary quality for success: “Problems never go away by doing nothing.” That sure makes sense.

Thankfully, because of this deadline I’ve had tons of practice with my decision-making skills this week. And it’s helping me feel more confident about my choices, which is really about trusting my creative intuition. There’s a feeling inside that clicks when I know something is working, whether it’s about a material, a technique or a design. And the decision-making part comes in when I trust that feeling – or creative intuition – and go with it. It’s when I don’t let my doubts get more space than my gut.

Trusting my creative intuition makes decisions easy: the answers are already there — I just have to listen

Of course making a decision is always a risk. And that’s why I procrastinate. . .or obsess. . .or weigh every angle. I think I can figure out what to do by some mental game of logic. Which just doesn’t work when it comes to creative output. My best creative ideas are made under the gun because there isn’t time to think. There’s only time to act.

making pillows // doonyaya.commaking pillows // doonyaya.comSo I’m going to make another swift decision to trim my own bangs. . .after I watch a series on Netflix and research bang-cutting techniques for a few hours. . .and definitely weigh the pros and cons and consider all the possible consequences. . .and put it off for a while so I don’t make a mistake or have any regrets. . .or maybe just not do it at all. . .cause it’s probably a bad decision to begin with. . .

lars’ garden philosophy

September 10, 2015

gardening // doonyaya.com

Lars keeps his gardening principles simple: seeds go in dirt, plants grow, plants like water, plants don’t like weeds. To be honest, my gardening principles are about the same. But keeping it simple seems to be working because we had another great year of growing vegetables, herbs and flowers. Which really means that things we planted grew like they were meant to grow. And Lars helped out every step of the way, from prepping the beds, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, and his favorite gardening technique: trimming. According to Lars, a lot of plants need to be trimmed, kind of like hair. Especially dill, which Lars approached as an afro wanting to be a buzzcut. I started making dill bouquets from the piles of chopped dill. They actually looked nice.

Spending time in the garden teaches Lars where his food comes from — and how fun it is to grow it yourself

But the best part of this years’ garden was the yellow cherry tomatoes. That were actually orange. Anyhow, Lars started getting out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to pick them. Happily, I got to sleep through it. Until I would get woken up by his unbridled excitement to give me a handful of tomatoes as a “morning present.” But it’s pretty sweet, right? I mean, how could I resent being awake before any other well-rested human on the planet when my adorable four year old wants to give me a present of squashed tomatoes? Sleep is overrated anyhow.

So we’ve already started talking about what to grow next year. Lars’ requests are sunflowers, watermelons and “definitely dill because it’s just so delicious.” Or because it’s fun to “trim” (Lars Scissorhands). Personally, I would like to try corn again because we are a corn loving household. Plus, the corn I tried to grow last year was bland and gross. According to Lars it was actually “disgusting.” But I refuse to give up. I will grow delicious corn before I die. No. Matter. What.

And maybe, if I’m really lucky, next year Lars will stay in the garden til noon before waking me with a handful of squashed tomatoes.

gardening // doonyaya.comgardening // doonyaya.comgardening // doonyaya.com
gardening // doonyaya.comgardening // doonyaya.com

making an orchid planter

September 7, 2015

pottery project // doonyaya.com

Yep, I did it, I bought an orchid from IKEA. For $9.99. I had pretty low expectations of it surviving, because I don’t think quality when I think IKEA. I think streamlined. And orchids are anything but streamlined. They’re more like high-maintenance supermodels with needs like endless supplies of cocaine and cash. But if I had a gorgeous supermodel girlfriend, how could I possibly say no to anything she “needed”? So I took my high-maintenance orchid home. And immediately realized that it had needs. Like a very specific pot with vent holes for its roots that like to be damp – yet aired.

So like anyone would, I put everything else aside to make the perfect pot for its perfect roots. Because my orchid was going to be happy with me – forever and ever.

Plus, time was of the essence. My orchid was definitely not going to wait around for me to mess around with design considerations. It wanted what it wanted. Yesterday. So I scribbled an idea on a piece of paper and got to work: I rolled a slab, formed the shape around a bucket, then poked the air holes with the handle of a pen-tool. Done.

I’m actually happy with the results because it’s, well, streamlined. And best of all, it should keep my orchid happy . . . As long as I provide the proper humidity, keep the daytime temperature between 65 and 75 degrees and the nighttime temperature a few degrees cooler, keep it in the sun, but not too much sun, make sure it has gentle air circulation and proper fertilization, and don’t forget that it prefers ice in its water . . .

So where’s that supermodel girlfriend?

handmade orchid planter // doonyaya.compottery project // doonyaya.com

testing…testing…

September 7, 2015

ink tests // doonyaya.com

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.

The only way to fail is to give up

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.

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