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colored pencil

Wreathing the Wheel

April, 2019

Wreathing
the Wheel: Mistakes, Messes, and Accidents

This
month, I’d like to take a little departure from talking about the
specifics of bullet journaling to talk about a related topic that I
am very passionate about: making mistakes.

As
an artist who works a lot with pen and ink, I’m familiar with the
unforgiving nature of the medium. It’s very easy to make a small
stray pen mark simply by dropping the pen, or (the horror!) even a
long mark when my cat decides that she really wants to play with my
pen too, or something jostles my drawing surface. From a mistake that
lasts a millisecond, hours of work can feel ruined when this happens.
I’m a perfectionist as well, and I like everything to be beautiful,
precise and clean… in my opinion, my attention to detail is what
makes my art interesting (to me).

But
it becomes necessary, when working on an ongoing project like a
bullet journal, to accept that some things just won’t work out how
you expected, and to tell yourself it’s worth it to keep going with
the hobby you love, even when you are confronted with mistakes. With
stray pen marks and similar mistakes, there’s little you can do to
hide them. Sometimes they can be hidden in designs, but sometimes the
design is already finished when you mess it all up. It’s a sinking
feeling, but I try to just take a moment and remind myself that this
mistake is an accurate representation of my life — and after all,
this is a journal! Isn’t part of the purpose to accurately
represent what my life was like at this time?

But
what about when the mistake is big? Like really, REALLY big? What if
it’s the whole book?

This
was my first 2018 bullet journal. Notice anything odd?

As
you can probably tell, I put a lot of work into this book, and I was
fairly upset when wine was spilled on it (although not as upset as
the person who spilled the wine, bless their heart). The wine soaked
through quickly, and it’s on almost every page. This happened when
I was halfway through the book — I couldn’t just toss it, and I
wasn’t ready to start another yet.

Instead,
I decided to celebrate the accident. In Japanese pottery, the method
of Kintsugi (meaning “golden joinery”) is used to repair
broken pottery with precious metals. The underlying thought process
behind this is that the breakage becomes a beautiful part of the
object’s history, and appreciated in its own right. Borrowing from
this idea, I used silver and gold ink to “repair” some of the
places in my journal that had been washed away by the wine, to try to
make them even more beautiful than before. Another way I have thought
about doing this would be to repair pages with embroidery, but there
are many techniques one could use — gold or silver plating,
decoratively placed washi tape, or even pasting a picture over a
mistake — anything, in short, that transforms the mistake into
something new, and uncommonly precious. I’d encourage you to start
showing some love to your mistakes today: it’s a way for us as
artists and craftspeople to embrace the reality of craft and indulge
in the unpredictability of traditional media, and it can help us grow
and learn new techniques as well.

***

About
the Author:

Sarah
McMenomy
is
an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork,
trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at
https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com