Evidently the ancient Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions but experts believe those resolutions were probably more along the line of pledges made to the gods in hopes for good luck in the coming year, and may have involved returning borrowed equipment and paying off debts. Back then, the New Year began in March with the start of the new agricultural cycle. By that calendar, I’m still a little ahead of the game wishing everyone a happy New Year in February.
Whether you are hoping for good luck from the gods, or looking for help closer to home, making New Year’s resolutions have long been the human attempt to retool some facet of their lives that they are unhappy with. Many resolutions fall by the wayside just a few weeks, or even days into the new year.
I often resolve to try and get more organized in order to get more done. Its not a ridiculously unreachable goal-and it sounds good–every year! I have made strides in the reorganizing direction, and I will continue to do so, but have I gotten any more done this year? Nope, in fact I’d venture a guess that I’ve gotten even less done this year than I have in past years. Some of it can be laid directly at the door of procrastination, but also equally guilty are other commitments in my life. As one gets older, and looks happily towards retirement and the thought that then we’ll be able to get things done-well, its nice to have dreams!
I tend to enjoy reading self-help books and articles. I found an interesting one recently that suggested self-compassion was a healthier attitude to have than self-confidence. Having read so often that with a touch of self-confidence one can sail into, and succeed in, challenging situations it was eye-opening to read that these experts feel that self-confidence tends to make us over estimate our skills and consequently not know when we are in over our heads-and unlikely to admit it should we be that prescient. With self-compassion we acknowledge that we are not perfect, but are trying to do the best we can in a world that is also imperfect. With self-compassion we cut ourselves some slack, rather than beat ourselves up, when we fail, and its far healthier that way. Its not making excuses, its more living with reality; its allowing yourself to learn from failure rather than running away from it.
So, Happy New Year! Did you make any resolutions?
If you’re interested in reading the article I reference above, it can be found here.
I’m thinking about applying for Artisan…
As a member of the Artisan and Fellow Selection Committees, I’ve heard that statement a few times. Many who utter it are looking for some tips on the process, or encouragement to take that leap; its an admirable goal, especially for those who are interested in the constant process of refining their skills making miniatures.
The best advice I can give to prospective applicants is to use your eyes. First, use them to read all the information that is posted on the IGMA website on the application process and read the guidelines. Keeping the guidelines in mind, examine your work, is it compliant with the guidelines? Secondly, look at work around you-if you can get to shows, find the best work there and note what about it makes it the best. If you have no access to great miniature work first hand, look at great full-size work, the only difference will be the scale, but you can see how the proportions work for the elements of each piece, if its furniture, how the various pieces fit together, how thick or glossy is the finish, is your work as clean and neat, just proportionally smaller-in proper scale?
As for the process, it goes like this: the committees meet once a year following a schedule set out on the IGMA website. You must notify the committee chairperson or the Guild Administrator by the stated deadline of your intention to apply. The notification allows the committee to estimate the amount of time they’ll need for evaluations. This is not an absolute commitment, so let them know even if you’re not sure you’ll be ready in time, it is much better to drop out, than to ask to be included at the last minute and find that the committee will not have time to evaluate your submission.
You must then submit your pieces with the accompanying paperwork within the time frame. The committee chair persons receive all submissions and prepare them for evaluations, this includes removing any and all traces of the submitters names so that the process can be completely blind. This is our, and your, assurance that the process is as fair and impartial as it can be. Without knowing whose work is being evaluated no one brings any preconceived notions to the table-either favorable or unfavorable, the work is judged on its merits alone.
On the day of evaluations, the chairperson lays out the work on large tables-depending on how many submissions there are, there could be as many as 10 or 12 submissions laid out at one time. Each submission has its own dedicated space, with its documentation and comments sheets. This allows the 8-10 people on the committee to work at the same time, and at their own pace, moving from submission to submission as they are ready. Each committee member reads the supporting materials submitted, studies the work and scores it based on criteria that have been established over many years, overall presentation, workmanship and difficulty. People work at different rates, and the process can be lengthy; 20 submissions can easily take an entire day to evaluate! Use of magnifiers and rulers are encouraged so that no one just assumes the scale is correct. It is also not unusual for committee member to take advantage of the hotels wi-fi to look up and check on the accuracy of details. Applicants are continually encouraged to document their work and provide supplementary information on the pieces that have inspired them. If you submit an ear of corn that, in scale would be 15″ long, you had better supply the committee with photos of real size corn that is 15″ long, otherwise they will assume that your corn is out of scale having no experience of corn of that size!
When everyone has finished evaluating each submission, the chairperson takes a vote, just pass or fail, on each submission. If the decision is pretty unanimous, it ends there for that submission. If the vote is at all close, the chairperson asks for the actual scores and the numbers are averaged, if a passing number is reached, the submission passes. After the entire process is completed, the chairperson lets the committee know whose work they have been evaluating. The list of names that the committee has approved for Artisan membership then goes to the full board of trustees for approval and the process is done for another year.
No, its not too early to be thinking about the holidays! Here is an opportunity for you to share your love of miniatures with a wider community this December.
Last fall, Susan Sherman introduced herself to me, expressing an interest in visiting IGMA’s Williamsburg Study Program and meeting our participants. Susan is the Manager of Special Events at Historic Kenmore Plantation, and coordinator of a substantial holiday miniatures display at the beautifully restored home of George Washington’s sister. Anchored by a replica of Historic Kenmore, 2017 marks the fourth year that the display has taken place, enhanced by structures and individual miniatures loaned by the surrounding miniatures community.
The public is invited to loan dollhouses or other miniature buildings, favorite pieces or vignettes from their collections, display cases are available to protect smaller items, and each exhibitor will receive a free pass for themselves and two guests to the exhibit and other holiday festivities organized by the Foundation.
Care will be taken to properly protect your treasures, the exhibits will be monitored and stanchions will be in place to prevent enchanted viewers from getting too close. Pieces must be delivered and picked up by exhibitors. Interested parties are invited download the registration form below and submit it to Ms. Sherman. There is no time to waste, registration deadline is October 13.