When I began making pottery, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to make a pot several times before I learned to make the pot. At first, I made multiples to improve. It was like shooting free throws – the only way to improve was doing it over and over. Doing it over again was important but doing over again immediately was vital. If I let too much time pass between pots, then I realized I lost a little something I had learned and making the pot felt as challenging as it initially had. The learning curve was steeper when there was more time between pots. In order to reduce the learning curve, I gave myself a 50-mug project. (An idea I stole from the “500 Cups” book.)
I began learning to throw because I wanted to make teapots and mugs; but, for a long time I avoided them because they required handles. Handles were a challenge and I claimed I didn’t like to make them. But the truth was, I was afraid of making bad handles.
I needed to know how to make a good handle before I could judge whether I liked making handles. If I made 50, surely I would figure it out. I did. And, I don’t hate handles. Sometimes fear of failure is expressed as dislike but really it is just fear of failure. The initial 50 mugs helped me get past the handle fear. Now, I love to make mugs. I can make a good handle; and, occasionally I make a bad one. But, now, I know the difference and I refuse to settle.