Shoe Carving Challenge #2: Carving & Perfectionism

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 10-03-2010 12:35 PM 13387 reads 0 times favorited 47 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Journey's Beginning Part 2 of Shoe Carving Challenge series Part 3: A Pause .. »

Oct. 3/10

The journey with the shoe carving is continuing – and my block of wood, at this point, still looks like a shoe! This is good.

But I was reminded of a very important component of carving, when a fellow student, TJ65, posted this update:
  • My head hurts real bad. :-(
    It’s hot to touch too, I think it has been whirring away for way too long concentrating on getting the pattern of the sole drawn up. (Maybe I shuda went for an easier shoe!)
    I didn’t realise that you really have to think and measure when you carve something true to form!!
    Now I know!!

Perfectionism—if you want to be a “realism” carver you have to be a perfectionist! This carving student is NOT a perfectionist. And so I am now using that willpower that I drew upon last week to avoid getting caught up in “fear” to, now, trying to be accurate in my measuring and carving. This does not come naturally.

Just as I was fighting to keep the thoughts of fear and anxiety out of my head last week, this week I struggle to keep the ideas and follow through of “precision” IN my head. Perhaps this is a good thing because it distracts me from the fear of (whatever it is) that will probably always be there.

As I think about this challenge with perfectionism and of the fear of “whatever”, I am reminded of something that I’ve considered on my journey towards self-awareness: I am, in fact, a perfectionist and, because of my fears of not being able to live up to this, I choose to be more casual with my creations.

The idea has merit – it completes the idea of what I am afraid of and it is a good motivation behind my relaxed goals. Although it makes sense, I am not completely sold on the idea. I look at my life and, everywhere, I see “casual”, hodgepodge, non-perfectionism. Can this fear possibly be contaminating all of my life? I think not.

Regardless of this self-awareness journey, I return to the “now” and I still have a shoe to carve – a realistic shoe – a project that needs perfectionism, precision, focus, and a personal mantra of ”I do care about the exact details” – at least on this project.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

47 comments so far

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3901 days

#1 posted 10-03-2010 01:43 PM

I’m reminded, as I read MsDebbieP’s comments, of my experience in the OLD days, when I was in high school.
Yes, they DID have high schools back then.
But the were in drafty old log cabins. That may explain my hatred of cold weather.
But I digress.
Debbie comments on the fear that this challenge presents. I am mystified.
For whatever perverse reason, challenge has rarely caused fear in me. Not to say this shoe-carve isn’t hard. It is, and I’ll be hard pressed to complete the course with a good grade. But I guess I enjoy a challenge.
I was rarely fearful of tests in school. I would hear other students talking about it and I always wondered, “so what?” I didn’t think about it much. I just showed up and took the test. No big deal.
Now, I must hasten to add, that lackadaisical attitude didn’t spring from confidence.
I was sometimes not well prepared, but for some reason it didn’t bother me.
And so it is with The Shoe.
I’ll enjoy it to the full because it doesn’t frighten me.
Perhaps it’s also because I have great confidence in the instructor. Even though i haven’t started carving yet, I have this good feeling that it will be good for me and will expand my knowledge and skill.
And thanks to Jordan for being so willing to share.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4667 days

#2 posted 10-03-2010 02:12 PM

I want your level of “being” ... you live in the “now”. It is what it is… live it, savour it, learn from it, grow and move to the next “now”.

I can do it – but I have to block the fears from surfacing. But I know they are there. And now I have a new mentor :) ... ok Teacher, maybe the spitballs didn’t come from Don.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4399 days

#3 posted 10-03-2010 02:16 PM

I have my very first carving of a Red Headed Duck and the only thing that is “right” about it, is the fact that its “head” is “red”.............super ugly and could even be mistaken for a shoe

What a difference a few years of practice can make

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4667 days

#4 posted 10-03-2010 02:28 PM

I laughed at the “mistaken for a shoe”

again, my favourite quote comes to mind: “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing wrong”.
And from that wrong blossoms experience, skills, knowledge and wisdom.
Thank you. (adding to my mentor list)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3426 days

#5 posted 10-03-2010 03:42 PM

I am learning as I go through this life that “fear” can be a huge waste of time and energy. I understand that some situations (and sometimes common sense) warrants some level of fear, but I noticed that in some people (myself included in the past) spend so much time “fearing” and saying “what if this or that happens” that they live their lives in an almost crippled state.

I used to live my life much more cautiously than I do now, and I am far more creative and happy because I no longer do so. Ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?” Usually the answer doesn’t deserve the time and energy that fearing the outcome takes from you.

I am glad to see you jumping in Debbie. Somehow I can predict that you will do just fine. If a piece falls off or something is not just right, you will still have fun and from what little I know or have seen of you, I feel that you will learn from it.

“It is better to have tried and failed then to not have tried at all”

We are all PROUD of you! :D

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4667 days

#6 posted 10-03-2010 04:09 PM

I let go of limitations quite awhile ago – but that voice of fear is still there whispering, trying to stop me from trying new things. The difference is that now I know that it has no merit in 99% of the situations in my life. I know how to acknowledge it and still move forward, although it did take me some time to take the picture of the shoe.

It is a fascinating journey. And to be honest I get a kick out of recognizing that voice of fear and not letting it control me. It reminds me of how far I’ve come!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4667 days

#7 posted 10-03-2010 04:09 PM

oh.. and my mentor list keeps growing! :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View mmh's profile


3679 posts in 4228 days

#8 posted 10-03-2010 04:45 PM

Isn’t it amusing how we can compare our first attempts to our current work? As embarrassing as they may be, our first projects were our pride of the day and rightly so, as they were our baby steps to becoming the craftspeople we are today and masterscraftsmen/women of tomorrow.

And fondness goes out to the recipients who graciously admired and even kept those projects!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3631 days

#9 posted 10-03-2010 05:00 PM

MsDebbie – I am the KING of fear – fear of flying, fear of earthquakes, the list goes on. I guess I have used carving to tackle that generalized personality trait. If something scares me, and believe me, the warshirt scared me out of my wits, I tackle the hard things immediately. It doesn’t erase the fear of flying but it does cement the idea that my fears are only situational fear as opposed to dispositional.
It’s amazing how a little shoe challenge can bring so many people together.

Moron , you made me laugh with that.


View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4512 days

#10 posted 10-03-2010 05:30 PM

I think carving should be enjoyable. Figure that out and let the chips fall where they may. If you enjoy it enough, complex and realistic renderings out of wood will be a natural progression.

Plus you have to consider how often an amateurish rendering can have superior appeal to something done more precisely. Like the photo realistic painting that is so good you lose sight that it’s a painting!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3631 days

#11 posted 10-03-2010 06:01 PM

Yes Miles, that’s a good analogy – we are artists, NOT photocopiers!


View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4667 days

#12 posted 10-03-2010 07:23 PM

and all because of a shoe! :)

good discussion.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3631 days

#13 posted 10-03-2010 08:17 PM

Ha, this is true – all because of a shoe.
When I teach dancing, I find the adults harder to teach because they are accustomed to using two words before they even try something new that the children don’t… “I can’t”.
The children take on new tasks just the way they have thus far learned to walk, talk, eat with utensils etc., just another new thing in their lives.
From that point on, I guess we’re all jaded by fears and failures of fearing.
When I started painting this summer, I was so scared because I’d procrastinated for years. People always said ” But look how beautiful you paint your carvings!” To tell you the truth, painting my carvings and painting a picture is like painting the kitchen wall opposed to painting a picture OF the kitchen wall. From the minute I started, I kept the little secret in my head that “Who cares how lousy it is, I can use the excuse that it’s my FIRST painting.”
So, after a few hours on a safe landscape, I chucked it and promised my generous landlady that I would paint pictures of her horses for her husband’s Christmas gift…and after the carvings she has of mine, how could I not work to my utmost to provide her with a quality painting. So, hardest thing …perfect horses and I am not allowing myself to use any excuse as to why it doesn’t turn out right…if it doesn’t, I won’t know because I’ll do my best with the knowledge and experience I have at this point in time.
Wonderful opportunity to discuss.!


View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4667 days

#14 posted 10-03-2010 08:27 PM

for the past several years I have listened intently to my “ego voice” as I call it .. learning how it speaks to me in an effort to “protect me”, to place limitations on my life, on my risk-taking (to try new things), on my living, and yes on my “good enough” excuses.

Now, I can catch it whispering in my ear and silence it so I can do whatever it is that I have a desire to do. .. today it is to carve a shoe or at the very least benefit from the golden opportunity of a free class with a Master Carver.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4486 days

#15 posted 10-03-2010 08:45 PM

Hi Ms. Debbie;

Sounds like you might be over thinking this shoe thing. It really is simple.

Take your block of wood and carve away all the wood that isn’t part of a shoe.

Nothing to it!

Have fun.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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