My journey to connect with purpose and passion.

The Highest and Lowest of Weekends

Tofino Bay, Canada just before I destroyed it in the resin booth

Tofino Bay, Canada just before I destroyed it in the resin booth

This ended up being a pretty awesome weekend, but it didn't start that way. It began with a complete loss of motivation verging on despair.

My studio is at the in-laws about an hour drive away. As such, I only tend to go up on the weekends. This means I have a limited amount of time to work on my art and a lot of expectations.

We arrived mid-day on Saturday. I set about mixing epoxy resin and preparing three pieces for their final protective coating. Within an hour, the three pieces were ruined and every attempt to salvage them just created more defects in their surface.

Epoxy resin and I have never gotten along. I have read every tutorial. I have adopted every precaution. And still my pieces end up with bubbles or covered in dust and hairs. This was one of the worst cases of the latter. It looked like an army of midges had flown down onto the surface. There were hundreds of hairs and dust motes on each piece.

I have come pretty far in learning this craft. My transfers have improved significantly and I've even begun to learn how to do some basic woodworking. But the epoxy resin stage was a wall I could not scale.

I wrote off the three pieces. They were ruined. I abandoned my studio and locked myself in the guest bedroom. I had been working on these pieces for weeks, and had such high hopes, only to ruin them in the final stage.

As I lay on the bed feeling sorry for myself, I took notice of a flurry of dust in the air. There were hundreds of particles of all sizes. It must be the house. I lifted a leg to kick in frustration at the dust – talk about an exercise in futility – and watched in amazement as my work pants released a cloud of particles into the air. 

To make a long story short, it was my pants. I had tried hair nets, dust covers, air purifiers and more. But I'd always worn a pair of work pants and in every case I had been defeated.

Much to the horror of everyone in the house, I now apply the epoxy in nothing but boxers, a hair net and my ventilator.

Applying epoxy resin in the buff. Not for the faint of heart!

Applying epoxy resin in the buff. Not for the faint of heart!

And for the first time in almost a year, I have my first finished epoxy resin piece with next-to-no defects.

To say this was an emotional turnaround for me is an understatement. I found myself singing and dancing with the blow torch while waiting to zap any bubbles.

But it gets better. Every artist I've spoken to has told me you can't save an epoxy resin piece once it has defects. I once found a video showing a woodworker spending three hours sanding, buffing and polishing a bar top to get the dust marks out. This seemed like an insane amount of effort but I still tried it. No go. My artist friends were right.

In my newfound delirium, I decided to try again. I had found an article saying you could sand your piece lightly with 400 grit sandpaper and then simply re-apply the epoxy resin. It sounded too good to be true.

But it was wasn't. It actually worked.

One of the ruined resin pieces sanded and waiting to go back into the resin bay

One of the ruined resin pieces sanded and waiting to go back into the resin bay

Not only did I complete three new resin pieces, I was able to save two of the three pieces I had thought lost to the landfill. And I would have saved the third one, but I ran out of time and dust covers.

It was one of the most productive weekends I have yet to spend in my studio. And yet also one of the lowest emotional points I have experienced. 

The whole "it's darkest right before the light" metaphor comes to mind, but I can't stop from rolling my eyes at such a statement even though I just experienced its truth. 

I've spoken before about the need for grit and determination. This is just another example. I have been fighting with this process for over a year. And let me tell you, I'm not normally someone that will stick with something through so much failure and endless frustration.

I'm actually a poster child for ADHD and telling patience to go F' itself. So I am a little perplexed as to how I managed to stick with this initiative for this long.

As such, I've been turning to my network and asking people how they stay with something when the novelty and passion have worn off. 

So without further ado, please share. How do you stay with something when the novelty has worn off? What tools or tips do you have for someone who is feeling like they will never "get it right"? How do you know when to give up on something? And when not to?

Sean HowardComment