Making mistakes is not always a bad thing
26 May 2011
When I first started here I probably made mistakes every day. Now I guess I make a mistake every week. Sounds like a lot. It's a hard thing to admit, making mistakes. You'd think after a year or so I would have made all the mistakes in the world; but no, there are plenty more to make. However I feel I have learnt a lot through them. I don't think I've made the same mistake twice, so that's got to be a positive. My aim, I suppose, is to achieve perfection. Is that feasible? Not really. Sometimes only I will know that I could have done a bit better; the binding might look good to the untrained eye, but since my eye is getting trained maybe it just looks for the imperfections. But so long as I can push my skills towards that level of achievement then I will always continue to learn, develop and possibly create ways and techniques to enhance my book binding skills. I keep a little book of binding techniques. I refer to it quite a lot, and in it I shout at myself, things like: "GO SLOWLY" or "DO THIS FIRST!" You can underwork a thing and still save it; over work it, and no matter what you do, you realise that you should have left well enough alone, and nothing can save your item or your ego. Binding is an art that requires some planning. However once a book is dissected, the best laid plans can go awry, and you need to run with the flow, adapt to the circumstances. In Preservation we have people with various skill levels. We are lucky that to have very experienced conservators and bookbinders in our ranks. No matter what information you may glean out of a book or manual, there is nothing like on-the -job training. It's fantastic to have such freely flowing information. Nothing compares with years of experience; you see, while some jobs may look similar, no two items ever get treated the same way. A tear is not just a rip in paper, just as a spine that is falling off a book may hide more damage than at first glance. It's all about making the right decision at a certain time. Experience is a gathering, a storage of choice/decision. So long as we keep processing our mistakes, that moment of decision and choice becomes less complicated, and faster. Still, I hope not to make a mistake this week.