What does it take to feel valued?

Dianne here:  This may well be a more personal blog post….it has to do with that we ‘artists’ (or at least this one) need to feel valued or good about our work.  What best fulfills us? Should we need any reinforcement other than feeling good about what we have produced? Is money a realistic reinforcement? How about criticism (maybe that for another day).

You might remember I shared the braiding of the alpaca rug (http://wp.me/p4qaPu-2Z) I made for my 27 year old daughter’s friend. I had made a small butted basket for the baby shower at my daughter’s requbaby shower basket before the green row.est and subsequently the friend’s husband contacted my daughter to commission me to make a large rug for the baby’s room as a surprise for the new mom. We settled on a very reasonable price for a  large oval for in front of the changing table. This was in the fall and the baby was due any day….so I worked hard on finishing it; I took it to an extended  braiding event trip and practiced a new butting technique on the many butted outer rows…and Christine gifted me with more green after I ran out of the original color. I shipped it off to the husband at his work and heard nothing, but eventually did get a check and after nagging my daughter, he told her he loved it….but we heard nothing from the mom. Baby was born, still nothing. Actually nothing until last week, a good 4 months after I sent it.

alpaca rug

What did I expect and why did I expect it? Was I unreasonable in my expectations? I suppose I expected (and maybe needed) positive reinforcement that they ‘loved it’, that it was the best thing ever, etc. etc. Why did I need that? I think because when we put ourselves ‘out there’ by exhibiting, selling or fulfilling a commission, we are vulnerable. Even if we KNOW we like the results, we are unsure about others. OR if we aren’t sure about the results, if we have taken a chance and done something new and different, or put colors together we aren’t sure about (as in brown, green and white for a baby’s room, as was requested!), we crave feedback, even if it is negative (as long as it’s gentle).

I talked to my daughter at length about this and she began to understand how I felt. She was embarrassed for her friend, yet she did not want to flat-out ask. The friend now lives in another state and they don’t talk much. I think the episode was a teachable moment because my daughter saw how disappointed I was not to have heard, and I think she has a better appreciation of thank you notes now….we’ll see.

But the whole experience made me reflect on my expectations and how realistic they are. Other braiders or fiber artists would sense the work this rug  took and say something. Knitters who are gifted hand-knit socks realize the effort and are quick with the praise and thank yous.  The final realization is this: we are in charge of how we feel, no one else can fulfill our own expectations of ourselves. If the color change was poor and we know it, it was poor. If the butt was badly done, we know. If it came out well and we were proud, that should be all we need. I am going to work on this as I go forward. Thanks for listening and sorry if I have been trite or preachy…

PS: Daughter talked to friend last week and friend “loves it; whenever she goes into baby’s room, the rug reminds her of my daughter”. 

16 thoughts on “What does it take to feel valued?

  1. dear dianne your work is immpeckable .. dont worry about what others think……ifyou are satified with the completed results that is all that matters…… i found people are very laxed with thank you notes … and because i put so much work into an article as you do.. i am careful for whom i give my work to knowing that those i give to hopefully appreciate all the hours put into the piece…….. so be proud of your work ..


    • sorry about the spelling on one word above… couldnt see the completed results as i was writing……. iimpeccable the word should be…..

  2. That was a nice article by Dianne. I am always preaching to people that we love “happy mail” – a hand written thank you note goes a long way in my book. I have given friends money for oil, Christmas money so they could buy for their kids, and a lot more. Every time I was disappointed with the thank you I received. Although there is no easy solution, you are right, we are proud of our hard work and only want people to appreciate a gift and have the common decency of showing that they are pleased as well.

    Feedback feeds the soul and boosts our creativity and spirit.

    thanks or the post.

  3. I was glad to hear you realized that as a gift not everybody reacts like we think they should. You know and many people that have hobbies know the work it takes to do projects. As long as we know we did our best and are proud of it that is enough. Our fellow crafters always like the work we do so we do get a lot of encouragement. Thank you for reminding me so I can do the right thing also.

  4. Dianne – Your story surely resonates with me. I have had similar experiences of folks’ not recognizing how much effort I have put into my braiding work. I think that many simply do not understand the planning and effort that goes into what we do. Mary

  5. Dear Dianne,
    What a heartfelt post. I think everyone who makes any kind of craft has had the same feelings, just not expressed so clearly. We all WANT the reassurance that a gift was the right one and that our work is appreciated. What we get is often less. As David said, this reminds us of what we need to do when we are given gifts.

  6. I am so glad you shared with us. So many of us have that same feeling of not being appreciated. I know the rug was lovely.

  7. Hi Diane,
    I’m sorry you have experienced such a hurtful thing. People it seems don’t think they need to
    take the time to say thank you, especially if they’ve paid for an item. Many people don’t realize the time or how much of ourselves goes into making something. Everything is machine made or somehow made so quickly, that the true value or worth is lost. When we make something so much a part of ourselves is in it that we are emotionally attached and want everyone to love it as much as we do. There are those who love fine art, and know it’s true value, may all our braided and all hand made gifts go to people like them!!

  8. Peggyann here. It would be a wonderful if we got the praise we deserve. But this is the real world. But Diane he really did compliment you. He saw and liked the piece you made for the baby shower and apparently saw how much his wife liked your work. That is the reason he commissioned another piece from you. Payment is a thank you for a job well done. Isn’t that why we go to work? To be paid for our time and effort. A personal note is wonderful but not going to happen as often as we would like. Keep teaching our children and grandchildren.

    • Amen to the last. One of three of my kids is wonderful with thank you notes, better than me! I just sent HER a note thanking her for taking me out for my bday….she is reinforcing for me!! Dianne

  9. Diane … I think we have all had your experience, or something similar, gifting our braided items, whether a commission or not. It seems that our particular craft is especially under-appreciated … “it’s just like braiding hair right?” How many times have we all heard that?

    What is wonderful is that we have a braiding community that understands your work (and it is FABULOUS!!!), as well as understanding the time, effort, and love that is placed into each piece. I think because of this, we braiders somehow better appreciate other handcrafts – rug hooking, quilting, knitting, needlepoint, etc. (and most likely we all have done those or other handcrafts in the past).

    Thank yous are often forgotten, a pet peeve of mine I must admit. But I’m with Peggyann … keep teaching children and grandchildren. The thank you note should not become a thing of the past!

    And thank YOU for articulating the feelings we have all had at one time or another.

    Jenn 🙂

  10. I’ve just stumbled across you here and I have to say that you are not alone in wanting the feedback/appreciation. For me, when I create something, a piece of me is out there in the wide world for all to see. I try not to be too sensitive because everyone has their own preferences, but appreciation is an affirmation of my gift, of myself. And people who are not artisans and craftspeople do not have any idea of the personal investment that is poured into a handmade item.
    I am so happy to have found you here. I am just beginning my very first braided rug and have so much to learn! Thanks for sharing your gift with us.

  11. I was sorry to hear the slow response to your commissioned work- but it did come thank goodness. Of the five high school graduation gift braided rugs I gave to nieces and nephews I received no written “thank you”. Hoping over time the gift will mean something to them. There seems to be a generational gap here on appreciation, courtesy, and etiquette. I agree it is good to teach younger ones the value of express gratefulness.

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