There are a lot of stories about how mistakes lead to something great. Or something not so great.
Ben and I are building a guitar. We taped up the guitar and applied a stain to the neck. The stain ripped right through the tape and formed a viscous goo which stained the body-- not where we wanted at all. Fortunately, Only the body was stained. The belly was left untouched.
So we've been trying various experiments to remove the stain with some success but there were still a couple of points where there was still black discoloration on the body.
At one point one of us (or Wendy) suggested covering it. I remembered I had several sheets of veneer and over the last few weeks figured out how to cover the offending points with veneer. But if I just covered it and then stained the body as planned, there was no way I could ever mask what I had done.
I took a lesson from Julie Taymor, the set designer of The Lion King. She said that there was no way to fool the audience. But by nakedly presenting the materials you must use to make the theatrical illusion, you can actually increase the esthetic experience. I strongly urge anyone out there to listen to her talk at TED.
Similarly, Robert Pirsig said something similar in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance regarding "stuckness". How to creatively manage the situation when you've been pushed out of the groove. Out of your preconceptions into a new and naked reality.
So, I took the veneer and cut it in a pleasing shape and meshed that shape with similar veneer on the shoulders. The plan is to stain the back a mahogany red color and stain the veneer a different color. It should give an old "country" feel to the guitar.
The lesson: make your mistakes count.
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