Excellence vs Perfection

Jennifer Shea Hedberg | 16 December, 2013

"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing."
—Dr. Harriet B. Braiker

My childhood in California offered me the chance to explore the edge of the ocean and all its splendor. Moving to Boston and then to Minnesota when I was 8, then 12, introduced me to the wonders of winter--highly underrated wonders at that. It inspired my mother to try making ice lanterns, which she believes she read about in a Sunset Magazine, back in 1970 or so. But, I did a search in their archives and came up empty. It was also before Martha Stewart, hmmm . . . Thus, where my mother learned about this wintery craft is a mystery, for now.

But suffice it to say that she taught me, and I have now taken the concept and run with it. What's funny, is the ice lanterns we created out of milk cartons, ice cream pails, and little balloons, always charmed people, but what they did not know was the pain and suffering that was endured to make these beautiful things.

The trouble escalated when we tried anything small. The smaller the size of the mold, the shorter window one has to catch it before it freezes solid. So milk cartons were usually a bust. But small globes were also fraught with disaster. The balloons often broke before getting outside the door and then they often leaked as they were freezing and froze to the ground. But the few that made it through the process, were lovely--charming, in fact.

When I was a young adult and started to do trial and error experiments with Globe Ice Lantern creation, originally, my goal was to make the process easier and hassle-free for my own children. And the process I eventually developed works - really well - excellently, in fact. The balloons are stronger and rounder than the ones I used as a kid. The Freezing Bases that we developed don't break in the cold, help shape the ice lanterns and keep them from freezing to the ground (and stack efficiently for storage!). The Easy-close Clips are life savers when closing super heavyweight balloons and the Insulation Disc is perfect when freezing the globe ice lanterns in a freezer. All in all, it is a wonderful system.

But to say the process is perfect, would be overreaching and undesired. Because there are so many variables involved in making a Globe Ice Lantern (changing air temperature, water temperature, size, water quality), perfection is unattainable. I must admit though, my husband and I make great Globe Ice Lanterns. We have stockpiled at least 100 globes in our backyard for upcoming projects and they are all beautiful. But not a one is perfect. Each is unique--thank goodness.  

Why is it a good thing to be imperfect?

First, I believe the imperfections in the ice are what make Globe Ice Lanterns so beautiful. And, as Globe Ice Lanterns melt, either by flame, bringing them inside or both, the small imperfections in the ice are enhanced and make the light dance!

Second, I want to take the pressure off people who are trying to make Globe Ice Lanterns for the first time and might be afraid of failure. My advice is JUMP IN! Read the directions and maybe event the FAQ's on the Wintercraft website and then go for it. Remember, the fun part is experimenting.

It is my hope, when you start exploring the joys of making Globe Ice Lanterns, that you will strive for excellence, but not for perfection. Then, you will most likely find beauty and enjoy the process along the way.

Enjoy the Glow!

BTW, I heard somewhere that ancient artists also sought excellence but not perfection. They would make an intentional mistake in their weavings or pottery to keep the Gods from becoming angry. Often, when one of my Globe Ice Lanterns becomes too clear, I thermal shock them to create beautiful cracks throughout the ice. It give the light a playground. To thermal shock a globe, you get the lantern very cold by bringing it in from below 0 degrees F temps or from a deep freeze and pour a shockingly different temperature of water over it. This will cause the globe to crack, but USUALLY not break. There is always a risk as one cannot control the cracking. But, choose to experiment. You can always make another one . . .

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