Fantasy vs. Reality: When Your Project Seems Too Ambitious

I’ve been doing a lot of research to try to narrow down the ideas for my final project. Right now, I am kicking around building some sort of LED lamp (either to clip to my headboard or hang on the wall), or a cat tree. I could use both for the house, and one of my goals for the final project was to make something that was practical, or a gift. The gift will probably be shifted to one of our smaller projects, but that’s another discussion entirely. What I wanted to discuss, and what I’m sure some of my other classmates are experiencing, is that ground in between wanting to take on something incredibly cool that would teach you new skills, and taking on something you could realistically make in the time we have. I tend to be the type that has grand plans for projects and doesn’t always complete them. I think the key here is to keep the plan realistic, but push it to the limits of what I think can be accomplished.

For instance, even though it would be awesome to construct the ultimate cat palace, I’ve managed to keep my sketches to a 4′ tall structure with multiple platforms and scratching material. Right now I’m in the phase of pricing materials, and figuring out how to get my hands on the right construction tools. I consider myself pretty IKEA-level handy, but don’t have access to much beyond a hammer, screwdriver, and hand saw. However, this is where getting creative comes in, and that’s where things could get really fun.

Or, if I go with the lamp idea, I’ve been looking at what can be done with conductive textiles/thread, or strips of LED lights. I’ve even been looking a bit into Arduino to see if a programmable lighting system could be accomplished. This is where I began to get overwhelmed: could I even attempt something that unknown? Do I owe it to myself to try? Or is having a completed product more important than risking failure but learning a lot of new things?

I’m sure there are others out there who are trying to bridge the gap between fantastic ideas and that little voice that says: keep it simple, silly. I’d love to hear thoughts.

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6 thoughts on “Fantasy vs. Reality: When Your Project Seems Too Ambitious

  1. I completely sympathize with your plight. I find myself browsing Pinterest for fun DIY projects or cheap ways to decorate my house and suddenly I see some link and the next thing I’m trying to figure out where I can get my hands on 6 pallets because I’ve decided I’m going to build a chicken coop for less than $30 and start raising chickens. Think of the eggs! Fresh eggs all year! And we can sell the ones we don’t use! I’ll have this chicken coop paid for in a month, tops with all the profits from the eggs from the chickens! Where does someone even buy chickens? What do they eat?

    I really have to focus on learning one skill at a time, or maybe two or three for a project. I made a quilt last year for my niece that frankly turned out terribly, but I still am constantly looking up quilt patterns and thinking, “pssht, I could totally do that.” I think the tricky part is not getting in over your head, at least financially. You can’t go out and buy all the equipment and and supplies and then realize you aren’t going to be able to complete your project. There’s a lot of research that needs to happen first.

    • If you are serious about the chickens, I have a friend who has just started raising her own chickens in May and I’m sure she’d be very willing to share her extensive research with you.

  2. I have some tools in my garage if you go the cat playground route. These tools were able to build bookshelves and decks…You are more the welcome to come over and use them…I am kind of thinking that the cat playground will require a bit of room for construction.

  3. I’ve been thinking on this issue of Time Verses Coolness for the last week. I would really love to get my spinning wheel constructed and I honestly believe it can be done in the time we have. I plan on shopping for the bits and pieces this weekend and then contemplating the construction timeline. With the 4th of July week coming up, I’ll have a few extra days to work on it (despite the fact that we have that learning/social justice paper due around that time as well) and maybe even get it close to completion.

    The time issue was a big one with the sweater idea. Big knitting projects like adult-sized sweaters and blankets take A LOT of time and I am not the world’s fastest knitter. Another strike against this project was that I already knit so I wouldn’t be learning anything new as the sweater pattern I selected is relatively simple. With the spinning wheel, I would be using skills I have not used in years AND learning how to spin yarn on a wheel, which is something i have never done.

    I think finding that balance is going to be tough for many of us aas not all of us are solar-powered-Prius-level of ambitious!

  4. Let me know if you end up wanting to go forward with LED route. I just ordered about 100 ultra-bright white ones (that should be here in a few days) and about 100 of various colors (that won’t be here for a few weeks) and would be more than happy to share. They were only a few bucks on Amazon.

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