Saturday, January 9, 2010
This design was dreamed up by a customer who had bought one of my owl necklaces. I'm always fascinated by the ideas others have and love getting the opportunity to bring them to life. I've articulated enough of these now that I've begun to notice a pattern. Namely--it's hard! Much harder than just setting to work to make something that I like and that, eventually, someone else will like too. Trying to fulfill another person's vision adds a layer of complexity and a dose of anxiety to the process.
Initially I had thought this design would be pretty straightforward. She had a great sketch for me that was clear about what she had in mind. However, when I actually stood at my workbench and started to leaf through sheets of tin, I realized the "I like reds, browns, & turquoise" direction wasn't really going to help me as much as I had assumed. I have hundreds of reds and many browns and never enough turquoise. How was I going to get pieces with the right patterns for an owl (gotta have a beak!) that also worked together as one necklace? I went through a LOT of tin that day. Finally, I hit upon the giant Christmas holly tin that has a really rich color and textural finish. It was at that point that I realized I might be better off to condense down from 5 completely different owls to one in the center and two 'sets' on each side. Narrowing the piece down to just 3 variables made it much more manageable and, I think, more cohesive. It still took me a while to figure out the eyes and whatnot, but the big stumbling blocks had been removed, so those details were actually fun to sort out.
I got it all together and thought it looked pretty good, but just as I was about to send the email and picture, all that anxiety flowed right back in. If she didn't like it, I'd be back at square one. I clicked 'Send' and awaited my fate. I didn't have to wonder long. She responded quickly and seemed really pleased with it. So far that has always been the case, but I'm sure at some point I'll strike out and have to struggle through the process again.
The other benefit to working on custom pieces--they always spark new ideas for me. With this piece I wasn't sure if I could make a smaller owl than the size I had been making. While putting this piece together I realized that I actually like the scale of the smaller owl better, so look for some of those to be popping up on my site sometime soon. I'm also contemplating some owl earrings . . .
at 11:32 PM