I’ve blogged several times in the past about how working on one thing takes you down a particular design path – how one idea leads to another and you produce a series of related pieces, often on a theme. Thus it was this week. A returning customer asked me to make a pair of earrings for her that were an amalgamation of two designs already available in my shop – she liked one element of each design and wanted them combining.
Thankfully, with my recent discipline of keeping a detailed journal of my designs with sizes, gauges of wire used and the tools and methods I’d used to make a particular shape, I was easily able to re-create the elements in question, faithfully to the original design and without the very frustration that led me to that practice in the first instance.
Once you’ve torn your hair out trying to re-make an old design and not been able to get it quite the same as the original, you realise the real value in disciplining yourself to maintain such records religiously. It was with some degree of smugness that I first flipped the pages to find my design ‘recipe’ for something I needed to re-make and a practice that has proven itself time and time again. The fact that my husband gave me a lovely leather bound book for just this purpose last Christmas has made it a particular pleasure to work in.
When I work, I always jot down the length of wire I cut and the diameter of any turns or loops and if I find I have too much waste, or struggle to finish the shape with too short a piece, I make the adjustment in my notes too. If I find that a particular method doesn’t work and I find working from the back, or anticlockwise, for example, cures a problem or gives rise to a better shape, then this is also noted.
We’ve all done it, had problems making something, found a solution, then come to remake it some time later, fall into the same initial difficulty and can’t remember what we did to cure it the first time around. So my journal is used to note all such details, with sketches and diagrams where appropriate. I even note which tools I used if I found that one item worked better than another.
I’ve got into the practice of making scribbles on scraps of paper or in my sketch book as I work, which I treat much like we did with a ‘rough book’ at school – I do all my working out in that, then transpose my final version (which may have been amended or adjusted several times by the time I’m done) to my neater finished journal – so that it’s hopefully easier to make sense of at some time in the future.
I tend to sit down after breakfast, whilst I finish my coffee, before the day starts to veer away from my intended plans, and transpose all my scratty notes into the journal before I lose them, or lose my train of thought. The investment of time in doing this has proven well worth it on many occasions. I also have this thought in the back of my mind that at some time a long way in the future, my great-grandchildren may find it a fascinating treasure the same way that I do my grandfathers old sketch book – a little glimpse into my life at this time.
And so it was this week with these custom earrings. I consulted my design journal to make the same knotted loop element again and once my fingers had remembered the technique required to get a nice even knot, I set about making several other pieces using the same elements, as above. Once you start with something, your mind just takes you where it will and I still have ideas left to try using the same techniques.