Have you ever thought about the kind of creative process you have? No matter where you are on the experience and expertise scale -pro, amateur or beginner- if you make jewelry, as with any other creative art, you follow a procedure.
Yes, of course, there are times when you pick up a piece of wire and start twisting and adding beads or you cut a length of leather and add the slider you just found and a clasp and voila! You have a pretty, spur-of-the-moment ring or bracelet that you didn't plan at all.
But most of the time when creating, especially if it is a deliberate and purposeful effort, there is almost always a series of steps that lead to the final, finished product. Of course, in relation to you personally, your routine is fashioned by the way you work and that in itself will ensure the finished product is original and unique to your inspiration, imagination and talent. So, in my opinion, these are the four steps in the creative process that, in my experience, are fairly common.
Step 1 - Make a Plan. Search for inspiration. Whether it be the person who will receive your creation as a gift and who they are, or a cause that captures your interest or a memory from your childhood, you can be inspired by the tiniest speck to the entire universe. Then ask yourself how that idea can come together into a tangible piece of jewelry. Will it be simple or extravagant? What elements and colors will most represent what you want to accomplish? How much time do you want to invest?
Step 2 - Put It on Paper (literally or figuratively). This step will give you a visual of your design. Sketch it on paper or use one of the available computer programs and pull your ideas together so you can see an image of your final piece. It doesn't matter how detailed your drawing is, but the more detail you add in this step, the less chance there will be for design challenges when you are doing the actual work on your piece. Here is where you can move elements and focal points, reposition links and beads or change the style or types of closures, etc. This would also be a good time to make a list of all the materials you will need for your design. If you are using a pendant, decide now how you will attach it. How many beads do you plan to use and what lengths of chain will you need? The more information you list now, the more efficiently your work will go.
Step 3 - Prepare and Organize. Now is the time to get yourself and your tools and supplies organized. Believe me, there is nothing worse than holding a tiny chain link in the perfect position and then realizing you don't have a bead cap or the proper sized head pin. Atmosphere is important when planning a successful project. If possible, set aside a block of time when you will not be disturbed in a place without a lot of distractions. Light an aromatic candle, turn on some music you like and put yourself in a calm and assertive mind set to work. Especially if you are making jewelry as a business, this is a time to promote productivity in any way that works for you.
Step 4 - Just Do It! Remember your plan and your original inspiration. Refer to your design and alter it or improve it as needed while doing the actual work. If it's a time-consuming project, take an occasional break to avoid cramps or tired-induced frustration. Take pictures, especially if you are in business. A few shots of the different phases of your process will tell the story of the finished product and will be an exceptional addition to your advertising or your blog, if you have one. Pictures of your finished pieces are a must for your portfolio, which every designer should have. And most importantly, enjoy the process!
What do you think? Do these steps sound familiar to you or do you have a different procedure? I would love to hear about how you create. Anything you offer can help your colleagues in the jewelry making business and is appreciated by all.