Lessons in custom design

I’m burned out for the day, but I feel like writing, so here I am. I finally finished the jewelry. I decided to stay up until it was completely and totally done. There were a few stints when I sat in my chair looking blankly at all the components and moments when I had my drill and sand paper ready to make it happen. Some time around 1 a.m., everything sat happily completed and I, in a layer of clay dust, paint, and wire, finally went to bed. It’s been a very interesting learning experience. Normally, when the going gets tough, I look for a way to get outta dodge. When I put out into the Universe that I desired to be a world-class designer, I knew it would come with hard work. I also knew that I had to decide to put in the hard work or not expect to be what I desired.

What I learned from this is that it’s very different creating something for someone else than it is to do it for myself. I know what I like and what I don’t like. I know what I don’t like, but what would look good with other components and how to rock them successfully. Designing, shopping, and creating for another person is a completely different process though. The design process went smoothly. I had a very good idea of what I was going to do, made my sketches and went shopping. At the third or fourth bead store is where I learned my first lesson: Designs have to be flexible.I couldn’t find the type or size of bead that worked for the sketch in the color I needed. Six hours later, after visiting every bead store I could find in Greater Columbus, I had to go back to the drawing board. Literally. I was frazzled and felt like I wasted a whole day with nothing to show for it. And that’s when my second lesson occurred: Breaks help the creative process. I tried too hard to make ideas come to me. I used my brain so much that I gave myself a headache. If I could have turned my eyes inside my head, I would have seen gears and smoke in there. My eyes were hurting, my temples were throbbing and my jaw hurt from clenching my teeth all day. So… I took a break and headed over to the bridal shower at Hyde Park and when I went back to the project on Sunday, I felt refreshed and could see new things that I couldn’t before when I sat and stared at everything willing fantastic ideas to morph in front of me.

My next lesson was that while I was designing for someone else, I had some artistic authority to say that certain things would look nicer if left out or added to a design. Yes, I wanted to include everything, but when I put it all together it was super tacky and excessive. It was like all the lectures from my public relations and journalism classes about getting to the point without losing the reader came flooding back to me all at once. The final project was bold, but not a hodgepodge of beads, string, spacers and wires. I explained that with the color and all the elements she wanted included in the set, it was a little gaudy and promised to use the specific requested beads in the next order. Maybe as I become more experienced and start finding new beading suppliers, I’ll be able to see a way to do it, but within my current knowledge, it wasn’t working.

The next lesson was to work smarter, not longer. And no, that isn’t the same as taking a break, which is what I thought on Day Four. When I gave myself specific times I would work, I noticed I didn’t fool around watching TV or getting on Facebook or using the Wii. I got right to business which made Days Six and Seven much easier. I didn’t stay up past the point of exhaustion and then realize the next day that everything, in the light of day, wasn’t meshing.

And my most important lesson was asking for input without being offended. That was the hardest of all. First of all, I’m like Erykah Badu: I’m sensitive about my stuff. I know not everyone will like or love it and I’m getting my head wrapped around that. Another set of eyes though is always helpful and if wasn’t for the Hero, I may still be trying to work out the details of the last project. He was super helpful and provided critiques about how everything looked together and even told me to put it on with other pieces I already owned (complete with an outfit) to see how it looked all together. It never would have occurred to me to do that, but I’m glad he suggested it to me.

I’ve compiled a list of things I believe will help in the future. First things first… a new digital camera. Mine is old and doesn’t take the best pictures, so with my first profits, I’m going to upgrade. Second is a mannequin. Maybe the mannequin comes first. Either way, those are my top priorities. It’s much easier to design on a form and show people what I can do with clearer pictures. To everyone who’s supportive of my endeavors, thank you. I appreciate your positive energy and for taking the journey with me.

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