To me, a few words is all it takes. My brain engages, visuals start coming to me and the main elements are constructed within minutes of a conversation with a client. Then comes the research. How do I make this vision become a reality? This bit is harder and this is where the work starts. Sometimes elements will fall nicely together, but more often than not they will not, like an escape artist which I need to catch, sometimes, at the most unlikely moment. It is not always like making a recipe from precise measures. It is most like tweaking techniques that I used before whilst trying out new ones that fit this particular client or design better. I just know when it happens.
See, recently I have had this idea integrating Siamese fighting fish, swimming gently in a shallow pond in between rocks. I inked paper to add details of lily pads and dew. Stems holding the pads were ready to go. Except that when I starting painting the watery background, I decided to strip my design back to the bare essentials. I kept the hand painted Tyvek rocks with sand and I swapped ink and acrylic for the fish. It became more gentle but at the same time much more powerful. Less is more. I have just carefully applied glue to the rocks to assemble them to the watery backdrop. Tomorrow, I will make the final lampshade. At the time of writing this, I am less than an hour away from having a finished product and photographs I will be able to share with you.
You may think that this process could be much shorter and to the point and sometimes it is. But on some other occasions it is when you start putting elements together that they start making sense … or not. The techniques I use or try hone my style into a more controlled finish that I am happy to hand to a client. Some of these techniques become easier to reproduce so that I can make this design again as part of a standard line. Some techniques I have perfected this week I will be shortly use for a couple of commissions I have started working on. Because whether this is working from my own ideas or making someone else vision, these techniques will surely come in handy at some point.
Next time you see a handcrafted piece, functional or not, remember this process. Things do not happen from thin air but require materials, skills, research and “making” time. They also require marketing efforts so that we get the products in places when you can see and maybe touch them. With the best descriptions in the world and a selection of photographs, it will never match the product in the flesh because reality is so much better, It is tactile and textured, details will keep you intrigued for a long time and the result of not rushing this process will be all the difference between mass produced and unique pieces. Come and see me at home or at one of my exhibitions. You will get a warm welcome and maybe a vision of your own you want to make reality… with a little bit of help…