The Creative Process

20 Apr

The Creative Process

Every designer has a different creative process. Whether it be lunging buckets of paint at walls, or making giant collages out of magazine clip outs, or trimming a bonsai tree, somewhere along the way a process is somehow hammered out and repeats with each creation. Its not a science, closer to a path that is meandered along. Here’s the process I try to keep too with each creation.

Stage 1 – Initial Idea

This stage is very open ended. I’ve had ideas pop up while at work, brushing my cat (named kitty), taking a shower, munching lasagna and watching Midsomer Murders with my Mom. Pretty much every time, an idea pops up that is completely unrelated to whatever activity I happened to be engaged in at that moment. This is the most abstract stage, something happens and POP I have an inspiration.

One of my cutest sources of inspiration:

Stage 2 – Drawings/Sketches

After my initial idea bubble happens, I try to get it down on paper as quickly as possible. I grab a pad and start sketching. These sketches are usually incoherent (as I’m not their greatest artist) Mostly, I’m trying to make a solid image join my head of the piece I want to bring to life. Often, I’ll write small jot notes about details (color, length, feel).

Sketches can be as incoherent as what is pictured here. The curvy squiggles are ribbon and the lines looping up represent chain.

Stage 3 – Materials

When it comes to materials I’ve got to hunt them down and find the best quality I can. Once I’ve worked out the basic details of a piece, I look for the materials that I will use to make it. This can mean a lot of things.

The Hunt

The hunt for materials begins on my regular visits to shops in the city. I have specific items I always need to refill, these are usually metal findings, chain and beads. Once I’ve completed gathering my regular stock, I’ll take a look around to see if I can find anything suitable for the piece I am working on. My materials are found by hitting the streets, strolling through countless shops, spending hours browsing online, and raiding my mom and grandmas boxes of old items.

You’d be surprised, but something as simple as black ribbon took about three weeks to find. I have to get material right, down to the type and length. Using the ribbon example, I began with organza ribbon that was 1/8 inches wide. I found that this didn’t make a fluffy enough bow and it felt too scratchy on the skin. My material changed from this ribbon to a wider organza, to a wide satin sash. These are small details but they make a world of difference in the final delivery of each piece. I never assume I’ll get the right material on the first try because most of the time, I don’t.


Often, I’ll begin with a cheaper version of what I will use in the final product. This way, I’m not investing too much in the piece to begin with, in case it doesn’t pan out. When trying to figure out what I will use as my final material, I have to factor in the price of the supplies versus the price of the final piece and decide if its worth it. If I truly love a design, but find it’s too expensive to sell, I usually make one for myself and wait until I have some extra money to invest in a few more.

Stage 4 – Build It

This is the best and most challenging stage. By this stage, I’ve spent time growing an idea and I’ve gathered the materials I need. Now the pressures on and I have to assemble my design. This stage can be totally gratifying or completely disappointing. There are times when I’ve finally assembled a piece only to find it’s a total flop. Nothing connects the right way, the design has no flow in it, it feels too fussy. Sometimes a design is just a better idea on paper. This can be devastating after investing so much time in the initial planning stages – but it happens.

Other times the piece will turn out better then I initially thought. This is the rewarding experience I live for. When I make something I am truly proud of, I like to celebrate with the test run stage.

Stage 5 – Test Run

The test run stage is one of the most fun stages. This is where strutting around like a proud peacock occurs in copious amounts. This is my chance to showcase my work and give it a whirl in the real world.


The first test run occurs at work. I will wear my jewelry with an everyday work outfit. I factor in how easy the design was to put on in the morning when I’m half awake. I pay attention to how it moves when I’m running from the subway to the street car. If the piece is too messy, or too jangly, or too anything, I take this into account and think about how I can adjust it. I also pay special attention to how resilient the design is. If it falls apart during the work day, it will definitely not survive test two.


The second test run occurs while at play. The best test runs happen when I’m out for a night of dancing with friends. I save this test for the more extravagant pieces that will most likely be worn in a social atmosphere. (The bigger necklaces and any statement pieces run this course and have survived.) This test is the battering ram of the car industry. I will shake it and break it if I can. Only the most resilient pieces move forward and they have to be tough as nails.

One piece I was very proud of was an ostrich feather bracelet. It was dramatic and colorful, (bright orange feathers paired with an emerald green ribbon.) It was the perfect piece to wear with a flirty short dress on a night out. To my disappointment, the bracelet did not stay on well and the feathers were destroyed in the dancing and movement throughout the night. The bracelet began as a beautiful, light fluffy piece and ended as a mangled mess. This prototype of the ostrich feather bracelet never came to fruition, but I am still to this day working on different models to see if one will finally pass both tests.

Stage 6 – Back to the Building Blocks

After a design has passed both the work and play stages, I will make any necessary tweaks. If it flops around and jangles too much, I’ll modify it with a pin. If any part of it is irritating or scratchy, I’ll change the type of material I use in it. If it’s too heavy, I’ll try to lighten it up. These little tweaks improve the piece so that it can stand on par with the best work out there.

At any point during this process, I may have to cycle back and begin again. Sometimes a design won’t make it past the drawing board or it will pass all the stages with flying colors. I never know what will happen with each design, I just try my best to be innovative and keep creating. With every new design I’ll learn something to help me improve for the next time I begin the creative process.


One Response to “The Creative Process”


  1. Branding « Felt Your Heart Beat Jewelry - April 20, 2010

    […] About Felt Your Heart Beat Muggy Day The Creative Process […]

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