One of the treats I gave myself during the changeover months of the end of 2017 and  the start of the 2018 was to put together a new batch of designs to make on the laser cutter at Tinkermill, the makerspace in Longmont CO. I came up with almost 100, narrowed it to my favorite 80 or so, and have had time during my monthly visits to try about a third of them so far.  I’m using up the last batch of birch wood that I colored, and I am prepared to make the next batch; its a great feeling to both use up art supplies AND have more coming to hand! Next time I go there, I’ll be in a major Production Mode, but this trip was Research and Development.

With new designs, I start with creating a file that I think is a good size, but I never know how a component will look as a pendant, an earring, or a box until I cut it and see how it looks in reality. Some designs look better at different sizes, some work big or small. The first batch I cut on blonde baltic birch wood, and see what I like, what else I might like too/better. I almost always try a design version that is smaller and one bigger—just to see. Then I make any changes needed and run a batch or three on the colored wood or try power and speed variations to see how they look. 

The next step is to sit with the wooden output and play with the pile, seeing how they look together, how they hang (should the hole be on the top AND bottom< and which IS the top?) and to get some feedback from my beady buddies, who tell me both by their reactions and their comments a lot of good info. If I’ve picked the wrong aspect to be on top, they kindly but firmly let me know it. Many times they have shown me a design I thought was too large or small, too plain or ornate, was actually popular with others (whether or not I like something is not the only judgement criteria, it seems! Others do have tastes that may differ.)

Then I cull out the designs that were not outstanding and build a file of the best. Those, I will be cutting in up to 20 colors this spring! I’m getting ready for a very colorful and creative year. I think I’ll be playing with the wood pieces in more ways too, adding pieces to mosaics boxes and creating graphics before turning them into jewelry or selling them to those other very creative artists that do wonderful work with them. I love that kind of at-a-distance collaboration.