Superstar soft toy creater Abby of While She Naps has been wowing me for months with her brilliant creations, including many that are currently on display at the Wellesley Free Library in Massachusettes. A portion of the proceeds from her etsy shop sales will benefit the library. I mention this because it was the lovely Abby who posted a comment a while ago who inspired this post today. She inquired about the process behind the Original Intent project, so for those of you who care to know... here's how it goes.
When I first started the project back in January (my initial O.I. post describes why I assigned myself this task in the first place), I thought that I would take one picture each day and translate it into a pair of earrings that very night. This worked for a while, but issues of weather, light, and life sometimes got in the way of capturng a good image on a daily basis. Out of necessity, I no longer take one photo per day. When the light is right and I'm in the mood, I head out for what Barry and I now call an Original Intent Walk, during which I may take close to a hundred photos (about one-fifth of which I actually keep on file). Camera in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other (coffee, honestly, is one of my biggest inspirations), I stroll around the streets of Astoria, peering down alleys, craning my head up at buildings, and keeping my eyes open for striking images. I'm on an image scavenger hunt of sorts. (Side note: anyone who has lived in New York City will appreciate the humor in this New York Times photo scavenger hunt challenge.)
What strikes me? I'm drawn to images that are highly geometric - images that register in my mind as abstract color fields rather than pictoral representations. I sometimes focus in tightly on small portions of the subject that I'm shooting in an attempt to keep the image extremely simple - to keep it about form and color - not about a scene, as I find it easier to translate such images into the jewelry I create. I like bold colors, and colors paired with colors that don't seem to make sense. And I'm naturally drawn to old, worn out, decaying, and poorly maintained items. We have lots of those in Astoria. I often end up with images that are pleasing to me (many of which are inspired by Barry's photographic style), but that just don't inspire me to make jewelry, like these:
Then I turn to the beads. I've never purchased any beads for the specific purpose of using them for an Origianl Intent photo. In fact, prior to the O.I. project, I never went into bead shops with any particular shapes or colors in mind (unless I was looking to pick up some beads that I'd run out of and really wanted to work with again). I wander up and down aisles and grab whatever strikes me. I don't have designs in mind at all at that point. I just buy what I like (and I buy a lot of it), knowing that somehow it will all come together once I get home. Since I've been buying beads in this manner for close to four years now, I've accumulated quite a little stash, so I usually don't have trouble finding something that connects to the O.I. photos.
I then play around with beads that reflect the colors and shapes that are in the photos, going back and forth between my supplies and the image on the computer screeen, until I come up with a design that both reflects the image in one way or another and that is pleasing to me, independent of the photo.
Once the earrings are made, I try to photograph the earrings in a manner that references the photo as strongly as possible, arranging pieces at angles that almost mimic those in the photo. And I'm neurotic about pairing vertially oriented photos with vertically oriented jewelry shots, and horizontals with horizontals. (Another side note: Maditi is a master of photo pairing, sometimes pairing photo with photo, sometimes photo with spot-on links. Check out her blog, Micasa.)
So... that's the Original Intent process. No searching out hard-to-come-by images. No special bead purchases. No sketches. It's all pretty loose. And I have to say, I've been loving it. It completely rejuvenated my excitement about jewelry-making, and has made me look at my surroundings with a more focused eye.
What? You're still here? You made it to the end of this thesis of a post? Well, then, I should tell you also that I love how the Original Intent project has brought me in contact with some amazingly talented, kind people (like you), which has been the best part of it all. Thanks, you guys.