Thursday, October 9, 2008
Now for Something a Little Different (Finally)
I've had real problems with time allocation these past months. I only have 1-2 hours maximum to work on jewelry / beading at night (sometimes less, depending on what's going on at home), after the Short One is in bed. I've found lately that most of that time has been eaten up with creating new finished jewelry and putting together project proposals for publication (and adminstrative stuff). While I've elaborated on bead designs I created earlier this year, I haven't really found time to do more than jot down ideas for new beads. I've found it a little frustrating. I decided the other night to just push everything aside and spend a little time trying to come up with something new.
I really love medieval bestiaries, which are basically compilations of animals, with illustrations and descriptions of each "beast". These lists throw together what we would consider both mundane and fantastic creatures - so, you might find snakes, owls, manticores and basilisks in the same manuscript, for example. The illustrations in the bestiaries are wonderful - relatively simple drawings but full of character. (If you are interested, you can view a few of these illustrations in the Wikipedia entry for bestiaries.)
So I chose this subject as a starting point - I decided to try to create a modern design of a mythical creature with similar clean, simple lines. I ended up attempting a gryphon, a beast which is half eagle and half-lion. I took a few liberties with the way I interpreted the combination of forms, though. This is kind of embarrassing, but I'm going to show you a few of my initial notebook sketches for the design. Once again, bear in mind that I don't have formal training and this stuff doesn't come easily to me:
(Don't laugh, okay? Oh, and in case you are wondering, the yellow crayon marks are the SO's attempt to improve my design. We are nothing if not consummately professional, here.) The first draft is the largest image in the center - the progression is counter-clockwise from there. Despite some problems with the legs, I decided that the overall design was workable. (Don't ask me why I put a peacock crest of top - I can't really explain it. It seemed like a good idea at the time.) However, the image was four inches across - suitable for a breastplate maybe, but not a pendant. The top right image was the second try - still too big, and I was still having trouble with the hind leg. I broke down and looked up a couple photos of lions on the Internet at this point. Third try is at top left - size is about right, and I finally resolved my issues with the hind leg. However, after shrinking down the design, I felt that there was too much detail - the design seemed too cluttered. Also, I lost the glaring eye, which was a feature I wanted to retain. Fourth and final try is at bottom left - size is about right, and eliminating some of the detail around the breast simplifies the overall look and makes it feel sharper (at least, to me).
I liked number four, and that's the version I ended up carving out as a stamp. It's still a hefty pendant - at about 2" in diameter, it's as large as I'm likely to go for a single piece. However, I think it will be pretty easy to create a substantial necklace (the kind I like, after all) out of it. If I do this again (which I may - the gryphon was one of three options for mythical beasts that I considered before starting), I'll probably make the pose a little more dramatic. I deliberately avoided the segreant posture that you find in so many heraldic depictions of gryphons (rearing up on the hind legs, facing to the left), but the standing image is a just a touch static.
Anyway, so there you have it: my first really new pendant design since the spring - and a little exposition on my personal design process.
Thanks for visiting!