I signed up for a jewelry design challenge with the theme “Welcome to Faery.” I had visions of making delicate shimmery translucent earrings in the shape of wings. I was going to do a “light” fairy version and a “dark” fairy. Or maybe I was going to make fairy wings for each of the four seasons. Yep. Grand plans, I had.
Because all these diaphanous winged earrings looked so spectacular in my head, I didn’t worry about getting off to a late start with the actual making of said wings. I didn’t wait until the very last minute. Neither did I allow enough time for the “error” part of the trial-and-error process of designing something I’ve never done before. Nor for a plan B when things went pear-shaped.
Polymer clay wings
My first idea for the wings was to use translucent polymer clay tinted with alcohol inks and accented with mica powders and heat-set crystals. I wish I had taken a photo of version 1.0 before baking. The color darkened quite a bit as the clay cured. Which made the scroll-y filigree-ish details mostly invisible. You can’t tell with them lying flat, but they do let light pass when hanging. So, I got the translucent part right.
For version 2.0, I decided to emphasize the filigree detail with some thin snakes of a contrasting color. And instead of brushing mica powder on top for shimmer, I mixed some opal effects clay with the tinted translucent clay. In hindsight, this idea might have worked better with a different color palette. Maybe more tonal, darker and lighter shades of the same hue, rather than silver on blue. At least I got the shimmery part right.
Bead and wire wings
Rather than continue to experiment more systematically with the polymer clay variables until I came up with a version that worked, I saw a squirrel. Which is to say, I got distracted by a different idea. My muse and I decided that making a wing-shaped wire frame and weaving some shimmery beads into it was just what we needed.
It was a good idea, except for the part where she and I both forgot that my nascent wire-weaving technique is still in what I fondly call its “rustic” phase. Rustic and fairy don’t really go together, do they?
As with the polymer clay idea, I made several variations on this theme. And at no point did I manage to create two matching wings. I blame my inability to create consistent open spirals. The outer part of every wing I made turned out the same. Because I wisely remembered a tip from a friend about marking inch-increments on my wire before shaping it. But the inner parts, with the spirals and the beads? Let’s just say there was some “natural variation” among the wings.
The side you don’t often see
The deadline to submit designs has come and gone. I was tempted to drop out rather than submit my fugly fairy wings for all the world to see. But I signed up. And to not follow through just because what I created fell far short of spectacular would be discourteous to our hostess.
And as long as I was sending photos of these failed creations out into the social media universe (the reveal is on this public Facebook page, in case you want to see the other entries), I thought “might as well share them on my blog too.” Because I’m sure my readers would appreciate seeing this side of the design process – the part where things end up in the trash.
I may try again, with the polymer clay or the wire. Or both. Probably not right away though. I have a few other commitments and deadlines to honor. In the meanwhile, ideas for how to turn my original vision into reality will drift about in my subconscious until the time is right.