The importance of paper

by Libby on September 21, 2008

I had another one of those flashes of inspiration this morning as I was lying in bed reveling in the fact that we didn’t have to get up early and rush around getting ready for school etc.  The last time this happened to me was when I started working on my Captured Strata series.  The idea just wouldn’t let me stay in bed.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that today’s idea will work out as well as the Strata one did.  It’s a simple idea: basically I want to make a longish chain of polymer filled channels linked with rings.  I’ll need to play with the scale and construction to make it work.

Today, however, I can’t rush down into the studio and immerse myself in this design idea.  This idea is going to have to stay “on hold” until I can give it time and attention.

All of this started me thinking about how important paper has become for me as a tool.  I’ve been using sketchbooks and slips of paper to record ideas for years, but more recently I have begun to use paper as an integral part of my design process.  Silver is an expensive material to work in.  And metal is slower and harder to work than polymer clay.  My old design process when I was working exclusively in polymer clay, had me diving right in and trying things out.  When I started incorporating silver, I found this style of work not only added up to expensive mistakes, but it sapped a lot of my creative energy as well.  It made the process of refining a design arduous to the point where I’d get frustrated and stop before I worked the problems out fully.

A selection of my templates (some a bit worse for the wear)

This year, I started making paper mock-ups of my design ideas and it has helped me immensely.  I generally use index cards, construction paper or card stock so that the paper models are sturdy enough to try on.  Not only does paper help me refine my ideas, but it gives me a pattern to follow when cutting the silver sheet.  It’s a fun process and it keeps me excited while I work out some of the basic issues of scale and placement.

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