Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Things about batch-production

Right now, I'm in the middle of getting a big pile of Riven crests ready to go. I don't usually work in big batches, but I'm discovering all kinds of useful things about making many copies at once.

When I'm making 30 necklace bails, I can't help but notice the places where I slow down. (Having to dig through a pile of tools to find the right one. Alternating between two different pairs of pliers instead of using just one. Using a saw when heavy-duty wire cutters would work just as well. Stuff like that.) And sometimes I can figure out how to route around those issues so that I can zoom through the pile! I would never notice the little inefficiencies working on one thing at a time in isolation--if I noticed at all, I'd probably dismiss it as unimportant, even though the delays can add up over time.

Smoothing out the rough bits
When I'm making 30 of something, I can't rely on any techniques that hurt my hands/wrists/back, tire me out unreasonably, or make me really annoyed. I might lean on some of them for a one-off piece, thinking "just this once..." but in a big project like this one, everything has to be sustainable, or I won't be able to finish. Instead of transferring my etching design by laboriously burnishing every disc, I'm learning to work in sets of 9 using a mostly hands-off process involving big clamps and an oven. In the long run, this mindset will help me with everything I make! The more places I can find smoother techniques, the easier it is to get to the interesting bits of creating without burning myself out.

Rapid Iteration
OK, "Rapid Iteration" sounds like some buzwordy nonsense from a Silicon Valley startup or something, but here's what I mean: if you're playing a video game and your character dies at a tricky bit that's right next to a savepoint, you're going to master that tricky bit much more handily than if the savepoint is ten screens away. Because you get to try over and over with each minute timing nuance fresh in your mind. It's a similar deal when I'm working on a batch of the same component. I can more easily avoid mistakes and come up with elegant solutions to things.

This guy is one of my bite-sized side projects.
Click here to see it in my shop!
There's a different sense of accomplishment that comes with accumulating a pile of 30 components than that of finishing a single object from start to finish. I'm a fan of both, and I'm working on keeping some small, easily-completed projects in the works along with my Giant Batch Of Doom. But there's no denying that gazing upon a mountain of pieces--even when they're just incomplete parts, an intermediate step in the process--can make you feel like a rock star. Look at all those bails! So many!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hey, something purple and shiny!

My experiments with color have brought forth the first of what I hope will be a series of bold, exoplanet-oasis-inspired necklaces.

Purple oasis, available in my Etsy shop.
I can't wait to make more of these--there's so much to explore. Blends of colors, different textures and depths, adding more metal to frame the pool, and experiments with silk cord. If this is something that looks like your kind of thing, don't hesitate to check out my shop!