Q: When making a piece, do you design in advance or make it up as you go?
A: Both! Most of the time I already have a good idea of what I want to do with a piece when I start, but make up the details as I go. Sometimes the process goes smoothly (but not too smoothly--this is a creative endeavor after all), and sometimes this design-as-I-go approach leads to an unfinished project, but that's all right. Unfinished designs lead to great jewelry down the road, when I find that perfect element to complete the piece. There are times when the materials to make the main body of the piece are all gathered together, waiting for me to pick them up, and I just let them sit, as ideas percolate.
For example, one of my latest designs did just that, sat in my 'to make' drawer for some months. I'd come home from the Bead & Button show with a mix of silk and leather cords, and a perfect coppr clay focal from Green Girl Studios. I knew I wanted to do a braid of the cords, with the focal at the center flanked by various bits and bobs. When I started actually pulling out charms and such from my stash to put into the necklace, I knew the time was right to make the necklace. And look how it turned out!
The necklace is inspired by the Green Girl Studios stories of the Bird Girls from the Beach of All Things Lost, who return important talismans to the people who lost them. I call this my 'story necklace'.