Giving and Receiving

One of the things I love most about being a designer and art director is the creative process coupled with the artistic possibilities. March was full of possibilities, thanks not only to my own personal drive to keep building an illustration portfolio (more on that later) but also due to the interest of a client in some holiday gifts I designed last year. Every year I try and send holiday ornaments to my clients that can not only be hung on Christmas trees but also serve as year-long sun-catchers. In the past, they would be the work of another artist I commissioned. However, this past year I decided to design my own. It caught the eye of one of my most cherished clients that I've done work with for over a decade. She was planning a second annual women's networking luncheon and wanted to provide a little parting gift for all attendees. Her idea: turn the ornament into a brooch. How fun! It was such a great process, I thought I'd share the steps along the way.

My holiday gift for clients in 2015 was a handmade ornament.

My holiday gift for clients in 2015 was a handmade ornament.

Firstly, the original ornament design was scaled down from about 3.25 inches to 1.25 inches. In doing so, certain elements had to be adjusted before the laser-cutting process could proceed—if graphic elements were too small, they wouldn't show up; too big and the piece not be stable enough to resist breakage.

The artwork was then sent off to be laser-cut, making sure that efficiency in the substrate's parameters was part of the layout plan. The first batch was sadly rejected (see below–that hole in the middle was supposed to be etched) but the good folks at Ponoko stepped up and remedied the problem rather quickly and kindly!

Once the corrected design was completed, the protective backing and adhesive had to be removed. Fortunately, my dear and very kind cousins were visiting at the time and pitched in with that process. (They get unlimited visits for that one!)

After the backing was removed, the painting process began. (I'm so grateful that the rain storm that was predicted held off for a few hours as I wrestled with the winds.)

The process included laser cutting clear, colored acrylic from a design I created (upper left); the protective backing was then soaked overnight in vinegar and removed piece-by-piece, front and back (upper right); the center of each piece was then carefully spray painted with the dark teal blue (lower left); then the final color was spray painted evenly over the entire back (lower right).

The process included laser cutting clear, colored acrylic from a design I created (upper left); the protective backing was then soaked overnight in vinegar and removed piece-by-piece, front and back (upper right); the center of each piece was then carefully spray painted with the dark teal blue (lower left); then the final color was spray painted evenly over the entire back (lower right).

When the paint had set for 24 hours, the really tedious part of the process began: gluing one-by-one of the gems and magnetic clasps to the brooch by the lovey and ever-patient Mari. These completed pieces were then carefully placed in a perfectly-matched bag with a gift card at the table settings of the luncheon attendees.

Thanks to the wonderfully patient and meticulous work of Mari who glued the gems one by one to the front of the brooch in addition to the magnetic clasp to the back, the brooches were then placed into into a perfectly matched gift bag with a gift card.

Thanks to the wonderfully patient and meticulous work of Mari who glued the gems one by one to the front of the brooch in addition to the magnetic clasp to the back, the brooches were then placed into into a perfectly matched gift bag with a gift card.

The entire brand of the event revolved around the colors of the brooch we created: the invitation to the event, table settings, flower arrangements, event programs, even the directional signage of the lovely guided tour of Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art's Japanese gardens.

Add all of this together with the beautifully arranged center pieces, an event program reflecting the look carried throughout the marketing campaign, inspiring speakers, and the entire room sets the tone for a wonderful event.

Add all of this together with the beautifully arranged center pieces, an event program reflecting the look carried throughout the marketing campaign, inspiring speakers, and the entire room sets the tone for a wonderful event.

The collaboration that comes with an event like this requires attention to detail every step of the way. I'm grateful to have client relationships where we work so well together. Japan-American Society of Tennessee really knows how to make their guests feel warmly welcomed—reflecting the wisdom of Japanese culture beautifully. The event was beautiful and, once again, the predicted stormy weather even held off for us to get a rain-free tour. Fingers crossed we get the same good fortune for the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival on April 9th (mark your calendar!).

The luncheon was followed up with a tour of the incredible Japanese garden at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, of course with signs directing the way.

The luncheon was followed up with a tour of the incredible Japanese garden at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, of course with signs directing the way.

I sure do love what I do!