You never really do since there is no absolute end with a piece of art, it essentially can never stop being made. Knowing when to down-tools is an art form in itself and a skill that takes years to master. There are so many elements determining whether you have achieved your intended vision as sometimes ideas are wedged open through the creative process that whirls your piece into a new unanticipated eddy that demands immediate exploration.
I breakdown my making process as approximately 75% planned, 15% unplanned and 10% flourish. Making individual jewellery pieces completely by hand means slight alterations to the design can be undertaken along the way, which includes issues that aren’t foreseen in the design phase. The trick is knowing how much to alter and of course when to stop.
I walk a tightrope designing small complex constructions which demand a clean, sharp finish but will inevitably gather lots of hand tool marks through the handcrafted process. I need to allow tolerance in the assembly to clean off dints and scratches without overworking the finish and reducing the crispness of the design. Overworking a piece is my nemesis and there is no going back once it occurs!
The simplicity and clarity of ‘less is more’ is a valuable design tool however the beauty of jewellery is its puncheon for more; you just need to know when to stop … or in some cases, not stop.
Intuition and confidence from years of experience are regularly applied, but I am still tripped up, and sometimes with fantastic and unexpected outcomes. I always apply the golden rule of putting a piece down when I am in a quandary about how to proceed and picking it up again early the next morning when the light, my eyes and attitude are fresh. I never doubt that I’ll figure it out in the end.