So, Valerie emails to tell me she’s had a great jewelry idea for me to make and sell: “jewel-encrusted snails!”
Valerie has exceptional taste, and so I know that what she’s imagining must be beautiful, but those three words strike me as incredibly funny: Jewel-encrusted snails! One can never anticipate jewel-encrusted snails! being any part of one’s day, can one? No.
I call Valerie to discuss.
I don’t really want to make jewel-encrusted snails!, I tell her, but I’d be happy to help her craft her own design if she wanted to come down for a visit. We go over the logistics of her idea: How jewel-encrusted? How would the stones be set? How snaily? Val makes a list of the things I tell her to remember as she designs, and she gets off the phone to start sketching.
When I receive her sketches, I struggle to consider them with the proper gravitas they deserve. Her idea is lovely and interesting and workable: tiny little snails in bejeweled shells. And yet…. jewel-encrusted snails! It makes me giggle every time I think it.
Valerie calls me to see what I think of her sketches. Is this a silly idea? No. Do I think it would be pretty? Yes! We discuss casting vs. fabrication, and maybe simplifying the idea a bit; this will be the first metal project she’s ever attempted, and I want her to start with a design that won’t be overwhelmingly complicated.
“But you like the idea?” Val asks.
“Yes, I really do,” I say. And I do, very much! “I’ve seen insect jewelry kind of like what you’re talking about, and it’s really beautiful. I totally think you can do this, but it’ll be challenging.”
We rough out plans for her to come down and spend a week learning metal, and I tell her that her design has me thinking: what about expanding on her idea of jewel-encrusted snails!, and doing other creatures, as well? Maybe more shelled creatures, or sea creatures, and create a whole group of jewel-encrusted creepies?
“Oh, I like that! Maybe little shrimp earrings? Or jellyfish?”
“Exactly! What about…..like.. squid?”
“Ohhh, that could be very pretty–“
“Here, ” I say, “Karen sketched out one of my ideas for me. She’s so much better at illustrating than I am. Don’t feel like you have to go with this–it’s just an idea. Let me scan it and email it to you. Hold on…..”