SITE NEWS: Sorry for the very long wait between Kitty Cat Diary updates. I’m now caught up to May of 2013.
A few months ago, I had designed a set of elf earcuffs for Elena. Here are some photos of her wearing the design:
I didn’t set out to do the design originally, and I ended up doing it out of necessity. The beginning of it all was when I saw Felicia Day wearing a pair in an episode of Co-Optitude, and when I called Elena to come over and take a look, she ooh’d and ahh’d like I did. Felicia had mentioned that someone made it for her, so I jumped online and started searching. I found some that were mass-produced and they didn’t look very good (too simple and not intricate enough). Then I looked at the hand-made ones by the arts and craft community such as on Etsy. There were several jewelry designers that made elf earcuffs, and we picked the designer whose work we liked most. She goes by the name “Alanya Divine,” and her shop on Etsy is called Belethil. At first, we thought we’d just pick one of her existing designs and that would be it, but after comparing the different designs she had, I realized they all contained pros and cons and to get the ideal design, I’d have to come up with something myself that combined what I liked about each of her designs. So I fired up Photoshop and started merging some of her designs together, erasing/painting details, and soon I found myself erasing almost all of the existing designs and redoing them according to my own aesthetic sensibility. I ended up doing three different designs to reach the one with the right balance. Here are pictures of the three designs I did (combination of photo manipulation and hand-painted details in Photoshop):
I wasn’t trying to be totally photorealistic since it’s just a design and not some high-end CG work for a client, so you can see how roughly I painted some of the details. The first design I came up with was the “Lavender Pearl.” It seemed fine until I did a mockup test by putting it into a photo of Elena, to see how it would look on her:
When seen that way, the design seemed a bit too ornate, and wouldn’t go well with more casual clothes. The second design I did was “Tellurian Princess.” It similar to the first one, but with a few minor changes in the design at the tip and different colored stones. It still seemed a bit too ornate, so I did a third design — the “Smoke Peal.” It’s less ornate but still had a level of intricacy that most elf earcuffs out there don’t have, and felt like the right level of balance to us. After I finished the designs, I checked in with Alanya to make sure it was doable, and answer any questions she might have. She pointed out that the mechanics of the design was a bit confusing. It turned out I had misunderstood how the earcuff is supposed to fit onto the ear (understandable, since I had never seen one of these earcuffs in person before to analyze how they’re worn). The problem was I had included an extra piece of wire that was unnecessary:
This is the corrected version that merged the highlighted magenta wire and extra green wire from the previous photo:
Once we settled on the final design, Alanya went to work. She sent me a work-in-progress photo that showed her first attempt, and it didn’t quite work, since the design was too intricate for the typical wire binding method (some areas became too bulky and messy, such as at the bottom):
She then decided to use the new welding method she had learned, and although it still wasn’t perfect, it was more elegant than the wire binding approach:
At this point, Elena and I had to decide if we wanted to continue despite the imperfections (supposedly the welding method is very difficult, or maybe she was just new at it), and we decided to tell Alanya go ahead and finish it. When she did, she sent us this photo to inspect:
The general feel was good enough that we were willing to overlook the small imperfections, since most people won’t care and it’s overall look of the design that really matters. Elena loved my design and was happy with Alanya’s work, so I think all the fuss was worth it. Even as just an exercise in creativity, it was both fun and educational. If you want a pair of elf earcuffs for yourself or that special lady in your life, just contact Alanya or any of the jewelry designers on Etsy. You’ll likely find an existing design you like, or you can create your own design like I did. You might even want to get your hands dirty and actually make a pair yourself (if you have nimble fingers and are handy with tools). I have taken a lot more photos of Elena wearing “Smoke Pearl,” and you’ll definitely be seeing them making appearances in future Kitty Cat Diary entries.