For the past few years, I've chosen a general "style" for that year's ornament designs. I then apply various design themes to that style. For example, for the 2007 holiday season, I focused on a metal Shadow Box style. The following year - the first year I introduced wood into my designs, it was the Wood Silhouette style.
Each year, I usually start thinking about new ornament designs shortly after finishing my latest batch. Sometimes, a new style for a design comes to me in a single ah-ha! moment. Most often, the style presents itself to me gradually over a period of several months. Then there are times - like this year - when the idea always seems lurk in the back of my mind, without really revealing itself.
When that happens, I usually have to coax the idea out of hiding by making a bunch of sketches or even building a prototype ... or both!
That was the case this year. Unfortunately, my workshop has been tied up for several months on another project, so I resorted to building a computer model of the design and playing around with the idea that way.
Now, understand ... I'm a computer-person, by day, so building computer models is pretty much second nature for me. In fact, my one-of-a-kind Lighthouse Shadow Box was first realized as a computer model ... mainly because a client had commissioned me to create a design based on a lighthouse, and I wanted to have something to show her. That worked out so well I've used it a number of times, since then ... even if just to get a "warm and fuzzy" feeling about how a design will look.
Because I use modeling tools that are capable of producing extremely realistic images of a model, it gives me a chance to critique the design's aesthetics, before I ever cut that first piece of wood or metal, or lay flame to solder. Furthermore, in constructing the model, I have to engage in some of the same thinking process that I will ultimately use when planning the "manufacturing" phase for the ornament. Thus, the model allows me to assess issues that might affect being able to produce a finished product. Then, by animating the design, I can get an idea of how polished metal surfaces and wood finishes will interact with lights and other ornaments on the tree.
Well ... as soon as I saw the first rendering of the Abstract Tree design, I knew it was a "keeper"! The design is simple, yet elegant, and is adaptable to a wide variety of themes - both "holiday" and "everyday". Finally, the design appears to present no significant technical issues in its construction ... just basic woodworking and metal working skills.
As of now (very early November), I've only completed a few models ... so far ... more are on their way. Right now, I'm kind of caught up in seeing what I can do with the basic design style.
And, so far, I'm liking how it "behaves".
So ... Stay Tuned!
Each thumbnail below links to a page, which includes a still image of the design and an animated version, which shows a 360-degree view of the ornament.