It has been probably a good month three months since I started my current design-in-progress and it has been a little over a month since I released my most recent design. To those who watch my podcast, it probably seems even longer, since, every week, without fail, I show off two “secret” bags containing designs-in-progress. Designs they can’t see until some unspecified date.
No doubt, they are beginning to wonder if there is even anything in the bags. After all, I design toys, I’m not carving Michelangelo’s David or painting the Sistine Chapel, for crying out loud. And we won’t even compare to Leonardo DaVinci — I’d like to think that my track record for finishing things is slightly better than his. The man was well-known for being… easily distracted, shall we say. He had so many interests and such great talent in so many areas that he was notorious for just dropping projects to move on to the next one. Something that most knitters and crocheters can sympathize with. I think that most of us have a hoard of project bags filled with lonely projects that have not seen the light of day in forever. My cross-stitch can attest to suffering from this fate.
But I digress. My point is that it probably seems to those following my progress on my designs that I am taking an inordinate amount of time on this most recent design.
There is a lot of time spent, but that’s because there is a process that I have developed for my toys to get them as close to perfect as I can before the date that I reveal them and hunt for testers. This process has been tweaked throughout the year I’ve been designing, but I will cover it as it is in it’s most current form.
- The List. Every design starts with an idea. That idea then resides on The List. Yes, capitalized letters. The List is filled with potential designs. Once a toy makes it to The List, it has great hope of being created. I hope to cover The List in greater detail in a later post.
- The collection of pictures. When I get really excited about a potential pattern, I build a folder on my computer with the name of the toy-to-be and with a collection of pictures of that kind of animal that I find online. These pictures are what I use as a guide while I am making The Sketch.
- The Sketch. This is probably one of the most integral parts of the design process for me. The List is the basic begetting of the idea. The Sketch determines that, yes, this toy will become reality, and this is how it looks and will be posed. Usually there are notes written around animal in The Sketch, helping me to determine how the toy is to be formed as I build it. I have one notebook that contains all my sketches for my designs and just my sketches for my designs.
- Active Design. This is the part that makes me feel like Michelangelo creating David. Using my sketch and the pictures on my computer as a guide, I sculpt each animal body part with yarn as my marble and my hook as my chisel. If you wanted to continue with the sculpting metaphor, that is. This is probably my favorite part of the designing process. At this part, the toy builds for the first time under my hands, although it is a lot easier to change my mind and alter my plans than it was for Michelangelo when he dealt with marble. While I am building my toys, I am also writing down in a notebook exactly what I’m doing. These notes will be used to type up the pattern later.
- Typing the pattern. This is when I not only format the pattern, but also check to make sure my math and wording makes sense.
- Photo shoot. This part will be done many times, although it usually occurs the first time during the process of typing the pattern. Photos are then placed in the pattern to help with placement and to indulge my love of taking pictures of my toys.
- Designer test of the pattern. This is when I try to work the a replica of the toy I just designed, using my newly typed pattern to guide me. I catch a lot of my own mistakes this way, before the pattern even reaches testers.
- The video tutorial. Every single one of my toy patterns have a link to a special video tutorial to help with placement of toy parts and with the more unusual techniques in my patterns. This a second reason for the second toy I make. That toy is my tutorial toy which I end up putting together on camera.
And all this has to be completed before
9. Testing. My toys are usually in testing for about a month in a half before I release them for sale. More on that later.
So it takes a long time when I have one secret projects going. Sometimes, I may even have two or more, in various stages of testing. At one point, I had one toy in testing, one in the active design phase, and one in the sketch phase. So sometimes it can take awhile to get a design out for testing.
I don’t know if my process is unusual or not. I do know, however, that it is what works for me.
So beware, if you are seeing this,
it does not mean that the finished design is just around the corner. I may even have the prototype done, but until I announce a testing, I could be anywhere in the steps of my design process.
I do hope, however, that you will find that the finished pattern and toy are well worth the wait.