Tonight I made two frogs.  If you know anything about my past life, you’ll know that I have made quite a few frogs.  And sold them.  But tonight, after weeks of procrastination, I made two frogs.  And I am thrilled.

The story started when I was asked to do a special project for the head of the pre-school at the local Community College.  She wanted two plaques, one with a lizard and one with a frog.  Each would be hung on the wall by the door of the two class rooms.  Originally, she was thinking they would be out of metal, but I told her that my previous media was polymer clay which would be more colorful and probably safer and more long-lasting than steel.  She agreed to this and I set off to the studio to become “Miss Professional Artist”.  And that’s when I made my biggest mistake.  I thought that I should come back to her with a design for each plaque and a cost sheet, broken down to materials and labor.  I thought that she should have some idea of what it was going to look like when I finished.  I thought that the less surprises, the better.  Hummmph.

So I came up with two relatively easy designs, worked out the cost, did a couple of mock-ups of the background and a lizard. (After making hundreds of dozens of lizards in my wholesale days, I could whip this one out easily.)  I brought the designs in and we agreed on the cost.  And I went back to the studio and started to make the lizard.  See, at this point I was still into the idea that I would work for the amount of hours I had stated, and that I would actually MAKE money on this project.  Uh huh.

I finished the lizard, took a picture of it and sent it to the head of the school.  It’s funny how, even without the benefit of non-verbal cues, I was able to pick up on her lack of enthusiasm.  Or maybe I was projecting, because I wasn’t very enthused about it either.  The result was that the unfired plaque sat on my piano for a month or more while I dealt with my open studio.  And I was definitely resisting working on the frog, even though the design was clear.  Basically, I was going to have to make a bigger frog, which I had never done, and somehow have a tongue shooting out to catch a fly.  I was NOT excited about having to figure this challenge out.

Well, to make a long story short, I finally had a revelation.  I took the lizard plaque off the piano and mushed it into a big ball and started all over again.  This time, I decided to make it from my heart and not my brain.  I let the muses remind me what colors I like to work with and comfortable ways of creating texture without losing the design.  And it worked!  In addition, the e-mail response was considerably warmer.  And while my time budget has been blown to smithereens, I am so much calmer and happier.

So now, I am making the frogs for the second plaque.  You see, I have realized that this is not the time to experiment and play, this is the time to create what I know.  It’s amazing how many times I have to remind myself of this.  I should write in very big letters in my studio: “WHEN YOU ARE ON A DEADLINE, MAKE WHAT YOU KNOW.  THERE WILL BE TIME TO EXPERIMENT LATER.”  And that, my friends, is the moral of the story.  Now if I can just remember it for the next project.

Let me know if you have had a similar experience when you have created a commission for someone!

4 thoughts on “frogs!

  1. The lizard is SPECTACULAR! Love it!

    Thr frogs are cute too. IF you need some inspiration on what tree frogs look like I can email you a photo of my car mats. I got into frogs BIG TIME for a while. My car was literally filled with stuffed frogs. It all started with some cute, colorful floor mats for the car. then it went ‘viral’.

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