Creating Madam | An idea's journey, from concept to creation.

"Everything begins with an idea"

- Earl Nightingale -

 

"There is no magic in magic,

it's all in the details"

- Walt Disney -

I am often asked how the ideas arrive for my designs... and the answer never seems to be as straight forward as people expect. Sometimes, they come through a series of happy accidents & experimentation and on other occasions, an idea can be so sure of itself, that you can almost see it before you’ve drawn it.

Here, is a peep into the makings of ‘The Creation of Madam’, which was one of those latter idea’s, but boy did she make me work hard for it!

Inspiration for The Creation of Madam struck on a trip to the Vatican during a romantic holiday in Rome. I gazed up at the Sistine chapel and marvelled at Michelangelo’s infamous Creation of Adam. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but wonder what the visual outcome would be if those famous hands were the hands of alluring women rather than God’s and Adam’s.

If I drew it, would it mean that I was making a feminist statement from a revered and respected, Catholic masterpiece? If so, then it almost certainly needed to be done (if nothing else but for fun and my own small act of rebellion!)

The moment we were back at the hotel, I started sketching. At the time, I hadn’t had much practise in drawing hands, and so it was quite the process trying to achieve the correct proportions. I started by referencing back to photographs of the original painting to try and gain an understanding of the shape and form of the hands.

The first one I drew was fairly true to the original in its shape but also seemed garish and awkward somehow. I redrew it with the intention of making the hand ultra feminine but the outcome was more like the hand of a badly made, plastic doll (whoops).

Inspiration for The Creation of Madam struck on a trip to the Vatican during a romantic holiday in Rome. I gazed up at the Sistine chapel and marvelled at Michelangelo’s infamous Creation of Adam. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but wonder what the visual outcome would be if those famous hands were the hands of alluring women rather than God’s and Adam’s.

If I drew it, would it mean that I was making a feminist statement from a revered and respected, Catholic masterpiece? If so, then it almost certainly needed to be done (if nothing else but for fun and my own small act of rebellion!)

Attempt 1

Attempt 2

Attempt 3

Roll on one week, we were back in London and a different approach was needed. I thought I would try taking pictures of my own hand holding various small objects. This way, I could refer back to the photograph as a guide for a more feminine and realistic shape. This seemed to do the trick and by the 7th drawing attempt, the hand was (almost) just right.

In order to give the final piece the irreverent juxtaposition of gender, it almost certainly needed some fabulous jewellery. I unearthed my favourite bracelets to use as inspiration for the detail and these seemed to add the modern & glamorous touch I was hoping for. Eureka!

OH, BUT THE JOB ISN'T DONE YET...

 

By now, I was so enamoured with my Madam’s hands that I thought the idea needed to be shared. The thought of this fun feminist statement, laying at the heart of dinner tables filled me with joy and so I set about designing the boarders which would decorate the ‘outers’ of the tableware.

I tried various layouts with the hands overlapping to create a frame but in the end decided that what was needed, was a simple boarder which would highlight the detail of the jewellery, without distracting from the hands themselves. After all, Michelangelo was a genius without compare and his original idea needed to be honoured.

Sample 7

Sample 12

Sample 4

After many late nights and countless more re-drafts, the illustrations were finally finished and we could move on to the sampling stages to have the designs applied to tableware...

The Winner

MAGIC HANDS AT WORK...

Now it was over to the wonderful craftspeople of Stoke-on-Trent to bring the idea to life on fine bone china. The illustrations were printed onto waterslides, which when submerged into water, turn fluid, allowing the drawing to be rubbed on by hand. From this, we could determine the correct proportions and positioning of the design.

After a few reiterations, we applied the design to fine china using decals which are again, applied by hand. The decals would reveal the final effect, shading and details of the design. In true Goldilocks fashion, our first decal attempt looked too light and the second was too dark. We tweaked, reprinted and tweaked again to achieve the perfect depth of black.

Four re-do’s later, the shade of black seemed perfect, the details were sharp and the decorated piece could be fired in a kiln, before a 22 carat gold rim was painted by hand using a finely tipped brush.

AND JUST LIKE THAT...

THE CREATION OF MADAM WAS BORN

The Creation of Madam is still one of my personal favourite & most loved design’s. I’ve applied her to fine bone china mugs & plates and also recently to a large mural wall-covering which I completely adore.

The lesson I learnt from creating her is that good ideas aren’t always executed easily. In fact, I often think that it’s the good ideas which will always make you work it the hardest. (Good ideas are diva’s like that!)

It's often the good ideas which will always make you work the hardest. (Good idea's are divas like that!)

Lauren

 

"Everything begins

with an idea"

- Earl Nightingale -

 

I am often asked how the ideas arrive for my designs... and the answer never seems to be as straight forward as people expect. Sometimes, they come through a series of happy accidents & experimentation and on other occasions, an idea can be so sure of itself, that you can almost see it before you’ve drawn it.

Here, is a peep into the makings of ‘The Creation of Madam’, which was one of those latter idea’s, but boy did she make me work hard for it!

Inspiration for The Creation of Madam struck on a trip to the Vatican during a romantic holiday in Rome. I gazed up at the Sistine chapel and marvelled at Michelangelo’s infamous Creation of Adam. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but wonder what the visual outcome would be if those famous hands were the hands of alluring women rather than God’s and Adam’s.

If I drew it, would it mean that I was making a feminist statement from a revered and respected, Catholic masterpiece? If so, then it almost certainly needed to be done (if nothing else but for fun and my own small act of rebellion!)

Draft 1

The moment we were back at the hotel, I started sketching. At the time, I hadn’t had much practise in drawing hands, and so it was quite the process trying to achieve the correct proportions. I started by referencing back to photographs of the original painting to try and gain an understanding of the shape and form of the hands.

The first one I drew was fairly true to the original in its shape but also seemed garish and awkward somehow. I redrew it with the intention of making the hand ultra feminine but the outcome was more like the hand of a badly made, plastic doll (whoops).

Draft 2

Draft 3

Roll on one week, we were back in London and a different approach was needed. I thought I would try taking pictures of my own hand holding various small objects. This way, I could refer back to the photograph as a guide for a more feminine and realistic shape. This seemed to do the trick and by the 7th drawing attempt, the hand was (almost) just right.

In order to give the final piece the irreverent juxtaposition of gender, it almost certainly needed some fabulous jewellery. I unearthed my favourite bracelets to use as inspiration for the detail and these seemed to add the modern & glamorous touch I was hoping for. Eureka!

OH, BUT THE JOB ISN'T DONE YET...

By now, I was so enamoured with my Madam’s hands that I thought the idea needed to be shared. The thought of this fun feminist statement, laying at the heart of dinner tables filled me with joy and so I set about designing the boarders which would decorate the ‘outers’ of the tableware.

I played with various designs, but in the end decided that what was needed, was a simple boarder which would highlight the detail of the jewellery, without distracting from the hands themselves. After all, Michelangelo was a genius without compare and his original idea needed to be honoured here.

After many late nights and countless more re-drafts, the illustrations were finally finished and we could move on to the sampling stages to have the designs applied to tableware...

MAGIC HANDS AT WORK...

Now it was over to the wonderful craftspeople of Stoke-on-Trent to bring the idea to life on fine bone china. The illustrations were printed onto waterslides, which when submerged into water, turn fluid, allowing the drawing to be rubbed on by hand. From this, we could determine the correct proportions and positioning of the design.

After a few reiterations, we applied the design to fine china using decals which are again, applied by hand. The decals would reveal the final effect, shading and details of the design. In true Goldilocks fashion, our first decal attempt looked too light and the second was too dark. We tweaked, reprinted and tweaked again to achieve the perfect depth of black.

Four re-do’s later, the shade of black seemed perfect, the details were sharp and the decorated piece could be fired in a kiln, before a 22 carat gold rim was painted by hand using a finely tipped brush.

AND JUST LIKE THAT,

THE CREATION OF MADAM WAS BORN

The Creation of Madam is still one of my personal favourite & most loved designs. I’ve applied her to fine bone china mugs & plates and also recently to a large mural wall-covering which I completely adore.

The lesson I learnt from creating her is that good ideas aren’t always executed easily. In fact, I often think that it’s the good ideas which will always make you work it the hardest. (Good ideas are diva’s like that!)