How much 'preparation' is needed ? At what point does the switch flip?

Like many of you here, I have loads of ideas or 'inspirations' that seem to constantly stream into my head in a rather unfiltered way and which I store away in a mental idea bank. However, I usually don't start working on a piece until I have thought it through completely, the whole process, from how I will work it step by step through to the look of the finished piece. Only when I am sure that I have managed to visualize the steps I need to take, and have overcome the technical hurdles (at least in my mind) will I begin -- leaving myself just enough wiggle room to change course if I have to.

Preparation is key to me. I think that's because my materials tend to be rather expensive, I hate the thought of ruining a piece simply because I failed to think of the problems that I may encounter.

As my 11 year old son famously put it: Remember the 6 P's:
Prior preparation prevents piss poor performance.

What do you prefer? Preparation, or a 'go with the flow, see what happens' approach?

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I agree. Though the act of creating is self-perpetuating...

I make loads and loads of technical drawings! My drawings and notebooks of how I will approach the manufacture of the piece are the key to making it work. Even if I start something with no drawings - very rare for me - I will eventually have to start working things out on paper. I have dozens of full notebooks and workbooks tucked away in the workshop. Quite often, there is a furious burst of drawing just before I start making, then the workbook develops alongside the piece, a few notes and sketches ahead of the piece but following the original plans. This is especially true of mechanical pieces like "The Mysterious Adventure of Lady Stevens" which had to open and have concealed, detachable elements. These elements quite often don't quite fit the way I had imagined and need to be re-worked.

One of the main reasons I took a workshop with Bob Ebendorf two years ago was to try and force myself to be more fluid and free, which has fed into my work but hasn't really become a way that I am happy working.

I honestly do things in the moment, it is more natural for me to go with the flow and just start creating something as soon as I have an idea dancing in my head.
Sometimes what I do is to make the piece in a different medium or metal (not silver) and after I finished the piece and see my idea then I will make it in silver. Most of the time I just do it in the moment and solve any problems I may have while I am making it.
I also took a class with Robert Ebendorf and I felt so much in place with him. I do not second guess myself, I just jump to the project with lots of energy and enthusiasm and if a problems gets in my way I just make the problem or obstacle work on my favor. ;o)

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