I don't do custom work, except when I do. I have often vowed not to take any more orders, because, in my experience, no matter how well someone describes what they want, even if what they want is well within my style, since I can't see inside their heads, the finished product is never quite what they had in mind. So even if the transaction proceeds, I am left feeling like I have let someone down.
As occasionally happens, I felt this order was different. A woman contacted me through a friend who had told her I sometimes make urns for a local veterinarian who specializes in cats. She had recently lost a beloved cat, one of a pair of littermates, and she was wanting a special container to hold the ashes, all she has left of her dear companion. I myself lost first one, then the other, of a pair of littermates who had been my loving friends since my college days; and then shortly after that, I lost Waldo, a beautiful, mysterious cat who came to live with us. I deeply understood this woman's grief. I accepted her order for an urn with a small sculpture of her cat on it.
Of course, because it is so emotional, it is important to me to get it right; which makes it more intimidating. I struggled, and then put it off, and struggled some more, and looked at the photos she sent me of her cat, Allegro. I wanted to get it right for Allegro.
I still want to get it right, and I hope I have done; and I recognize that I might continue to try to do better forever. So: the wetwork is done. The surface, of course, is equally important, and I will work to get the markings right. I plan to use underglaze, so I can tightly control where the colors go -- they will stay where I brush them.
That's Step 2.