You raise some very interesting questions in your post. Looking at
one “scenario” might help you clarify your role in your mind and
communicate clearly with your friend.
If someone wants to build a house, they typically go to an
architect. They may say “I want a 4BR Tudor with 3 baths and great
windows facing toward the mountains.” They may even do a layman’s
sketch of the design they like, which could be quite detailed.
The architect then works to create a maquette (similar to your “real
version”) of the house, as well as detailed schematics of everything
from the load stresses to air circulation.
Once the client signs off on the architect’s design, it goes to the
builder / contractor. The contractor looks at the schematics and
determines precisely what materials and quantities are required to
make these designs reality, schedules the work, and builds the thing.
The contractor may also go back to the architect to point out design
"flaws" or inefficiencies and recommend changes to the design to
Along the way, the process is usually collaborative, even though the
client is the one who “feels” that they have designed the house.
In your case, you need to clearly communicate roles and expectations
with your friend – there is nothing that can sour a 20-year
friendship more quickly than a dispute over business/money.
If your friend wishes to “hire” you as the architect for these
pieces, then make sure it’s defined that way and that both of you
understand exactly which decisions and activities are being done by
whom – as well as who makes critical decisions about design,
functionality, safety, etc.
If you wish to “license” part of the design for your own specific
use, be really clear that she is granting you the right to do that,
under which terms, and for how long (in writing).
For the type of thing you’re describing, my initial reaction was
that it seems like an ideal case for rapid-prototyping (CAD/CAM),
which can produce relatively quick and inexpensive working models of
the piece for trial and troubleshooting, prior to driving an entire
production run. That might make the development of an initial
hand-crafted model unnecessary – or not.
Do these thoughts help at all?
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry