So, I've been horribly lazy and have not tracked my progress during this project at all. I've completed the project and have taken pictures along the way, so I'll just dump them all here today in separate posts to emulate the actual chronological order of events.
First off... after the material brainstorm I did a very simple sketch to get an idea of what I was looking at. Basically, the original plan was to divide a cotton swab into 8 different segments at varying heights pressed into foam core board in an attempt to make a relief image.
I quickly realized that 8 lengths meant a LOT of cutting and because I wanted a fairly well represented image I was going to have to use a lot of cotton swabs. I decided to simplify somewhat, reducing the original 8 lengths to 6.