Posts Tagged ‘Materials’

Recently, I got an assignment to create custom work for two music teachers. Personalized and reasonably priced were the only guidelines. Otherwise I was given free rein and let my creativity go wild. Well, not that wild, but I had fun. The obvious choice for custom personalized jewelry was to create 3D models and then get them 3D printed.

In the picture above, you can the see cufflinks for a piano teacher with initials TH. Each letter is surrounded by two octaves of miniature piano keys. The material is silver plated polished brass.

DG-AltoClef

The other piece was a pendant for a viola teacher. It had to be delivered as soon as I got it from the service bureau, so the picture below is a rendering. On the note lines you can see the alto clef which is also called viola clef because it's often used with viola music. Also the notes, D and G, represent her initials. This pendant was made with 18K plated polished brass.

 

 

This is the first post in the upcoming sporadic series of DESIGN LAB. I will experiment with new manufacturing methods and techniques. Results and pictures, good or bad, will be posted here. Some of these sketches may eventually find themselves in production and the web store, but mostly I’m just playing around.

For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to try laser cutting. Though the laser cutter is pretty old technology, the price point is still very high. It is not in my radar to purchase my own machine quite yet. So, I turned to a service bureau; Ponoko.

Ponoko carries a vast catalogue of materials from leather and wool felt to acrylics and plywood. The prices for materials are reasonable, but price for an individual design may hike up fast, if the design is complicated and specifically if it includes lots of engraved details. This makes balancing between designer’s and consumer’s happiness tricky. Seemingly simple designs may end up carrying a hefty price tag.

This time, I chose to work with white melamine MDF, Cherry Veneer MDF and natural cardboard.

rowPendant

Cherry veneer has a nice sheen and works quite nicely for jewelry. Here, I made a simple pendant by utilizing a ready made silver setting and designing a piece to fit in. The lesson here; Fonts need to be bold. Otherwise, the result is too subtle with the natural wood grain. The “CHILL” text on the bracelet below is barely visible.

chill I was particularly excited with trying the “live hinge” method. Stiff material, such as wood, can be made flexible by cutting  a pattern of vertical lines. Each thin part will give in a little, just enough to for a nice bend. However, for jewelry purposes and heavy usage items, this is just too brittle. It might be possible to use some kind of enforcement. For the bracelet below, I used duck tape :). For this to work, it needs more R&D.

liveHinge2

Laser cutting is essentially flat design. With some construction, one is able to expand it to 3d. Here is a simple egg pendant which can be shipped flat and assembled when received.

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The white melamine picks up detail really well. Even the thinnest lines will read clearly. Also, the material  tolerates high heat pretty well. Therefor, it was my material of choice for this trivet.

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One last material I wanted to experiment with was cardboard.  These earring display cards will easily fold flat for gift boxes.

packagingOver all, much fun to play with and definitely a learning experience. Next, I will try leather and felt for some bags and cases.

Oh, and a word of warning: All natural fibers and organic materials such as wood, leather or felt will be smelling like smoke. Laser cuts by burning. Eventually, the smell fades, though.

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Thanksgiving and the recent uncovering of a bird’s nest in my garden made me think of a talisman I made almost 10 years ago. Talismans are objects which are believed to have magical powers. Unlike Amulets, which are for generic purpose, talismans bring good luck for a specific purpose. They also need to be charged with energy by a person who makes them.

Mine was a bird's nest made out of fine silver. I rolled each little twig out of precious metal clay and little by little formed a nest. It was then sintered in kiln which burned off the binding materials and after polishing, a tiny brilliant nest emerged. For eggs, I added two shiny oval shaped freshwater pearls. It could have been used as a pendant, but I just wanted to look and hold it.

At the time, we had already had several painful years of  trying to get  pregnant. It was probably on an unconscious level, that I made this symbolic nest in lieu of building a nest for a human baby. In any case, my thoughts were mostly (as they had been for ages) focused on the void in our lives. When I was concentrating on rolling out those tiny twigs,  I was charging each one of them with lots of hope. As it often happens, once you direct your energy somewhere else, the unimaginable happens. I got pregnant with our gorgeous son.

I got pre-occupied with my rounding belly and the hectic life in Manhattan. The little talisman was forgotten for years until we moved to suburbs and I learned that a dear friend of mine was struggling with the same issues I had. The cynic in me says it was our persistence, modern medicine and our skilled reproductive endocrinologist that deserve all the credit for the success. However,  I would like to live in a world where it’s ok to believe in magic, at least a little bit. So, I handed the bird's nest to my friend in a little box and told her the story about making it. Her son was born less than a year after that.

We decided that it would be great to create a pay-it-forward talisman. So, she gave the nest to her friend S who gave it to her friend K. So, far we have four silver nest babies, all boys by the way.

Oh, and what happened to the talisman next? S has it back on her bed side radiating hope, happy thoughts and energy for number two.

 

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The editor at MJSA Custom Jeweler called for an interview about my business insights and advice. At first, I thought I have nothing to say. Really, I should be selling a lot more jewelry than I do now. Turns out, I have a lot to say. People even commented on the story at the recent industry conference, MJSA ConFab.

See the digital edition here

Download the PDF here

 

Aaaahhh...spring - it never fails. Birds are back, daffodils are sprouting and every piece of furniture in my house looks tired. It's time to either redecorate or maybe buy a new house to decorate. Either case, I'm definitely drooling over  interior design magazines and blogs. Like everything, this too will pass and I'll settle into comforts of outdoor living during summer months and lazy hibernation beginning November. Every year, some items may carve a permanent tiny nest into my heart. The new flat pack furniture from Wintec and custom designed fair trade rugs from node definitely made a lasting impression.

Form and function in  flat pack beauties

STRATFLEX Skin – Single, two or three seater.

STRATFLEX Skin – Single, two or three seater.

While I think of flat pack furniture, I can't help but to think of a certain Swedish discount giant. Fortunately, Wintec has now diversified my thought process. These beauties from the new Skin line are made to be loved. I can see them easily fit into both traditional and modern homes.According to Wintec, they  are made from imported Finnish ply over a locally sourced and sustainable Saligna frame. The result a sculptural, organic and comfortable armchair. Finland has a long tradition in producing beautiful plywood which has, of course, been also used by such legends as Alvar Aalto in their designs.

Just add plywood

Traditional Methods - New Designs

 

Chris Haughton's Owl Rug

Chris Haughton's Owl Rug

Node aims to connect a worldwide network of designers and artists with traditional Nepalese carpet makers to create beautiful handmade rugs.Their rug makers, Kumbeshwar are a founder member of Fair Trade Nepal. Employees are taught literacy and skills. In addition to fair wages their work supports a school of 260 children and an orphanage of nineteen. Node's mission statement sounds idealistic, but the rugs are stunning and priced well.

Node produces their carpets entirely by hand using age old and natural Tibetan carpet making techniques. All their carpets are made from bales of pure Tibetan wool. It is hand spun into thread, hand dyed with natural and non-polluting dyes, and then hand-knotted on our looms into carpet. While the rugs have the traditional lustrous feel of a traditional wool rug, they look fresh and completely new, thanks to the great designers and illustrators, node is working with. More importantly, you can send in your won custom design which they will reproduce. So, watch out world, you may see some rugs designed by me soon.

 

Node carpets start with pure Tibetan wool.

Node carpets start with pure Tibetan wool.

 

Helsinki Rotterdam A/W 2013-2014 collection on the runaway.

Helsinki Rotterdam A/W 2013-2014 collection on the runaway.

Happy knitted coat

Happy knitted coat

 

 

Dress with Rotterdam Print

Dress with Rotterdam Print

New York Fashion Week in is full force. Yesterday, I got a chance to see the Ivana Helsinki Rotterdam A/W 2013-2014 collection live from the front row.

The venue, 450 studios, had exactly one working elevator and we had to line up outside for an hour. Pre-blizzard freezing wind from the Hudson River transformed my core into a rattling bowl of ice cubes and made me feel literally like a fashion victim. As soon as the show started, however, the bold prints and strong colors brought some spring back to my soul.

I have always found Paola Suhonen’s designs to be approachable, yet inventive. Some forms, such as Peter Pan collars and gathered puffy sleeves are definitely classic and familiar but pieces are often finished with little surprises. For example, the “Amber” dress had exaggerated Victorian era inspired sleeves, but the material was denim with hand made unique bleach. The same dress balanced the high neckline with upper thigh length, certainly a no-no in the puritan Victorian era.

Although, the prints had no floral cutesy, lot of the cuts and forms reminded me of a delicate bell flower, which quite nicely balanced the occasional austerity of materials. The bell flower form was especially evident with “Jessika” and other raita printed dresses.

All models wore thick tights, some of those shockingly white. It takes a special body type (that of a model?) to be able to pull that off. Luckily, come spring, you can leave your legs bare and let sun kiss them with that delicious golden color. This might help you hold off those tights a week longer? The whole show was also decisively not accessorized. I would have wanted to see perhaps some bags or jewelry. I don’t think that would have taken attention away from the strong pieces.

Unfortunately, my iPhone camera wasn’t quite up to the task, but you can see the full collection here.