I wanted to share with you the inspiration and some of the process behind my latest range of jewellery called ‘inside the print’. You may or may not have guessed that this has nothing to do with the inside of a newspaper, and rather more to do with the hot topic of 3D printing. 3D printing is the new paper mache, okay well maybe it’s not quite that affordable but if you have access, (and patience) it is relatively quick to design, render and print your idea with a few clicks. This (not so) new technology is forging the way in creating elaborate forms that were not possible to make by hand before. Whoop!
So what inspires me? The bit that no-one is looking at.
I’m inspired by the space that is digitally designed out of 3D rendered objects in order for them to be printed in the most economical way. These objects are printed hollow, they are supported by an internal structure that allows them to appear solid from the outside. ‘Inside the print’ is blocky and reminiscent of cityscapes or pixels. That’s the bit that I love, I think everyone should be looking at it, not just because the computer programming is really clever because of it’s perfect geometric patterns. And by adjusting the thickness of the printing these patterns change.
So far most 3D printing in glass comes in the form of Pate de Verre which uses fine glass powder mixed with a binder like wallpaper paste, that results in an opaque finish. I am driven by casting these 3D prints in transparent glass so you can see the space ‘inside the print’.
As powder printing is still on the expensive side I made two part moulds of these prints using cold cast silicone rubber (which I had to redo as the edges were not very defined). The middle set is white silicone T25 which I brushed onto the 3D print, it gives a more successful cast of the pixel like detail. After a few trials with waxes from the silicone moulds, I worked out brushing on the wax retains the detail too and gets rid of air bubbles. So after finally getting some defined waxes I was able to invest them, cast them in the kiln with glass, break open the moulds, saw the excess off, grind the outside surface back into shape, sandblast and then send them off to be acid polished- phew! It was worth it to see ‘inside the print’ through the glass.
After a few semi-successful attempts (whilst re-learning how to solder) at trying to create jewellery by keeping the hemispheres whole. I started cutting the glass into quarters, grinding the edges to a matt finish to contrast with the shiny ‘inside the print’ surface and have created the range of Glass & Brass jewellery available now from my online shop.