Design Development. Series 1: SPAGHETTI CON OLIO DI OLIVA
Last week we discussed what inspired the Spaghetti & Olive Oil earrings. This week I’ll be sharing what went into bringing the idea to life.
Starting a new collection is always a huge challenge. How am I going to make the pieces? How will I make them affordable? How will they sit on the ear? Will it look pretty in real life? How long will it take to produce each piece? What about production costs? These are just some of the things I consider before starting.
I like my design development to grow organically; if the ideas aren't coming to me I don't force them or set deadlines for them, I just wait for the tree to fruit. As most – if not all – of my inspiration comes from food, I am never short of inspiration. The hard part is recreating in real life what I see so clearly in my mind.
I always carry a mini notebook and pencil in my purse as you never know when an idea will start to blossom. Somewhat incongruously, it was actually on a journey from Parsons Green to Tottenham Court Road when I came up with how I wanted to incorporate the Spanish Steps, spaghetti and olive oil into a wearable piece. The sketch I drew ended up turning into an interchangeable piece. I loved the idea of the wearer being able to make the piece their own, wearing it how and in whichever way they wanted to. It becomes far more versatile than just a pair of statement earrings if it can be transformed into a necklace too.
I had decided there would be chains; chains to represent the flow of olive oil, particularly when poured onto a delicious bowl of pasta. I love the glisten of olive oil, so I wanted to ensure I encapsulated that luxurious sensation in the piece.
The next stage was to think about the frame of the piece. How would the frame hold the chain? And how could I make it interchangeable? I set out making a frame to resemble the Spanish Steps, as well as two layers of spaghetti to see how I could make it work...
Frame’s done… but something wasn’t right! The first thing I think is that they are not bold enough – I couldn’t imagine them catching the light in that special way or even sitting nicely on the ear. And more importantly the interchangeable mechanism didn’t work very well, making it more difficult to reproduce and less cost effective too. I always wear the prototypes or samples before I sell them, and these particular pieces weren’t exciting me enough to wear!
So, I went back to my designs, and realised that actually the original designs I came up with on the tube were the best and, somehow, I had gone off piste with the concept. It occurred to me that the additional frames I had added along the way would never work. However, the bars of spaghetti at the top would work and the chain could slide away from the top part, which would make it possible to wear as a necklace too, leaving the double row as the stud. I took that final design to my CAD designer (computer aided design).
Many tools, processes and methods in a jeweller’s workshop have remained unchanged for centuries, but now we are privileged enough to have access to many new technologies and processes which are more cost effective and sustainable, CAD is one of them. For me CAD is such a brilliant way of developing a design, it allows you to play around with different options without wasting metal or spending hours at the jewellery bench trying different styles.
As you can see in the images, my very clever CAD designer, Brogan (get in touch for details), and I sat down together to work through the different options, sizes, weights, dimensions and mechanisms. CAD is so precise, everything is done to size, and it factors in potential risks for you. You get to see the 3D image without physically making anything. It’s genius and I’m starting to fall in love with the earrings already!
The next stage is to print the file into wax, which recreates exactly what you see on your screen into tiny little wax pieces which are then sent off to be cast into silver. The printing process needs to be set up by a specialist, and takes 24 hours. Jewellery casting, also known as lost wax casting, is a process by which a wax pattern is made into a jewellery mould and then filled with molten metal or silver. The wax mould and heated metal inside the mould are thrown into cold water, causing the mould to dissipate and leaving behind the piece of jewellery.
After a few tweaks to the final cast, the piece is ready to be assembled and prepped for you to wear!
Every piece of jewellery has its own unique story before it gets to you, so when buying jewellery consider the craftsmanship, the process, and the love and passion that goes into making it for you. It’s a wonderful process.
Stay tuned next week to find out how the mechanism worked out.