Hi guys! Over the next few months, I'll be writing about the intersections of fashion and 3D printing technology. A bit about me: my company Langoliers Jewelry was born out of a lifelong fascination--obsession, really-- with handcraft and textiles. As a kid, I would stare as my grandmother conjured elaborate sweaters from nothingness, rapt. I didn't know at the time that I would one day set up a small collective of knitters and weave gold and silver into elaborate designs like a latter-day Rumpelstiltskins, hopefully inspiring in others the same awe that I felt as a child. I identify as a craftsperson and took pride in working with my hands, but I quickly realized that I had to reconcile the loftiness of a life in craft with the cold, hard realities of the bottom line.
Producing locally sourced and manufactured metal textiles was rewarding, but logistically thorny and ultimately unsustainable. A solution was out there, and I became preoccupied with the notion that craft and technology are not mutually exclusive-- that in fact, they can support each other. I made the decision that I had to adjust my Luddite sensibilities and wholeheartedly embrace new technologies like 3D printing.
3D printing, or Stereolithography, is the process of uploading a digital CAD file to a machine that additively builds geometry. I spent years cultivating wax-carving proficiency, sawing and scraping and filing jewelry from a solid slat of wax for casting, and I was dubious of anything that rendered that skill obsolete. I quickly learned that 3D printing allowed for me to create complicated forms that were all but impossible to do by hand. I was still able to finish models with my trusty file and Dremel, but 3D printing gave me the basis to investigate new terrains of design that I wouldn't have had the time, nor the resources to explore. I started cultivating another skill: 3D Modeling. Just like any other craft, there were a steep learning curves, countless failure, and ultimately a sense of pride that came from leveling up.
3D printed knitted collar designed by Pamela Liou
Never one to vacillate, I nixed the fashion calendar and took a position at the preeminent 3D printing company Shapeways as a Production Engineer in the newly christened "Factory of the Future" in Long Island City, NY. Alongside of small cadre of other engineers, we print, process, and ship hundreds of 3D printed objects each day. When I unearthed models hot from the printers, I was filled with the same childlike feeling of wide-eyed amazement from witnessing a complex object "conjured" from nothing. Having been on the front lines of next Industrial Revolution, I gleaned unique insights on how many small businesses can integrate 3D printing to help them prototype, iterate, and produce designs in cost effective ways. I'm passionate about helping others overcome their intimidation, lower barriers of entry, and equip young designers with the tools they need to see their dream projects come to fruition. Stay tuned!