You open the Shapeways box, and inside, a shiny, solid version of your jewelry design appears, almost as if by magic. But, inside the prongs of the ring, or alongside the twists and turns of a pendant, you envision stones, inlays, or entwined strands of silver. Like many of our jewelry designers, a piece of 3D printed jewelry is not the final stop to a completed ring, necklace, earring, brooch, or bracelet. Sometimes, a 3D printed design requires additional post-processing steps like stone settings or patinas. 3D design and hand-finishing jewelry require two very different skill sets that are rarely taught together — until now. That’s thanks to Shapeways’ new partnership with Seattle’s community-focused Pratt Fine Arts Center. We teamed up with Pratt to create and lead a course that teaches the full process of creating jewelry using 3D printing, from 3D design and to hand-finishing.
Pratt Fine Arts Center was founded over 40 years ago with a mission of opening education and arts to everyone. Pratt’s namesake is Edwin T. Pratt, a civil rights activist who fought for equal access to housing and education for all — an inspiration that gives Pratt deep ties to the city itself. Since the center’s opening, it has helped to establish a strong, inclusive creative community.
Students with a variety of skillsets and backgrounds registered for the two-part course to create a completely custom 3D printed, hand-finished ring. The course, which is the first of its kind, was hosted at Pratt Fine Arts by Julia Harrison, Jewelry/Metals Studio Manager and Alan Hudson, Shapeways Director of 3D Technologies.
For the first week’s session, Hudson led the discussion on 3D printing and guided students through how to use two of Shapeways’ ring creator applications, the Pattern Ring Creator and the Greyscale Signet Ring Creator.
For the second session of the course, students took to the bench. Moving from laptop to studio, the jewelers learned a variety of hand-finishing methods including pin polishing, burnishing, resizing, and aging with wort.
In the end, students left with a completed piece of jewelry — and complementary skills to help them bring 3D designs into the physical world, with an artisanal finishing touch.
If you would like to take part in future iterations of this course and are local to Seattle area, please keep an eye on Pratt’s Jewelry & Metals Courses. Or, if you would like to establish a similar course at your local fine arts studio, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.