Tag Archives: Jewelry design

Is There Anything This Designer CAN’T Make?

Fashion has always been a rich breeding ground for design innovation, and 3D printing has ushered in new ways of creating for designers from every discipline. Rarely, however, do we see a single designer whose work spans fashion, industrial design, miniatures, and much more. Bilal Khan of BMK Design, whose Shapeways shop reveals only one facet of his incredible range, let us in on a groundbreaking jewelry project that he completed for his client TooShoes. Using Shapeways to iterate and test his design, Bilal developed a gorgeous, elegant shoe adornment designed to withstand daily wear — and turn simple pumps into statement-making, one-of-a-kind footwear. For a glimpse inside the mind of a truly versatile designer, read the full interview below.

Heel jewelry created for TooShoos

Heel jewelry created for TooShoos

In your Shapeways shop, you focus on amazing figurines. Normally, we don’t see designers cross over from fantasy characters to jewelry, so I’m particularly interested in how you came to design the gorgeous heel jewelry you shared with us. Outside of Shapeways, do you focus on jewelry design?

I’m basically a design enthusiast with experience in varying design fields and contrasting skill sets as far as modeling tools and design methodologies are concerned. By profession, I’m a mechanical engineer, and I’ve been independently developing products for clients for the past four years. My urge for design — and being inspired by all types of designers — from digital sculptors to industrial designers and fashion designers, led me to learn and develop skill sets away from my core expertise. To date, I’ve developed products in consumer, mechanical equipment, automotive, medical, fashion, and footwear. I also spend time developing interior designs for building spaces and front end web designing.

One heel jewelry option, designed for TooShoos

One heel jewelry option, designed for TooShoos

The Shop

I have been blessed to have been introduced to these varying fields by my clients for whom I take the challenge of developing these novel products in various segments. The miniatures you saw at my shop were the result of an offshoot of the skills I developed while creating board game miniatures for my client. But, I did not want to stop at just that project and decided to enhance my skills and extend it to the physical desktop toys that you see at my shop.

Jewelry for Heels

Similarly, this jewelry design project regarding heels was also a brainchild of my client who did not know how to approach it to make a complete working product out of the idea. I was eventually able to design this latching mechanism with a clamping, modular jewel holding option. The process of developing the product required some engineering, loads of brainstorming, and a few iterations of prototypes to perfect the fit. Obviously, the prototyping was possible because of Shapeways. I printed most of the prototypes, developed during the project, from Shapeways, and for the final piece, we produced the product with gold-plated brass from Shapeways.

From TheBMKdesign.com

From TheBMKdesign.com

Focus on personal jewelry designs

In the past I’ve developed jewelry for my family and friends. I’m currently working on developing my line of jewelry focusing on Mughal and traditional styles alongside contemporary and modern art pieces. You can find a few pieces on my website, though they’re still a work in progress. When it’s ready, you’ll see these and many other designs up on my shop at Shapeways.

A gorgeous work in progress

A gorgeous work in progress

Tell us a bit about the heel jewelry you designed. This seems like a completely novel way to approach shoe adornment, but it’s also lovely, practical, and feels like a natural evolution in footwear accessories. How did you come to the idea?

Indeed it is. To be honest, the idea was brainchild of my client. My part of the job was to make it real and develop a mechanism that would work and yet be aesthetically pleasing. Initially the client wanted a single piece of jewelry that somehow clings on to the heel and the embellishment can give a new look to the shoe every time. The real task was to make sure that the latching mechanism clings on to the heel somehow having minimum visibility of the latching mechanism and maximum visibility to the jewel, keep the cost low and make it durable.

After critical design analysis, I realized that the best way to cling to the heel would be via the bottom, other approaches considered included a Velcro based approach that basically hugged the heel just like a cloth would but that and a few other options were quickly disregarded because of lack of durability and ruggedness. Eventually we decided to go for a metal approach, where the jewel and the latching base were both made out of metal.

I also realized that making the product modular would save our customers cost and would provide the same effective product. This was the reason why the jewel and the base latch were developed as separate components.

A brief on the development process can be found here.

Now, these designs are on the shelves at TooShoos, a UK-based jewelry company. Being a designer of the product, it gives me great sense of achievement that my client was able to generate a business through the product.

A heel jewelry attachment designed for TooShoos

A heel jewelry attachment designed for TooShoos

What’s next for you? Any other projects you’d like to share?

There are loads of ideas and personal projects I am working on in parallel. One of my upcoming lines is called pencil heads. I will be featuring those on my Shapeways shop too. These are cute little animals (coated full color sandstone) which would act both as a paperweight and a pencil head. I have already ordered them from Shapeways and as soon as I receive them and complete my tests they will be up for grabs at my shop.

Another project is a tool for craftsmen and armatures alike called happy thumbs, it will also be up for grabs on Shapeways soon.

The upcoming Pencil Heads project

The upcoming Pencil Heads project

Thanks for letting us in on your design process, Bilal! If you’ve worked on an amazing product you’d like to share, or have any questions for Bilal, make sure to leave a comment below.

Designer Spotlight: Guy McCann – 3D Body Jewelry

Guy McCann's Brain Half Left-side Pendant

The hidden beauty of the brain, transformed into a pendant

What would you give to glimpse the invisible? Guy McCann has given his career to it — but he’s held on to his sense of humor. As a total sucker for puns, I fell in love with the intricate, gorgeous designs in his 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gift Products shop. Especially when he asks, “Have you ever wanted to give a colleague, friend, or loved one ‘a piece of your mind?’ Well, now you can! Choose your thought (and mood) with one of our Brain Mood Gifts.“

Guy is a tenured professor of the Physical Sciences and has always been fascinated by the hidden beauty of nature. For fifteen years, he was the director of an electron microscope imaging laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania — where every day they worked to glimpse the 3D structures of nature that were invisible and smaller than the wavelengths of light! He points to his pioneering work in the field of 3D electron imaging, capturing never-before-seen structures in nature, as what’s guided his life for the past twenty-five years.

What led you to make the leap from 3D electron imaging to designing jewelry? I love that you took a literal approach to giving someone a piece of your mind, by the way.
It was more of an organic artistic growth rather than a leap. The hidden beauty of nature within us has been a focus of my life for over forty years. In the 1960s, electron microscopes gave us our first chance to glimpse the invisible. In the 1980s, computers were linked and now we could create digital 3D CAD rendered screen images. With the advent of 3D printing, an entirely new medium opened to the teaching industry. Initially, I was designing special 3D models for teaching purposes on body parts that are hard to visualize without anatomy. Boring indeed, however, 3D printing rekindled my artistic love of human symmetry and a desire to create something new and unique. Hence a product line of 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gifts. My inspiration is our slogan “The invisible beauty of Nature made visible  and printable.”

A second principle in my design of pendants is that I seek to express the duality of our hidden nature by making creations that can be displayed and worn forward or reversed — revealing our yin and yang — whenever I see the possibility in the structure. The Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons is also shown in its two display positions, for example.

 

McCann's Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

McCann’s Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

Do you see a specific type of customer frequenting your shop? Do you see a trend of medical or psychology students buying these pendants, perhaps?
Yes, I see the academically inclined to be much more interested than “regular” jewelry buyers. If I continue to market correctly, I want to direct it towards women of all ages, with specializations in the Academic, Executive, and Professional worlds. I want to see a trend of medical, psychological, and every other academic field: they are my primary market. My view is that this “Academic, Executive, and Professional” field is an overlooked market. What do you give an egghead in medicine like an otolaryngologist for a birthday gift? (That would be Ear Nose and Throat doctors to the rest of us.) How about some nose bones together as an aesthetic desk paperweight gift? Ridiculous to ordinary people. But these people have spent at least eight years of their life studying these beautiful bones hidden inside our nose! What do you give to the tens of thousands of medical students who graduate every year as a graduation gifts?

 

McCann's Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

McCann’s Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

I would bet that some of your customers really relate to your products on a deeper level than simply buying it because they like the aesthetic. I could imagine someone buying the Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons as a reminder to conquer a fear, for example.
Yes, your example of emotions connected to the given product, as fear in Fear Monitor Lobe pendant, is exactly the type of consumer interplay I am receiving and seeking. I have a polished sterling silver pendant, “Emotion Control Center.” Some people have purchased it to say and show that they have control over their emotional center. The “Consciousness” pendant is endless in its emotional appeal and it possesses an elegance of design completely hidden from the ordinary world of objects, bringing forth new visions of natural beauty.

The Consciousness Pendant

The Consciousness Pendant

Check out Guy’s creations for yourself — his shop is perfect proof that beauty really is on the inside.

Jewelry From the Future

Fashion’s love affair with geometric design shows no sign of letting up, making geometry-inspired pieces perfect holiday gifts for the fashionistas in your life. At Shapeways, we see a lot of incredible geometric jewelry from our designers. The 3D design process makes manipulating mathematical shapes a natural fit. But, sometimes, a designer comes along who takes a simple idea — the polygon — and uses it to make a fashion statement that seems to come to us from the future.

Ring Poly One by AKK

Ring Poly One by AKK

AKK designer Aleksandar Kovacevic’s Poly series of rings, bracelets, and earrings started from a simple place. “In the beginning was the Polygon … the whole idea was about entering the world of jewelry design and 3D printing with a collection developed from one single polygon,” he told us.

Bangle Poly Nine by AKK

Bangle Poly Nine by AKK

“I wanted to design statement pieces for all individuals who aren’t afraid to show that they are different,” Aleksandar said of his “harmonic compositions” of polygons. Whether worn as multiple cascading, stacking pieces, or alone, the rings and bangles in the AKK shop seem to have a life — and a movement — all their own.

Earrings Poly Eleven by AKK

Earrings Poly Eleven by AKK

The groundbreaking look of AKK’s 3D printed pieces is no accident. “Without today’s 3D printing possibilities, having my own jewelry collection would still be just a thought. 3D printing technology really helped me express myself the way I could never imagine.” We hope you’ll be as inspired by Aleksandar’s creations as we were, whether you’re shopping for cutting-edge holiday gifts for stylish friends, or looking to try your hand at 3D design.

And, for even more gifting inspiration, dig into our Holiday Gift Guide, where you’ll find hundreds of ways to help your loved ones express themselves all year long.

How Does a Microbiologist Turn Into a Jeweler?

Today’s guest blog comes from Gabriel Guzman of 3D to the 3e. Gabriel, a professor of microbiology and a jewelry designer, has found a perfect way to combine his passion for science with a love of design. He lets us in on how his Crochet Pendant went from concept to reality — and helped him go from scientist to designer.

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Designer Gabriel Guzman’s Crochet Pendant and Earrings

To me, a biochemist and a microbiologist, the design process for 3D printing has a lot in common with designing an experiment in the lab. First there is a general idea that generates a possible solution — a hypothesis. Then there is the use of design tools to shape that idea into something printable. And, of course, continuous prototyping to explore different versions of the design. Finally, one of the iterations will have the aesthetics, balance, and curiosity, if you will, that might make somebody ask, “How did you do that?”

When I first began to design the Crochet Pendant, I did have a pendant in mind, but the final design didn’t emerge until after I played with a number of different iterations. The name, however, came after looking at the final design — and a crochet piece that I saw on a table. My mother used to have a lot of doilies and other table covers made with crochet.

In terms of the technical design process, I was getting my hands wet with an experimental app from Autodesk called Project Shapeshifter, which allowed for the creation of generative designs. Generative design is a method in which the final model is generated by a computer program following a set of rules or an algorithm. I started with a general shape that I had in mind, but I didn’t know what I would end up with in terms of the final object. So, I tested different parameters in Shapeshifter, until one of the many iterations had everything I wanted to see in the pendant.

I began with the idea of a circular object, with details based on the repetitive pattern of a honeycomb. Shapeshifter only generated the file to be printed, but a pendant needs a loop, a bail, or something to pass a chain through. I chose Tinkercad for that purpose because the software was free and easy to use. I designed a very simple loop, which wasn’t circular but followed the shape of the pattern, and the end result was a piece that has generated a lot of comments, but more important, a piece that I was satisfied with. Perhaps the most important lesson for me is that none of my finished designs are exactly as I first imagine them, and they really don’t have to. Every finished design is a result of tweaking, and rethinking possibilities.

The reaction from people, especially if they don’t know anything about 3D printing, is of amazement that a machine can make jewelry. The metal version of the pendant didn’t happen until about three months after I printed the first version at home in a mint-colored plastic. My wife wore the pendant during that year’s commencement ceremony and my colleagues kept asking her about the piece, and then kept asking me about how it was made. I never imagined that a piece made in plastic could draw that much attention!

For those with experience designing jewelry the old-fashioned way (by sculpting wax), they recognize what 3D printing technology can do for their own creativity. It helps them go beyond the traditional wax sculpting into digital sculpting. But, for the novice, this technology is also a way to democratize art. Perhaps the most common question I get is, “How does a microbiologist turn into a jeweler?” If people consider me a jeweler, I take that as a big compliment! After all, I didn’t go to art school, although I do have some background in graphic design, but I never fancied myself a jeweler until I began experimenting with 3D printing.

Designer Spotlight: Erin Winick – Sci Chic

At Shapeways we’re huge believers that smart is sexy and 4th year Mechanical Engineering student, Erin Winick’s goal is to help show off the fashionable side of science and show that 3D printing and technology is accessible to everyone. Her shop Sci Chic features a wide array of gorgeous jewelry, all inspired by science and we were excited to learn more about her mission and her successes so far.

 

Tell us about what drives your designs.
My biggest inspiration is to encourage more young girls to enter the engineering fields. All of my designs are inspired by science and engineering. Everything is paired with science descriptions so that fashion can help spread science literacy. I enjoy creating a variety of items, some more obvious than others in their inspiration. I hope to intrigue people enough with the design that they want to learn about the science behind it as well.

As a mechanical engineering student, the whole experience has been rewarding and really given me a platform to talk about encouraging young kids to look at science and engineering in a new and creative way.

 

Know you said you created your jewelry to utilize fashion to help spread fashion literacy. Do you have any interesting anecdotes about how you’ve accomplished this as a result of wearing/selling your jewelry?
Absolutely. One of the coolest messages I got was a mom who had bought a necklace for her 11 year old daughter who has now worn it to school every day since. It felt great to know that she loved the piece so much that she was telling all of her friends about it! For me, wearing the Trajectory Necklace has sparked a lot of conversations at events. People look at it and don’t see the inspiration right away, and when I tell them that it shows the path of the Apollo 11 mission, they get super excited! It is really rewarding to see people get so excited about science. I even had an astrophysicist wear the Trajectory Necklace on an episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s TV show, StarTalk! The necklace even became part of the conversation for the live audience.

Additionally, I have had stories of teachers wearing pieces in the classroom when teaching about related lectures and students receiving pieces as graduation necklaces printed in precious metal. Bringing science into people’s everyday lives keeps me going.

With over 2,500 Instagram followers, what are the typical reactions you get from people about these creations?
When we first reveal a new piece on Instagram it is always really exciting. We usually show it in plastic first, and then in metal. People usually comment on how awesome the steel materials look. Also, when we release a piece covering a new area of STEM, it is fascinating to see scientists and engineers from that area flock to that piece. They get so excited someone is bringing attention to STEM in a new way. People love the variety of looks they can achieve with our pieces because of all of the materials we offer.

We also love sharing pictures of our customers wearing the 3D printed creations. Many of the customers our in the STEM fields, allowing us to show some great role models in STEM for young women on our Instagram as well. However, we also have customers who are intrigued by the look of the piece and the fashion aspect of it, and might learn some about the science behind it in the process of buying it.

Instagram has been a great platform for us to build a community around.

What else can we see coming from you on the horizon?
We are working on some collaboration pieces right now with scientist and engineers from around the world. We are hoping to give them a platform to help share the fashionable side of science and reach a wide audience. We will be donating a portion of these sales to STEM related charities as well. We can’t wait for everyone to see them!

Designer Erin Winick of Sci Chic

Designer Erin Winick of Sci Chic

Check out Erin’s shop here, she recently added a ton of beautiful product images that we’re super excited about.

 

NVM Design uses 3D scanning & 3D printing to create jaw-dropping, luxe jewelry

Posted by in Fashion
Photo courtesy of NVM Design.

Photo courtesy of NVM Design.

NVM Design is melding traditional craftsmanship with 3D printing to redefine what’s possible, and the results are beautiful. Founded by Allegra Crespi and Martin Griswold (of Shapeways shop Quantitative Design), NVM creates jewelry using printers and 3D scanners to create forms that would have been impossible to create with traditional methods. Every piece is 3D printed, then hand finished by local artisans in New York City.

For their first collection, Allegra and Martin used lichen, a dry moss which grows on trees and stone, as their core inspiration. Allegra explained, “We gathered the actual lichen from Cold Spring, NY and adapted it to many of our pieces after scanning it and then digitally manipulating it to meet our vision. Our second element is a ‘crystal’ texture we generate with a computer algorithm that replicates, adjusts, and places individual cubes to create a cohesive look.” The textures are incredibly distinct, and achieved without using gems or stones.

Allegra and Martin in their studio. Photo courtesy of NVM Design.

Allegra and Martin in their studio. Photo courtesy of NVM Design.

We sat down with Allegra and Martin to learn more about their process and inspiration.

Can you describe the process you used to make the products, in particular the technology you used? 

Our first collection uses a lot of texture, and we used new technology to help us explore that in a way that would have been hard to do otherwise. 3D scanning and algorithmic 3D modeling helped us generate and modify complicated textures, and 3D printing enabled us to produce it once we had the digital model.

We produced the lichen on our pieces by 3D scanning an actual piece of lichen that we took from the forest in upstate NY, which we then digitally modified and incorporated into the pieces. We made the crystal texture with the help of python scripting in Rhino, programming thousands of operations that ran automatically based on a set of rules that we controlled. This let us explore a lot of different versions of the crystal texture until we got it just right, without having to manually compose each one.

3D Printed Jewelry

3D render for the first collection. Photo courtesy of NVM Design.

How do you balance artisanal and digital methods?

Both of us came to jewelry with very limited knowledge of how it’s made or how to make it, so we did our best to fill in the gaps by learning a lot from jewelers.

At the same time our lack of institutional knowledge proved to be so liberating. We began looking at 3D printing and other technology as the solution to most of the jewelry-related obstacles we’d encounter. We ended up taking the best of what we learned from jewelers and using new tech to rebuild it, adapt it, or simply suit it to our needs. Some of it worked, some didn’t, but we came to relish the learning process and the balance we struck between the two.

Photo courtesy of NVM Design.

Photo courtesy of NVM Design.

What materials did you 3D print in?

We produce our pieces by 3D printing in wax, and then casting those wax patterns into 14k yellow or rose gold and silver. We’ve also gotten a lot of use out of 3D printing through Shapeways in White, Strong & Flexible for early prototypes.

How did 3D printing fit into your creative process? Did it help you iterate more quickly?

Our company is based on the premise of exploration and collaboration, which extends to both the conceptual and practical elements of our work. As we developed on our creative themes, we settled on our technical outlets. Our use of 3D printing extends past the final product- we use it throughout our process: to make prototypes early on, to communicate ideas with our suppliers, and to make customized tools that help with assembly.

3D Printed Jewelry

Photo courtesy of NVM Design.

Blown away? We are! Follow their amazing work and process on Instagram. Orders can be make on www.nvmdesign.co.

From prototype to product: Creating glowing jewelry with 3D printing

Christopher Boynton is a co-founder of Fire & Bone and a self-taught 3D modeler and designer with a passion for product design. He has been using Shapeways to prototype and create a new line of luminescent, 3D printed jewelry called L Ī T. I caught him about his design process, how he moves from inspiration to prototype to product, how 3D printing is powering the future of jewelry design and tips for running a succesful crowd funding campaign for your product. 

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Tell me a little bit about your background – who are you and what do you make?

I’m one of three co-founders of a small company called Fire & Bone that makes miniature animal skull replicas, to wear or collect, using 3D scanning, 3D printing, and lost wax casting in silver and bronze. We launched our first collection in a very successful Kickstarter campaign last December. I’m also a product designer and the creator of L Ī T (I pronounce it “light” on account of the macron), which is a line of 3D printed luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) jewelry that I launched in late June 2014 on Kickstarter.

What inspired you to create luminescent jewelry?

As a kid, getting a glow-stick was always a special treat and I’ve always been fascinated by the quality and color of light they give off. But L Ī T really is a study in lighting design and that’s how I approached it. Shapeways strong and flexible nylong plastic has a wonderful way of interacting with light so it was the perfect material to work with and, 3D printing and modeling made it easy to play with different forms and different ways of manipulating that little bit of neon light. I’m working on several full-scale lighting design projects right now so don’t be surprised if you see a giant descendant of L Ī T with an LED tube instead of a glow-stick in the future.

How did you learn to 3D model?

I taught myself the basics in Sketchup and now I work primarily in Rhino with a little Zbrush thrown in.

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How did you discover 3D printing for jewelry design?

Jason Bakutis, one of the co-founders of Fire & Bone, is a sculptor and jewelry designer and he was an early adopter of 3D printing for jewelry design. A few years ago, he showed me a few of his pieces that were produced using 3D printing and lights started going off in my head. The first piece of 3D printed jewelry I made was done in Shapeways sterling silver.

What is your design and iteration process like?

I usually use pencil sketches early on just to crack an idea and figure out how to approach it. However, I prefer to talk it out with Matt Kroner, who is a product designer and the third man behind Fire & Bone. We speak the same language when it comes to design so if I need to make one piece fit more Kentucky with another piece (look it up) and make the whole thing look more like that weird lego piece with the backwards studs he’ll let me know. Most of the heavy lifting is done in Rhino. I like to get a physical prototype as early on as possible so I have something to turn over in my hands and learn from.

Having a physical prototype can reveal solutions and open all kinds of possibilities that a virtual model can’t. 3D printing is great for that because I can make a prototype and see how well it fits with other parts, like how snugly a glow-stick fits, for example. Then, make a change to the model and have a finalized piece much more quickly than if I had to produce it any other way. I like to decide on an overall form quickly and then do several iterations, making subtle changes and adjusting tolerances and smaller details until it feels like it’s ready to be a Thing with a capital “T”.

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Can you give an example of how you go from idea to finished product?

The ideas I get the most excited about tend to happen late at night and my favorite design solutions tend to get dropped on me just as I’m waking up. However, ideas and solutions rarely occur on consecutive nights and sometime not even in that order. The idea for L Ī T grew out of two other projects. One was a silver ring I was working on that had a hollow tube in it for keeping secret notes and the other project was trying to figure out a cheap way to prototype a full-scale LED light without having to worry about wires and soldering because I was living in a tiny apartment at the time. I was thinking about using glow-sticks, just for proof-of-concepting, as a possible alternative to LEDs and the hollow ring was sitting right there.

My first prototype ring was in Shapeways black strong and flexible nylon plastic so it masked the light and had Morse code. I printed one in white polished just out of curiosity and when I saw how it diffused the light I realized there was a lot more potential there. I started playing with different forms, testing just how far I could push and stretch that little bit of light. 3D modeling and Shapeways made it so fun and so easy to try different shapes that I got a little carried away. I’ve used Shapeways to make masters for mold making and prototypes before but L Ī T is the first time I’ve used it to manufacture the final product. I don’t think it could be made any other way.

You are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to support the production and expansion of your line. Do you have any advice to other creatives who are interested in launching a crowd funding campaign to support their product?

  • Make whatever you’re making because it’s fun challenging work.
  • Create a simple compelling story. This is harder and more elusive than most people think, which leads us to . . .
  • Get some talented and trusted friends to help you write, edit, shoot, revise, revise, revise, and review, your campaign. I’m lucky enough to know the folks behind launchpack.net who have helped put several successful campaigns, including Fire & Bone, together.
  • And, get your campaign in front of as many eyes as possible. For me, this is the most daunting and difficult step.

How do you think 3D printing will impact the future of jewelry design and production?

3D printing is a boon for all design and prototyping work. It opens up a whole new world of shapes and forms that would be cost-prohibitive or impossible to make using more traditional techniques. It also has the potential to make it much faster and cheaper to iterate. 3D printing blurs the lines between concepting, prototyping, and manufacturing so designers can start “sketching” in 3D objects. Having those physical iterations to examine and test so early in the process is changing the way designers work.