For the latest instalment of Something Beautiful in Jewellery, I’m presenting two pioneers of 3D printed contemporary art jewellery design.
Most people in jewellery now seem to accept CAD/CAM as a fact of life, especially with all the new design possibilities it provides. But even 10 years ago this was not the case. Back then, while there were a few mass production jewellers quietly working to incorporate CAD/CAM into high street jewellery making (myself included), but most creative designer makers considered CAD a dirty word.
There were only a handful of intrepid designer-makers who not only insisted on using CAD and 3D printing for their jewellery and objets d’arts, but embraced the early forms of the technology for all its production quirks. I’m showcasing two such designer-makers today, one British (Jo Hayes-Ward) and one American (Bathsheba Grossman).
London-based Jo Hayes-Ward was a very early adopter of the Solidscape T-66 3D wax printer. Like similar early days 3D printing designer-makers, she embraced the imperfections and limitations of the experimental technology, and let it influence the form as well as the outcome of her pieces. Her signature crumbling cubic constructed style was influenced by the lowest-resolution printing settings on the earlier versions of this 3D printing machine. Interestingly, unlike most of her designer maker contemporaries, over the years her style has grown more and more in the direction of fine jewellery, all the while never losing that distinctive pixellation.
Indeed, her work makes for a clear throwback to the 3D printers of the mid 00’s, taking the obsolete geometry of old 3D printers and turning it into a distinctive feature.
Jo’s work is available on her website.
You wouldn’t necessarily know it from first impressions of her website, but Baltimore-Based Bathsheba Grossman is a rather famous name in American 3D printing. She was one of the earliest sculptors to dive head-long into 3D printing for the purposes of casting. Back in 2004 when I had questions about 3D printing for casting and nobody in the 3D CAD forums or jewellery community knew the answer to a technical question I had, I was directed to “ask Bathsheba” myself. Even then it seemed like she was already doing it all before anyone else.
Her work has always focused on visualising advanced mathematics in a poetic and balanced way. It comes as no surprise she is also a pioneer of generative CAD design as well. Indeed, her designs are so well-known that you’re bound to recognise them if you’ve ever been to a 3D printshow or seen sample models at 3D printer resellers.
Unlike Jo, Bathsheba’s work by its very nature has always been too perfect for the machines it was printed upon, but she has never seemed to mind the artefacts and limitations of each successive generation of 3D printers as they try to do her work justice. It’s a sign of her strength of visual identity that her work is widely printed in just about any material and size all over the world, but there is never any mistaking as to where the models came from.