Some designers just make it look easy, don’t they? But as you’ll read here, even award-winning designers face seemingly insurmountable challenges when creating their pieces. And although some challenges may have taken a few of the designers years to overcome, eventually they overcame them and went on to win top prize.
Llyn L. Strelau
Jewels by Design, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Best Use of Pearls
2011 AGTA Spectrum Awards
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Llyn L. Strelau’s award-winning Who Are You sculpture began when he came across a pearl resembling a caterpillar. Modeled after the book’s illustration depicting the encounter between the hookah-smoking caterpillar and Alice, the piece presented many challenges, including finding just the right pearls for the hookah pipe and the mushrooms. The biggest challenge Strelau faced, however, was determining into what Spectrum category to enter the final piece. It obviously wasn’t bridal, classical, or men’s wear, and while it wasn’t flashy enough for evening wear, it was a bit much for business day wear. That left only the object of art category. He originally designed the piece as a brooch but to enter it into the competition, he needed to come up with a stand for it to qualify as an object. At the last minute he searched his safe and rediscovered a quartz lens he’s had for nearly 20 years. It wound up being the perfect solution-heavy enough to be a secure base but still allowing the brooch to spin and rock in an intriguing manner.
Etienne Perret, Camden, Maine
Winner, Professional, Wedding
2011 NICHE Awards
In creating the Maxine ceramic and gold ring that won a 2011 NICHE Award, Etienne Perret admits that the biggest challenge he faced was attaching the metal to the ceramic. First, using diamond burs and gem cutting tools, he made a groove in the ceramic band for the 18k yellow gold wire to sit inside. By placing the 2 mm round shank partway into the ceramic band, the ring feels less bulky and the shank does not slide from side to side. With a diamond drill, Perret then drilled a hole through the ceramic and gold shank so he could put a rivet through the rings, and laser welded it to the gold shank. Finally, he bent the shank so that it fit tight on the ceramic ring and laser welded the bezel to the shank.
Eva Martin Jewelry, Boston
Second Place, Silver/Argentium
2011 Saul Bell Design Award Competition
The biggest challenge Eva Martin encountered when creating her Collider Bangle was the actual design itself. Inspired after reading about the Large Hadron Collider, Martin knew she wanted just one spiraling continuous channel in which balls would run and collide. And it was important that the channel be open, but still magically hold the balls in place and expose as much of them as possible. Because the tolerances needed to do that are very small, Martin credits CAD and RP technology as essential to the success of making the bangle.