Christopher Duquet Fine Jewelry, Evanston, Illinois
Christopher Duquet admits that, although he initially thought the Mystery Box Challenge would be fun, he started singing a different tune once he discovered what the materials were. “I realized that I made a terrible mistake!” he recalls thinking. “I had no idea what the [epoxy resin] was, and I was just like, ‘What?’
“I was stumped,” he continues. “Then I figured I was going to make something that was in line with my style of work, which is pretty geometric and architectural. I wanted a design that was clean and used the resin almost like gemstones.”
Because he was unfamiliar with the resin material, Duquet thought it best to create something flat, settling on a pin design. “I was afraid of gravity because [the resin’s] a liquid, and I didn’t know how well we’d be able to use it in a [three-dimensional] piece,” he admits.
Since the resin starter kit contained nearly two dozen colors, Duquet wanted the emphasis of his piece to be on color. Initially he contemplated a color wheel using all of the colors included.
“The idea of a color wheel just seemed to make so much sense to me,” he says. “I’ve never done anything like that before, and I thought it would be kind of fun.”
But once he started working on the design, he realized that he didn’t want to use all of the colors. “I thought it would be more interesting to curate the colors,” he explains. “I worked with black as the keynote and then whatever played off of that and would make sense aesthetically.”
After sketching out a diagram of the color-wheel pattern on paper, he made black-and-white copies of it and used colored pencils to try out different color schemes and patterns. He settled on a black-and-blue scheme with no discernible pattern to it.
“It’s a scatter pattern,” he explains. “The colors are dispersed apparently randomly, but with a lot of thought put into it.” To balance out the color of the black spinel in the center of the pin, Duquet added a row of black diamonds around the outer edge of the wheel.
When he was happy with the design, he re-created and finalized it in CAD. “You couldn’t do it perfectly by hand,” he explains. “By using CAD, we were able to get a really nice result.” After printing the design, he cast a practice piece to make sure that he was on target to create the piece in the way he wanted. After the trial run proved successful, Duquet melted down the sterling silver sheet and cast the final pin form.
He set the spinel and diamonds and finished as much of the pin as possible before tackling the resin, which was the final step. Although he initially didn’t know how to use it, he admits that “it was easier than we thought.” Because he was concerned with dust or other materials settling in the resin during hardening, he dedicated a special “clean room” in his shop for this project. “The jewelry shop is filled with dust,” he says. Once all the resin was poured, he kept the piece sealed under glass while it cured.
While he was initially hesitant about working with the epoxy resin, Duquet is “very pleased with the final result,” he says. “We looked at this project analytically—how could we highlight the color and make it interesting, while staying true to our own aesthetic?”
And since he initially participated in the project because he thought it would be fun, it’s only fitting that the piece he created actually is fun. “If you hold the pin back, you can turn the pin,” he says. “The pattern can move on the wearer and there’s no right-side up. It makes for an interesting presentation at any angle—that’s the fun of it.”
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