Jenny Reeves, San Francisco
When Jenny Reeves opened her Mystery Box and discovered the materials with which she would have to work, she breathed a sigh of relief. Although she didn’t have any experience working with the Colores epoxy resin materials, she did have some experience with other resins.
“Back in the early 2000s, I used to play around with resin, making toilet seats and embedding them with glitter and little plastic flowers,” she explains. “I was glad that I had that experience—I knew about preventing bubbles and dust, the hazards of improper curing, and the need to have things remain perfectly level throughout the curing process. It’s very precise work, and I was glad that I had already gotten my feet wet.”
Reeves immediately had ideas for the piece, finding inspiration in the big, mod neckpieces commonly worn in the 1960s. “I looked at photos of Twiggy and other models in the ’60s and there was something about their large, gigantic neckpieces that just appealed to me. I like to wear really big necklaces but I don’t make a lot of them. This was a good opportunity to make something gigantic.”
She began sketching, going though multiple renditions to work out the proportions. Once she was happy with the design, she made a model of the piece in brass.
“I had to figure out the length and thickness [of the wires] and the mechanics of the piece,” she explains. She also used the model to determine whether or not she would solder the pieces or allow them to move freely, like a mobile. While she liked the idea of the pieces being able to move, she admits that “it would annoy me as the wearer, so I soldered [them].”
After she had the details worked out, she began constructing the piece using the sterling silver sheet. In addition to the silver wires, she crafted a bezel for the oval spinel, as well as several hollow forms that would be filled with resin. She soldered the pieces together and then used selenium toner to give the silver bars a patina, which she then partially removed. “I didn’t want it either all black or [all] white,” she says. “I went down the middle, and thought it worked with the vintage look of something older.”
Then it was time to add the resin. She settled on a black-and-white color scheme, thinking those colors were best suited for the mod look she was hoping to achieve. Because the supplied white resin was a bit too stark for her tastes, and the ivory resin had a slightly yellow look to it, Reeves wound up creating her own “off-white” color by mixing the white and ivory resins in equal portions.
She cured the resin in a toaster oven because she was worried about it being contaminated with dust if she let it cure at room temperature. In addition, because she wanted the forms to be as full as possible, a little material spilled over the sides of the hollows and required some cleanup with an X-acto knife. “I held the blade at just the right angle and lifted up the resin without marring the surface [of the silver bezel],” she explains.
She had also planned ahead and applied a matte finish to the tops of the resin bezels; she knew she wouldn’t be able to polish them once she added the resin, as she didn’t want to risk marring their surface.
The last step in the process is one that Reeves admits could have been done earlier—setting the spinel. She had to be mindful of keeping any silver dust she generated during setting away from the resin, since that dust could scratch the material even after it was cured. “In hindsight, I would have set the stone before the resin.”
To complete the neckpiece, Reeves hung her creation on two stainless-steel cables that she then epoxied to secure them to an oxidized chain. The result: A piece that would make Twiggy proud.
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