By Irina Missiuro
Angely, New York City
First Place, Future of the Industry
Who doesn’t love learning about bugs? Not Angely Martinez, the winner of this year’s Future of the Industry Award. The budding New York City–based designer says, “I like to do research on insects that intrigue me.” The subject matter appeals to Martinez because she’s drawn to nature. “I love flowers and trees, but I also love butterflies.” Nature not only interests Martinez, but also inspires her work—if it’s under the sun, it’s fair game. She’s particularly interested in ways animals survive.
Because of this fascination, Martinez was drawn to the Greta Oto butterfly, which is also known as the glasswing butterfly for its transparent wings that enable it to camouflage itself, thus hiding in plain sight. She discovered it while doing research on butterflies. “I had never seen a transparent butterfly before. They’re magical and otherworldly,” she says.
In fact, it was those wings that inspired the design for her necklace, La Inspiración de una Mariposa, reveals Martinez. She sketched them and liked the design so much that she carved a wax model to make a mold (a job she outsourced) that would allow her to create multiple links for a necklace. Because details are vital to Martinez, she made sure that the thin lines in the wing were sharp enough that they would stand out after they were cast in silver. “Metal shrinks during the casting process, so a lot of material has to be carved out in order for the textures to stand out once cast.”
After receiving the 11 chain links back from her caster, Martinez spent a long time cleaning every opening in each link. She wanted all the wings to have the same exact surface so that each one looked identical and scratch-free. “Sanding, filing, and polishing takes a long time,” says Martinez, who notes that she sanded each wing using wet sandpaper. “Even though I use up more sanding paper this way, the method allows me to see what’s going on better. I learned it from working with other materials.”
This dedication to detail is also evident in the way Martinez connected the links. Because she intended the piece to have all the refined elements of a more expensive design, she hid the jump rings, which she handmade out of silver wire and soldered onto the wings. She accomplished this painstaking process by attaching two jump rings onto each wing—one on the side of the wing and the other to the back of the wing. “Sometimes, because they were so tiny, the jump rings didn’t solder,” she says. Martinez had to make new ones and re-solder a number of times. “Some of the jump rings melted while I was soldering them to each wing. The wings are big, and the jump rings are small. Those accidents do happen sometimes. It’s just part of the learning process.”
While creating the piece, Martinez even managed to learn a new skill—one that her class at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) hadn’t covered yet at the time. She asked her teacher to show her how to set stones via the burnishing method, and was proud of having learned the technique before everyone else. In no time, she was able to set the synthetic rubies (under 1 ctw) in her butterfly wings with ease. She decided on this particular stone choice because her favorite color is red. “It’s intense and catches your attention,” she explains. Martinez also appreciates the fact that red can stand for a variety of themes—be it anger, love, or fire.
After giving the piece a final polish and applying Jax to create a slight patina and bring out the details she worked so hard to create, Martinez gave her necklace one final personal touch—a handmade silver wire clasp.
Having just graduated from FIT’s two-year program in jewelry design, Martinez, who plans to freelance for a jewelry company while she gets her own brand off the ground, sees her Vision Award as both a reward for her hard work and a nice addition to her résumé. “I wasn’t expecting anything, just worked really hard,” she says. “I’m very happy and proud.”