This next part is about realising the design. I ordered 12 pieces 3D printed in paper for the neckpiece I had in mind for the ACJ’s 20:20 Vision exhibition. I requested the parts to still be in the block of layered paper so that I could remove them myself. This is quite theraputic and a good reflective process which helps me ponder the design, understand the print process and the constraints that need to be designed for. These pieces came out very different to the original prototypes which had also been printed in paper in colour on Mcor’s ARKe 3D printer.
The pieces were interestingly different to the original prototypes. The quality of the paper seemed much softer. The colours were more muted. In the process of weeding, thin strips of the colour seened to have come away during that process. The prototypes had a sheen, the colours changing subtly with movement, the surfaces crisp and evenly coloured. The new objects were mottled and to paint them defeated the reason for printing in colour.
Standing back frorm my expectations (digital manufacture means precision, doesn’t it!) and considering the pieces objectively, I liked the textural effect and the white markings. I decided to go ahead and secure the surfaces with a coating of matte acrylic varnish. I expected a clear but non-glossy finish yet almost all the pieces ended up with a white powdery coating. It is possible that this was a reaction between the binder and the acrylic varnish. I need to find this out and possibly use the Mcor recommended varnish to seal the paper objects.
Time was tight as the deadline for sending the piece away to the ACJ was looming. This was to get the work photographed for the catalogue for their ‘20:20 Vision‘ exhibition opening at the National Centre for Craft and Design, Sleaford, UK, on the 14th January 2017. This meant that I just had to knuckle down and work on the pieces to get a finish that I was okay with. This is where the notion of serendipity is so valuable a part of creativity. There are surface areas on the 3D printed parts with wonderful textures and patterns and by working over these they could be enhanced. The end result is a neckpiece of units that do not look at all like industrial 3D printed parts! Working like this is a challenge and a risk. I am philosophical enough to enjoy this process, find it fascinating and very satisfying, being able and willing to go beyond the production finish and continue the design and making process, experimening with ways the 3D prints can be manipulated.
The ACJ (Association for Contemporary Jewellery) organised the 2020 Vision exhibition to celebrate its 20th anniversary, requesting founding members to send in a piece from 20 years ago (mine is a laser cut brooch in anodised niobium and titanium designed in the early 1990’s) and a contemporary piece – this neckpiece of units 3D printed in colour in paper. I decided on these two pieces as they are both digitally designed, and use technology driven by digital data, 2D for laser cutting, 3D for the printing. 3D printing in paper is the technology that I am most excited about and I will be exploring its potential in a series of pieces for an exhibition at GalerieVundV in Vienna in Oct/Nov 2017.