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Creating IN BLOOM

I’ve dabbled with including resin cut from sheet before - for the Amortentia brooch I made in 2020 I got some of the guys who worked downstairs at the Makerspace I’m in to CNC a sheet of resin and cut out the potion pieces!

I’ve revisited that, but I went all out this time: I made molds to cast resin sheet with a glossy finish, but (and here’s a heckin’ shortcut:) I also used silicone sheets meant for pet feed bowls (you can get them from Kmart!) and cast into those - they actually give the most lovely matt finish.

Briefly, my process went like this:

  • Brainstorming
  • Refining the main themes
  • Going for a heckin walk
  • Sketching and sketching
  • Let it simmer
  • Refine the sketches
  • Vector
  • Resin testing and casting
  • Test cuts
  • Laser Cutting
  • Painting & Peeling
  • Assembly
  • Wear and take cute photos!

And this actually isn’t everything, cos I’ve left out all the “take photos, edit them, promote on fb and insta, write pretty terrible product descriptions because by the time I’ve gotten to this point I have no energy left, give almost no consideration to SEO in the copy because I don’t know much about it, sit back and hope people buy them” parts of the process.

Anyway: I’m fairly sure I have ADHD and I’m not a writer - so if you’re still interested in what could be a rather all-over-the-place and possibly too lengthy blog post about creating IN BLOOM, let’s goooooooooo!

 

Brainstorming, Refining the Main Themes, and Going for a Heckin’ Walk

I hired an amazing brand designer a while ago, Laura from Obscurio.co (I am going somewhere with this, I promise!) and honestly the process of having to talk about Edenki and also hearing what she thinks of it and how she sees my work helped give me clarity in how I’ll be approaching curating a collection from now on. Basically: I love contrast and I’ve always been about blending disparate themes together - I kept this in mind when brainstorming for In Bloom.

Mismatched earrings by Nikki Couppee

Originally this collection was going to be Summer Geos-themed - I was loving the work done by Nikki Couppee, so many organic shapes, I love the intentional mess (and I mean that in a good way!) of it, layered and mismatched and brilliant. Her bio mentions growing up near the beach in California, and I could definitely see a beachcomber-vibe in her work.

So what part of my experience could I draw on for this collection? Well, I’d been taking photos of all the truly beautiful flowers I’d see when walking my puppy Mochi since I picked him up at the end of July. And I still wanted to keep the Summery vibe and use bright colours - we’d been in lockdown for a LONG time here in Melbourne (we’re #1 at it, yay!), and I think that really made me want to make something uplifting to wear to all the picnics we are now allowed to go on.  I’d been listening to a lot of Nirvana around the time I started brainstorming (and also the Reservoir and Coburg areas of Melbourne where I live and work are kinda grungy and I love them) so I wanted to make the designs grungy somehow.

four images of local flowers
 

"Grungy" is kinda hard to translate to the style of jewellery I do though! I decided to get more texture into the resins I cast for it - there’s lots of paint and resin splattered and sponged across the surfaces, I was definitely not going for prim and proper with the colours and textures.

I’ve started using Pinterest for brainstorming collections - working with Laura to rebrand Edenki, one of the things she asked me to do was create a Pinterest board with everything that I was feelin’ the vibe of for Edenki, and I actually loved that process, and fell in love with using Pinterest again after many years of leaving my account stagnant.

pinterest board

 

 

Sketching and Sketching, Let It Simmer, Refine, Vector

Depending on the design, I’ll either use Procreate on the iPad, or a pencil and my dot-grid Tsuki sketchbook from Notebook Therapy. For this I used Procreate, it works out perfectly when you’re constantly drawing and redrawing a single line to get it “right”!

a screenshot of files in the procreate app on the ipad, showing some of the various design sketches

 

I actually started with designs that didn’t make the final cut - like the succulent!

But the way I sketched was also like brainstorming - I kept the sketches/iterations, which is why you can see the evolution of them in each board.

When brainstorming I keep some advice from my Uni days in mind: get all the obvious stuff out of the way first - say the most obvious thing, draw it, whatever it is you need to do to get it out of your head so you can move on. So yeah, I kept all the super crappy initial sketches. I also wanted to see “where I’d been” sketch-wise, so I could keep drawing new shapes.

a screenshot of the sketches for the mismatched earrings, in the Procreate app on the ipad

 

 

I intentionally left a couple of days after “finishing” a sketch to let it simmer and go back to it with fresh eyes. I ended up redrawing pretty much everything, but “Think I’m Just Happy” had the most work done on it. Originally it wasn’t even going to be a mismatched pair! It’s kinda embarrassing to show the early sketches, but I’m also happy seeing how it turned from something boring to something f*cking fantastic.

After going back and refining the sketches, I airdropped ‘em over to my MacBook and used my Wacom tablet to vector - I use the Pencil tool in Illustrator when I’m doing organic shapes.

screenshot of adobe illustrator artboard with vector outlines of the In Bloom designs

 

After building the initial shapes the files also need to be set up to cut en masse - that alone can take a while to get each shape to sit in a way that makes the most efficient use of the acrylic or resin sheet.

image of vector shapes nested together, ready for laser cutting

 

Resin Casting and Testing

Phew. This part was HARD. Even though I’d made a sheet of resin before (for Amortentia last year), I didn’t do much in the way of making a mold for it cos it was a one-off. I vaguely recall just using the back of a silicone cake sheet and using waxy tape to create sides, and casting into that.

This time I wanted to make proper molds, and even thought it’s the simplest mold ever I somehow f*cked it up and wasted a good litre or so of silicone. I won’t get into that part too much, but I basically got confused and did it completely wrong. I figured it out and now have 3 lovely glossy molds for resin sheet casting, BUT after all that hullabaloo, I barely ended up using them! I used the silicone pet mats from frickin KMART lol! 

It took a couple of weeks to cast all the sheets - I had planned for the first week of Nov to be *just* casting, but it takes a couple of days before I can even take the sheets out of their molds, and… well… I ended up changing my mind about all the colours! I did test cuts of the designs as soon as I could… and they just looked… boring. Safe. I was in no way lit up about them. Except for “Think I’m Just Happy”.

I wish I had photos of the original tests, but I forgot to take some!

image of three paper cups with various pink resins in them, ready to be poured

 

It’s a tricky balancing act getting enough resin in there so that it covers the sheet but doesn’t recede from a corner overnight - it’s something I’ll keep working on!

image of resin sheet that has cured with a massive gap in the sheet

 

But that’s when I knew I had to get more resin and recast the whole week’s worth of work, and really push the colours further. I’m SO glad I did - I learnt from the failures and went all out with the textures and colours. These resins are the MVPs, and you’ll definitely be seeing more of this kinda thing from me in 2022.

colourful sheets of resin stacked on top of each other but revealing a corner to show the colours and textures

 

 

Test Cuts, Laser Cutting, Painting & Peeling, Assembly

The work is actually just beginning here *cue unhinged laugh-crying*. This is where I do test cuts to check that the colours actually work together - and recut the pieces until I get a good match. Some designs fell off in this part of the process actually, because I couldn’t get them to work how I’d envisioned - there was a Bird of Paradise pair of earrings as a part of the original line-up, but they didn’t make it through to the final episode.

Once the mock ups look amazing each acrylic sheet needs to be run through the laser cutter again, but this time to cut/engrave all the pieces. This can take a while depending what it is - it could take an hour or 10 minutes.

I keep all the pieces separate as I take them off the laser cutting bed to keep things organised, and then it's time to peel the masking off everything! This is where I need an audiobook, a podcast, music, or just some TV show or movie I’ve seen a million times and don’t need to pay attention to playing in the background, cos YOU GON BE HERE A WHILE.

a few dozen small pieces of acrylic in the background, with a pair of tweezers and piece with the brown paper masking partially peeled

 

….is anyone tired of reading this at this point?! I’m so sorry this has been so long-winded lol, even *I’m* at the point where I’d like to bullet-point the rest and smoke-bomb the whole shebang.

YET SHE PERSISTED.

I tend to peel the pieces before gluing - this can be risky, as you might get glue on them - but I’ve learnt over the years that if an acrylic has a scratch underneath the masking, I’d rather know *before* it goes into a complex layered brooch or something similar, so I can find a better piece. This isn’t as much of an issue with solid-coloured acrylics, but it’s just a habit I’m in now. 

OH: and any painting has to happen before peeling, of course. That bit’s kinda fun! I use Poscas mostly, they’re easy and convenient and it’s acrylic paint so it lasts a long time.

pieces of teal-coloured acrylic in a pile, with an orchid-coloured Posca marker next to them

 

Assembly is gluing pieces together, making loops for glass beads, attaching hanging elements with jump rings, dremeling studs and gluing them down, making ear hooks etc. It can take quite a while depending on the design.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any photos during the various assembly stages - just try to imagine a cluttered work desk with beads and head pins and pliers and jump rings and small containers of acrylic pieces that I grab and work with until an earring happens 🤣

I use E6000 for gluing any metal pieces to acrylic or resin, and that needs to set overnight so I end up with little trays of earring pairs around the studio, just waiting for their next step.

trays of earrings on a metal shelf

 

I’m not sure how to finish this off - of you’ve made it this far: HOLY SHIT. WELL DONE. I hope that it wasn’t a horrible read. But yes: as long as this post is, this is actually a *very* brief run down of creating this collection!

Thank you for checking it out, and if you've purchase something from IN BLOOM, I hope you love wearing it as much as I loved making it! 

 

Eden

 

 

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