by Mikhal Weiner
When Xiomara Lorenzo began designing her own jewelry a decade ago at Wesleyan University, she was interested in expressing an idea about the human experience - that we are all on a continuum, forever jumping off into new realms of self-discovery and definition. She had no idea that she would end up at the forefront of tech and design.
Today, Lorenzo is exploring ways that these two realms, seemingly at odds with one another, can in fact work in tandem to reach new heights that would otherwise be unattainable. Clever Tech Digest recently spoke with Lorenzo about how she stayed true to her own aesthetic of continuous flow while making her way from handmade wire earrings, through metallurgy,and into to 3-D printing her stunning pieces.
Tell me about the process that goes into printing your earrings.
Learning the software is a big part of it and I am still learning. I decided to work with an architecture student who had access to a printer and was able to teach me how to create my designs in CAD. The next big step was finding the right printer with whom to work. I initially began working with a well-known printer, but after a year I had to engage someone else. The first printer was having ongoing quality control issues. Additionally, I had to learn how fast the printing company would take to make and ship my order so that I could build in to customers’ expectations. Lastly, I had to play with the design itself in terms of thickness of the pieces. I initially printed in very thin dimensions but learned that it made the piece more vulnerable to breaking. Figuring out how to translate the aesthetic that I was looking for with the right durability took quite a bit of experimentation.
Can you describe what drew you to 3-D printing as a main technique in jewelry making?
I was looking for a way to quickly prototype new designs without going through the investment of time and materials of working the design through in my studio. I had many designs I wanted to accomplish and 3-D printing allowed me to quickly visualize these designs and actually hold them in my hand to see if I wanted to move forward with them. I also saw 3-D printing as a great way to incorporate newer technologies into my process.
You mentioned that being a part of a wider community of women who use 3-D printing can be a huge support and source of inspiration. Who are some artists we should know about?
Nervous System, in Somerville, MA is a generative design studio that works at the intersection of science, art, and technology, drawing inspiration from natural phenomena. Melissa Borrell is an Austin, TX based designer who creates jewelry, home accessories and sculptures that integrate bold graphic elements with fluid organic shapes, with the aim of blurring the lines between art and functional design. Both are jewelry designers whose work I love and where I find both inspiration and community.
Do you think that access to newer technologies will change the way that artists create or think about creating?
Absolutely! I’ve spoken with many friends were jewelers and who had never thought of incorporating 3-D visualization and printing technologies into their work. It can feel scary to learn a new technology when you are accustomed to making pieces by hand or working in an establish technology such as casting and plating. Gradually, however, some are starting to adopt 3-D printing as a way to help them create a sandbox for new ideas and sometimes even execute a new idea to completion. I am excited to start conversations around this new technology and to inspire others to experiment with it.
How has your choice to use tech in your creative process changed your relationship with how you design?
It has expanded my relationship with my art and yet brought me closer to what inspired me in the first place. Ten years ago, when I first started on my original designs, I never would’ve imagined using 3-D printing as part of my process. Now I can’t imagine not. I value the light weight aspect of the jewelry that I print in nylon acrylic as well as the opportunity to play with new designs in a cost-effective way. What remains a constant however is the underlying meaning of the design. Xiomara Lorenzo Designs operates from the mantra “Continuous. Begin where you end.” What this means is no matter who you think you are or how you identify - in order to keep growing, you must see through and beyond how you define yourself. You never really end; however you define yourself is really just a jumping off point to eventually grow beyond those boundaries. Whether working in metal or in nylon acrylic through 3-D printing, I have attempted to keep a bit of an optical illusion around the lines of the design so that it is not clear where the design starts and where it ends.
What is one thing you'd like our readership to know that I didn't ask you?
When moving from doing a hobby to a small business, you’re going to face a lot of pressure especially in the early years as you are trying to balance getting it off the ground while holding down your day job to keep the lights on! Set manageable goals for yourself to accomplish in reasonable time periods. Half the battle will be figuring out what those goals and those reasonable times are. But that is part of the learning. Give yourself space to learn those things. Starting a new business is both about making a sustainable and successful enterprise as well as learning and developing expertise.
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