Reimagining a Gemstone: Both Virtual and Real

Onscreen view of digital Adobe Illustrator drawings still in planning stage. Photo: P.Sullivan

Quirky humor β€” that’s often how others interpret my newest Upcycled body of work. Originally when I was told this about a different piece in an informal critique years ago, I was naturally taken aback. I thought that if work was to be deemed humorous, no one would take it seriously. Jump to current times and my onscreen computer monitor is yet again embracing a new spin using this quirky humor to draft the classic gemstone patterns, marquise and oval, using Adobe Illustrator pen art. I begin every project in my studio at the computer; it seems to assist me in organizing each stage of my planning of a jewelry or sculptural object. The patterns in this image have been re-drawn, re-imagined and re-manipulated by me at least 20 different times. Illustrator lends nicely to trying out different versions of detail. If I don’t like one direction, it’s called the “undo” button. Or else, copy and paste a new drawing draft, side by side, and re-imagine it again.

3-grid view of forming the upcycled fibrous material into an oval-shaped bezel w/ sterling rivits as a cold connection. Photo: P.Sullivan

Utilizing a free downloadable iPhone app, I created this three-grid virtual view of my process to share over Instagram. Using the identical tools that jewelers and metalsmiths use, I form the bezel of this object with this upcycled fiber material reclaimed from what would be a discarded microwaveable soup bowl, had I not repurposed it into my work. This part of the process requires drilling small holes into the bezel wall of the piece and delicately fitting tiny sterling silver rivits to be hammered into a closure mounting for my gemstone drawing. In addition, I deliberately left this piece sitting off to the side of my workbench while working on additional objects just to inspect the integrity of these sterling rivits. The piece needed to be assessed for proper fit of the items that I’d be placing inside the bezel wall. This includes the inkjet printout of the digital gem drawing on archival paper and the handcut oval Plexiglas to “frame” it into an art object.

Interior and reverse (back) view of the “Upcycled Reimagined Gemstone Object 1” while still in the fabrication stages. Photo: P. Sullivan

Now that the sterling rivits were secured, I drilled new holes into the sides of the piece and used thread to hand-sew the rear upcycled hand-cut oval shape into the pre-embedded lip that the bezel wall provided (see right-side of image on left.) At this point, the most arduous part of all my pieces begins: cut and grind the Plexiglas piece to precisely fit into the oval body and protect the oval gemstone ink-jet drawing. I’ve learned through the years of using Plexi/acrylic to not rush this step. It must fit precisely inside the fibrous oval – and there’s zero room for any error here. So I return to using a series of Dremel grinding discs, files, and wood/plastic hand filing wood rasps while continuously grinding, testing the fit, re-grinding, retesting the fit – until the fit is perfect. At this point, I can polish and refine the acrylic oval’s edges to insert into the final finished object.

Upcycled Reimagined Gemstone Object No.1. Upcycled soup bowl material, thread, inkjet print of digital drawing on archival paper, Plexiglas, sterling silver rivets/j-ring, vintage safety pin. 5.75in. x 2.125 in. x .75 in., 2018.

The completed piece incorporates a black vintage safety pin connected to a highly polished, handmade sterling silver J-ring, sewn with long oval strands of looped black thread. The archival paper print of my Illustrator drawing evolved into a fully-rendered gemstone. This week, I received welcomed news that my Upcycled Reimagined Gemstone Object No.1 has been accepted into a prestigious juried group exhibition in upstate New York near Rochester, opening in early 2019. More details to follow on my artdoesmatter blog in the New Year.

5 thoughts on “Reimagining a Gemstone: Both Virtual and Real

    • I appreciate your kind feedback, Neil! This piece did receive many remakes, evolutions and cutting apart to get it just the way I wanted it. It pleases me to think that the final incarnation of the object was successful. Thanks so much Neil for stopping by and commenting!

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  1. Hi Patricia. Nice to see you blogging again! I think “quirky humor” doesn’t do justice to your smart, well-thought out, engaging work. Best of luck at the upstate exhibition. Keep us posted!

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    • Lu!! I can’t say how much I appreciate you stopping by today!! Yes, I do plan on blogging into the new year; I find WordPress followers to be much more intelligent and loyal readers (such as you!!) I still go back to re-read some of your classic blogs (“The Italian Supermarket” will always be my utmost fav!!) TY for your lovely feedback about my new piece. Happy New Year to you!

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