We recently launched our Jesmonite collection, a range of jewellery that is hand-cast in small batches, that took us almost a year to develop. Here, design assistant Elisha talks through the design and production process.
Our Design Process: Jesmonite
We were drawn to Jesmonite as a material because of the endless colour and pattern combinations you can achieve using the many colour pigments.
We often have a lot of limitations with our traditional laser cut materials in terms of colour and pattern but with jesmonite, you can achieve something beautiful and unique every time. No two pieces are the same, so you know you’re getting a one of a kind piece.
We wanted to experiment with terrazzo style patterns as it’s a great way of recycling lots of leftover coloured jesmonite to create a stone-like finish. It’s exciting sanding the castings, as it reveals different patterns every time. We are currently keeping all of our jesmonite offcuts and waste to reuse in future projects.
We spent a good 8 months developing the process and coming up with colour combinations and styles to make it work in a batch situation. Even now, after lots of tests we are still learning new tricks and techniques to improve our method!
The making process takes a lot longer than our other laser cut ranges, as its all hand cast in small batches and has to cure overnight.
We have three different coloured ‘chips’ in each colour-way. For the ‘black’ colour-way its orange, pink and cream for the natural colour-way its lilac, white and black.
To make the terrazzo chips we measure out the jesmonite powder and liquid to the correct ratios - a bit like making a cake. Then we carefully colour mix, using a few drops of coloured pigment. It’s then spread in a thin layer over a large sheet of acetate and left to dry.
Finally, it’s broken up into small chips using a hammer, ready to be added to the castings. We repeat this method for each colour. The most challenging part of this process is colour matching, its a tricky skill to master!
To cast the pieces into shapes, we carefully measure out our pre-made coloured chips first, which is then added to our jesmonite ratio of powder and liquid. This is either left plain for the natural colour way or dyed black with pigment for the black colour way.
Once its mixed up thoroughly, we hand brush it into our silicone moulds to minimise little air bubbles which form in the mixture. Once its been poured in, we pop it onto a vibrating plate machine for a few minutes to encourage the air bubbles into the mixture to escape. Its then left to cure overnight.
The next day, we remove the pieces from the moulds and place into our sanding frame. We then sand a few millimetres off, using a few different grades of paper, to reveal the unique patterns!
After its been sanded and polished its ready for our assembly team to make it into jewellery.
Jesmonite is easy to care for using our top tips!
- Always store your jewellery in a pouch or box.
- Clean gently with a soft cloth. It is best not to sleep, shower or exercise whilst wearing your jewellery.
- Although jesmonite it a hardy material, avoid dropping your jewellery onto hard surfaces as the impact can weaken or break the piece.
- Sprays and creams including soap, perfume, moisturiser and suncream can stain the surface and damage the metal components, particularly brass, so it is best to remove your jewellery before using any of these products.
- A top tip for getting the shiny surface of the black jesmonite back, is to buff a tiny amount of vaseline onto the surface with a clean fingertip and wipe any excess off with a cloth.