Web developer and jewellery designer Charlotte Dann has just launched Hexatope in a move that sees her combining her two seemingly unrelated interests. Hexatope is a system that allows users to design their own unique jewellery using “intuitive interaction with a hexagonal grid.” Designs are then fabricated using cutting edge 3d-printing technology and cast into sterling silver or 18ct gold.
Charlotte has been making websites since 2006, although only professionally for three years. After school, she “could have gone into web development but was unsatisfied by the lack of tactility in the industry,” and so went and studied a foundation diploma in art and design at Central Saint Martins. Here, she was drawn to jewellery design which she continued as a BA at The Cass. During this time, she experimented with computational methods to aide her jewellery design process but to little avail.
Upon completing her BA, Charlotte started working as a web developer full time and decided to do an MA in Computational Design at Goldsmiths to explore using code more creatively. It was while studying on this course that Charlotte finally found a way to combine her proclivity for coding and mathematics and her love of designing and making. “I was experimenting with using the framework of a hexagonal grid to generate art with code, and soon realised that the project integrated very well with jewellery design,” she explains.
Charlotte developed a web-app that uses touch or a mouse input to activate hexagons and then draws curves between active neighbours on the grid. Curves flow into one another, converging and overlapping to form an organic-like shape. Once the design is complete, users can animate it to visualise the three-dimensional design in their preferred metal, finely tune the design and choose the point from which it will hang as a pendant.
In order to make the actual jewellery, the designs are 3d-printed in a specialist wax material, reinforced in a curing chamber using ultra-violet rays and then assembled into a “wax casting tree”. The casting tree is placed in a cylinder which is filled with plaster, the wax is then blasted out and molten metal poured into the negative. Next, the piece is hand polished and finished in Charlotte’s studio in East London.
This means of jewellery production allows the technical innovations of late to be reflected in the actual design process, not just the production. “I think the most exciting thing about Hexatope is that it gives everyone the opportunity to be a designer and make beautiful, personal pieces of jewellery that they can wear every day,” explains Charlotte. You can find out more about how it works on Charlotte’s Kickstarter which launched last week.
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