One reason I love my job so much is the continued learning. There’s so much to know about every aspect of making custom jewelry that I usually feel like I’ve only scratched the surface in the almost 40 years that I’ve been doing this! And about 3 months ago I embarked on a fresh learning curve that will/has opened up a whole new era in my design process…3D CAD (That’s three dimensional Computer Aided Design) Actually, I’ve used computer design a fair amount in prior years through a process of computer graphics and light-sensitive polymers. That is, I could render a black and white negative image and use it to expose a polymer that is designed to be water-soluble until it is cured with UV light. After exposure, I could simply etch the polymer with water and a toothbrush to get a neat, though somewhat flat, raised relief design. I did a whole series of Celtic rings using that technique and used it to produce championship rings for both the U of O woman’s and Iowa State woman’s basketball teams…great projects!!!
Iowa State Woman’s Basketball Championship rings
But now, using Rhinoceros, a 3D modeling system, I can create entire objects with my computer and either mill them on a 3-5 axis milling machine or “print” them using cutting-edge rapid prototyping technology. In fact, my new 3D printer should arrive at my studio any day now! Wahoo!! This is a learning curve in progress, so watch for more interesting projects down the road!
This is my very first completed 3D CAD project.
CAD rendering of new ring
Designed to client specs and milled by my friend Gary Swank of Gary Swank Jewelers in Portland Or. The project cast and finished perfectly! The very rough finish is by design, exactly what the client wanted, in keeping with what the ring meant to him. The symbol at that top of the ring is surrounded by a porcelain ceramic inlay which is also meant to appear rough. But even with the rougher finish, the exacting detail achieved by utilizing CAD is evident. This project would have been nearly impossible had I not had that technology.
With the ability to bring to life just about any symbol, idea, or concept, Gary Dawson Designs seeks to be your custom jewelry designer!