Today on the blog we have an artist spotlight on Kate Worthen, our CAD (computer assisted design) tech, who recently finished her first full line of jewelry. Kate has been working with llyn since she was 21. She studied metals at the Governor’s School for the Arts and continued her education at Furman University. She graduated in 2013 but while the rest of her classmates were walking across the stage, she was in a CAD class learning how to design 3d models in Matrix by Gemvision for her work at llyn strong. CAD is a process a lot of mainstream jewelers use because it allows for easy duplication of pieces, but at llyn strong, we use it for another purpose: to add a level of detail that would be impossible to add by hand. Kate is our CAD specialist. She takes llyn’s designs and the customer’s specification and renders a 3d model. This file is then sent to the 3d wax printer, where a model is printed, which is later used in the casting process that produces a finished piece of jewelry.
Recently, Kate put out her own line in the store. These modern pieces evoke camera apertures with their strong straight lines and geometric shapes (particularly hexagons). Kate’s inspiration for this line originally came from her desire to experiment with levels of opacity using only totally opaque materials. She asked herself “How can I create the illusion of translucency with metal?” This led to using the sheet and wire to create varying degrees of obstruction through the pieces. About the hexagonal shape, Kate says: “I work well within restrictions and I have always liked to limit myself in some ways in order to see how far I can take a design in other directions. So, I have tried to keep the hexagon shape as the base for this and I am currently using this shape to branch out in some new ways from my original ideas about lenses and opacity. I like the idea of clustering and how this shape can create a honeycomb, but having the clusters be off center or not quite lined up (like in the 2-piece brooch).” Kate’s thoughtful approach to design has led to a line that feels unified, where the individual pieces feel like variations on a theme.
Kate brings her technical skills to bear while producing pieces for her line. Her process begins by creating the sterling pieces in CAD, then growing them on the 3d wax printer, and casting. She adds the final touches by fabricating the 14k yellow gold accents, using sheet and wire and welding the pieces together with the laser welder. The final step is to oxidize the silver giving the black finish.
As for what’s next, Kate says: “It is much more difficult to use CAD for very sculptural and organic pieces but I may return to that type of design in the future, once I’ve exhausted all possible uses for the hexagon.” Stop by the store to check out Kate’s work in person. You can also meet the artist, who spends her time behind the counter, working on 3d models and helping customers find the perfect piece of jewelry. Visit Kate Worthen Jewelry to shop online!