I make all the jewelry at Krista Knickerbocker Designs in my home studio, located a few miles outside of Boston. My process begins in the computer, where I digitally sketch out ideas that have been floating around in my head until I develop a form that I think will work well. Usually, though, what looks great in the computer needs a lot of refining once it reaches my hands!
To test ideas, I 3d print these digital sketches and iterate their scale and form until I am happy with the direction of the piece. Once I have a form that I like, I take out my wax melting pen, wax sheets and wax wires and begin to prepare the resin print. I add mass in places, subtract where I think the piece is too heavy, and embellish with textures in a more tactile, sculptural way than the computer allows.
This back and forth results in a wax and resin hybrid piece that I can burn out in my kiln as part of the lost wax casting process of jewelry making. Lost wax casting is basically when I pour a plaster like substance around this wax piece, and put the whole think in my kiln for hours and hours. When the firing is complete, the wax has melted away leaving a void in the plaster (actually called investment) in the shape of the wax original. With the help of a vacuum table, and a super hot furnace to melt some metal with, I can then pour molten silver into this space to make a rough and dirty metal piece. It's like magic!
The final steps are when the hand finishing comes into play, cutting, grinding, hammering, soldering, tumbling and polishing the pieces until they are ready to wear for years and years. This is a long, multi-step process that is incredibly rewarding and has the ability to produce jewelry that can last for a lifetime or more.