This paper will examine the hybrid practice of integrating computer aided design and/or manufacture with the traditional techniques of metalwork and jewellery. It will explore how digital technology provides not only technical precision- but also crucially an original theatre for creative stimulus extending the boundaries and rejuvenating the traditional vocabulary of the craft.
This will be illustrated with work that although digitally created or inspired nevertheless relies on the integration and knowledge of applying traditional hand skills. The work of Contemporary metalwork and jewellery makers who initiate this hybrid practice will be contacted to contribute to this paper, and will include:-
- Stephen Bottomley (UK) - Digital designed jewellery
- Peter Musson (UK)- CAD Silverware
- David Goodwin (UK) – STL formed jewellery
- Joe Wood (USA- Mass Art) – RP resin cast jewellery
Metalwork and jewellery has the capability to reflect both traditional approaches to the craft as well as the prevailing zeitgeist of the time. The gold and silversmith has been accustomed to holding a pivotal role bridging both science and art. The choice of many contemporary makers to work with new and emerging technologies is therefore not specific to our time - but traditional to our craft. For some it is not only a matter of choice - it is also a challenge, which proves impossible to resist. It is important not to try to imitate craft process with the emerging technology but to extend that craft language and allow the creative freedom it can engender.
The ways in which Computer Aided Design and Manufacture (CAD/CAM) affects the process of creating an artefact compared to the more traditional studio design processes that builds on known hand-craft will be examined. An argument is often made that working with tools capable of such precise repetition leads to the creation of objects that are rendered sterile due to their unnatural perfection. Is this is at odds with the philosophy of a craft discipline that strives for perfection through a precision of making? It seems the potential for CAD/CAM provides to achieve perfection is not only a factor in the choice to use it - but also in the mistrust it engenders.
The programme designers who streamline their software packages in order to present simpler systems for creating digital designs for jewellers, for example, that may then be outputted to the growing range of computer aided manufacture devices, are ironically narrowing the new vocabulary. Thinking out of the box, (or the monitor), is vital for creativity when encountering new technology – just as it is the workshop when experimenting with new processes. The importance of pushing the limits of available software and how the diverse range of programmes available are utilised will be studied.
The virtual world can provide the fresh perspectives in order to stimulate and revitalise older traditional skills. As Paul Derrez, the owner of Gallery RA has said, “ New technology can be used for new ideas and old technology can be used for new ideas” (note) .
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