How to Build Your Own 3D Printed Jewelry
Geometric print is geo-rgeous in our homes, parties, wedding cakes and, most importantly, jewelry. An all-around creative lady, Melissa Borrell designs 3D art and geometric pop-out jewelry. By drawing, scanning and 3D-printing, Melissa creates lightweight pieces that allow the wearer to finish the making process by popping out and assembling the earring or necklace. Meet the Texan maker and see where she finds inspiration and what advice she has for makers alike!
Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Texas, but I’ve lived all over the country. I love living in Austin, where I work in an amazing studio complex that houses over 50 other artists. When I’m not making art, I can usually be found cooking up something delicious in the kitchen, jumping into a swimming hole to cool off, walking along the greenbelt or chilling out with a good book. I’ve been making and creating things for as long as I can remember and can’t really imagine any other way of living.
Why did you decide to start Melissa Borrell Design?
I fell in love with jewelry making when I worked in a bead store in Boston after I graduated from college. I would wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for a new necklace or pair of earrings. As a self-taught jewelry designer, I opened my first jewelry studio in San Francisco in 1999. Then I decided to go back to school and received my MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. After graduate school my work had evolved, and I launched Melissa Borrell Design with the Pop-Out Jewelry line. The MoMA Store was my first account for the Pop-Out Jewelry, and everything took off from there. I moved to Austin, which is now my base for all my jewelry as well as my growing portfolio of design projects such as private and public art and sculpture installations, interior accessories and general design consulting.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired by shapes all around me, both regular geometric shapes and patterns that I see in architecture, graphic design and furniture as well as the organic shapes that are formed in nature — shadows cast by tree branches, flowers and shapes that form at the cellular level.
What’s your current favorite piece of jewelry?
I could never pick favorites from my designs… that’s like having a favorite child! But I tend to wear the Crystal Pop-Out Earrings in gold a lot these days. They’re really different from the other Pop-Out Jewelry since they have more of a geometric look. My framed artwork is new so I’m really excited about those at the moment and dreaming of more and more new framed pieces.
In one sentence, tell us why you love to make.
There is really no other way for me to be.
Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry that has a special meaning for you?
I have earrings from my great grandmother that my grandmother passed down to me. They are really simple black onyx studs, and I love knowing that they have a history. Jewelry is really special like that. It has so many meanings and memories infused into it over the years.
What’s up next for you?
I am getting ready to go to New Mexico for an artist residency. I will have time to unplug and just create for a couple of weeks and stare at the stars and amazing desert sunsets. Then, when I get back to Austin, I will switch into high gear for the annual studio tour, holiday shows and making new artwork. It’s so fun to see people connect with my work in the studio, and I always feel honored that people choose my designs as gifts for loved ones during the holidays or any time.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
I create work by hand as well as using machines. I love the fact that I can take my drawings and scan them into the computer and make them into a file that becomes Pop-Out Jewlery (they are all exact replications of my hand drawings, by the way).
3D Printing is obviously a cutting-edge technology that I embrace. Even though I began my artistic career as a craft artist and made everything by hand, I also value other ways of creating and think that smart design and good art do not have to happen only as a one-of-a-kind types of objects. I love the fact that I can produce these designs, and the fact that they are produced in this way makes them accessible to so many more people than they would be if they were handmade.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Make what you love. It is so much more important to make work that you are proud of than what you think will sell. If you create from your inner voice, then it will show and people will want to be a part of it.
Get your jewelry in 3D at the Brit + Co Shop!