V&A Samsung Digital Classroom: jewellery design with Silvia Weidenbach

The group collecting inspiration in the V&A’s Gilbert Collection


The V&A’s Artist in Residence programme creates some incredible opportunities for us as educators to work with practioners across a range of disciplines. Last month as part of the V&A Samsung Digital Classroom, Silvia Weidenbach, Gilbert Collection Artist in Residence, led a workshop with budding young jewellery designers to explore the cutting edge design and crafting techniques that she uses in her own work.

Silvia’s work fuses the traditional with the contemporary. She uses both historical techniques such as goldsmithing, with new technologies, melding them to create striking and unique pieces. Through combining the two her work enables a complexity of form that would be incredibly difficult to achieve otherwise.

Silvia Weidenbach in her studio at the V&A

The workshop invited in a group of 16 – 24 year olds to visit her studio and work alongside her to create their own digitally modelled and 3D printed jewellery. The day began in Silvia’s studio where she talked through the evolution of her craft and showed her tools, from files and hammers to haptic arms and 3D printers. The process of 3D printing can take many forms and use a variety of materials. The group handled her collection to see how the type of filaments used in printers affect the design, some being soft to the touch, coloured or even flexible.

A 3D printed jewellery piece from the group’s work

Silvia’s residency has been to produce work inspired by the V&A’s Gilbert Collection. The collection features masterpieces in precious materials from across Britain and Europe. The group gathered source materials from the gallery, studying snuff boxes, micro mosaic and automata, whilst learning about how they existed as objects of power and gesture between elite individuals.

Using Sculptris to create models of the jewellery

Back in the studio, students used Sculptris, a powerful but easy to learn piece of software for introducing 3D modelling, to sculpt and form their rings, necklaces and bracelets. Working in 3D can be extremely difficult if you have never tried before, all of a sudden you might be looking at the underside of your model when a moment ago you would have been looking down from the top. We did a variety of exercises to get comfortable with it, including modelling each other’s faces in Sculptris and then swapping to remix them. Here are some of the incredible designs from the day, including Photoshop mock-ups and the final 3D printed prototypes…