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How jeweller Michelle Liao did it

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We spoke to 2018 Jewellery Category participant Michelle Liao about what it took to make the jewellery entry that earned her a spot as a PPC Imaginarium Finalist.  

 

What did you create for the jewellery category of the competition?

I made a piece titled Queen Bee, which consists of three statement rings with concrete imitations of honeycomb slices set in gold-plated brass.

PPC Imaginarium

What or who did you turn to for inspiration when you were deciding what to create for the competition?

When I was conceptualizing the piece, I was quite drawn to the idea of mimicking something, like nature’s perfect honeycomb, using concrete, a man-made material that is used for the construction industry. 

 

How did you decide what you would make and submit?

I wanted to create a piece that would represent the epitome of a 21st century woman: strong, bold, juggles work and family... an ultimate queen bee of her own colony. 

PPC Imaginarium

Please briefly explain the process of what it took to create your piece.

I struggled a little bit before I started making the piece, as the truth is, I just didn’t know how to recreate something as perfect as the honeycomb. One day when I was at the hardware store for some supplies, I came across hexagon-shaped brass nuts and a million little lightbulbs went off in my head! There they were, my honeycombs! 

In order to recreate the honeycomb slices, I decided to solder some brass hexagon nuts together to create the shapes I wanted. Those brass shapes became my masters for a silicon mould that I then made, into which I poured my concrete mix.

Once I completed the concrete honeycomb slices, I then proceeded to make the rings, and set the slices in place with a bit of glue and some magic.

 

Did you ever change your idea or start over? If so, why?

Yes! I had wanted to make a statement neckpiece at first, but then I had change to rings as my creation got the better of me and I started to run out of time. 

The lesson here would be to not leave the making process to the last minute. Concrete takes days, weeks or even months to cure properly, depending on the size of it, so one really needs to factor that into the planning process. 

PPC Imaginarium

Had you much experience with working with concrete before? If so, what?

I had never experimented with concrete before, so I tried to do a lot of reading and research beforehand. I had also attended a workshop hosted by PPC in the past, so I learnt some valuable lessons there, especially with the use of various additives from Chryso. 

 

What was the most important thing you learned while participating in the workshops?

The most valuable information I took away from the PPC workshop was about the properties of concrete and how they behave on a molecular level. Practical knowledge such as the do’s and don’ts of the mixing process as well as the effects of using chemical additives from Chryso were also extremely helpful in the process. 

 

What was the most frustrating thing about working with concrete?

Concrete can be a bit temperamental to work with if you rush the process. Patience and precision help a lot in working with concrete. You must allow yourself the freedom to experiment with different materials to use as aggregate in the concrete mix.

 

What was the best part about working with concrete?

What I enjoyed the most about working with concrete was the discovery of a totally new material I had never experienced before. Each time I try out a new mix ratio or use a new aggregate, I learn something new about the material or the process. The more I experiment with the material, the more I appreciate its versatility. 

 

 

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