Design

Designer Selin Kent discusses clean lines, black diamonds and the vision behind her jewelry

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Westword: How did you begin designing jewelry?

Selin Kent: I sort of fell into jewelry designing a little later on -- I was initially more of an academic. I went to Tufts University to study history and international relations. After graduating, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I fell into a market-research job -- it was a lot of dealing with clients and long days and I had this reaction to sitting in front of a computer all day. I just wanted to be doing something with my hands, honestly. It could have been pottery, it could have been sculpture, but I was really curious about metal and the way it was worked with. I just enrolled in a jewelry-making class and I fell in love with it. I took classes in jewelry fabrication for two years while I was at my old job. That's sort of how I came into the jewelry world.

While in school for jewelry-making, I was honing my craft skills. Now, I don't actually make the pieces that I sell, but I think it is so important to have that background. In order to design properly, you have to really know a lot about the materials that you're working with. That's the short back story.

Are all of your pieces machine-made or do you still use metal-smithing?

All of the models for the final pieces I make using 3D modeling software. So it's not machine-made, but it is created through programs like CAD and Rhino -- I made the models using a computer in 3D and I have them printed in wax. From the wax I have them cast, then I have them fabricated -- so they are either polished or the stones are set, things like that. So there is definitely a lot of handwork involved, all of which takes place in New York. The creation of the models is the computerized part, but there is a handmade aspect as well.

You use very clean, precise lines when you start with an initial design -- do you sketch out your ideas first?

I usually sketch it out first, yes, before jumping to 3D. Then it evolves over time before I'm 100 percent happy with the model, and each design goes through many iterations before. The 3D modeling also saves a lot of time because traditionally, the 3D modeling is done through carving and wax, which is a very time-consuming process. The thing is, yes, my aesthetic is really precise and very geometric, so this method really lends itself well to my aesthetic because it allows me to be so precise.

Sometimes it would take three or four hours to carve something in wax, but I can do that on the computer in maybe a half an hour and be able to see how it looks once it's printed. Then I can go back and refine it -- that's my process. Once I have the model finalized, I have a mold made. From there, the production process is much easier.
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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies