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Material matters: Elemental Gré techniques explained

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One of the questions we get asked most when we sell our goods in shops or fairs is "how do you make it"? This post is your answer. What usually comes first for me as the designer is the idea, the shape, the look I want—then come the techniques, drawn from silversmithing, painting, sculpting, fibre arts and being generally crafty. Invention and innovation are at the heart of Gré.

Necklaces

To make our necklaces and cords, we take a virgin cotton cord and paint it in the colour or pattern of our choice. Then we hand-appliqué miniature glass beads onto the cord in those same colours. Yes, it takes hours—sometimes days. But it’s so zen, it’s one of our favourite things to do.

Many of our necklace series use our unique magnetized clasp system, meaning the middle part of the necklace—or the centrepiece, as we like to call it—can be paired with any colour of length of cord we make. We have a rainbow of 50-plus cord colours to choose from. It’s a modular system than means you can constantly update your Gré any which way you want.

Bracelets

The process for our Powerpuff cuffs starts with a metal structure. Next come the crystals and stones: they’re pierced, so that we can weave them onto the metal structure with a wire so they’ll never come off. After that we play: with polymer, resin and all kinds of crazy materials, we cover that whole structure and make it into a wearable sculpture. If ever the stones on your cuff become wiggly, rest assured: they just feel like moving a little! They won’t come off.

For our Crystal cuffs, the techniques are different: we start by sculpting a mould, which our friendly local foundry turns into sterling silver or brass. We file, sand, polish, sweat and slave over that beauty for days, until its smooth as a baby’s smile and shiny as our soul—and then we get to the fun bit. On go the stones and crystals, woven on with a metal wire, then polymer, resin and more, and more, and more. 🌟

Rings

Our rings are made just like our metal cuffs, but smaller. We start by sculpting a mould which we get cast in sterling silver, brass or gold (when we’re feeling bougie), then file, sand and polish it lovingly until it reflects more light than a mirror on the moon. Then we decorate: stones, crystals, glass, vegan pearls and so much more get woven on with metal wire, and all that goodness is then encased in a layer of polymer and resin. BAM! A one-of-a-kind Gré ring.

Earrings

Our earrings and ear cuffs start with a solid sterling silver or brass plate, which we hand-saw into our desired shapes. Then we heat, bend, whack, file, sand, polish, polish and polish until they look like the beautiful images in our head. Onto that we add our mixed media stylings, including precious and semi-precious stones, polymer, resin and more. A little different for every earring, because we’ve found that no two things—even within pairs—are actually exactly alike.

craft how-to materials one-of-a-kind Techniques

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