With this most unusual bespoke commission, our designer explored the use of 3Design’s shaper plugin to achieve very non uniform and organic results for the first time.

Our client Liza got in touch with us to assist in the creation of a very special commission for an 18th birthday present of an octopus pendant – dreamed up by the recipient Zeach and based on an acquired large, irregular shaped grey/ purple pearl.

This was a project so far removed from our usual jewellery bespoke commissions, and as such required a lot of research and planning, plus a little tuition and learning on the shaper plugin. This was the first time our designer Jo was to have any experience with the plugin, so the idea of using this project to learn during the process was discussed with the client, meaning the timeframes would be longer.

We started the process by looking at images of sculpted, illustrated or cast octopus and created a mood board for the client in order to identify the style preferred. From this dialogue, we established that the desired look was a punky, steam punk, oxidised/ blackened effect, with a heavy beaten look chain. He wanted to have green, moldovite stones for the eyes, and purple stones in the tentacles.

Our designer Jo set to work on learning the plugin, and creating an octopus form in 3Design’s shaper based on the research. She was assisted in the learning curve with some initial tuition by Pooja Sahny from Siearra consultancy, and furthered this with online videos and good old practice! It was a lengthy process, but the initial model was created using a mixture of shaper, 3Design and Blender, she created the head and leg stumps in shaper, the individual legs using a profiled and graduated sweep in 3Design, and the suckers were added using the jewelling tool.

On completion, an .stl file was exported and a resin was printed to show the client and to scale against the pearl visually. It was decided to make the form larger, to balance with the pearl, and to hollow out the form, saving weight, for which Blender was used.

It was a very complex model due to each leg being a different design so getting a true form with good geometry out of 3Design was quite difficult, made harder still by creating it in two halves as depending on where the cut was it confused the geometry. It was possible however to create a usable .obj file which was then imported into Blender to hollow out.

Once we had the correct scale and the OK from the client on look and feel we proceeded to print the wax in two halves, which was then sent for casting in silver. Due to the form being in two halves, there was quite a lot of clean up and construction to do, which would possibly have been avoided, had we kept him whole – the weight loss from the hollowing in the end was negligible, so it would be a thought if he ever were completed. A securing mount for the pearl was also added. He was then pre-polished and sandblasted to create a subtle texture to his surface.

Once he was in once piece, he was then to be stone set by Jason, using a mixture of moldovite, amethyst, purple sapphire, white and black diamonds. There are approximately 300 stones set into this little man, which was a real challenge and very time consuming for Jason, but on completion, he was shipped off to the polishers at Sinclair’s to receive his finish and blackened coat. He was left separate to the chain as it was possible to thread him in many directions giving the client multiple ways to wear.

The development of the project unfortunately coincided with the second and third COVID lockdowns, so the progress was impeded further – it’s safe to say this little fella was a long time in the making and finally made his way at the beginning of May 21 to a very happy client to finally have his octopus! Zeach was updated throughout the process and so got to see the development of his unique piece from the ground up, from mood board to completion, it was a whole experience.

I’d like to take this opportunity also to thank Sierra Consultancy, and Pooja Sahny for the introduction to Shaper, this was my first leap into organic modelling in 3Design! If you would like to learn 3Design I would highly recommend Sierra Consultancy Ltd for any software and training requirements.