January 17, 2018
A first of its kind, SOMA is a creative body jewelry experiment inviting customer participation and challenging me to write more. I've created this new original ear weight style with a fictional backstory that customers will have the opportunity to help complete.
This style has a lot going on, so I encourage you to continue reading, but if you want to go ahead and grab a pair, you can jump to the collection here.
I am excited about these ear weights because I like heavy jewelry and the spool is one of my favorite styles. I define the spool style as having a smaller than necessary wearing surface and massive flares on both sides. The flares balance the piece front to back and prevent it from falling out. Halfway between a plug an and ear weight, the result is a comfortable and very stable piece of jewelry.
SOMA is an exercise in repetition. The shape is based on the Reuleaux triangle (Wikipedia), a curve of constant width like the circle. I've obsessively drawn this shape for years, and SOMA is an attempt at getting it out of my head. Depending on the variation (with or without inlay) there are up to 32 of these triangles in one pair of SOMA spools. Even the inlays share this unique shape.
Most spools have a round wear surface like a traditional plug. It often works well, but the downside is a tendency for the jewelry to spin. That can be annoying when you want the design on your jewelry symmetrical from right to left. One fix is moving the wear surface to the top edge of the jewelry, but this causes it to hang lower. That may not be ideal at large sizes.
The 10x16mm oval wearing surface of SOMA is an attempt to balance these issues with a comfortable fit. Everyone's lobes wear jewelry differently, and an oval can be worn two ways depending on what fits best. If you're at a smaller size, you may not like the look or feel of your lobe being pushed wider at the bottom. The narrow side of the oval is ideal for you.
If you have problems with heavy weight, or if you are at a larger size, you may prefer the wider side of the oval. It distributes the weight evenly and will also create a "U" rather than "V" shaped look to the vertical sides of the lobe. The oval also combines a broad wear surface with a more narrow cross-section that makes it possible for smaller sizes to insert the large 31x6mm faces.
The wear area of SOMA is wider where the lobe makes contact with the oval, and narrower at the flare. This gives room for the earlobe to spread on the interior while holding the rest of the weight close to the ear for stability. The wear surface is polished in the center and textured toward the sides, which also helps keep them in place.
This style showcases a unique triangle shaped inlay similar to many trilliant gem cuts. It measures ~18mm from point to flat and is quite thick. I can carve these inlays from a wide variety of stones - most agates, jaspers, quartz, turquoise, jades, etc. Shown above (left to right) are Chrysoprase, Gray Jadeite, Tiger's Eye, and Kingman Turquoise.
I have also been exploring a concept called doublets - composite gems made of two stones bonded together. A doublet is traditionally made to protect delicate stones like opal by backing them with a harder material. I explore this process to create exciting new gemstones like the Rutilated Quartz over Lapis Lazuli in my pair of SOMA weights. It is time-consuming to find the ideal material choices and carve doublets, but the look is one of a kind.
I'm a closet sci-fi addict, and this project is inspired by my love for reimagining the present and designing the future. I've been making jewelry for 15 years, and it's nice to have some play time mixed in. We're going to give this project an imagination injection.
My original goal was to write a fictional story about the origins of the object "SOMA" (which is an acronym). I proposed the story to Onetribe manager Amanda, and she came up with a brilliant idea: Could we make this interactive? What if our customers could provide input on the story? We're going to take that concept and run with it.
I have alluded to the story in social media posts but shared only fragments. Here's the most important part so far:
“I’ve heard there are others,” he said. “This is all my crew found, but other harvesters found similar artifacts in low orbit. They glimmer like nothing else.” I traded for all he had - 14 in total. They were of little value compared to the tech and rare elements they gathered for sale, so his crew kept them. Fortunately, he considered the objects a simple novelty, and I was able to trade more familiar artifacts and all of my travel cash for them. Some look to be empty or unused. Some have a gem-like structure entrapped on one side. Those feel different, especially against the skin. Alive in some sense. A few appear to be used up and show an odd vortex on both sides. They all share the same repeating triangular pattern. Fractals and that kind of scaling repetition come to mind. The longer I study them, I am convinced that they were not made but rather self-organized. I have been obsessed and reclusive, thinking about them nonstop. Measuring, sketching, holding. With no other indication of what they are, I’ve dubbed them “Self-Organizing Metallic Array” - S.O.M.A.
This narrative takes place after I have acquired a group of unknown objects collected in low orbit during the "mining" of space junk. It sets the scene with a name, describes them physically, and hints at the idea that I might be getting a little obsessed (totally true).
Plot twist: the beginning of the story will only be told, at first, to the customers who purchase the remaining six pairs of SOMA. Twelve pieces plus the two I own make 14, which is the first casting run and the initial number I acquire from a "harvester" in the story.
These customers will receive more of the story in the form of a letter where I confide in them and request help to identify the objects. They are welcome to email or mail back ideas (or not, there is no obligation) about where these objects came from, what they are, any effect they have on humans, etc. Short, long, bulleted list, full-blown story segment, whatever works best. I will take these responses into account and continue narrating the story. It will grow, and the backstory may evolve if it makes for a more cohesive experience. After the initial group, I will make the story public and allow more input as additional pairs sell. It ends when it ends :)
If I use any of your ideas or suggestions, you'll be credited (or listed anonymously by order number, your preference) on the story page. I may also send you a coupon or some other gesture of thanks for participating. For the sake of simplicity, legality, and the very slim chance that I can put my kid through college with it, the story belongs to me. Whether it's an embarrassing trainwreck or a literary masterpiece, I will own the rights to the submissions and the final work.
Whew, that was a ton of words! Go look at the awesome things!