»At that point Mr. Bichler entered the picture, « recalls Kim-Eva Wempe with a smile. Anton Bichler is a young designer and master goldsmith who helped to introduce CAD — computer-assisted design — technology at the studio of master craftsmanship. Today, thanks to digital technology, complicated shapes can be modelled on a computer. What to the untrained eye looks like an abstract network of lines on the computer screen is seen by the craftsman as a model that can be stretched, bent and rotated at will. Bichler had already discussed with Catherine Plouchard the idea of a ring consisting of a string of pearls. The problem was that a perfectly symmetrical sphere seems cold, technical and lifeless. »A string of little spheres can easily resemble a caterpillar, « says Plouchard. With creative poetry on the one hand and modern technology on the other, an organic form similar to a pearl was developed that, when strung together, had a satisfying and sensual look. A new dimension of suppleness and flexibility was found — just as Catherine Plouchard hoped that it would be. »The necklace shouldn’t be perfectly flat, as if it were machine-made, because then it will stick to the skin. It has tolie on the skin, but it also has to pleasantly stroke it. The way a piece of jewellery caresses the skin is something I always keep in mind,« she confides as she toys with the Blu elements lying on the studio table, moving the necklace around in different directions. »Jewellery should blend with the wearer’s own aura. That’s why it’s so important to listen to the body,« she says. She’s referring not only to women’s bodies but also to those of precious stones and finished jewellery.
New technology has allowed us to come up with an extraordinary necklace
says Kim-Eva Wempe happily. But, as Bichler emphasises, a computer is just a tool. »It’s not a magic box,« he says, »It’s only as good as the person in front of it.« It’s important to have common sense, experience, skill, a feeling for sustainability and a sensible pragmatism. You hear the same ideas from Magdalene Schmucker, who is responsible for creating the wax models. In the past, a mould was cast in rubber. Today, however, it is made of a high-tech material. Schmucker, who is also a goldsmith says that a person learns a little bit with each model. She then demonstrates using an oldfashioned injection moulding machine that she prefers to its modern counterpart for particularly difficult tasks. At first she had laid out the settings needed for the Blu necklace as a little tree with four twigs, but one of these »runners« was always broken. Now there are only two branching hollow cells in the mould. With a hiss, the air is extracted from the mould; then the industrial wax shoots into the vacuum at high pressure. The subsequent cutting open of the rubber is an art in itself. Schmucker frees the finished model. It is accurate to the last millimetre.