It’s a sunny summer day, we’re allowed to have (very limited) numbers of clients in the studio again, and graduation is hovering around the corner for a lot of people! I was reminded of a special commission that I took on awhile ago, and thought I’d share that with you this month.
Doing a PhD is a big thing. I’m not sure about other disciplines, but in biology, it’s 4-7 years of your life, hundreds of hours of lab experiments, successes, duds and, at times, frantic nail biting. Not to mention all the writing, reading, trying to network , coming up with new research ideas, wondering what you’re going to do with your future career…..well, you get the idea. So, when you successfully finish and defend your thesis, it’s definitely a milestone to be celebrated. I felt pretty honoured to be commissioned to make a special PhD completion/leaving gift.
Sterling silver, blue needled felt, and a fluorescence microscopy image that served as some inspiration.
You can read a little bit about it here. Basically, the brief was to make a stem cell pendant, as understanding some of the mechanisms and regulation of stem cells (self-replenishing cells that have the ability to differentiate into other cells types-see more here if you are interested!) was part of the research in question.
I wanted it to have some depth, I wanted to incorporate coloured felt, and I wanted it to have some texture. I specifically wanted to incorporate blue, you see, because when you image cells, you frequently use a fluorescent dye called DAPI which stains the nucleus (the repository of your DNA, among other things! :), and looks blue when you look at the cells down the fluorescent microscope.
I started with some small discs that I punched out to make space for the felt “nuclei”, textured with a subtle line texture to vaguely represent microstructure in the “cells”, and then domed them.
Next was the fun of trying to fit them all together and attach them. An actual ball was a bit too much, but I still wanted the impression of a ball of cells. This was what I ended up with!
Next, I attached a simple jump ring bail so it would go on a chain, and inserted the felt, to get the final piece!
Like I said, it was so nice to be involved in helping celebrate a woman’s achievement in STEM research! Looking for a special gift for that graduand in your life? Or for yourself? Visit or contact the studio, and see what we can do for you!
In the meantime, enjoy your sunny Saturday, and stay safe!