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Category Winner


Wearable Biology


Emer Roberts

Emer Roberts




Fashion & Textiles

Design Challenge and Design Ideas

The intention for this self directed brief was to create an elegant and interesting paradox with a subject matter that is highly contentious and abhorred.
The Wearable Biology fine jewellery stems from my sculptural practice as a mold maker. This first wearable art jewellery collection of sterling silver, 9 and 18 carat gold explores our fellow mammal, the rat! The challenge was the subject matter and adapting it into something beautiful for the larger audience.
Casting the anatomy of the rat from infancy to adulthood, I decided to focus upon the tail. My design intent was based around edgy and elegant fine jewellery.

How the brief was fulfilled

The Wearable Biology collection promotes originality as each piece is cast from the actual anatomy of this species.With an MFA in Sculpture, my aesthetic evolved with the animal through large scale sculpture, photography and mold making. This enabled an organic transition from Fine Art to Design.

The rat as a metaphor or species involuntarily creates a reaction. Adapting the idea without modifying the organic form as jewellery led me to focus upon the tail for this first mammal jewellery collection. The tail specifically proves an authentic texture which translates beautifully in jewellery, particularly gold. And one aspect of the rat that is very unique.
Having taken part in a conceptual banquet at Smock Alley with artist Jesse Jones a few years ago, we served rat on the menu – the concept for the food served was based around times of want/famine situations etc. I had skinned a number of ethically sourced rats to be eaten. Therefore I retained (and froze) the limbs and tails which I had intended upon working with in my own sculptural practice which evolved towards jewellery design and the Wearable Biology collection. I made two part and specifically singular molds in order to eliminate mold lines on wax casts. It is an important aspect of the finished designs to maintain the tail in its purest form without mold lines interfering in its natural form where possible.
In stark contrast to my architectural jewellery, minimal interference with the finish maintains its natural state and therefore a magnetic polish finish.
Uninterrupted within the design, the organic texture is incorporated into vintage style cuff or hoop earrings, elegant pendants and solid tail rings.
The subject matter gives its edgy appeal while as fine jewellery, the style wouldn’t necessarily be associated with the rodent. This adaptation was a significant decision as a completed project.

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