The ETERNAL SUNSHINE project started in the spring of 2017 with an idea to create four pairs of earrings for four
In the spring of 2017, in Southern Spain, I had a simply sunny idea to create four pairs of plywood earrings as gifts for my four lovely girlfriends.
A friend had just finished constructing his second CNC laser cutter. Which he built from scratch, using both specific tech parts and reclaimed materials (all of the wooden structure, some of the metallic structure). His suggestion to put it to good use was actually the initial idea!
Little did I know that a simply sunny idea would turn into a whole year long thought and research project.
The designs were intended to be simple, at first. Then they got soulful. As inspiration in form of a person, mixed with soft yet strict shapes of Art Deco, is far from minimalism. And it should be, as I realized after having finished the designs. Now I think that minimalism means design only if it simplifies something utterly complicated or is surprising in it`s context. Each earring design took about a day to create, each design had up to 15 first versions. After finishing the designs the idea evolved once again, and turned into ETERNAL SUNSHINE. As the contrasts, light and dark, present both in people and Art Deco were just calling for it!
Searching for a 2 mm thick good quality plywood which would not contain water resistant glue (impossible for the laser to cut). Found a birch plywood intended for model plane construction in a toy shop of Sevilla, which turned out to be too soft to be painted with natural oil paints as it would suck in all the oil and leave the natural pigment all messy and piled up in stripes on the surface. It was also too easy to break. Visited poligono industrial (industrial area) of Estepona where a local yacht craftsman would sell me his quality left over cherry topped plywood with thickness of 2,5 mm with a very good price. It had an amazing surface (rigid with unique wood prints) and was easy to paint, however, not good for cutting. In Estonia it took a month to communicate with plywood producers and sellers, as in a forest rich country there is more interest in wholesale rather than focusing on the needs of retail buyers. Persistence paid off and finally found a really good birch plywood which is extremely rigid and of good quality, both from the painting and durance perspective. It was also interesting to note that birch plywood in Estonia is known as a really rigid, strong material while the birch plywood in Sevilla (imported from Finland though) was incredibly soft.
Having never used natural oil paints but wanting to create as ecologically responsible designs as possible, my first task was to learn about nature friendly paints. Chose natural earth pigments and walnut oil as ingredients of the paints. Mixing itself was pure fun but took some time, especially testing the paints on different plywood surfaces. Depending on the pigment, temperature and density of the mixture itself, a layer takes up to two weeks to dry. All natural earth pigments were ordered online and non-vegan pigments such as carmine red are not used. The 100% natural paints made me truly appreciate the variety of colors nature has gifted us.
My friend translated all the design files into CNC cut files. Testing them, excluding all the errors in files and adjusting the CNC laser cutter itself took a lot of time. Each pigment and plywood reacted differently under cutting.
All the earrings needed/ need thorough cleaning from cut marks after cutting. Some tested paints were impossible to clean completely – a problem which would never occur with acrylic paints (which are quick drying as well, yet absolutely environment unfriendly). After cleaning the earrings are covered with pure walnut oil all over so that the cut parts would not stain. The drying time is up to a week.
The options for buying ready-made quality earring pegs and scrolls are incredibly limited. Cheap and non-quality options on the other hand incredibly abundant and available everywhere. Current sterling silver pegs and scrolls were ordered from a UK retailer.
The packaging was perhaps one of the trickiest parts! I knew from the beginning that it must be 100% plastic free as to not choke the animals and our ecosystems more than they already are being choked by plastic. However, ordering a custom-made packaging would have cost more than all the other components of the earrings combined! After months and months of thinking and searching, walked into a paper shop in Tallinn and found a handmade box which perfectly fit all the earrings. Dark as the night, just as the ETERNAL SUNSHINE concept. 100% paper based as well. The box interiors are ordered from the same shop and are made from recycled paper. The prints are in screen-printing technology and from a small company in Tartu. The exterior shipping packaging is from a Tallinn shop focused on selling packaging solutions on a wider scale.
Darkness is still over the surface of the deep, with a little sunshine on it`s mind.