Sculpting with Math: 3D Printed Jewelry by Betty Chang of Tiny Right Brain Designs

Posted by Michelle Chandra on

One of the first jewelry designers I met while a vendor at craft fairs was Betty Chang of Tiny Right Brain Designs, who specializes in 3d printed jewelry inspired by math. Below, she walks through the math (and math-y) inspiration of some of her most popular designs, along with how she creates the designs using 3D modeling software. All of her jewelry can be purchased directly via her Etsy shop.

Twisted Torus Pendant

3d printed twisted torus pendant by betty chang

My "Twisted Torus" design is probably my best selling design and has been done up in different materials and sizes. I used Blender to generate a torus shape (a.k.a. donut) and then manipulated it by 3D modeling to create negative space and get that nice twisted look.

Enneper Earrings enneper earrings 3d printed by betty chang tiny right brain designs

These earrings are based on the Enneper minimal surface*. To create this design, I fed an equation to Blender to generate a surface and then did 3D modeling to shape it, and created holes for the final result.
*A minimal surface is the smallest surface within a fixed boundary, the Enneper surface is self-intersecting and named after Alfred Enneper who first defined it in 1864. Minimal surfaces are aesthetically pleasing due to their curves and symmetry. They are difficult mathematical problems, and are researched for their applications in architecture, cell biology, etc.

Bour Pendant

bours pendant by betty chang 3d printed sterling silver necklace generative jewelry

This sterling silver pendant is based on Bour's minimal surface*. The design originated with an equation, but I've manipulated it so much that it doesn't look much like the original surface anymore. In fact, I named the design "Triquetra**" because someone on Instagram said that is what it reminded her of.
*A 2D minimal surface described by Edmond Bour whose work on minimal surfaces won him the 1861 mathematics prize from the French Academy of Sciences
**Triquetra is latin for "triangular" or "three-cornered"

Mobius Strip Pendant

3d printed mobius pendant in bronze by betty chang of tiny right brain designs

This is a mobius strip* pendant in bronze plated steel. The mobius strip is a very popular design among 3D jewelry designers, and this is my rendition. I did 3D modeling from scratch for this one but I think most software can produce some sort of mobius design as a starting point.
*A mobius strip is a twisted cylinder and a rare representation in Euclidean space of the infinite. 

Batwing Earrings

batwing earrings 3d printed nylon earrings by betty chang of tiny right brain designs
These earrings are based on the Batwing surface*. It doesn't look that much like the sharp pointed representation you see on Google images and it's not mathematically correct because I did 3D modeling to produce it and did not use any equations. I think the pointy design would have been a bit too much for wearable jewelry!
*The Batwing surface was created in 2017, and gets it's name from the batwing shape that describes its fundamental region. It is a triply periodic minimal surface.

Peapod Earrings

peapod earrings 3d printed jewelry by betty chang of tiny right brain designs
Here we have what I call my "Peapod" earrings in sterling silver. These are not based on any known math surface, but they look like a minimal surface with all the holes going through here and there.

Hats Pendant

3d printed pendant by betty chang generative jewelry parametric pendant

This "somekindofsurface" pendant in steel is just that -- some kind of surface. It actually starts off with the same initial 3D design as my Peapod earrings, but it's hard to see that. I call it "Hats" for some reason.

Borromean Rings

borromean rings earrings 3d printed nylon by betty chang

Finally, these earrings are based on Borromean rings*. I wanted something a little less obvious than the usual 3-ring designs. These are a brand new design.
*Borromean rings are three rings that are linked where removing one will leave the remaining two rings unconnected.

betty chang of tiny right brain designs

Betty's jewelry is available as nylon pieces she dyes by hand, steel items are 3d printed and sometimes plated in gold or bronze. Some pieces are also available as sterling silver and gold plated brass cast from 3d printed wax models.

Betty uses Blender and Fusion 360 to create her designs. She uses Blender for more "mathy" and "organic" shapes, and Fusion for more structured designs. Learn more on her website at tinyrightbrain.com and follow her on Instagram @tinyrightbrain.

All Generative Art, All the Time

But what if you want to learn more?! Check out these additional blog posts:

michelle chandra of dirt alley design

Dirt Alley Design was founded just off a dirt alley in San Francisco in December of 2016 by artist Michelle Chandra. Inspired by the beauty of street grids, Michelle invented maze maps in which she transforms street grids into mazes. In 2019, she began a new project - generative spirograph prints created with code and drawn with a pen plotter. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @dirtalleydesign where she posts new spirograph designs daily 

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