These RPG necklaces are just the beginning of 3D printed jewelry from TheLaserGirls
Whether it’s for a tabletop or video game, when you create a character in a role-playing game you feel a certain connection to them. It’s a unique and sometimes more personal connection than what you might feel for characters in other types of media because you’re crafting the character yourself. It means something specific to you, which makes having something to represent that and feel connected to it out of game particularly special. There are a few ways you can currently do this in geek fashion, but not enough that are subtle and not many in the area of jewelry. That’s why it was so great to see the RPG by TheLaserGirls collection.
The RPG collection is the first 3D printed jewelry line created by TheLaserGirls. It was released earlier this year and features three necklaces inspired by the RPG classes paladin, rogue, and berserker. The rogue class is represented with a blade on a leather choker, the berserker class has two knuckle-dusters joined together on a chain, and the paladin class has a morningstar on a chain. The materials you can have these printed in varies from pink nylon plastic to sterling silver. You can buy just the pendant or the whole necklace for the paladin and berserker while the rogue necklace comes just as one piece. I was able to give the paladin necklace a try (disclosure: the necklace was provided by TheLaserGirls) and after wearing it for a week, I loved it.
The necklace was comfortable and light. It didn’t look too big with anything I wore and never felt strange with the way it fell. I only came across two issues over the course of the week that would impact someone with similar habits to me. I like to sometimes wear crossbody bags and when that happened, if the strap ever ended up on top of the necklace, the points of the morningstar dug into me a bit painfully so it was something I had to watch out for. I also sometimes like to fidget with my jewelry. I move it or mess with it during the day as I think, especially if it’s a hanging necklace. When I did this, twice the links disconnected on one part of the necklace. It was easy to fix, but it’s something to be careful about if you do the same.
As someone currently playing a character who is multiclassing as a paladin in Dungeons & Dragons, it was a lot of fun to wear something that made me feel connected to the character while also just looking like a great piece of jewelry. Before this line, TheLaserGirls founders Sarah Awad and Dhemerae Ford had experimented with jewelry. They had created a few rings and had an idea for a different jewelry line first. The two thought of making a line inspired by giant sculptures created by monumental artists. They would shrink those sculptures down for jewelry. However, even though they came up with what would be in that line, due to life events and other circumstances, they became tired of it and stopped working on it. This RPG collection was their second idea.
“I always wanted to make jewelry that super nerdy people would have a real close connection to, but it wasn’t necessarily something like I’m wearing a logo of a brand of something. It can mean whatever to you and it’s very personal, but it also has its nerdy aspect to it,” Ford told GeekFold. “For me, I always liked tabletop games. I like RPGs. I play a lot of JRPGs. Sarah loves JRPGs so I was like this is a great opportunity to do something we both love and make something for people like us and make something we want to wear. That was my biggest thing. I want to make something I want to wear.”
When it came to that previous art jewelry line, it wasn’t something Ford necessarily wanted to wear herself. It was more of a joke or parody.
“I love jewelry. I always wanted to get into jewelry so this was the idea that we had, to do something based off of RPGs, classes, and races and just to make things that people who maybe play D&D or tabletop games, who have created their own character, could pick something and be like ‘that’s my character. That’s for me,’” Ford explained.
They decided which classes to feature first in a three hour Skype session. The two knew they wanted to start with just a few pieces so that they would actually finish the collection and ultimately chose these three classes.
“A big part of that initial hashing out was I have more experience in JRPGs which is a different aesthetic that melds a lot of crazy, ambitious, baroque type things,” Awad said. “Dhemerae had more of that classic traditional RPG background. So the way I see a berserker is very different from the way she would imagine it. Trying to find where those elements meet was a big part of that.”
Deciding how to distill what these classes were into one symbol for each necklace was a challenge, according to Awad. They tried not to be too obvious with each. For example, Ford said if they ever made a mage piece, they wouldn’t use a wand. They want to do something more referential. For the classes they decided on, they also went with things that would be simple for them to execute. Awad explained that the morningstar for the paladin came easily and quickly. They wanted to capture the movement and kinetic energy of a paladin who you might think of as riding into battle.
“We started playing with how exactly it would fall on the neck and we wanted to try to give everything a unique element so we played a lot with symmetry so either making things asymmetrical or playing with dual material to give them a little more visual interest because silver on silver looked a little much on certain pieces,” Awad told GeekFold. “You couldn’t really capture the detail and we wanted to find ways compositionally that would be a great feature like for the silver [pendant], a black chain really makes that front and center.”
They wore their first prototypes to work to figure out what worked and what didn’t. They determined what was too big and tested if everything moved correctly, among other things.
“We also wanted to play a lot and keep it light and fun. As people who are making weapon inspired jewelry, we wanted to make sure it had a lighthearted element to it and wasn’t like somber or aggressive or too intense,” Ford said. “We started playing with things that would lend itself to 3D printing so making bends in the pieces like the [rogue] dagger has a bend to it.”
While this might be TheLaserGirls’ first foray into a jewelry line, they have a lot of experience in 3D printing. They each became interested in the process thanks to a class at NYU, which is where they also met. It didn’t start out as a dream partnership though. When they worked together on a project for the first time, Ford said it was a disaster. It wasn’t fun and they were fighting all the time. They didn’t have the same vision and they thought they’d never work together again, but then Awad had the idea to create 3D printed acrylic nails. At first Ford thought it was a dumb idea until she started thinking about what they could actually do with that.
“It was a challenge in figuring out how to capture so much detail and make things rigid and stable and awesome at the same time. For me, it was like this is a challenge, let’s figure out how to make it happen,” Ford said. “For her, it was very much a creative endeavor. This is how we figured out how we work together.”
They created the nails for EYEBEAM’s Fashion Wearable Demo and Tech Night and put up a Tumblr for their portfolio. Then, at the last minute, they came up with their name.
“The way that came about was we used to work with a faculty member at the [NYU] AMS lab and we would run all her laser cutting jobs for her,” Awad explained. “When we saw her once she said ‘oh look it’s the laser girls’ and that’s how we came up with TheLaserGirls. We thought it was really fun and it felt like it suited us at the time.”
You’ve probably seen the nails they showed at that demo before. The nails went viral and were featured in numerous publications. Ever since, Awad and Ford have worked together as a team. The nails at the demo also caught the eyes of a woman who worked at Shapeways, beginning their relationship with the 3D printing company. They now have a shop on Shapeways where you can find their nails, the RPG jewelry line, and some cosplay pieces. Cosplay was an area they entered when they were looking to create more wearables and wanted a new creative challenge.
“Cosplay is the perfect venue to make some extravagant things. I’m a big Final Fantasy fan so that’s always a challenge. Those designs are incredibly ambitious and we thought that would be a great avenue and what was good about it was we had a set deadline like we have to finish by comic con so we have a start and end date,” Awad said. “We have the time where we can work on this and give it a shot and it would be a fun way to end working on something because you work on a lot of projects and you take photographs and put them on your website, but they don’t come to life in the same way as putting it all on, getting the wig on. There were also other elements to making a costume and we wanted to get our hands back into some other ways of making.”
Ford said she missed doing physical work with her hands and using other materials so cosplay allowed for this while incorporating 3D printing at the same time. Both Awad and Ford have been nerdy for a long time and while Awad has closet cosplayed in the past, their foray into cosplay with 3D printing was their first time really both trying it. They’ve brought their stunning cosplay to New York Comic Con and attend other conventions including FlameCon.
After seeing everything TheLaserGirls have created so far, it will be exciting to see what they do next. Ford and Awad have a lot of ideas for the future. They want to add their cosplay files or prints online so that people can use them to try making their own stuff and they might even try accepting commissions. For jewelry, they plan to move everything to a dedicated online shop soon and having gender neutral items so both men and women can enjoy their work is important to them as well. They’re also helping others interested in 3D printing by teaching a ZBrush for 3D artists and designers course at the NYU School of Professional Studies.
When it comes to this RPG jewelry line, TheLaserGirls hope to expand it by the end of the year.
“We picked classes that I think a lot of people would have relationships with, but we’ve had a lot of requests for mages and clerics. Then we had a request for a bard so we have to come up with something for a bard. We’ve got a lot of ideas,” Ford said. “We’re going to obviously expand because we made three chokers this time and we have some ideas for body chains and long jewelry, some ear cuffs, rings, and bracelets. My vision is that each class is going to have three pieces. You can get them as a collection or you can buy them piecemeal, whichever one you want. If you don’t like wearing chokers, you can get the long necklace or an ear cuff.”
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