The FabLab has a dedicated space for jewelry to make silver and diamond ring from 3D printing.
It teaches blind people to make jewel and find a job! What an unbelievable thing! And if you are looking for a personalized ring (gold, silver, diamond,…), you find your place!
Let’s dive with Vernon George Wilson into the story of his great project.
Technologies used3D printing Casting & moulding Metal working tools Traditional tools
what’s the project story?
All started 5 years ago in a Panamanian bar drinking blinding glasses of Rhum. Next to me was sitting a blind guy, not because of the drinks but a real one. He was telling me the difficulties blind community are faced with to find jobs in Panama. The crazy project to teach blind people to do jewelry was born in my head at that precise moment.
I have been doing jewelry since 1970 after a time spent for the US Navy. Before coming to Panama 12 years ago, I was in Belize working as a jeweler and helping the Episcopal church there.
I started giving courses at my house for disabled people and also I taught jewelry to teachers in Panama universities because this competency was not well developed in this country. Basically, people know how to do traditional rings but only three are able to assemble diamond rings in Panama.
My project knew a great impulse when I met my former neighbor Matthew who suggested me to move my workshop to what is today the Ecostudio. It was a great opportunity because it was better to give course there than at my 400 m2 “home made” workshop.
Since the beginning, amongst all the students, I taught 12 blind people to work on jewels. Most of the blinds are not native ones. So they still have the memory of colors. Thus, I designed a space where pieces are classified by colors.
In the space, I am able to create rings from 3D printing model. I have learned 3D printing 5 years ago because it was a missing topic in Panamanian universities where I gave classes and also it was a way of differentiating myself in the market.
To help me in that business, Gabriel, a very talented modeler, joined the team.
Today, we are able to do very personalized rings for people all around the world. I address only 3 questions to the client :
“In a life where you can have whatever you want, What would be your car? What would look like the architecture of the façade of your dreamed house and the pathway to access it? Describe the furniture and the living room of this house.” Then I design the ring!
what’s the project’s greatest success so far?
I succeeded in giving inconceivable jewelry competencies to blind people so that they can now find a job.
What’s your greatest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge I face every day is I don’t speak Spanish. To give courses to Panamanian I use google traduction!
What’s your vision for the project & next steps?
I would like to increase the proportion of disabled people in my courses. Also, I would like to develop the business part of the jewelry activity by creating an online store.