Posted on by Robert Smith

design of a cufflink

This is the first in a series of posts that looks into what goes into making your cufflinks.

Once the initial idea for a pair of cufflinks is formed in my mind, the first thing I  do is reach for the pencil and sketchbook - well that is a bit of a lie. I reach for a pencil but sometimes in lieu of a sketchbook, I use my workbench, an old envelope, a cigarette packet - whatever is close to hand, the medium isn't important.

I do use a computer later on in the process, but I find the pen and paper approach far superior. There is a number of reasons for this;

I find design software quite restrictive. Say for example I want to draw a slightly wonky circle. I would have to most likely create a perfect circle first, use some tools called extract and extrude, fiddle about with some other things called nodes and ten minutes later, I have a very clinical looking wonky circle - something which would take seconds with a pencil.

Also, that clinical look does grit my teeth a little, especially when designing something that is meant to be organic.  I know from experience if I do that and use that in my work, then the cufflinks themselves end up looking clinical.

Finally, and the biggest one. The design is to be eventually hand-cut. In the act of sketching out the design, I am also at the same time thinking about how I am going to cut it. There are a number of limitations when cutting silver which I will cover in the next post. Drawing it by hand gives me the opportunity to pre-empt my approach.


Moving onto the actual sketching itself; considering the final cufflink will be between somewhere around 16mm to 20mm, I keep things quite loose and I would best describe my approach as “what would a five-year-old do ?“ What I mean by that is, I have to be selective in what details to include. If for example, you asked a kid to draw a grizzly bear they would draw some squiggly lines - because bears are furry, a blunt nose and ears on the top of the head and that’s all you need for a drawing of a bear to be identifiable.

The Bear Necessities of drawing a bear

I normally do about four or five sketches, and when I am reasonably happy I will then take a photo and transfer it to my computer. One advantage that the computer offers us, is the ability to resize and scale with ease.

Sketch of a Cufflink being traced on a computer

The first thing I do is size wise, is to make sure I am certain that I have the space to fit the finding on the back. Then I check that there is enough space around it so it will fit comfortably and firmly onto your shirt sleeve.


As in the case of the Bull and Bear cufflinks, where each is a different design, I will then also resize both so that there is symmetry in their appearance. It might seem a simple step, but aesthetically it makes a lot of difference in the final product.

symetry in cufflink design

 

Once the design is finalized, it is then onto the cutting.

 

Part II Cutting

The final cufflinks below 

Bull and Bear cufflinks

 

design of a cufflink

This is the first in a series of posts that looks into what goes into making your cufflinks.

Once the initial idea for a pair of cufflinks is formed in my mind, the first thing I  do is reach for the pencil and sketchbook - well that is a bit of a lie. I reach for a pencil but sometimes in lieu of a sketchbook, I use my workbench, an old envelope, a cigarette packet - whatever is close to hand, the medium isn't important.

I do use a computer later on in the process, but I find the pen and paper approach far superior. There is a number of reasons for this;

I find design software quite restrictive. Say for example I want to draw a slightly wonky circle. I would have to most likely create a perfect circle first, use some tools called extract and extrude, fiddle about with some other things called nodes and ten minutes later, I have a very clinical looking wonky circle - something which would take seconds with a pencil.

Also, that clinical look does grit my teeth a little, especially when designing something that is meant to be organic.  I know from experience if I do that and use that in my work, then the cufflinks themselves end up looking clinical.

Finally, and the biggest one. The design is to be eventually hand-cut. In the act of sketching out the design, I am also at the same time thinking about how I am going to cut it. There are a number of limitations when cutting silver which I will cover in the next post. Drawing it by hand gives me the opportunity to pre-empt my approach.


Moving onto the actual sketching itself; considering the final cufflink will be between somewhere around 16mm to 20mm, I keep things quite loose and I would best describe my approach as “what would a five-year-old do ?“ What I mean by that is, I have to be selective in what details to include. If for example, you asked a kid to draw a grizzly bear they would draw some squiggly lines - because bears are furry, a blunt nose and ears on the top of the head and that’s all you need for a drawing of a bear to be identifiable.

The Bear Necessities of drawing a bear

I normally do about four or five sketches, and when I am reasonably happy I will then take a photo and transfer it to my computer. One advantage that the computer offers us, is the ability to resize and scale with ease.

Sketch of a Cufflink being traced on a computer

The first thing I do is size wise, is to make sure I am certain that I have the space to fit the finding on the back. Then I check that there is enough space around it so it will fit comfortably and firmly onto your shirt sleeve.


As in the case of the Bull and Bear cufflinks, where each is a different design, I will then also resize both so that there is symmetry in their appearance. It might seem a simple step, but aesthetically it makes a lot of difference in the final product.

symetry in cufflink design

 

Once the design is finalized, it is then onto the cutting.

 

Part II Cutting

The final cufflinks below 

Bull and Bear cufflinks