We unravel the meaning behind Ejing Zhang’s interwoven resin jewels
London-based designer Ejing Zhang turned her hand from textiles to jewellery in 2014, but her sculptural resin jewels are, quite literally, woven with references to her past. At her Bloomsbury studio she unravels spools of Madeira ceramic and polyester thread, across a spectrum of pastel colours, into hand-carved moulds, then pours over a cold resin. Once set, the resin, now rippled with threads, is polished into elliptical hoop earrings, slices to sit atop cuffs, or discs to be speared into delicate brooches.
Zhang’s decision to transfer métier was prompted by a pursuit of alternative materials, rather than an inclination for fine jewels: ’I wanted to make wearable materials, but found soft fabrics restrictive. Jewellery was the answer to a question of application, of how I could apply hard plastics to the body; the process and the material came long before the jewellery.’
In her new A/W 2018 collection, inspiration is drawn from multiple sources: the outline of the Finn earrings recall a reclining Henry Moore nude, while the Hail earrings take their shape from a study of dewdrops on a morning trip to Kew Gardens. ‘My pieces are very much sculptural forms, but there is a middle ground between the organic and the structured,’ she says. ‘The curved resin shapes are very playful, so I like to keep the metal components as clean and minimal as possible.’
Despite their playfulness, each piece possesses a sleek, industrial gloss: juicy pebbles of navy blue and yellow resin, flecked with gold leaf and burnt orange thread, are suspended on curvilinear metal bars in the architectural Patter choker. ‘Tactility is key,’ explains Zhang. ‘I encourage people to touch my work, to feel the threads coming to the surface. Nowadays, we’re a very digital society - you don’t get to touch many materials any more. I wanted to preserve that element.’