Precious | Meet the makers: Carl Noonan

Titanium and silver rings created by CAD jeweller and Tasmanian-based artist Carl Noonan.jpg

Image: Intricate jewellery pieces created by CAD jeweller Carl Noonan, which are featured in QVMAG's exhibition Precious: excellence in contemporary jewellery

Discover the creative process behind one of the featured artists of QVMAG's Precious exhibition, Carl Noonan. 

Based in Bicheno, Tasmania, Carl Noonan relishes his beach-side location after relocating from Sydney five years ago. "I'm blessed to live right next to Waubs Bay. We've got seals and orcas and dolphins - and I've actually got some penguins living underneath my shipping container where I get to work." 

Noonan is a featured artist in Precious: Excellence in contemporary jewellery, QVMAG's exhibition at the Art Gallery at Royal Park. As an artist in the relatively new form of design as a CAD (computer-aided design) jeweller, he generously shared the development process with QVMAG.  

Noonan began his planning process by sketching his ideas. "The first thing I do, in all my practices, I do lots of drawings," he said. "I've got 20 books for this stuff!  

"It's actually the 'funnest' part of the whole process. I'm free to come up with lots of different ideas. I do those messy drawings and fill books up."  

Once Noonan settled on a design, he created a 3D model of his planned piece in a CAD program. "I use a program called Rhino, and I'll cut it up in the program," he said. "These days, it gets printed straight out of Rhino."

CAD Jeweller Carl Noonan demonstrates a 3D render of a ring design on his laptop

Image: Artist Carl Noonan develops his jewellery pieces in 3D on his computer before printing and assembly.  

Noonan recalled his first piece for this series entitled Flesh and Bone, where he mixed new and old metal to create an oval-shaped ring. As with his other pieces, he designed the ring on his laptop and used the Rhino program to laser-cut the pieces from titanium.  

Then, construction began. Noonan assembled the pieces to create the 'bone' structure of his ring. "I just build them like a little puzzle," he said. "You put these little bits together, slot them all in."  

Once satisfied, he progressed to the next stage. "The next step is to add wax," he noted. "I add wax to the bone structure - and through the lost wax casting method, that turns into silver or gold.  

"The silver or gold melts at 900 degrees, whereas the titanium's melting point is 1500. So, the titanium structure stays solid. I then work on my bench to clean it all back until I can see the kind of bone structure again. And it will be a finished piece."  

Noonan is inspired by both similarity and diversity in the world. "My work mirrors design principles in nature," he said. "And this is the bone structure that I kind of see in nature, that's exactly the same in each organism. And I add flesh to it in a unique way.  

"So, just like I'm human, you're human. We both have the same design, but we both also have something unique about us. And so I try and make each ring in this series unique." 

Carl also celebrates this diversity in his process as well. He laughed, "I try and make a mess - to celebrate the fact that we're all designed in a unique way as well." 


Precious: excellence in contemporary jewellery 
Art Gallery at Royal Park
8 July - 1 October 2023