Shiny Sparkly Things
Published 4 years ago
Fostering creativity in fashion with 3D digital design
Glimmerjam is a non-game 3D digital design tool for jewelry. 'Tool' is such a boring word, but Glimmerjam is anything but that. It is full of shiny, sparkly, colorful bits for endless hours of creativity.
Local supplies stores have limited inventories, and digging through the internet just to see what is out there to use is very tedious when one is in design mode rather than knowing-what-I-want-to-buy mode. Glimmerjam is about having a vast array of jewelry components to experiment and design with at your fingertips.
The inspiration comes from a convergence of several factors affecting my life at the time. The Great Recession began with my husband’s employer declaring bankruptcy then shutting their doors within days of that announcement. He took a job overseas where I couldn’t reasonably take all the bits and pieces and tools of my jewelry making hobby with me, and at the same time I was developing a bizarre problem with my joints that made manipulating small objects pretty near impossible.
In fact, it made doing anything pretty near impossible so for several years I was severely physically debilitated, without any answers as to what was wrong let alone what to do about it. During that time, I reached back to my engineering roots and began to learn mobile app development just to occupy my mind. 
The iPad was originally designed by Apple to reach out to a broader audience than current iPhone users. The large display along with the touch gesture capability was meant to be easier to use by both the older and the younger demographics. 
My iPad 2 was a lifesaver, since I could still tap and swipe. I searched for jewelry design apps, and what few existed were either cartoony games for children or limited image-based (and generally poorly functioning) apps for charm bracelets. Since I couldn’t find what I wanted, I set out to create it.
Life happens, time went by, and after several years we returned to Texas. As it turns out, my physical problems seem to fit what is now recognized as a symptom profile of Iraqi combat veterans exposed to toxic particles while deployed. Fortunately for me, I have seen a slow improvement from those first horribly painful and debilitating years. 
As it turns out, the graphics capabilities of mobile devices couldn’t handle the level of detail and realism that I wanted when I first set out to create Glimmerjam. Most of the apps I developed back then were simple productivity apps. Working out the Glimmerjam concept in theory introduced me to the world of graphic design, 3D modeling, shaders, animation, game physics… all of that great stuff necessary to make Glimmerjam as real and visually stunning as I imagined. But holy cow - who knew it was so complicated?!?
Even better, over this same time the graphic processing capability of mobile devices has improved to the point that they can support the visual effects needed for the realistic detail of the many materials and detailed components used in jewelry design. We decided that we just HAVE to make this app or we would regret not trying, so we teamed up with the Knights of Unity to bring Glimmerjam to life.
So far we have developed the proof of concept, overcoming with the challenges of keeping everything to scale regardless of user device screen size in addition to developing models and shaders detailed enough to be realistic without overwhelming the GPU. 
Now we are refining the user interface with the goal of making it so easy and intuitive that the tool itself is an unintrusive support to the creative flow of the user. At the same time, we are expanding the collection of jewelry component models, materials and shaders. Because who doesn’t like shiny sparkly things to create with and wear?
Janine Suvak