Power of Pearl Documentary Chronicles Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath

Press Release December, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: After news broke about typhoon Haiyan, the film crew of Power of Pearl knew it was imperative that they travel to the Philippines to support the communities they had befriended through the past three years of production.

In 2010, Power of Pearl was launched to document both the little known pearl farming communities across the globe and also their culture of sustainability that all industrials should take note of. Some of the team’s most cherished subjects, and their livelihoods, were based in Palawan, the Philippines, where the heavy hit Coron is located. Footage coming in from the disaster zones painted a bleak picture, and the filmmakers didn’t know what to expect as they frantically arranged for travel to the Philippines.

The affected pearl farms were institutions that the owners, workers, and surrounding communities had depended on for generations. The culture and people of the area are known to be exceptionally resilient, but there was no way to know just how they would react to such calamity. When the film crew arrived on the pearl farm, they were greeted not by a community that had lost hope, but instead by a community filled with a reinvigorated passion and with strength and ambition.

Many of the workers shared their personal experiences with the film crew. Power of Pearl Director Ahbra Perry was moved by the spirit of the Filipino people. “Many of these farmers have lost everything, yet their resilience to rebuild, and more importantly, work as a community in this difficult time is nothing more than pure inspiration. The world news only informs us of the tragedy, but we set our focus on the wonderfully strong spirit of the Filipino people.”

Power of Pearl is working hard in post-production to bring their emotional and impactful documentary to the world by January of 2015. They believe the film will deeply benefit the overall view we all have of our planet and provide a better understanding of we all can contribute to a healthier, more sustainable world in the future.

The filmmakers are fundraising for the film and to help rebuild homes in Palawan. More information, support, and donations can be made at www.powerofpearlmovie.com

Co-Directors Taylor Higgins and Ahbra Perry began with an educational series for the Cultured Pearl Association of America nearly four years ago and fell in love with the story of the pearl. The team has been working on their feature length film, Power of Pearl, for the past three years delving deep into the world of pearl farming, taking them on a journey to the most remote reaches of the earth spanning the South Pacific, East Asia, Indonesia and Australia.

The film documents pearl farms that sit on the front lines of global climate change and are the first to feel the effects of rising temperatures and acidic pH levels in the oceans.

Taylor and Ahbra were taken with the pearl farmers, who from principals down to the kitchen workers, are intimately bonded with one another and the surrounding communities. This bond has garnered love for each other and everything around them, which intrinsically makes them steadfast stewards of the sea. The two have wholeheartedly committed to sharing these stories with the world and aim to raise social awareness on the positive impacts of pearl farming and what it represents as a whole.

Behind the Scenes Mother’s Day Photoshoot

We know what you’re probably thinking! It’s the day before Thanksgiving, exactly 165 days before Mother’s Day, why on earth would we be doing a Mother’s Day Photoshoot? Well, when we have a team member just weeks away from becoming a new mother (the first in the Pearl Paradise family), we start early!

Here are a few behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot today.

Congratulations Chenai!

From a Rubber Mold to a Finished Piece of Pearl Jewelry

The majority of the jewelry you see in the retail market is made using rubber molds. A rubber mold is what jewelers and jewelry manufacturers usually use to duplicate a piece of jewelry. The original piece of jewelry that is to be duplicated, would have been carved by hand, or created using computer-aided design (CAD) software and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), like a 3D wax printer. We are proud to be able to say that the vast majority of Pearl Paradise’s jewelry (if not all), was originally carved by hand. There is a tangible difference between jewelry that is hand-carved by an artisan, and jewelry that is created on a computer by a technician. While hand-carved jewelry may not be mathematically perfect, the contours tend to feel softer and more fluid, while jewelry created using a computer seems to have a cold and more mechanical feel to it.

My name is John, and I started hand-carving wax models for jewelry, casting and making rubber molds 20 years ago. Over the years, I’ve created an extensive assortment of designs that I’ve captured and added to my rubber mold collection. When I joined Pearl Paradise, I brought over 3000 rubber molds with me. Today, on a daily basis, Hisano and I go through these rubber molds to hand-select which designs can be modified, if needed, to hold a pearl to add to Pearl Paradise’s online collection. After we select a design which we want to add to the collection, and make any necessary alterations, we then begin the process of creating jewelry from a rubber mold.

Above is a typical rubber mold. It was made with a device called a vulcanizer, which compresses and heats several layers of a special type of soft rubber, inside of which, the piece of jewelry you want to recreate is placed. The compressing effect of the vulcanizer squeezes the rubber around and into the crevices of the jewelry, capturing all of its details. The heating first makes the rubber soft, allowing it to flow seamlessly around the jewelry, and then the heat vulcanizes the mold rubber, making it firm. The mold is then hand-cut open to remove the original piece of jewelry. What is left is a three dimensional impression, ready for wax to be injected.

Step One: Injecting wax into the rubber mold.

Doing this step correctly is crucial to having your finished piece of turn out properly. The two key factors are wax temperature and air pressure. If the wax isn’t heated to an adequate temperature, it won’t flow correctly and will not completely fill the rubber mold. If the wax is too hot, it can create air bubbles, which result in your finished piece having porosity.

The melted wax inside of the wax injector is pressurized to force it into the rubber mold. If the pressure is too low, the liquid wax will not flow correctly and will not completely fill the rubber mold, similar to when the wax is too cold. [This is shown with the wax on the left.]

Conversely, if the air pressure is too high, it could result in visible mold lines and/or “flashing”. Flashing is when wax overflows the rubber mold’s design, resulting in extra wax on the injected wax model. [This is shown with the wax in the middle.]

When all of the variables are correct, the result is an injected wax model that is an exact duplicate of the original piece of jewelry. [This is shown with the wax on the right.]

Step Two: Sprue and invest the wax model.

In the photos of the wax injections, you can see a wax stick attached to the jewelry model. This is what is called the sprue. The sprue is basically the pathway for the liquid wax to get from the outside of the rubber mold, to the impression of the jewelry design in the center. Casting the piece in gold or silver is essentially the same process, but with different materials. Instead of injecting liquid wax into a rubber mold, you pour molten gold or silver into a plaster mold.

The first step in this part of the process is to attach the sprue of the wax model onto a rubber sprue-base.

You then slide a metal cylinder, referred to as a flask, over your wax model and onto the sprue-base forming a tight seal.

The next step is to mix a very fine plaster, called investment, and pour it into the flask. Before and after you pour the mixed investment, you have to put the mixture into a vacuum chamber which pulls all of the tiny air bubbles out of the mixture, and off of the wax model. If you left the bubbles in the investment mixture, your casting would have tiny metal bubbles attached to it where the bubbles were touching the wax model.

After the plaster solidifies, you gently pull off the rubber sprue-base, giving you access to the end of the sprue.

Step Three: Casting the piece of jewelry.

You’re now ready to put the flask into the casting furnace to harden the plaster and “burn out” the wax model, leaving an empty cavity that is the exact shape of the wax model. After all of the wax has burned out, and while the flask is still hot (between 800-1200 degrees Fahrenheit -depending on the metal and the design), you pour in your molten gold or silver into the hole where the end of the sprue was once visible. You always have to pour more metal than you need for the piece of jewelry you are casting. This is because the extra metal pushes the primary metal into the empty cavity where the wax model was, filling all of the fine details completely. The glowing metal you can see in the photo is referred to as the “button”.

Step Four: Cleaning and polishing the casting

After the flask cools for a little while, you submerge it in water, or “quench” it. This rapid cooling hardens the metal making it more durable and easier to work with. The rapid cooling also makes the plaster break away from the cast piece of jewelry in the center, referred to as the casting. After you clean off any remaining plaster, you cut your casting off of the metal sprue. If done correctly, your casting will have the exact same shape as your original wax model.

Your casting is now ready to be tumbled clean, then filed and sanded into shape.  Your next step would be to solder together the components if needed, in my case, the bezel and post are attached to the top of the pendant with the jump-ring. After the piece is assembled, you would then set the diamond. Finally, the piece is ready to be polished.

Not done yet! Now my favorite part… Selecting the pearl!!!

Step Five: Setting the pearl.

After the pearl is selected, it is drilled and attached to the mounting and …

 

We are currently creating a minimum of 12 new pearl pieces per month, one of which is posted weekly on Facebook for our “First Look Friday” promotion – One New Pearl Jewelry Design a Week.

I really hope you all enjoy the new pieces as they are produced!

Behind the Scenes – Winter Pearl Promotions Photoshoot

We have a lot of new items that are going to be released soon as well as quite a few promotions coming up, so we decided to have another pearl-photog day! This time we invited a professional model and television personality to join us for an evening of cameras and pearls at a studio in Los Angeles.

Here are just a few shots “behind the scenes!”

A day in the Life on a Pearl Farm, part four

… continued from September 13th

A Day in the Life
My experience on a South Sea pearl farm in Australia
By Ahbra Perry of ‘On the Reel Productions.’

Down on the deck below, the divers have returned from their last trip of the day and everything is wrapping up.  A suspicious smell wafts up from the kitchen, likely canned spaghetti pie and meat lump.  I try not to breathe.  By the time I make it down to the main deck, everyone has vanished off to the showers, attempting to scrub off the daily layer of salt, or huddled in their bunks, trying to pick up enough Internet service for a few precious Skype moments with their significant other.

One of the young men from East Timor slowly walks back and forth spraying the deck with a fire hose of seawater.  His name is Masa and he has been in Australia for 18 months in a program set up by Clipper Pearls.  He has been learning the trade, and so far has sent his family enough money to buy a house, a car, and schooling for his younger siblings.  Masa tells me how he is going to return home and set up his own pearl farm.  He already has the site picked out.

Masa heads into dinner and I get a moment to breathe.  The sunset is a painting. There is absolutely nothing else around and the seas are calm.  The same squabble from this morning loudly approaches me from behind.  Pat and some of the crew have brought a case of the “good stuff” up to end the day with.  By “good stuff,” I mean Aussie 3.2% beer.  There are regulations about the alcohol content the crew can consume while out at sea, so we all sip our cold flavored water together.  Patrick points out Eighty Mile beach to the east, a historic site for the pearling luggers of the past, as a giant sea turtle swims by.

Francesco comes to the back of the boat with a big bucket and everyone cheers.  Alright!  He must be throwing dinner overboard and we’ll get takeout!  Fat chance. He dumps the scraps from breakfast and lunch (which strikingly resemble dinner) overboard as I watch curiously.

Chumming the water and attracting all kinds of fish

“Chumming ‘ze water,” he says, “we are going fishing.”

Before I know it, dozens of small fish have gathered at the surface, so preoccupied with feeding that they fail to notice the larger fish coming up to eat them.  It is getting dark now, so a few of the guys put on their head lamps and drop their lines in the water.  I cannot believe the feeding frenzy that is happening.  I have never seen such a cluster of marine life from the surface of the water.  Every type of fish you can imagine has swum to the surface: turtles, rays, even sea snakes.  It seems that Francesco has finally found an audience for his cooking.

Chef Francesco is a welcomed source of amusement aboard the ship

One of the guys next to me gets a promising bite and is really struggling to pull the line in.  Something big is hooked.  He slowly reels in a giant Mackerel.

Patrick starts talking about fresh sushi, and right as I get my hopes up, a huge tiger shark breaks the surface of the water and chomps our sushi dinner in half.  Hunger pangs and groans of frustration roll in from the crew as we reel in only the head of what could have been a delicious meal.  I’m too despondent to speak.

I was so excited about my sashimi that I didn’t see that we now had six to eight tiger sharks circling the boat.  They are impressive creatures to watch until you realize that not only did they steal your dinner, they are going to be feeding around the boat all night- and you’ll be diving in that water at sunrise.

“Sleep well tonight, huh?” says Pat.

No.  Probably not.  There is never a dull moment on a pearl farm.

Ahbra Perry is a filmmaker whose shorts have played in Cannes, Palm Springs, and the New York Film Festivals. She studied film at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco before forming On The Reel Productions with her partner Taylor Higgins. The two have poured their hearts and souls into telling great stories, raising social awareness, promoting an urgent need for the conservation of marine biodiversity, and for the empowerment of indigenous women. An educational series enlisted their wanderlust for a month long trip around the world with the Cultured Pearl Association of America. While in the Philippines their eyes were opened to a new side of the pearl. They are both driven by the dream of completing this film and sharing their passions with the world.

Follow the film on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PowerOfPearl and for more information visit www.powerofpearlmovie.com

Buoys holding pearl net growing South Sea pearls

The rugged coastline of the Australian Outback