As a child, Corey Moranis was mesmerized by crystals and mood rings; objects that hold magic. Today, she finds that same wonder in Lucite: a heavy-duty, industrial material that can be transformed into something gentle and beautiful. It’s both rigid and plastic at the same time, containing a memory of its previous liquid phase like a frozen waterfall. It seems to possess its own inner light. It’s there, but it’s not.
Moranis was always into plastics, collecting kawaii toys, blow-up chairs, and 60s costume jewelry, but it wasn’t until she was studying textile design at OCAD University in Toronto that she began experimenting with crafting her own huge blocks of Lucite from scratch. Colouring, mixing, and cooking the liquid plastic requires calculation and precision, which appealed to her scientific background; Moranis studied psychology and neuroscience before a detour in Amsterdam changed her course and eventually led her to art school.
“Lucite completely took over my life,” she says. Early experiments were candy-colored, marbled, and elaborate, echoing the fantastical, sculptural cakes she was also creating at the time. “I was super obsessed with this material. I thought, ‘How do I get this on my body?’”
In a 2015 Corey Moranis lookbook, a model balances on two clear Lucite blocks like deconstructed glass slippers, a premonition of the elementalism that would come to define Moranis’ jewelry. “Lucite is light and comfortable to wear, but substantial in appearance,” she explains. “The jewelry doesn’t take over your look—it’s buildable, and it reads differently depending on the light.”
Working with Lucite as a medium presents its own challenges, though. “There are many stages in the process and there are no shortcuts,” says Moranis. “It’s clear, so you have to have a really trained, focused eye to catch and fix imperfections.” She uses heat-bending to curve the knots, loops, and twists that ripple through her pieces—straight lines or harsh angles are rare. But though her work has a fluidity that reflects the Zen practice of enso, drawing brushstroke circles which express a fleeting moment of enlightenment and uninhibited creation, the reality often looks more like fighting with the material to get the effortless shapes she wants. “I’m always trying to push what’s possible.”
The result of making each piece individually by hand is that it comes out with its own intricacies; each is subtly unique, like the wearer who Moranis keeps in mind when she’s designing. “It’s for people who are looking for something different, who follow their own trends. My goal is to create contemporary jewelry that brings beauty, joy, and playfulness to the world.”
Profile by Ellen Freeman.