The I VOTE butterfly cuff


Q&A with Dorian Webb about her latest charitable piece

Let’s talk about your “I VOTE” cuff. Why this bracelet, now? 
This election is truly an important one. I usually find some way of getting involved in to increase voter turnout whether it’s helping people come up with a plan to get to polling stations, working phone banks, or creating postcards to encourage people to vote. This year, that didn’t seem enough. I wanted to be able to do something that not only encouraged people to vote, but also shared a positive message, and fostered conversation.

What materials did you use in this piece?
The bracelet is handcrafted in brass, and hand-painted in enamel.

Are these the materials you usually work in?
No. They are very much a departure for me. Here again, I wanted to do something that was unusual for this important election cycle. Brass is a wonderful metal that has been used to create jewelry for centuries. I was attracted to its warm tones and its durability. For this piece, I really wanted to create something that was unexpected, but easy to incorporate into daily living.

And the enamel?
I love color and usually bring color into my work with semiprecious or precious stones. With this bracelet, I wanted to use a material that would make the cuff come alive with color, but not be glitzy.  I use transparent enamel so that the details of the butterflies’ wings are visible. I love how it magnifies and accentuates the elements that individualize each butterfly. The idea is that this cuff is one that you can pair with even the most casual of outfits- no time has to be spent thinking “what it goes with”. It goes with everything!

Is there any significance to the 3-dimensional butterflies?
Yes! It was important to me that this cuff gave a sense of interaction and vibrancy. The slightly curved butterfly wings are meant to give a sense of movement, and activity. The largest butterfly is breaking the plane of the edge of the cuff. It is a time of intentional and eloquent action.

Most election-related merchandise says “VOTE”. Why does your cuff say “I VOTE”?
Words matter. For me, the message is a personal one. Yes, I want to inspire others to embrace their civic right. I also want to communicate my priorities and to signal my expectations that my voice will be heard. The cuff’s underlying message is both an affirming one and a demand to be seen and valued.

Is there a particular reason that you cut out the words “I VOTE”?
Yes. That too ties into the idea of those words being uniquely personal. Through the laser cut letters, you can see the color of my skin.  You can’t distance me, my heritage, and your treatment of me, from my perspective and actions. It is a symbiotic relationship.

Is there any meaning in the font you selected?
Yes. I like to think it’s a cross between the glamour of the typeface used for Vogue magazine, and the energy of the lettering in those old “I want you for US Army” posters. We, as women are both sexy and everyday activists.

Why a cuff?
Wearing cuffs makes me feel powerful and protected. “I VOTE” is a transformative and strong statement. It seemed appropriate to have an empowering message in a form symbolizes strength.

Do you think that being an African American has an impact on the design of this bracelet?
Absolutely! The magic of thoughtful creation is that you can fully bring yourself, and your experiences into the design process. 

Do you make a conscious attempt to include references to your African American heritage in your work?
My work is a reflection of my experiences and perspective which is shaped by my heritage. It is all intertwined, which is a good thing. I think beyond the making of beautiful objects, that the sharing of our individual stories is a catalyst for connection and change.

Why are you donating a portion of the sales of this bracelet to I am a Voter?
Democracy works best when all are involved. I think it’s important to support organizations that work hard to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to vote, and that are actively engaged in educating people about the voting process.