Thursday, 20 August 2015

222 Grips for a Stone

As a parting gift at the Ground Now workshop by Ruudt Peters we were each given homework to continue our investigation into materials and methods of working. These were generally a follow on from our last piece of work created in the final day of the workshop. 

In my case it was a progression of the ring exploration I was undertaking. My homework was to explore 222 Grips for a Stone (or mineral).

222 is a favourite number of mine, however it is a massive undertaking to try and explore this many grips for a stone. I have made a start... here's the first 6, only 216 to go!

222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone
222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone

222 Grips for a Stone

Thursday, 13 August 2015

What Grounds You?

One of the projects we had to do at the Ruudt Peter's Ground Now workshop was to make a 1 minute video on what grounds us. We paired up in teams and were allocated half a day to work on it. This is my interpretation on what grounds me. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Ground Now Workshop with Ruudt Peters

Windmills in Holland
I was invited to participate in Ruudt Peter's Ground Now workshop that was held in the countryside in the south of the Netherlands from 3-9 August 2015.

The FarmHouse 
Ruudt has been a professor at two of the most prestigious universities in Europe, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and Konstfack University of Arts and Crafts in Stockholm. He has extensively exhibited his work, which can be found in many public and private collections around the world.

In short, he is a rock star in the art world!

Studio Garden 
The Ground Now workshop is intended for artists who seek to deepen their work and I was with an international group of artists from Moldova, Korea, New Zealand, America, Trinidad and Holland to name a few.

Table set for lunch
The theme of the workshop was 'Ground Now' with a focus on our feet. Often we are not aware that our feet do more than transport us. They can be used as tools and also assist to connect us to the ground.

My pair of shoes made from natural materials (leather, feathers, ivy)
We had to make a pair of shoes using natural materials ahead of the workshop. Being in Florence I used materials that were readily available : an old leather jacket someone had discarded, pigeon feathers and ivy.

Modelling my shoes
Image by Lucienne Buga 
These were then swapped with another workshop participant (Fiona) who manipulated them. Fiona joined the leather and ivy shoes together and painted them.

Shoe manipulated by Fiona.
Afterwards they were buried in the shoe grave yard.

The shoe grave yard.
 The the theme 'Ground Now' we focused on our feet as both the inspiration for our drawing and creating of objects, as well as using our feet to make images.

We also had blindfolded drawing assignments, and drawing responding to touch. These exercises were to assist us to work with 'the belly' or the unconscious, rather than our rational logical brain. 

Ruudt interpreting a blind drawing.

 We had many different experiences and assignments over the course of the week. A highlight for me was a visit to the local church that was constructed on ley lines (ancient earth lines of energy that connect spiritual sites across Europe).

The Old Church
 Using divining rods we were encouraged to find the energy lines in the area. Excitingly (and also a little mysteriously, which gave me goose bumps) most of us responded to the energy on the site. I even found the point at which the energy line entered the church site.

Searching for ley lines 
 We were also encouraged to select a natural material and spend the day investigating its potential, exploring how it reacted to different treatments. I chose to work with the discarded leather jacket, and undertook a series of treatments that involved burning, binding or boiling the leather.

leather bound around rocks using copper wire.
The results of boiling leather
boiled leather samples
The results of the experiments were exciting and often unpredictable. I found that boiling leather for 10 minutes was the most effective and it would shrink around objects, become hard and hold its shape.

Others experimented with bamboo, rice, paper, fabric, paperbark, and metal. 

My Opal ring
 We were asked to bring along an object that grounds us. I chose my Australian Boulder Opal ring, which was given to me by my Nan, and I like it because I have a piece of Australia with me whenever I travel.

the first interpretation of my ring.
 Using the ring as inspiration we had to copy it using natural materials. Because my object was so small, Ruudt encouraged me to work big.

second interpretation of ring
 Once we made the first interpretation, we had to make an interpretation of the interpretation. My second one wasn't as successful, and so I was encouraged to make more.

Third interpretation of opal ring

Fourth interpretation of opal ring
Whilst the workshop was intense (we started at 7.30am every morning with meditation and finished around 11pm after sharing a communal meal) I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. The environment was amazing, and it was lovely of Ruudt to share his studio space with us. The other artists participating were also wonderful and I got to know some very talented and clever people. And the best bit was that I was encouraged to grow and expand my artistic practice.

For many more images of our workshop experience visit Ruudt's Facebook page.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

All things Gelato - my favourite Gelateria's and flavours in Florence

I have been eating my way around Florence, particularly when it comes to gelato. I quickly discovered that for the best gelato you must seek out Gelateria's that make the delicious goodness by hand.

The most delicious I have discovered are:

Antica Gelateria Fiorentina - this one is just around the corner from Academia Riaci, making it a great place to stop. They make some very unusual flavours such as Persian (rosewater and pistachio), and stracca (yoghurt, cinamon and honey)

Carabe  - a delicious stop on my walk home from school. Delicious flavours included kiwi fruit and watermelon

Delicious flavours of Gelata Santa Trinita
with the Ponto Vechio in the background

Gelata Santa Trinita - this place is so well known that there was a long line out the door, even at 11pm at night! And understandably so. I tried black sesame seed, and passionfruit. Absolutely delicious and unusual flavours.

Gelateria Edoardo - In the square of the Duomo. Try the red wine, combined cinnamon. Absolutely delicious! And perfect for a hot day. And the best time to go is lunch time around 12.15pm. For some reason this is when the line is shortest!

Vivoli -  - a little out of the way of the touristy places, this is the oldest gelateria in town. The make a particularly delicious coffee gelato

Delicious colours of the gelato spoons
I have also been charmed by the delightful colours of the gelato spoons and have been collecting them on my gelato foraging around Florence.

Gelato spoon necklace #1
I have been having a bit of fun creating some jewellery using my collection of plastic gelato spoons.

Gelato Spoon necklace #2

detail of Gelato Spoon Necklace #2

Making the jewellery is a good excuse for me to continue to try all the delicious flavours of gelato! That's my excuse anyway :) 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Siena, my Florentine Ring and recipes for gold

Last weekend as part of our cultural excursions we caught the bus to Siena, which was a short 1.5 hour bus ride away.

Siena's historical centre has been Unesco Heritage listed as a 'living embodiment of a medieval city'.

Easily explored in a day we wandered around admiring the architecture. One of the highlights was a look through Siena's duomo which was built from 1215 and finished about two centuries later. The interior is absolutely stunning from the inlaid marble floor, black and white stripe marble pillars, through to the vividly coloured frescoes painted by Bernardino Pinturicchio in the Liberia Piccolomini, which also housed a great collection of medieval manuscripts. The Siena Duomo, also known as Opera della Metropolitana di Siena, is easily one of the most beautiful churches I have ever visited.

Amazing detail in the marble floor

Black and white marble pillars 

Vividly coloured frescoes in the Libreria
Amazing details in the ceiling
 We spent most of the afternoon exploring the church and its associated buildings and by the early afternoon we were ready for a relaxing drink of the local red wine, Chianti, whilst overlooking the Piazza del Campo.

 It is hard to believe that this is my final week at the Academy Riaci. On Monday I started my final ring, which combined all the techniques I have learnt over the past couple of weeks.

I love the way the ring was shaped using a bowl of lead, and a steel ball. This creates a slight curve on the surface whilst also helping to create the circular ring shape. It is a technique I have not encountered before.

Shaping my final ring
The next step was to solder the many pieces together.

I also learnt how to make 24k gold into 18k gold by melting it with silver and coper. I also learnt the ratios for mixing rose gold too. My teacher is quite the alchemist.

The recipe to make 18k gold is:
75% pure gold
20% silver
5% coper

The recipe to make rose gold is:
75% pure gold
15% silver
10% copper

pretty neat huh!

soldering the gold bezel to the ring
After a lot of filing and clean up, I then practiced some incisione on the sides of the ring band, using sealing wax to hold it in place. 

I chose to set an amethyst stone because purple is the colour of Florence. 

And here is the finished ring, a nice object that embodies my memories and experiences of my four weeks in Florence.

The final ring
I also finished the earnings I started in the first week too. 

Incisione earrings 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Leaning towers

As part of the academic program at Accademie Riaci, cultural excursions take place every second week. Florence is central to many renown towns and villages, and this week we travelled to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower.

Leaning tower of Pisa
 It costs 18 Euros to climb the tower and combined with heat of about 35 degrees celsius - so we elected to view the tower whilst in its shadow instead.

The serious tilt of the Leaning tower.

There is more to the complex than just the tower which is really just a bell tower for the cathedral and baptistery and the complex is known as Campo dei Miracle (field of Miracles). 

Within the cathedral features a pulpit carved by Giovanni Pisano, sculpted between 1302 and 1310, which features nudes and heroic figures. It was at this time that the human body was beginning to be celebrated, rather than being thought of a place of sin. It is said that this inspired Michelangelo's David.

Academia Riaci also organises art tours on Friday mornings and we visited the Galleria dell'Academia which has a room dedicated to Michelangelo's sculptures along with a large exhibition of medieval paintings. Seeing Michelangelo's David in real life brought tears to my eyes. It is an exquisitely carved sculpture and the story behind it was brought to life by an amazing art guide, Andi who runs art tours Artist for a Day

Back at school this week I learnt the basics of incisione, carving into metal. Using sealing wax to hold the metal in place, I used small sharp chisels to create an image in the metal. Some of the techniques are very similar to those used in print making. 

Interestingly, each of the different jewellery techniques (construction, incisione, gem setting) are taught by a professor who specialise in each area. Daniele, my teacher, specialises in construction. 

Tools used for Incisione
 So my incisione work is very much experimental!

My attempts at incisione
 I also contracted a fourth ring, which was quite complex and included a number of different techniques to create the final piece.

The fourth ring

Another view of the fourth ring

 Time is passing incredibly quickly in Florence and its hard to believe I have only one more week here of study.


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