Thursday, 4 December 2014

Limited production pieces

Our last assignment for Jewellery 2 was to create a limited production line of jewellery. 

The intention for this project is to give us an idea of what it is like to create production pieces, starting with  designing a prototype - and then once the design had been tweaked - we then had to make 9 versions of the design.

Prototype of my pendant design
One of the great things about our Professor, Pam Ritchie, is that she encourages us to use materials not always associated with jewellery. So, inspired by my current love of lichen, I designed a pendant that incorporated found wood and copper discs that were covered with a green patina.

I was a little apprehensive at having to make 9 identical pieces, however once I got into the swing of things, I realised that there was a method to making on a larger scale. And I really enjoyed it.

Along with developing the prototype I also had to undertake some experiments on how to seal in the green patina so that it didn't rub off on the wearer. I started off with a clear matt enamel spray on the domes, but I felt that they needed to be shiny so I then experimented with a clear enamel.

I was having so much fun with the design that I also created matching earrings.

Here are the pendants all lined up waiting to be attached to handmade copper chain. They turned into an army of stick insects!

I totally forgot to take a picture of the pendant attached to the chain before I handed them in, so Ill have to share that with you in the new year when I get the marked pieces back. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

MFA exhibition: Progress in Work in Progress

Earlier this week, on a rainy Monday evening, was the opening for the MFA exhibition Progress in Work in Progress at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax. 

I chose to display a work that I had created earlier in the year Bush Telegraph. Made from a collection of vintage objects, manipulated domestic ware and machine embroidery embedded in resin, Bush Telegraph refers to my current interest in pioneering history and domestic spaces. I am particularly interested in exploring how many families were isolated, both in the sense of place (as both Canada and Australia were so far away from the mother country, England) and space as some families resided many miles from their nearest neighbour or town.

Bush Telegraph 2014

Thinking about this distance made me think about communication and how this occurred between countries. Often it would take 6 months for a letter to travel from one recipient and country to the other - and how it is this communication informs my work now. I am reading letters written in the 1800s by Elizabeth Moodie, British Canadian authoress, who wrote home to her mother in England about the trials and tribulations of living in a new land. 

Bush Telegraph 2014

The exhibition contains the work of the 17 current MFA students with works that range from a short documentary by Connie Littlefield, dying with and cataloguing local plants by Anna Haywood Jones to a performance piece about looking for a short term friend by Allyse Bowd. 
Bush Telegraph
photograph by Evan Rensch

Infront of my work at the opening

Gallery view of exhibition by Evan Rensch

For more information and pictures from the opening please visit the MFA blog

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Enamel Lichen Necklace

Our second assignment for enamel class called for us to incorporate at least four enamelled components, which were to then be created into a piece of jewellery or an object.

With my current fascination into lichen I wanted to continue to explore these effects. I set about undertaking a lot of samples to achieve a similar result looking at the colours and textures in the image below.

Image of lichen used for reference for the project
Working with 0.3mm thick, fine silver 1" discs that were cut and then bent into a conical form. I first enamelled the inside with Orange Red Ruby enamel. I love this particular colour. Gold is one of the colorants in the enamel powder and depending on whether it is against silver or coper determines its colour. Sometimes it is a rich gold, like the images below, and sometimes it is ruby grapefruit. It is delicious!

work in progress: the cones prior to being assembled

The outside of the cone was enamelled with a black layer, followed by a fine sifting of 'Candy'. One of the things I enjoy about Candy is that is easily oxidises in the kiln, giving it a faint green tinge and is a little unpredictable in its results. Perfect for representing lichen. 

detail of the components necklace

I wanted to create a piece of jewellery that could be worn, but also exists by itself as a beautiful object, so I strung all the individual 18 cones onto silk cord.

Components necklace

The idea is that you roughly wrap one cord around the other and the enamelled pieces hang like a pendant. It needs a little refinement to be practical, and Im incredibly excited about its prospects.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

SOFA Chicago 2014

I had the pleasure of attending SOFA Chicago 2014 with the assistance of Craft Alliance, who orchestrated and funded an education and research mission for Atlantic Canadian artists.

At the Opening Reception with Anne Pryde
SOFA is a gallery-presented, international art exposition dedicated to bridging the worlds of design, decorative and fine art. Works by emerging and established artists and designers are available for sale by premier galleries and dealers. The exhibition takes place over three days and attracts over 30,000 attendees. 

Fascinating perspex (plexiglass) sculptures by Regine Schumann at the Lausbery Contemporary booth.

SOFA features the work of over 1,000 contemporary artists represented by over 70 galleries from 11 countries. Contemporary fine craft shown at SOFA can range in price from $500 - $350,000. The exhibition also includes an exclusive opening night preview, a lecture series, special featured exhibits and individual gallery events. SOFA is attended by major collectors and collector groups from around the world. 

Amazing pots by Steven Young Lee at the Duane Reed Gallery booth

detail of Junghye Park's work. 
Hand stitched silk.

Enamelled sculptures by Naoki Takeyama at the Gallery FW booth

Clever sculptures assembled from objects found washed up upon the shore of the Thames River in London by Robert Cooper. 

There wasn't much mixed media on display at SOFA.

fabulous jewellery on display at Charon Kransen Arts booth

I have wanted to attend SOFA ever since I graduated with my Bachelor of Visual Arts from the ANU School of Art, so attending was a dream come true for me. 

I had the pleasure of attending with the following artists:
Bronwyn Arundel from Arundel Studios

Jade Ansley
Lydia Buxton
Anne Pryde


The event provided invaluable networking opportunities with like minded artists and entrepreneurs, and the opportunity to view world class artwork and meet with the galleries that represent those artists.

If you would like to see images of some of the amazing art on display, visit my FaceBook page.

Thank you to Craft Alliance and SUNSCAD who made this opportunity a reality.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Lichen Brooch and Burdock Hair Pin

Along with learning enamelling, I have also been continuing to learn and improve my jewellery making abilities with Pam Ritchie. Pam is an amazing artist who often incorporates unusual materials in her work, such as plastic and found objects and she encourages her students to do the same.

Our first assignment was to make a pin back. Rather than just make a pin back, our class all decided to make an interesting pin back.

I had picked up a beautiful piece of lichen earlier in the week. Given my love of them and their relevance to my work, I thought I would include it in my pin back.

This is what I made:

Brooch with living lichen
3.3 x 6.3 cm
Pin back detail
before the lichen was attached

And our first major project was to create something that was inspired by an image that was chosen in class. The image I chose focused on communication, and also hair. So I decided to create a hair pin, in reference to Geisha. This was the final result:

Fine Silver Hairpins
containing burdock seed
Initially the pins were designed to be empty. But the wires seemed to loose definition when pinned in the hair. So it was decided that they needed to contain something.

Dried burdock seed hair pin

I stumbled across some burdock in a vacant block of land in the middle of the city, and thought that these weeds would be perfect. I see weeds as a metaphor for pioneers, or settlers.

Dried burdock detail
I was also amazed at just how sticky these seeds were. They stuck to my fingers and even plastic (just like velcro)
Green burdock hairpin
 The green seeds were less sticky.

Green burdock detail.

An exciting development with this discovery is that seeds contain so much information. So I see these hair pins containers for information or communication. Originally I was thinking about Victorian lockets and how they do this.....  Im really looking forward to exploring this concept further.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Enamelling: Collaborative Assignment Stage 4

We are up to the final stage where my original piece gets returned.....

I was so excited to get it back to see what changes had been made to it.

One side, the front with a green background and white pull through spots had remained untouched the entire time.

Sam has removed all the enamel on the reverse side and she had covered with a transparent lime green enamel. There were also bits of wire and copper attached using the original holes of the piece. Unfortunately I was too focused on making the final changes that I totally forgot to take a photo. Sam's additions reminded me a little of bark, and I contemplated incorporating some wood to the final piece. But I wasn't too sure that the transparent lime green worked with the deeper blue green of the other side.

So I undertook some more enamel experiments, looking to replicate lichen on the other side. I removed all the transparent line green and used stump grey as the base coat, and a light coat of oriental red over the top. The result was an amazing pull through that also highlighted the textured metal underneath.

Reverse side detail

I wasn't too sure how to finish the piece. Originally I was going to turn it into a brooch, but I felt that it restricted the viewer as to which side they observed (I really liked both sides in equal measures)

Reverse side

So I crocheted a form using the holes in the metal as a starting point. I really liked the void, so I left it a little open, and then crocheted some chain.

Front side detail of crochet

I made a point of making the chain long enough so that it was ambiguous as to how it could be worn.

Front side 

For example, it could be a necklace, wrapped around the wrist, or even inverted and worn on the head.... 

It was an exciting breakthrough for me and I am going to continue to explore this method of working.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Enamelling: Collaborative Assignment Stage 3

This week we selected a piece of paper which had a number written on it. Then working backwards, from the highest number to the lowest, each person in the class had the opportunity to select an enamelled piece to work on.

I drew number one, which meant that I was lucky last. This worked well for me, because I truly don't know which object I would've selected had I the choice. And I ended up with Tamika's piece, that had recently been worked on by Candy.

Candy's rational for her enamelled colours was that the shape reminded her of flames, so she re-enamelled it from yellow through to red.

Funnily enough, this piece caused me many sleepless nights, as I pondered on how I was going to create some changes acknowledging the work done by Candy, but also make it sympathetic to Tamika and her personality and design aesthetic.

I found that the strong almost primary colours were too much for the delicate nature of the piece. In addition the enamel was starting to chip off some of the smaller areas.

So I removed all the enamel using a sand blaster. I had forgotten that there was texture on the original piece (Tamika had enamelled it using transparent colours which allowed the texture to come through)

Tamika's artwork back to copper

Because of the fragile nature of one of the joins, I decided to cut it up into three pieces. I turned two pieces into an asymmetrical pair of earrings. 

The shape and patterning of Tamika's original design always made me think of water, so I wanted to use enamels that had those qualities. I combined transparent turquoise with copper green to get depth in colour, and used the pull though technique with opaque white. 

Detail of the opaque white pull through
Tiny bits of torn sterling silver foil was also added to give extra depth and reflective qualities.

Another detail of the earrings. 

The third piece I turned into a necklace.

Detail of necklace

When we had to present our changes to the class, I was really nervous. I didn't want to offend Candy.
But thankfully she was ok with my changes. Phew!

I have found this project to be incredibly enlightening. It has taught me that I am more concerned about working on another person's artwork, than I am on my own pieces. This is an outcome I find fascinating, since the concept of the project was to let go of ownership of your artwork and creativity.

Next week we get our original designs back for the original creator to finish. I wonder what mine will look like....


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