Friday, 16 January 2015

Teaching screen printing at NSCCD

I have resumed teaching screen printing again! This time in Halifax at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design. Its so wonderful - I always forget how much fun it is and how much I enjoy it.

Catherine's print combining stencil and styrofoam stamps
The course participants learn a variety of print techniques. The first to make a stencil was using photocopy paper and a sharp knife to achieve crisp lines, or tearing the paper for a softer edge.

Catherine printing lace using paper doilies
Catherine was interested in lace patterns and experimented printing through lace doilies. Unfortunately these were not so successful because of the height of the doily resulting in a very unclear print. So the next week Catherine tried printing through paper doilies. The result was highly successful and she also experimenting with layering the print.

Layered paper lace doily prints

Meanwhile Janet experimented with colour, layers and registration to ensure a precise placement of the print.

Janet's screenprint incorporating printing through
cheesecloth,  strips of torn paper and placement through registration.

Janet's three colour print:
cheesecloth (red) potato print (blue) and paper stencil (green)

One of the things I encourage in my class is experimentation, because this is often where the most exciting results occur. 

Janet printing using a potato stamp
One of the delightful things about printing using stamps is their unpredictability to how the print paste will be transferred onto the fabric. 

Rebecca's paper cut stencil
Its so wonderful to see the sparkle of excitement in everyone's eyes as they work through their screen print ideas and I enjoy seeing the work develop over the duration of the five week course. For such a simple technique it can achieve a number of amazing and diverse results.

And Im having so much fun that the course will be offered again in the Spring.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Box Clasp Fence Bracelet

Well, there is absolutely no rest for the wicked, and school is back with a bang.

Detail of the box clasp

This semester I am continuing my studies with jewellery and I am undertaking 'Advanced Techniques' which is mainly gem setting, but it also includes making complicated clasps, including the box clasp.

As well as creating a box clasp that 'clicked' when it closes, our brief was to design a bracelet that integrated with the clasp. 

Of course, I made a large one and it is approximately 2.5cm long x 1.5cm wide. Making it larger also made it harder, for some strange reason.

Detail of the chain

I used commercial chain and threaded lengths of silver through the chain to replicate a fence like structure. It also started to look like a spine, musical notes, or the DNA structure. 

Box clasps are incredibly tricky to make, and quite fiddly. Its most likely my first and last box clasp I ever make!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Windows of Snow and Ice

I have returned to the land of ice and snow. 

And from travelling from the hot Australian summer to the cool northern winter, I couldn't help but admire the beautiful ice formations on my windows.

Such awesome patterns: large and swirly

small and delicate

with a few lines

some even have frozen drips!  eek

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Fence Studies: country town

My studies of gates and fences continues, this time focusing on the wrought iron gates found in a country towns across rural New South Wales.

Wrought iron is no longer produced on a commercial scale. They retain that description because in the past they were wrought (worked) by hand.

The word "wrought" is an archaic past participle of the verb "to work," and so "wrought iron" literally means "worked iron" as manufactured by a blacksmith.

Cast iron methods have been used since ancient times in China, but was not introduced to Western Europe until the fifteenth century. 

Wrought iron reached its peak in the 18th century however cast iron and cheaper steel caused a gradual decline in the manufacture of wrought iron. 

Mild steel is now the main material used for 'wrought iron' gates, mainly because true wrought iron is limited in its availability and generally the wrought iron available today is from reclaimed materials such as old bridges and anchor chains dredged from harbours.

One of the towns where I did photographic studies also has a number of lane ways, which I can only assume were for the removal of waste from outhouses. Strolling along these lanes I found a number of interesting ways of fencing boundaries.

It also provided glimpses into backyards.... something Im always interested to see. There was also an abundance of fruit trees laden under fruit - particularly apricots. I have never seen such big large fruit in my life! 

This last image looks like an original wrought iron fence, it was found near a railway station. I particularly liked the way it was held together with metal pins. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Rural Fence Studies

Following on from my residency at Hill End in 2013 I continue to have a fascination with fences. I was interested in the decorative picket fences, many of which in the town were particularly old and were made using shapes and designs that are no longer in use. I photographed and shared some of them with you in a previous blog post


Since then, the structure of the fence has been appearing in my artworks. First as a ring design, then a brooch and finally a necklace

Over Christmas I had the opportunity to go home to Australia and one of the first things I did was to photograph the Australian landscape and admire the rural and rustic fences.

I particularly enjoy the details of how the wire is attached to the posts and the weathering that occurs from being exposed to the harsh Australian elements. 

These images are going to be the starting point for my MFA work for this semester. The theme is The Body as Landscape and I am looking to create jewellery that interacts with the body based on the idea of fences and gates. 

I love the golden tones of the setting sun against the tall grasses in the paddock. Interestingly this image serendipitously (accidentally) sums up my current interests: communication (telegraph pole and letter box), remote rural landscapes and fences. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

End of Semester Summary

My first semester in the MFA program for studio was with Professor Gary Markle. Gary is the Head of the Fashion studio at NSCAD and he has extensive experience working in New York in fashion, film and sculpture. He was the ideal professor to work with given my interdisciplinary nature and desire to explore ideas across a range of materials.

Lichen was the launching point for a series of investigations and I represented shapes found within the lichen using paper, the lids of tins and enamel (a whole blog post was written about the enamel necklace here). The pieces also continue to reference my interest in pioneers and the isolation they experienced.

Continuing to explore my interest in women's domestic objects I made some thimbles and experimented combining porcelain with crochet and gold lustre.

Continuing to play with domestic kitchenware I was interested to see what happened when you filled the void with rocks, thinking about sense of place and your ties or attachments to a geographic location. 

Living in Canada enables me to objectively look at my Australian history and heritage. I am interested in how our ties to the past inform our present and I am exploring this through the imagery of cameos, chain and branches.

This final piece is still in the middle of being created. Originally a porcelain tea cup, it has been broken and pieced back together. All attached by a silver chain. Here I am interested in the notions of sentimentality and how we place such importance on fragile objects. 

All these ideas seem quite disparate at the moment although I am hoping to distill their essence in my next semester next year. Its going to be quite the journey! 


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