Thursday, 12 February 2015

Tube Setting Gems

This week I have been practicing tube setting in jewellery. Tube setting is very similar to what the name implies, that is setting a gem in metal tubing.

In some ways it is very similar to a bezel setting, in the sense that a wall of metal encases the gem.
But with a bezel setting you start out with a flat piece of sheet and bend it around the gem, opposed to starting with a tube.

Never happy just to make a sample for the sake of a sample I decided to make a ring using a design I have been wanting to make for quite some time. 

I had 2 very pretty garnets that were the exact size for the sample that we had to make. 4mm in diameter. This is how it turned out. One of the exciting things about this design is that it also stands up - creating a 'traffic light' sort of look. 

A friend also said that it looked a little like the emoticon of the face with the tongue sticking out. Like this :p 

Note the bandaid on my finger - an injury sustained from jewellery making of course! A friend of mine who is the most amazing jeweller has a little tattoo on her finger from a similar cut where silver got trapped. I think it is the coolest accidental tattoo ever!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Runcible Spoon

Our first big project for Advanced Techniques Jewellery class was to make a Runcible Spoon.

Runcible was a term first coined by Edward Lear in 1871 in the poem The Owl and the Pussycat in the third verse.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince, 
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;   
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, 
They danced by the light of the moon, 
The moon, 
The moon, 
They danced by the light of the moon.

It is a nonsensical term and we were asked to design a spoon for a nonsensical purpose, which included a bezel setting.

With my interest in pioneers and landscapes I decided it could be fun to make a mini shovel which could for digging yourself out of trouble, or perhaps digging yourself deeper into trouble. Playing on the colloquial saying 'keep digging'.

Of course, not content with using hard stones which are easier to set (because they don't break) and only silver, I decided to incorporate opals I had bought in Australia at Christmas. I wanted to use opals because they are uniquely Australian, they are my birthstone, and they are made up mainly on solidified water. They are also considered a soft stone, and will chip easily.

I also wanted to make the bezel setting out of gold, because the warm colour of the metal enhances the colours in the opal.

Combining silver and gold was a new experience for me. And it took quite a few goes to get it right. At first I was using 22k gold solder to try and attach the bezel, but all I managed to do was melt the silver plate. After talking to a couple of established jewellers, they all suggested that I use silver solder instead. I did, and had a much better result. Yay! 

The shovel idea originally was going to be attached to a stick, but as the idea evolved it turned into a brooch-like pocket watch. There the handle can be attached to your sweater, and the chain is long enough for the shovel to be placed in the pocket. 

I ended up making 3 handles to get the perfect result (I didn't like the pin connection on the first one, and in the second one the stone chipped) but during the process I have ended up with a series of brooch-like pocket jewellery.

The first is the shovel, the second is a pocket thimble/bucket and the third handle is going to be attached to a handkerchief (which is still in the process of being made).

Image by Deng Chen

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Snow Days

We seem to have had quite a lot of snow this winter.

Snow piled up on my front door step
 Apparently it is unusual to get this much and for it to stay around for as long as it has.

Under all this snow somewhere is a road

For an Aussie, this much snow is delightful and exotic. Even the suggestion of shovelling snow sounded like a fun novelty.

View looking out the window at school (NSCAD)
There are fun snow patterns too...

And after a while it starts to pile up - this is the view looking towards the NSCAD buildings on Granville St Mall.

And the snow banks on the side of the roads are also starting to get high. These ones are about my chest height, which Im guessing is about 150cm. Apparently this is usual further north in places like Newfoundland, but not here in Halifax!

Chest high snow banks at my bus stop
Sometimes there is so much snow, and the conditions are so terrible that everything grinds to a halt. It is near impossible to walk outside with the icy sidewalks and the public transport is cancelled. On these days even school is cancelled and the city shuts down!

It is quite the experience for someone who had previously only experienced extreme cold when travelling through a Russian winter.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Teachers Assistant: Introduction to Studio Practice at NSCAD

As part of the MFA program at NSCAD I have the opportunity to be a Teachers Assistant. This is to observe and experience teaching in the classroom. 

The MFA program is geared towards teaching as an opportunity after graduation and there is also the opportunity to propose and teach your own course.

For Term A of the Winter Semester I am the Teachers Assistant for the Introduction to Studio Practice with Professor Melinda Spooner. This is a foundation course and it teaches the essentials for any student wishing to become an artist.

Some of the fun stuff that we covered included colour theory (I love colour!), pattern and repetition, and basic stop animation which was highly effective.

And later in the term the students undertook an exercise where they painted portraits of each other in a dark room lit by sodium lighting (street lamps) which removes all colour from the room and students were painting in tones.

The final result was amazing when we turned the fluorescent lights back on. So colourful!
I would love to be a foundation student again. They are having so much fun!

They were an incredibly talent bunch and I was very fortunate to participate in the classroom environment with Melinda. 

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


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