Got a hankering to try out some experimental enameling? Join us to find out how straightforward and un-fussy enameling can be. We’re going to work on all types of steel – including that which we find on the street – to make beautifully enamelled jewels and objects, with the addition of porcelain enamel that will be applied in its liquid form.
I always look forward to these classes because of the way people surprise themselves when confronted with a medium that can be used in such diverse ways; behaving like watercolor, spray paint or even sand. Its versatility enables each maker to leverage their mastery in traditional materials – say even pencil and markers – and then make permanent the results by literally baking them on.
And hey, it’s in “beautiful, downtown Oakland, California!”
(Thanks to Roman Mars of the 99% Invisible podcast for being the indelible voice in my head for that line 😉 )
Do you like what we are doing with the I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Peace Now exhibition? If so, we could really use your help.
This national competition opens for voting today and is a chance for us to support the exhibition’s travel to Southern Indiana and Southern Kentucky and to include vital community programming aimed at the gun violence epidemic in this region.
(you can vote daily til May 12 – that’s the 13th of May in Aus!)
My work from the exhibition will (hopefully!) be heading along with the touring show, so if you are in Indiana or Kentucky and you want to see it, please vote 😉 And for those of you who will vote but won’t get to the US, here’s a video I made of the making process:
If you’re keen but haven’t yet made it out to see the Bellevue Arts Museum Biennial Metalmorphosis exhibition, the hourglass is telling me that there’s very few grains of sand left in the top bulb, so you’d better get along. The last day is Sunday the 5th of February. To tempt you – this is a short video of my work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box in progress.
Yup, that’s me, breaking a saw blade. The abrupt ending (to the video) is a good analogue of how I felt every time I broke one, and it happened a lot that day…
Dunno about you, but I woke up with all the nerve endings firing in my gut on Wednesday morning, just before 3am. After nigh on an hour of bleary-eyed semi-consciousness, and after the hopes that sleep would take me back into her embrace had been dashed (such a temperamental lover) I caved in and checked my phone. My sisters in Australia had offered condolences that I didn’t need to swipe through to see, especially the one from Courtenay that ran thusly:
That was the entire message, but it told me that counting had finished and the map had been painted orange. Finally having the early predictions confirmed (I’d gone to bed early, both to avoid the anxiety of waiting and to read a good book – Mary Beard’s recent SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome – which turns out to be quite an apt companion for right now,) was definitely not going to help me sleep.
So I did some thinking. And a bit of googling. And at around 5:30am I placed an enamel order. I’ve never had much call for blue enamel before, so my stocks are paltry. Once this was done, around 6am, I went back to sleep reading about an ancient fallen empire.
My early morning thoughts ran something like this; I already have a body of work that is about putting encoded messages into the world, like this piece:
Body/Politic is a series of jewels where the medium is part of the message. The two-toned grids of pixels represent lines of binary code. Each piece literally spells out a message on the body of the wearer; readable to those who can interpret binary, the language that is the foundation of our digital culture. (These borrow from the visual language set up for the Drone works.) The messages reflect on the human condition, on how we are embodied, and what that means. The words/phrases that became works in the first series exhibited in March include your body is your vote (above), body, vote, unrepresented body, power and recently (just last week, for an upcoming show in May) I completed intensely embodied.
These are pieces are personal and political. They are words that reflect on my own physical body and its position in the world, and on the bodies of others who are in significantly more compromising situations, most particularly those bodies in combat areas, migrating bodies and those bodies who are suffering with illness.
Now before this gets too heavy, lets get back to the quality thinking time that my sleepless hours gifted me. So I have a trunk show booked for next week, and while I’ve been making the measured and politically/socially reflexive jewels like the work above over the last few years, none of those pieces are slated to be on the table next week. My plans for this week were to spend some time reorganising my stash of jewels to find some things that the good folks of Seattle haven’t seen before, and to make a few last pieces from the leftover parts of my La Geometrie laser-cuts to take along with me.
But then y’all had to go and elect an orange for a president.
I very purposely chose a blue top to wear yesterday, in protest (stay with me, this is relevant). And I’m in blue jeans today. Why? Because in my waking hours I was fixating on the fact that blue is the complimentary colour to orange on the colour wheel. Yep, this means it’s the opposite. So I’ve taken all this care dressing because I want to be the opposite of orange (yeah, despite my red hair.) But blue doesn’t just stand in opposition. It is the colour of the tears being shed for this and other depressing and alarming recent political events.
Blue is the colour of that soon-to-be pendant at the top of this (very long) blog post. It is the colour of the stockings on the women fighting to inform, enlighten and protect themselves, and it is the colour that HRC used to paint her campaign, and Bernie Sanders his. It’s the colour of the sky, of steel, and a bloody nice colour for an absolute shit-tonne of enamelled earrings.
And lets reiterate here, in RYB colour theory it’s the colour diametrically opposed to orange.
My search to find the opposite of an orange charity also began in the wee hours of Wednesday, and I’ve selected this one to give 10% of the purchase price of each pair of my brand new line of Resist earrings (pictured above) sold anywhere in the world. They’re going to retail for $30 US, and orders will be direct through me. (For anyone outside of Seattle, my postage price is being confirmed – please see below.)
About my blue charity:
Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), based in Alexandria, Virginia, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) humanitarian agency and member of the Islamic Relief Worldwide group of organizations. IRUSA was founded in California in 1993. In addition to international relief and development initiatives, Islamic Relief USA also sponsors and funds domestic projects ranging from emergency disaster responses to assisting the American homeless population and supporting those who cannot afford basic healthcare.
Resist Earrings, $30 (US dollars) a pair.
stainless steel + blue enamel.
For your set you can mix and match or play it straight, or even buy an extra one so you can decide what kind of (blue) day you’re having. More colours (yup, all blue*) coming soon. How to get yours? See below or email me: email@example.com
If you’re in Seattle, please come along next week if you’re keen to check out my rainbow of blue earrings* or if you just need a shoulder. Together we can chat about resistance. It’s on at:
5619 University Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98105
Thursday, November 17 at 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
(Facebook event – do them a favour for catering and let them know if you can 😉 )
Australia: you can count on Bilk and Bini Galleries getting a stack of these in the next week also, and for my sistren in Perth, I’ll see y’all in December and I’ll be sure to carry a few of these in my pocket.
USA: If you’re not in the PNW keep a look out, I’ll be posting the postage details ASAP
Canada– OK, BC: I’m heading up to Vancouver in a couple of weeks (no, not seeking asylum, though did I tell you the one about my grandparent who was born 12 miles south of Tisdale??) so let me know and I’ll bring them with me. The rest of you? Let me figure something out. We’re family!
Everywhere else: If you’re keen please get in contact and I’ll figure out your shipping rate. (I will be in Munich for the second week of March, and might even head to the UK for a hot minute, so if you can hold out that long…)
In the mean time, know that while my heart is blue, my gaze is steely.
*My Dad bought me my first car, back in the day. While we were looking around at listings he told me, “You can have any colour you like, so long as it’s blue.” I gratefully received a Corolla in midnight blue, despite preferring the burgundy…
Often jewelry is created to celebrate and mark milestones in life. As part of marking her milestone of turning 40, jewelry artist Tegan Wallace has invited a collection of artists to take a prototype or unfinished object from Tegan’s own work and breathe new life into them. These Bits and Bobs will become reflections of what Tegan has achieved so far while celebrating the metal community that had given her so much and continues to influence her own artistic growth.
As a part of being in this show Tegan gave me a piece of her work to finish up – incidentally, the pierced dome work that appears in the top third of the photograph above – that she began in her teens. She lovingly and ingeniously created this piece at her parents coffee table, and despite a lot of recent protest that it was practically done already, she didn’t consider it finished. It may not yet be, but for this show I’ve taken it and added my own parts, in steel and liquid enamel of course, and turned it into a piece of jewellery.
Come see it, and even say hello to me and Tegan at the opening, from 6 – 9pm this Friday. The show runs until November 28th.
Danaca Design Studio
5619 University Way NE
Seattle WA 98105
In answer to a reader question; yes, the material that makes the work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box is all from Tanya’s old lunch box, barring the stainless steel rivets, c-shaped connections, chain (handmade and otherwise) and cable that joins the altered parts together.
In fact there’s actually a few parts missing. The plastic handle and chrome fittings are not part of the design, and there is a series of five small pins (about 27 x 4mm each) that are not part of the installation. One of these I have kept (not a habit of mine, but these were particularly meaningful to me, in a piece that became surprisingly personal over the course of the design and making), and four were given to Micki before the piece was installed.
What you can’t see in this image is the hinge pin that was removed, the handle tethers, and an internal feature meant to hold a thermos flask in place in the top section of the box (it was roughly the shape of the stylized ‘V’ on the front.) All this was wire, in approximately 1.5 – 2mm diameter steel, which was cut up, drilled into, enameled and re-joined to make the chain that holds the big ‘snowflake’ section in the centre.
If you’ve already seen this on Instagram my apologies, but the lovely co-director of Bilk, Mio Kuhnen, let the world know over the weekend that two of my pieces from the recent Body Politic exhibition in Canberra were just acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. This takes their Melissa Cameron tally up to 3!
I was in a bit of shock to have such a long and considered gallery visit with Dr Robert Bell (curator of decorative arts at the NGA) while I was in Canberra, on the day before the official opening of the show. He was very inquisitive, and if you’re read any of the text surrounding these works, you’ll have seen that there are a lot of stories to tell, so I was honoured to impart my narrative of these and the other works. He even asked my opinion – what I thought of the pieces he was deliberating and why – and I had to tell him that it took me a long time to come to terms with the Tank piece especially, as I found it brutal and dark when I first finished it.
Finishing that work as one of the earliest in the series – the Cannon and Tank were conceived at the same time – made continuing and then creating even more complex pieces an easier pill to swallow. I look back now and see that they were really just a prelude to the Gun piece, which, while only completed in late 2013 early 2014, was really begun with the horrific events in Sandy Hook in December of 2012. I see now that I put those details away for a while, and decided to start in more neutral territory – a Civil War era cannon and an M1 Abrams tank as fitted out for use by the Australian Army, as a sort of way to first test and then brace myself before moving deeper into this series.
I had a terrible grief-ridden winter this year as I finished up this series, and while the Drone probably didn’t help, I can’t say it hurt either. I now conflate the two in my memory. The Drone and last winter were inevitable, and surviving each of them needed the other as a crutch, in a sort of incongruous symbiosis.
But before all that, when I just had a Tank and a Cannon in my arsenal, I wasn’t sure if I would continue. The duo could have easily remained an outlier, an experiment that was discontinued before it had really begun. So it’s also them I have to thank for begetting the rest of the Escalation series, including the Drone that got me through.
Goodbye good friends, I hope to see you again some time 😉
Well friends, there are going to be 4 artists who take two weeks each to give an intro to their area of jewellery and metalsmithing specialty. My two weeks will be working with enamel, and how you can add that to the arsenal of jewellery-making techniques. The other artists involved are Pratt regulars: Anne Randall, Julia Harrison and Sharrey Dore.
The focus for this course is a slight shift from the other workshops I’ve taught to date, as I have finally figured out a way to teach what it is that I do without having to get AutoCad and a lasercutter involved for a 2 day class.
In my own studio I enamel fiddly little things, some of which I painstakingly draw, drill and cut out myself, and some of which I painstakingly draw and then find someone/thing else to do the drilling and cutting grunt work. In either case, it involves a lot of cutting before enamelling commences, after which I’m left with tiny fiddly parts to enamel, that I later piece together into jewellery.
I could say that this is not really how I learned, rather that it was by trial and error I developed a method to suit my work, (which in some cases I did), but if you dig really deep on this blog, you’ll see that’s just not true. In fact my formative enamelling experience was working in Elizabeth Turrell’s studio at the University of the West of England (images below for a recap), where I spent a month dipping in enamel the things I found on the street on my walk to school in the morning. I then figured out a rather ad-hoc way to fire them, and to be un-flatteringly honest, I’ve not improved any part of my system much since then!
Since the U.S. has such an amazing array of steel bits and bobs lining practically any street edge, I decided it’s time to repeat the earlier England experiment in a workshop. The deluge of scrap metal that I find kinda shameful in a city full of metalsmiths like Seattle, will then go from environmental problem to beautiful, wearable jewels once we get our hands, and Danaca’s range of steel-ready enamels, onto them!
(And while we’re at it we will doubtless find a better solution to making them wearable than my own ‘hang it on a silk cord’ improvisation of 5 years ago, too.)
So if you want the tips and tricks on how I make my art, and more especially if you’d like to turn some trash into wearable treasure of your own, please come and join us. Oh, and on your way to the studio, you’ll inevitably find some steel washers and nails and other rusty odds and ends strewn across the tarmac. Why don’t you bring that along?
A couple of great projects I’ve seen online that I thought I’d share.
Thanks to the perfectly titled Fuck Yeah, Book Arts! site, I’ve been meditating on the beautiful beaded works orchestrated by Nadia Myre:
Nadia Myre, Indian Act
Indian Act speaks of the realities of colonization – the effects of contact, and its often-broken and untranslated contracts. The piece consists of all 56 pages of the Federal Government’s Indian Act mounted on stroud cloth and sewn over with red and white glass beads. Each word is replaced with white beads sewn into the document; the red beads replace the negative space.
Between 1999 and 2002, Nadia Myre enlisted over 230 friends, colleagues and strangers to help her bead over the Indian Act. With the help of Rhonda Meier, they organized workshops and presentations at Concordia University, and hosted weekly beading bees at Oboro Gallery, where it was presented as part of the exhibition, Cont[r]act, in 2002.
The piece itself is strikingly beautiful, a perfect realisation of her concept.
Oring has been banding groups of volunteer typists to write postcards to politicians. She started the project with postcards to the President (of the USA, that is) and has recently moved on to the current presidential candidates, using volunteers to take dictation the same manner that she did with her first outing, dressed as a 1960’s stenographer:
In 2006, Sheryl dressed as a 1960s secretary, set up a portable public office complete with a manual typewriter in public areas across the country, and typed birthday cards to then President Bush as dictated by passers-by.
She has gone on to take in commentary of the Obama administration, and is about to start taking down community thoughts on the current lunacy presidential nomination battle.
and the effect?
I’ll never forget this guy in Chicago, at one of the last shows. He came down to where I was taking photographs and said, “I just want you to know that I am a better American because I participated in your project.”
The empowerment experienced by participants has of course been likened to therapy, which I think is a really interesting outcome of the process. Why does the act of airing your thoughts to someone who is an impartial observer give one a feeling of closure, more than, say, talking it out to a like-minded friend or relative? I also think of this project in relation to the public displays of jewellery creation and/or gifting that I have seen. I think the strength of this piece is its sustained and clearly impactful interaction, which is fostered using a rather generic and easily replicable format.