Introducing the ‘social unit’ pieces \/|- . Once again the binary sequence (rendered using enamel in different skin tones) in each neckpiece spells out the same two words, ‘social unit’. The unfurled pieces (in the image social unit *) give little hint to their original format.
These works will be on show at Facèré Jewelry Art in the exhibition Drawing the Line which opens on the 3rd of May in downtown Seattle. Come to the opening lecture from 4pm to hear me talk about these and their friends, the Body/Politic and Drone works.
The adequately-oiled machine that is my studio practice has had some time out from being even that reliable of late (for many reasons, a great one being fixing the moisture problem that normally creates a less-than ornamental pond in my studio over the winter months,) so right now I’m busy finishing works and preparing images for two upcoming exhibitions that begin in early May – from the 3rd there’s a group show called Drawing the Line at Facere Art Jewelry in downtown Seattle and then opening on the 4th there’s Seattle Metals Guild and the Wawona – at Northwind Arts Center in Port Townsend.
It’s too early for image spoilers on those (as in, I’ve not taken them yet..!), but if you are keen to get a fix of new works, check out the hashtag #PlateGlassExhibition on Instagram, for a bunch of new works in development by the 29 invited artists of the Plate Glass exhibition. This is the one that I’m curating for the Enamellist Society and will be shown during their biennial conference, this year in Gatlinburg, Tennessee at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in August, from the 2nd – 9th.
Several of the artists are new to the format of the plate, though needless to say I think they’re all doing an amazing job, and I truly cannot wait to reveal every single one of them to y’all in August. Until then we’re all lucky to have these images to marvel at and ponder over.
In response to a pretty consistent question, I’m going to share with you my laser cutters. I know, it’s either a very brave or completely overdue move…
OBLIGATORY CAVEAT: both of these companies will only deal with you if you have a drawing capable of being machine-read. Which means, you need to have a drawing in vector format (Autocad .dxf or .dwg is most common, [if in, say, Rhino, I’d imagine that’s a ‘save as’ option] or perhaps an Illustrator file saved to .eps – I have had some cutters deal very well with Corel Draw [and if you remember playing/working with that program, you’re older than you look!]) before they will look at the file to quote you a price. Real talk: if you need help with that, I’m not your person. I dream in AutoCad (*not actually true, but admit it, I almost had you?!) so I’ve never had to outsource that part of the process.
The drawing part is essential as the quote that either of these companies will want to give you is based on the machining time – which is a calculation on how long it will take the laser to trace the lines you have drawn. Part of that calculation is an allowance made for the thickness/hardness the material. For instance, working in wood is normally faster, ergo cheaper, while working in 1.5mm/0.59″ stainless steel is going to challenge some lasers, and therefore be more expensive.
These two cutters are best for very low tolerance work; they are precise, as I like to be able to put a .5mm hole in the middle of a 1.5mm channel (see above). If you’re looking for less precision, take a look at other options, as it’s likely that there are cheaper local people who can do your thang. TBH, that might even be a challenge for one of these people to do neatly, but I know their machine is more or less capable.
Ok, no more pfaffing:
Starting at the top – and I mean in terms of price, and from the image at top: expensive, great quality, medium turn time, will source and cut low carbon steel (for enameling)and titanium along with their regular lineup of metals: Laser Services USA
My preference for wood and mass production:
Cheap, medium quality (some deburring required with metal, depending on the cut), stainless steel and a huge array of default non-metal materials and with the option of very, very fast: Pololu
Please be nice to them, y’all, I want to be able to show my face at either of their establishments (or rather, web portals) well into the future 😉
A little while back I posted on Crafthaus, waaaay down in the termite mound somewhere, that I that I’ve teamed up with another maker to have a bash at this exhibition. What exhibition? Read on…
Sean Macmillan got in contact with me to see if I would be interested in collaborating with him for the Co:operation GARNISH show, being curated by Rachel Timmins and Brigitte Martin. After some initial discussions about our suitability (it’s meant to be a collaboration of unlike forces aimed at building links between a fairly disparate jewellery community,) we decided that a large-sculpture-making, techno-challenged academic in Slippery Rock and a delicate-jewellery-making, CAD-using, basement-studio-hermit from Australia was about as different as we needed to be!
True to my roots, I got straight into drawing a pattern in Cad, which we had both agreed, over a long text-message conversation, needed to be ‘lacy’. And true to his, Sean produced a mobile-phone image of a model that was clearly hand sketched before being cut-out, made out of computer-paper and masking-tape, with felt-tip-marker line-work clearly visible across the pages.
Cut to a few months later, and here are some images of the sample squares of pattern that I’ve had cut, checked out and then sent off to Sean to play with. (Notice the miscommunication with the laser-cutters resulted in the lead-ins being on the wrong side of the line – we’re after the sheet more than the ‘drop-outs’ in this instance as that’s what Sean will work with.)
Next time, what I’ve done with those drop out parts – the pieces I’m calling the pattern’s internals…
Back at the start of last month, on the 9th of November to be exact, I facilitated a workshop at Contemporary Metal in Perth. The One Design exhibition, installed in the gallery at CM, had opened the previous Friday night and with it the timber iteration of Clouds pattern had been put on display, fixed to the end wall. Now it was time to take it down and make something of all that laser cut jewellery in potentia!
I had seven eager participants, many of them local makers, who took to the challenge with gusto. It’s a pretty self-explanatory idea – grab the pattern, take it apart, wrestle fellow-participants for the pieces you like best and stitch, weave and wind the pieces into jewels that you like. For added interest, colour the wood surface to compliment your silk-thread choices.
The end result was… Well, many of the resulting works are displayed below for you to check out, but I was impressed at the unique array of very colourful pieces of mostly wearable jewellery, with the occasional object created for good measure. I had a collection of stainless fixings on hand, but makers being makers, many opted for their own mechanisms and for making fixings in precious metal.
As it turned out, three of the participants that Sunday are in the local Bauble Collective, who currently have a pop-up shop in Claremont in the Bayview Centre, and who will be featuring in the Fremantle Bazaar this coming week end. If you’re in Perth and surrounds I heartily encourage you to check them out – their display is great, not to mention the eye-poppingly beautiful work! (..and I say this as the proud new owner of one of Betty Walsh’s vibrant anodized bracelets!)
Many thanks to Claire (and daughter) for letting me in to take over the studio, on a Sunday, mind, for the workshop.
Taking place from 10am on 23rd August, 2014 at Studio 20/17 in Waterloo, NSW.
But what is it exactly? Well…
How many different objects can you create from one pattern? Be part of a fun DIY collaborative workshop to create unique works from a suite of pre-cut forms designed by jewellery artist Melissa Cameron. The class will be held in the gallery space to ensure that the new works do not duplicate any pieces in the exhibition. The results will be shown alongside the artist’s work for the duration of the exhibition and can then be taken home by the participants.
The pieces will be joined by silk thread and I have hand-made a bunch of fixings – brooch pins, earring posts and the like – to attach the pieces to the body. That leaves you to concentrate on the main challenge – making something completely new from the pieces of the pattern. It’s up to you to challenge the material and the design in any way you can!
This piece, another in the series of La Geometrie works, was recently completed for a sister who has started working behind the camera for a TV production company. Everything she wears to work has to be black, so I figured a matte black brooch was in order. The outside section (the piece with all the holes through) is sugar fired, so as to not reflect light, while the inner panels have been rubbed back with diamond abrasive pads to reveal drawings in glass beads (themselves on white enamel) under their surface, and again, to make their surfaces non-reflective. The brooch pin extends along the full length of the back, so it can be worn ‘portrait’ or ‘landscape’.
The faint drawings represent the x, y and z axes of 3D space – from what we now call the Cartesian Coordinate system, after Rene Descartes, the progenitor. I guess you could call my La Geometrie series a tribute to him and his works.
I know, I’d just moved on to what was happening in Perth last month, but I have a little note to add to what I already told about the workshop entitled Building Jewelry from Found Objects that I taught at the beginning of the month, thanks to the recently refurbished SCC blog.
Kyrstyn, one of the group of amazing attendees I had for my SCC workshop, has taken the time to write both a review of the workshop as well as a curriculum proposal (she is studying to be a teacher at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh) for students to do a writing exercise based on the instruction she received and the works produced.
Creativity begets creativity. It’s a wonderful thing.
I’m working on a piece for an impending 3 person show at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA in the USA. The show opens in November, so this will be the last work I make before I send them all off at the end of the month.
It’s very rare that I break out the coloured pencils to settle on the colours for a work. It was a lot more common when I was an interior designer, though back then there was generally far less subtlety in the palette… The ability to mix my own pigments is just another reason to love this job.
Deep in the bowels of this establishment I’m working on the last pieces of my Sieve series. My pattern, The Sieve, created in 2010 and cut five times, twice in titanium and three times in stainless steel, has been turned into pendants, earrings, neckpieces, brooches and a few vessels. Pieces have been enamelled, sandblasted with coarse aluminum oxide and fine glass beads, and garnet (in Bristol.) They have been heat treated, had extra holes drilled and had plenty of 925 silver soldered onto them. And they have been joined to one another with meters and meters of stainless steel cable. On the odd occasion, they have been copper plated or glued together with enamel, but that was generally unintentional.
I’ve been working on this pattern, its design and the works derived from it, for much of the time that I have had an independent artistic practice, so it feels weird that it will all be over, very soon. I have a brooch and a pendant in progress on the bench, and after them I have but a few pairs of earrings worth of material left. These could be finished by the end of this week.
It’s worth saying that the more pieces I make from this single pattern, the harder it is to not simply re-make something. I’ve deliberately backed myself, creatively speaking, into a corner, and not for the first time in this series. The reason I design in pattern at all is itself a challenge to fill the available cutting plane, to create a surface rather than a part and the commensurate section of waste, as I believe that with planning, each section of the plane is an equally suitable component/object to be turned into jewellery. But at this stage, each time I sit down with these elements to make something, I have to try harder, think longer, be less obvious – and possibly even – be more creative – to make something slightly different.
I work in series to do just that, to make many iterations, to test and try an idea until I have completely exhausted it. Having designed the piece once already, before it took form, I’m forced to redesign it with the objects in front of me. This second stage contemplation of the pattern as an object is less cerebral, more tactile, and allows my mind to play with the objects more, turning them over in my head and my hands, again and again.
I have found previously, and I seem to be finding once again, that it is this end part that is the most informative for the next series. By designing a second pattern, the Untitled: Pattern in Metal 4 piece before I had got to this stage, I may have jumped the gun a little. And maybe that’s why that pattern looks so different to this work. Who knows. I do know that the lessons that this work is teaching me now are influential, though of course many of the lessons (such as a 5mm diameter quatrefoil shape with two 0.5mm holes in is really hard to enamel successfully) were learned in time to influence the Untitled pattern when it was manifested late last year. Especially given that the latter pattern was created with the potential for enamel embellishments in mind.
I’ll be moving onto a bunch of hand-cut works for the next while, as I prepare for an exhibition in the US that is going to showcase these works. Looking at the last of the Sieve works, I feel like I’m happy to move on from the radial pattern arrangement for a while. But then again, having made some interesting discoveries using these pieces, some similarities might work their way into the new works. They might turn out to be a more subtle influence…