Photo Shoot this Saturday!

I suspect it’s too late to apologise for sounding like a broken record…

Thank you to the big flock of people who have signed up already, and sorry to everyone for still harping on about this, but we’re really, really close to making our volunteer target for Saturday’s photo shoot. If you have been thinking about signing up but just haven’t got around to it yet, I’d really appreciate you (and your mates!) getting on board today.

Sign up here

This will be the only opportunity to see these neckpieces in Seattle, as the whole work (both the pendants and containers from which they were cut – 146 pieces all told) will go on display in the exhibition Transformations 10 at Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh in September. And as most of y’all know, not long after that I move back to Australia so I won’t be in the USA to organize a Seattle venue.

And to keep us all sane despite the idea behind the pieces we’re photographing, we are working hard behind the scenes to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone!

For the last time – photo shoot details at-a-glance:

– 7/7/18, 8am – 12pm
– Meet at the parking lot under the Fremont Bridge (not next to the Troll – the one that opens)
– 8am-9am sign in
– 9am-12pm all 73 people in 73 different gun-shaped pendants stand together for the shoot (if we finish early we all go home early)
– You wear something comfortable with dark top-half and no logos, I loan you a pendant to wear for the morning
– Drinks and snacks provided
– Kids, families welcome – but no pets please.

Can you help?

Searching for containers from specific places in the USA – to be made into art!

*** UPDATED June 20th***

containers from my collection

As I promised last week, I’m back in the US from Australia, where I was celebrating my 40th birthday with my family!

And now I’m here, I have a favor to ask:

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my series of posts, entitled: Monday – Gun Day, where I have been cataloguing the weapons used in each of the fatal shootings in the US on January 1st, 2017. (There’s more intel as to why in this post.) Thanks to the incredible resources of the Gun Violence Archive I’m almost through the research phase – in which I made drawings of all the guns used in fatal incidents on that day – and I’m ready to start making.

I was going to used objects – containers specifically – that I had to hand, but now that doesn’t feel right. I have objects from all over the place – I’ve picked them up in my travels throughout North America, Australia, Asia and Europe. And that is the problem. The rate of gun violence, as we are now almost constantly being reminded, is unique to each country. So using objects from other places in a project referencing gun violence in the USA doesn’t ring true.

So I suddenly find myself in need of containers from a specific list of places. Fifty-four places, in fact. And if you have a friend or relative in the area, please feel free to pass this along.

This is where you come in. If you happen to live in one of the places listed:

Send me a container to become a permanent part of this artwork, and I  will send you a limited edition jewellery piece in return.

I sense your next question: “Container, what kind of container?”

Practically anything accepted – well washed food tins, plastic milk containers or even a yogurt tub, I don’t mind. Upcycle or re-gift me, please! I love a thrift store find, or new things from grocery stores or markets – I seek and find all over. Wood too! I just need to be able to cut or saw-pierce a motif into it, so not too thick, but most materials accepted. (Preferably not stainless steel – the best way to check that tiny, cute but essentially useless colander you have is with a magnet. I love magnetic steels – I’ll cut them for days – but if it doesn’t stick it’s probably regular stainless.)

Map from the Gun Violence Archive – Interactive Map

I’m looking for a single container (though multiples needed in a few places) from each of the places listed below. Or, if you own a souvenir item from one of these places, that you are willing to part with, I would gladly accept it. (And yes, I do consider ashtrays, coasters and trays containers, too. See image at top for a portion of my current stash.)

Logistics:

1/ Get in touch – blog@melissacameron.net

  • Please be in contact before you send something, to make sure I have not yet received anything from your place. I only need one container from most of this list, and so I’ll work on a first-come, first served basis.
  • If you happen to have an item in mind, please email me a photo of the container I can used for planning. I will also add your object as ‘pending’ on my list for others to see.

2/ Send the item (to arrive by  June 20th, 2018)

    • to:

Melissa Cameron
2212 Queen Anne Ave. N. #412
Seattle WA 98109

  • Naturally, include the place name of the object in the packaging, as well as a name/address + email contact to ensure you get your jewel

3/ Jewels shipped in August

  • stay tuned to the blog for developments of this very special limited series.

*** List of places still remaining – June 20th update***  (and updated printable list of Places June 8 – this includes all the maybe’s – if you are in a place that I have only a maybe commitment, please get in touch!):

State City Or County
Alabama Birmingham
Georgia Allenhurst
Georgia Moultrie
Illinois Rockford
South Dakota Rapid City

Yes, it’s like a Kickstarter but instead of cash, it’s local objects being turned into jewels. A barter-kickstarter, if you will. Please pass this along, and lets come together and make some art!

 

Queries? Please email me: blog@melissacameron.net

BAM Biennial – last days

Last days to see my work at Bellevue Arts Museum as a part of Metalmorphosis

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…

New Class at Danaca Design

I’m teaching at Danaca Design in the U District of Seattle very soon. Get amongst it!

colour! washers from throughout the week
yes, I can do colour! Enamelled washers from 2011

Enameling Recycled Steel for Jewelry is a new class I’ll be teaching at Danaca Design on July the 16th and 17th. Registration instructions here.

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.

sandblasting...
sandblasting… (hand-cut fiddlies)

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.

painting on enamel and drying and drying...
painting on enamel and drying… (laser-cut fiddlies)
enameling...
after firing…
assembly...
assembly…

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!

Day 11 CFPR Bristol washers found
they’re er’rywhere!

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?

I heart Asheville / Melissa does SNAGnext 2016

I’m speaking at SNAGnext, and I’ll be involved in a show at Penland, and I’ll be in the trunk show..!

Image of Shared Concerns artists by Mercedes Jelinek
Shared Concerns artists by current Penland resident Mercedes Jelnieck

Keen observers will have noted my name on the list of people speaking at SNAGneXt this year in Asheville. Even keener ones will have noted that a few weeks ago I was near (and briefly in) Asheville, NC, at Penland for a week. Asheville: the neodymium magnet of the Carolinas*…

At the modified and re-branded SNAG conference this year I’m very pleased to have been invited to speak in the SNAGspark portion of the program, where I will be giving a presentation entitled Holistic Thinking: Interconnection in Jewels and Practice. There, amongst a few other things, I’ll share my “tips for maintaining a sustainable creative practice, gleaned from sources near and far.” The basic premise of my talk is that I get around, and in all the places I go, I’ve noticed a few common threads that help make for robust communities (first hint) and economically sustainable jewellery practices.

For those of you who are currently looking into coming to SNAG this year, it would be a wasted opportunity if you didn’t also go and visit the famed and newly renovated Penland Galleries while you’re in town. And because I am always in service to you, beloved reader, I am happy to provide you with one more excuse to take the hour-long drive into the mountains to finally see Penland for yourself, as showing there during May and part of June will be the Shared Concerns exhibition, which was the reason for my first Asheville visit earlier this year.

So, #SharedConcerns? What’s that all about?

Shared Concerns is an exhibition documenting the meeting of a group of artists, brought together to work in the Penland studios in the mountains of North Carolina. As a group they shared the intimate ‘concerns’ of their practice, and each has created a small suite of works that interprets the ‘concern’ of another group member. Pieces were begun during their Winter Residency at Penland, and finished in studios across the United States as well as in Australia and Denmark, where this diverse group of jewelry artists call home.

Myself and Aran Galligan, my friend and fellow Seattle-based artist, are coordinating the Shared Concerns exhibition series. Between the two of us we pulled together this group of jewellery artists to join us in North Carolina, many of who met each other for the first time just weeks ago at Penland. Our other participants are: Lynn BatchelderVincent Pontillo-VerrastroJill HermansDaniel DiCaprioCatie Sellers, and Kaori Juzu.

We spent a very short week with one another as participants in the Penland Winter Residency where we shared a studio, traded concerns to work on and enjoyed some profoundly creative times (as well as some amazing food) all on the Penland campus. We don’t know when we will meet again, but what we do know is that the work we began together will be completed over the coming months, and will go on show in the Penland Galleries in May, just in time to be seen by anyone visiting Asheville for SNAGneXt. From there the works will head on to Velvet da Vinci gallery in San Francisco for the opening of Shared Concerns there on the 1st of July, and from there it will travel internationally in 2017.

So if you’re coming to Asheville for SNAGneXt, be sure to set aside some time to see the best of this beautiful and creative city, drink some coffee (or at one of the supposedly *9* microbreweries in town) and head to Penland to see our Shared Concerns exhibition.

 

* Now, you realise that my getting around doesn’t usually mean dropping into Asheville twice in a six-month period, but they served me the best cup of decaf soy I’ve had since I was last in Melbourne (Cafe Vue, Melbourne Airport, April 2015) while I was there with the #SharedConcerns crew, so you know I have to go back. (This will be hot on the heels of another Melbourne visit *spoiler alert*, so the comparison will be more robust. Suffice to say, if it holds its own again, I’m thinking of moving…)

Heating up

Melissa shares a work-in-progress for the Heat Exchange exhibition

Image of the work HEAT in stainless steel and vitreous enamel. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.
Image of the work-in-progress, HEAT, in stainless steel, titanium and vitreous enamel.

It’s been a hectic time in the office and the basement/studio, but I finally snapped some images of this finished neckpiece yesterday evening. I’m going to have another look at the panels that this work comes from later in the week – I need some time away from them before I make any more decisions. In the mean time, the brooch from this set is in pieces on the bench, and for that the next step is sandblasting.

Enamel on Steel – a weekend workshop

Enamel on Steel – weekend workshop at Pratt in Seattle, with ME!

Image of jewellery by Melissa Cameron. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.
Parallel Planes Brooch III, 2012. From the La Geometrie series

Come along to Pratt Fine Arts Center here in Seattle and learn how to use liquid enamel for steel and copper from one of the best in the north-west… ME!

“We’re surrounded by enamel fired onto steel, from enameled oven- and cook-wear in the kitchen, to whiteboards and signage in the school and street. But it’s not just an industrial process! Learn how to use liquid enamel on steel and copper, from metal surface preparation to enamel mixing, application, and firing. Extend your decorative palette with appealing textures and patterns using simple techniques, perfectly suited for items like jewelry and small objects. Also learn how to prepare and apply enamel to recycled steel and found objects.”

Want to know more about me and the two-day course I run? I recently led back-to-back two-day workshops in New York for The Enamel Guild North East annual conference, who just happens to maintain a great website with maker interviews from past conference speaker/instructors. See my recent profile here!

Class #: 5498
Date: Saturday the 13th + Sunday the 14th of June
Time: 9:30am – 5:30pm
Fees: $240
Master Member Fees: $216
Prerequisite: none
Supply fee: $20
Can’t make it this time? Send me an email and I’ll put you on the mailing list for the next one. Or you can read up on the process without even having to leave this blog!

The coda to Pheeew-weee!

The coda to Pheeew-weee! from yesterday. Swings and roundabouts, folks, swings and roundabouts.

White linen thread. Comes in Ecru and Black too ;)
White linen thread. Comes in Ecru and Black too 😉

Then there’s this little coda: that week of horror was also how I came to receive the monthly prize at Nancy’s Sewing Basket, my local fabric store (and yes, it is about as quaint as it sounds). Their system is this: when you shop there you enter a draw to receive a gift voucher, the sum of which equals the amount you have just spent at the store. I don’t go in there unless I need something to make jewellery out of, so I rarely go in at all, and when I do my purchase is usually a couple of meters (or yards) of ribbon.

The ‘tricky’ work from the last blog post? I had bought several versions of what I thought would be the perfect ingredients for the neckpiece, making two or three options in metal and plastic to no avail, so in a last ditch effort I decided to try fabric. Thanks to my insecurity about which ribbon to use after my other unsuccessful attempts, I saw no alternative but to buy my way out of the problem – which in the short term actually worked. I took home something that I ended up using. Not what I was intending to use when I left the store, but hell, it worked. The week after I remade the ‘mishap’ work I found out that I won Nancy’s monthly shopping spree, having just spent the most on ribbon I have ever done in my life! It has already come in handy, as the very next pieces I made – for the Comments exhibition – feature silk and linen threads from Germany and Mexico, which I now own in about 15 different colours 😉

Pheeew-weee!

I’s been tight in the studio – Melissa hasn’t been able to move for deadlines!

Wow. Well team, the reason it’s been a little quiet around this blog is because I haven’t been able to move of late without bumping into a deadline. This is made all the more incredible by the fact that the only thought I had towards making a resolution this year was to cut down on the amount of shows that I apply for. If I’m honest, though, two of the three major deadlines this month were destined to collide from the outset (and yes, I signed up to both last year), and only really met so sharply owing to a bit of misfortune. Read on!

I had spent a couple of weeks working diligently in my studio on a new piece, getting it ready for a photography deadline. Having squared it away finally – after going to Nancy’s Sewing Basket and buying only about 1/3 of the cotton and linen ribbons in the store – I was taking photographs of it and some other pieces that I had finished a while back for the same application, which were due via email the following day.

In order to take photos of these bigger works I had, for the second time, transplanted my photography setup to a corner of the basement, taking advantage of the fact that we had brought inside our outdoor table for the winter. Down there I can sprawl out across the walls and of course the table, and position the lights more easily. Incidentally the setup remains downstairs; I’ve now built an overhead light-bouncer that doubles as a slightly more efficient way of hanging works than sticking pins into the sandalwood-paneled ceiling in the wardrobe that I was using as my photography booth before. (The wardrobe also acts as my storage/packing room, so it’s still getting plenty of action.)

I had promised myself that after photographing the recently completed and particularly tricky to arrange piece, I would be able pack it in for the night. It was about 8pm on Friday and Turbo was kindly preparing dinner for probably the 5th time that week. I was jubilant! I was literally clapping and jumping around the basement as I tidied and turned off lights. I had finally finished the work and captured it, marking the end of what had been a grueling couple of weeks of making, and the agonising decision making that sometimes attaches itself to a work when one is inventing a new thing and then figuring out how that thing is going to operate as a jewel in the world.

I had been checking in my images on the computer as I went, so I knew that I had some suitable sample images to go through that night, to figure out if there was anything that needed to be re-shot in the morning. The tricky piece I decided to leave on the table but I wanted to cover it (our basement ceiling is not the finest example of the art; dust and cobwebs occasionally drift down), so I grabbed the big shoebox that was slightly over-full of work and stopped past the table with the one piece left out in the open to cover it with tissue. Having done that I picked up the box, making a sharp right turn to head towards the staircase, and simultaneously sent the work on top of the overstuffed box to the ground, upon which it landed with a sharp “Crack!”

The work in question was wrapped in tissue and then put into a plastic self-locking bag, on top of a bunch of other similarly wrapped works. Plastic on plastic is slippery and when a person makes a sharp turn with a bunch of horizontally stacked bags, they’d wanna have a good hold on all of them…

At first I thought that the smacking sound was probably right for the wood-meeting-concrete scenario that had played out so effortlessly, that I didn’t think to worry. I put the box down on the floor, carefully, and then turned back to the dropped work. The noise was replaying in my head as I reached for it, and despite the packaging surrounding it so I couldn’t see in, I knew that what I had made was gone. My hand told me the truth, which echoed my thought. The tension had dropped, the work felt mushy. Before this, the wood had been hard and the tension of threads weaving inside and around the piece felt rigid.

This was not good. It’s one of those moments that had happened so innocuously that I almost felt that I should simply be able to access some sort of ‘undo’ button, where I could rewind the time and get my work back, whole. I think I was in that state of shock for a couple of minutes, long enough to make some regretful ‘arrgh’ noises and to wonder why I wasn’t yet crying. Then Turbo came down the stairs to see me huddled on the floor as I slowly re-wrapped the work and put it back into its plastic shroud. He dutifully claimed that I could fix it, of course I could, and that’s when the tears came. I had seen it. The tension that made the piece from ‘object’ into ‘wearable’ had also accelerated its demise. It was made from a turned wood bowl, which had itself been made from laminated timber, which I had gutted by sawing a pattern into its body and drilling holes and stringing waxed linen around and through it, rejoining some of the released sections to the bowl’s interior.

The wood, vintage if not antique, had been in use for a long time and joined for a longer one. Despite its considerable thickness – I gauged it at around 1cm thick all over, thinner with some shallow carving and thicker in the corners – it cracked at the lamination faces and at any point that I had created extra stress, and there were lots of those. Plenty of 90° angles next to thinner sections of material that I had left behind and holes in line with even sharper points, laying along the same line of grain. There were largish pieces, yes, but bits and pieces of splinter-size too.

Now, thanks to my style of resourcefully making several jewels out of a single found object, I had not one broken work, but three. The other jewels made from the same bowl, two neckpieces, were now context-less. And that’s not to mention another two works that are locked into a narrative with this piece. I was doomed.

The only thing that I could think to do that night was submit the work as it had been photographed and then apologise if it was chosen, presenting in its stead a replacement that had followed much the same plan. (That was if I didn’t quit the industry all together, or just give up on making this application that I had toiled so hard toward, as I didn’t think I could, in good conscience, throw my unfettered support behind a lost work.) The revision/remake is eventually what happened; I found a replacement object within my collection (incidentally, bought at the same time, from the same now-closed antique importers down in South Lake Union, and more importantly made of m e t a l ), altering the plan to fit its slightly different dimensions.

To be honest, I think it’s the better version. Some parts were improved upon in the design and others in the making, but of course the metal made a big difference to the aesthetic. After the experiments that went to making its older sibling, the manufacturing was more linear and went quicker. The final result, for better or worse, is less chunky, more refined.

The morning after my mishap, I was slowly coming to terms with the idea that I would have to finish fine-tuning an application to include what I knew was a destroyed work, whilst lying in bed checking my twitter feed. And of all the things… Out of nowhere came my reprieve! On twitter I read, right from the source, that the deadline for that night had been extended. By a week. I had a whole seven days to get the new work together. What was there left to decide? That day I took a well-earned rest day, and got back work the following morning.

And re-making that piece instead of moving on to new works as planned is how I sent my next two deadlines crashing into one another. Thankfully I’ve now dug myself out, and my reward is to catch up on paperwork…