It’s taking me a few years, but I’m finally going to the annual East Carolina University Material Topics Symposium – entitled Deconstruct/Reconstruct – in January. It’s going to be amazing – the list of speakers and break-out presenter list is incredible! Am I just saying that because a bunch of my friends are going to be talking and I’m really looking forward to catching up with them all?

Of course not!

Where else are you going to see Mike Holmes reveal what he learned at Velvet da Vinci, and Andy Cooperman lecture and deliver a break-out on tool tips, or have the beautiful Matt Lambert deliver a break-out session? And then back it up with the vivacious Jina Seo and Harlan W. Butt! And this is me cherry picking – I don’t want to leave out the inimitable Judy Stone… Or Lisa Klakulak! Seriously – look at the list and the exhibitions too. And, hey, if you’re lucky, I might also have a few things to say ๐Ÿ™‚

See y’all in Greenville.

Enamel workshop and talk – next week

HEAT II in stainless steel, vitreous enamel and titanium, 2016. Image of the wall work and brooch, as installed at Arrowmont.

There’s a day or so left to register for my upcoming workshop in Oakland next week:

Enameling Recycled Steel for Jewelry and Objects โ€“ a workshop with Melissa Cameron

I will be sticking around in Oakland to attend day one of a weekend of large scale enameling at KVO Industries on the 9th, which is super-exciting. Knowing that I have plans to make some more panel-based works in the next year or so for a show in the UK, I’m looking to up my large-format game, and since Judy Stone at the Center for Enamel Art – all-round champion of enamel and artists – suggested I do it, how could I refuse? Not that my moderate-panel game appears to be too shabby, as I recently won a prize for Wall Works (for the above) in the Enamelist Society Alchemy 4 Juried Exhibition!

I’ll also be giving a free public lecture next Wednesday night at California College of the Arts:

“From a tamper-proof fence to Body Politic – my enamel journey so far” 7:30pm, Nahl Hall, Oakland Campus,ย 5212 Broadway (map)

Looking forward to spending time in the heat after just finishing up my Aussie shenanigans of the past few weeks. Northern Summer, come at me!

IMAGINE – already open!

Resilience 'before', by Melissa Cameron. 2016
Resilience ‘before’. Melissa Cameron. 2016

I have it from a reliable source in North Carolina that this exhibition is already open. If you’re in the area, or want to get along to the official opening, get to it! Suffice to say, as one of the 94 participants, I am completely without bias when I tell you that it’s another bloody ripper of a show.

I.M.A.G.I.N.E. PEACE NOW Opens in Greenville

The Innovative Merger of Art & Guns to Inspire New Expressions, or I.M.A.G.I.N.E. PEACE NOW exhibition, includes 94 pieces of art, created by artists from 6 countries around the world, responding to the gun violence that is prevalent in American culture today. Participating artists received a dismantled pistol collected from the Pittsburgh buyback program, where the weapons were rendered inoperable, in order to transform them into (un)loaded objects of art.

The show opens at Wellington B. Gray Gallery, East Carolina University in Greenville, NC on November 21st and runs through January 16, 2017. Closing reception coincides with ECU Materials Topics symposium. The exhibition then travels to Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston.

Mapping jewellery schools – part II

google maps, 2015
google maps, 2015

click for the fledgling google map of USA Jewellery Schools

Further to my last post – I’ve just found out thanks to the indomitable Harriette E-B via the lovely Sarah Holden that SNAG has a list of jewellery schools in the US and Canada [opens a PDF – allegedly only accessible if you’re a SNAG member but I wasn’t logged in when I checked…]. It’s pretty comprehensive, although a little old (it’s dated 2012 and even my untrained eye can see a few changes not markedย as yet – mostly noticeable through staff movement.) But even more incredibly – (this will please you, Dr Kevin Murray ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) it includes one Australian jewellery school. Design Centre, Enmore, take a bow!

The AJF twitter account did ask the pertinent question – what would the rest of the world look like? A very good question – and something I’d like to see. As is a visualisation all of the data contained in the SNAG listing, using separate layers for differing program outcomes, like certificate vs associate degree vs degree vs mfa programs, and community vs state vs private colleges. Or in Australia, Tafe vs university vs private schools. And not to forget (again!) the rest of the world.

In fact, I’m ready to appoint editors for the rest of the world. It’s pretty easy to add a layer and drop in points and type in all the relevant data. Does anyone want to take on their country? This kind of data mapped online would be an indispensable resource for students, job seekers and travellers alike. In fact as I’ve already learned the hard way once this week, it might already exist. Do you know of a map with any of this data on?

Also in the directories section of the SNAG website is links to other useful things like guilds, suppliers, photographers and the big one, galleries! Here the rest of the world, including Australia, is far better represented, though it’s harder to tell how recent it is. Lesley Craze is still listed, but then her gallery closure is only a few months old, while relative newcomer Atta Gallery (est. 2010) in Thailand is not. But then again, nor isย  Bilk Gallery, a stalwart of the Australian scene.

It’s great to see that SNAG has these resources, though as I have already commented elsewhere, it’s amazing that they never appeared in my numerous google searches over the years – which could be explained by the login wall (mental note, ask TurboNerd). There are, however, AJF and Metalcyberspace lists that are available (Metalcyberspace is slightly more comprehensive, so long as you’re in the northern hemisphere. AJF is only of member schools, and is very short.) And using another engine (DuckDuckGo) the Society of American Silversmiths list came up (which is even more out-of-date unfortunately), so always check your search engine since your browser may be tuned owing to google’s ‘personalised search‘.

Hmmm, interesting…

BTW – thanks for the comments/emails, I’ll geto to adding them on my ‘housekeeping’ day ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mapping jewellery schools

Screen capture of a google map with location data on American jewellery schools
Screen capture of a google map with location data on American jewellery schools

When I moved to the US I was quickly introduced to some of the finer points of the US education system, thanks to the Brigitte Martin co-organised Think Tank that I was a participant of, at Touchstone Center for Crafts in June of 2012.

It was before then, or perhaps at about that time, that I started compiling a map of US jewellery/metals programs in universities/colleges around the country. It’s a complex thing, as some schools have what is termed a ‘metals concentration’, while many others have a couple of jewellery units available to their undergrad students (sometimes taught by jewellers, but sometimes a part of a sculpture or crafts department, for example, and taught by other artists), without offering the ability to major in metals or jewellery. Needless to say, it’s quite different to my Australian experience, and since I’m inexpert at the differences between the two offerings, it likely has effected the composition of my map.

Caveats aside, here’s what I have so far: Jewellery Schools USA.

Based on a presentation at SNAG this year, I think there might be other similar compilations floating around, and given that it’s quite possible I’ve made incorrect judgements, (I did start out on the very conservative side, thus the current listing is only 19 schools and does not yet include Canada) if you have seen/own a better list please let me know and I’ll post it up here in this one’s place. Or if you have anything to add to this list, please email me for permission to edit and we’ll get them on there!

I know I promised a SNAG wrap-up; I just wanted to get this out there as I’ve been thinking about it since SNAG, and it might help answer a question from an email I recently received ๐Ÿ˜‰

I went to: Richmond!

So I shipped out of Asheville on Tuesday evening and flew into Richmond. I was invited to Virginia Commonwealth University by metals professor Susie Ganch to be an artist-in-residence for the beginning of the ten-year anniversary edition of the Radical Jewelry Makeover project. Again this entailed a lecture and one-on-one meetings, (as a guest of the Craft and Material Studies area of VCU Arts I spoke with artists from across the crafts – admittedly though mostly metals folks) and this time some studio time too.

After some crit sessions on Thursday morning I gave my new lecture. I was a lot more confident than the first time, which improved my volume – a problem in Kent. I then joined the students in Susie’s afternoon class to make some jewellery for the Radical Jewelry Makeover project, after a brief lecture on my process and material choices to this class.

Susie’s right-hand-man in Richmond was Windgate Fellowship recipient and resident artist Jaydan Moore. I was surprised to meet him there, but really chuffed since I had been introduced to his work by a friend who told me to look out for him at Penland, as there he’s an incoming resident. I was way too early too catch him at Penland – but won the jackpot by getting to hang out with him at VCU, where we chatted as he worked on one of his prints.

Since we were all working on RJM pieces it was a good opportunity to work in amongst the group, so while I roamed a little talking to students, I also got down to business. I spent my first afternoon drafting in AutoCad, as I hadn’t done any work on my intended piece, aside from photograph and dismantle it back home. (If you’re unfamiliar, RJM was the parent of the Once More With Love exhibition, and has borrowed the latter’s idea of sending out bags of recycled jewels to invited artists to make their work from.) Like all the students, I had one of my (hopefully) future exhibition pieces to work with. Yup, we were all playing for keeps.

Working in Cad is normally a concentrated and quiet solo process, so it was a challenge to come up with something I was happy with in a busy environment. I had a great time talking to students, doing a demo of capping steel cable with solder and helping sort more donations of materials then identifying the gold and silver amongst the piles and piles of random metal, but I learned that when it comes to drawing I really am used to that cone of silence. But when I finally printed my plan on Saturday morning and began drilling and sawing, I just about finished up my piece that day. Having said that, I finished the piece last week and photographed it before working on it again this week, finishing it for a second time. And I’m still not content with it. I now plan to take parts off and enamel them before restringing. I’ll let you know how that goes….

While in the studios surrounded by a huge bounty of jewels to recycle I succumbed to the allure of a couple of new things, which I was encouraged to take with me to work with. I’m now fixated on the (very flimsy) base of a sterling silver candlestick that Susie gave me. As a consequence, the objects that I formerly thought were going to be my focus, (see them on the RJM website) have lost favour. Though that badge still has my attention…

My jewels for the RJM show at the Richmond Center for Crafts have to be in Susie’s hands by next week, so I’d best get off the internetz and get on with them.



All those boxes have donated jewellery in them. They have been sorted into material and shape categories
All those boxes along the wall have donated jewellery in them. They have been sorted into material and shape categories
Sorting more silver - the pile in the middle is to be melted down, but chains and some wire is kept as is.
Sorting more silver – the pile in the middle is to be melted down, but chains and some wire is kept as is.
RJM Gold. These ingots tested at around 12-14 karat
RJM Gold. These ingots tested at around 12-14 karat
RJM silver
RJM silver
Jaydan printing from silver plated serving platters. One of those ideas you instantly wish you'd thought of.
Jaydan printing from silver plated serving platters. One of those ideas you instantly wish you’d thought of.
In the Studio
In the studio
My drawing and pieces finished, ready to saw
My drawing and pieces finished, already starting to saw
At the end of the day; just about ready to assemble.
At the end of the day; just about ready to assemble.


I went to: Kent State!

So on the 12th of February I spent the day flying to Cleveland, Ohio, where I met up with Kathleen Browne, the Jewelry/Metals professor at Kent State University’s School of Art who took me out to Kent, about an hour out from Cleveland.

Owing to the recent weather patterns on the east coast and inland I was wary of cutting it too fine, so my arrival was the day before the opening of The Digital Hand on the 13th. The exhibition, as the name implies, was of jewellery works by artists who use digital technologies in their practices. The opening went really well, as did the opening of the student show upstairs. While at our show I got to have a great chat with some local artists who were involved, including Matthew Hollern and partner Pam Argentieri. (Check out the catalogue below to see their work.)

The following day I gave a lecture on my practice for the department of art, which went pretty well. It’s a tough thing to practice, talking in public, since rehearsing in front of an audience is not really workable. It’s like stand-up comedy in a way, the only way to get good at it is to do it. Hopefully, with all the practice I’m getting, I’ll someday get really good at it!

While I was there I also spent some time with some students, mostly graduates (what we in Aus would call postgraduate students – students undertaking their MFA’s), talking with them about their work. And I got a tour of the enamelling studio, which included the great big new enamelling kiln.

On the Saturday we trekked back into Cleveland where Kathleen and I met up with Gretchen Goss, another enamel artist, whose work I was familiar with after installing it for first Heat Exchange exhibition in 2012. Together we toured the recently fully-reopened and pretty ah-maz-ing Cleveland Museum of Art for the afternoon. The collections and the architecture are incredible, I really recommend a visit.

While in town I stayed with Kathleen and partner Stephen, also an impressive artist. They were fantastic hosts, and the time with them allowed me to tour both of their studios which is always a fascinating peek behind the curtains of an artist’s process.

The Digital Hand – Catalogue

The Digital Hand exhibition
The Digital Hand exhibition
My work
My work
3D printer on site
3D printer on site
The grad studio - Kathleen
The grad studio – Kathleen
Ravenna - dusk
Ravenna – dusk
Ravenna - morning
Ravenna – morning

Heading east-side

From tomorrow until Monday you’ll find me haunting Kent State University in Ohio. I’m heading over for the opening of The Digital Hand exhibition at The School of Art Gallery on this Thursday night, the 13th of February, from 5-7pm. At the invitation of Kathleen Browne, the curator and head of jewelry/metals, I will also be presenting a public lecture on my practice on Friday the 14th from 12pm. The School of Art Gallery is located on the second floor of the Art Building at 400 Janik Dr. in Kent, with the lecture taking place in the adjacent auditorium, room 202.

I’m really please to be invited to exhibit amongst a pretty amazing array of artists (from the Kent State News and Events site):

Pam Argentieri, Kristin Beeler, Allyson Bone, Doug Bucci, Melissa Cameron, David Choi, Joshua DeMonte, Arthur Hash, Matthew Hollern, Nicole Jacquard, Amy Klainer, Plural Studios (Courtney Starrett and Michael Gayk), Phil Renato, Rebecca Strzelec, Kim Tatalick, Jess Todd and Linda Threadgill.

And once I’m done there, if you’re in Asheville I’m spending an afternoon and evening in your town next Monday, before I take a day trip out to Penland on Tuesday to visit with the wonderful Elizabeth Brim, blacksmith extraordinaire.

Then I hop a flight to Richmond, VA, where I’ll be chillin with Susie Ganch and team at VCU for a few days, particularly as one class starts their Radical Jewelry Makeover project, making new jewellery from old. And as I’ve just learned, other artists participating in the project are welcome to join us!

I’m going to give a public lecture there too, in room 535 of the Bowe St building, on the afternoon of Thursday the 20th from 12pm. I’m sticking around for a few days, as guest artist, hanging out in the classroom to help out as the students begin work on their recycled jewellery project. I’m planning to have a dabble with the tools myself if I get a chance, since I will have work in the upcoming RJM exhibition that opens in Richmond on the 4th of April. I encourage you to check out the RJM site, as they’re posting up images and text about what each of us participants are getting up to, as we go along.

Oh, and if you do have some old jewellery that you’re keen to have upcycled properly, please send it along to Susie and her team as their call for donations ends this Friday!

Phew, ok, I gotta go pack…

Any questions?

I’m not crowd-sourcing my homework, (honestly!) however, I’m not above finessing by proxy…

I’m writing a couple of presentations at the moment (for delivery in the next two weeks – more details soon) and since feedback is going to come too late to help me improve the presentations, I’ve resorted to begging anyone who has a connection to my working practice for their insights. (I got the idea off Andy Cooperman. He’s talking at SNAG this year, so he’s not doing it without good reason.) And yes, that means you too ๐Ÿ™‚ No, please, don’t walk away…!?!


What would you like to know? What is the one burning question you have about my work, my process or my professional practice – especially those I haven’t answered in all the time we’ve known one another?

Or perhaps I should word it this way;

What would be the first thing that you’d expect me to address if I was presenting a talk on my work?

And what would you like to hear less of?

I thank you all in advance for your thoughtful and considered responses, and for your patience in indulging me.

xx Melissa

Monash Visit 2013

I’m finally tying up all the loose ends around here from my trip to Australia in July. After my previous post on the Bodywork exhibition, my last mission is to tell you all about my tour through the newly relocated Monash jewellery workshops. I promised to fill y’all in at the end of this post about the Seams Seems Symposium in early October so apologies for you who’ve been waiting with bated breath, I hope you can breathe normally now!

First up, if the pictures of the jewellery studio below are not quite as convincing as they could be, as far as I am aware (and the photos were taken in July mind you) the jewellery/metals program at Monash has not been shut down. There have been large changes to it, and in part those are due to the change in the way the Department of Fine Art is now administering its units, as it is currently undergoing significant changes to the way courses are offered and delivered. It was rumoured that the course was to close at the end of Marian Hosking’s tenure, but as this coincided with the beginning of these changes it’s hard to say that the lack of first-year intake is from either the process of shutting or the process of changing the course offerings. The current head is supportive of these arts/crafts, as the previously-threatened glass studios also remain and course offerings are available for both streams in 2014.

Marian Hosking’s role as studio coordinator of metals and jewellery has been taken over by Manon van Kouswijk, and Vito Bila is still the jewellery/metals technician. I believe that additional teaching will be done by Roseanne Bartley, effectively she’ll be taking the role that Simon Cottrell vacated when he moved to Canberra.

As you may or may not be able to tell, the studio is now located in the fine arts building, right next to the glass studios and across from the sculpture studio, and overlooking some of the independent studios spaces allocated to postgraduate fine arts candidates. It also overlooks Caulfield Race Track, so there are no buildings in the way to stop quite generous views that purportedly can reach Port Philip Bay. Nice…

As I understand it, the fine arts stream has changed all round, with course offerings being more open and generalised to begin with, giving students the opportunity to choose their areas of concentration as they progress along the timeline of their fine arts degree. Vito Bila described it to us on his tour as a really exciting, because it is integrating jewellery into arts more holistically, and with that comes the potential to create a really dynamic arts-focused jewellery course, something that he believes is unique, with nothing quite like it in the whole country. I tend to agree with him, because I think that if jewellery wants to be part of the arts conversation then the training is one obvious segment that should reflect that. I’m also fan of Manon van Kouswijk’s work (I wrote about her and Ben Lignel in my MFA thesis) and I think the kind of broad thinking that she applies to her jewellery practice will be indicative of what she will bring to the course and the arts department, which has the potential to be of great benefit not just to her students – those in jewellery and those not – but obviously to the department as a whole.

The system of having a generic first year and signing up for individual courses can be seen as adopting a more American style, but having said that, it is a system that was in place in my time at Curtin University in Perth. I studied a common first year with all of architecture and interior architecture, (before we were split into separate studios in 2nd year.) A similar open policy was available in the fine arts, where I opted not to do jewellery as an undergrad out of a fear of having to mix it with the general arts population before I could concentrate solely on jewellery in 2nd and 3rd years, (albeit that my reticence was combined with a stronger desire to actually study architecture.) I now realise that the option of having a generic first year is an amazing resource, and if I had bothered to consult anybody about my fear-based-decision I might have seen the wisdom in the mixed programme earlier. Not a day goes by that I don’t use my interior architecture training, and if I had some printmaking or glass or even painting skills behind me I’m guessing I could argue the same for those. That and I know plenty of people who changed major mid-stream, as they came to the realisation that what they had signed up for was not really what they were passionate about.

I realise that not all students have that issue nor want a broad base, they might want to come in and get straight down to their career-course on day one of studies, and I don’t blame them. Getting mastery of any skill is going to take all the time you can give it. But for those of us who walked into university a little more reticent that they had made the right decision, a few more options – not to mention a chance to play with a myriad of creative techniques and technologies – is a good thing.

OK, that has ended up a bit ranty, so I’ll go away now, and you can look at the pictures. I’m not going to explain them much, in part because as Vito mentioned the transition from the deign building to the arts one was still taking place, so they were missing walls and doors and venting and the like. I imagine that more changes have been made by now, but here’s what was there in July.