Vexing Issues

You’ve heard of forced air, hot air, compressed air, and big air, but thanks to my compressor tank, I  give you, Vexed Air!

Exhibit A. Air compressor outlet train. Consisting of (from left to right) 3/4″ to 1/2″ reducing bushing, 1/2″ tap, 1/2″ turning elbow, 1/2″ filter, 1/2″ to 3/8″ reducing bushing, 3/8″ regulator, 3/8″ connector (for spacing) and 3/8″ snap-in outlet.

For a couple of reasonably-educated fellows it seems to have taken myself and Turbo an inordinately long time to get to this point. This point being complete. Bar for one thing… The actual inlet into the tank, the one at the very start of this ugly contraption, purchased just this morning to replace a 3/4″ – 3/8″ bushing incompatible with the damned filter, has the wrong thread.

(I might just add that my last air compressor came with all this kit. Damn this new DIY culture!)

Yesterday I got the kiln to function. Tomorrow I will have harnessed my compressed air. The studio is just about complete. Hurrah! Now to find a .75 HP and approx 3000 RPM 60Hz motor to replace the 240V 50Hz one that is currently attached to the sandblaster’s vacuum cleaner.

I’m 3 months into this move and counting…

Categorized as studio

On Jewellery

Question: Who does the most interesting writing on jewellery?

Who fires you up, or makes you think? Who do you habitually agree with? When you plonk down in front of your computer, or with a cup of tea and your favourite journal for a read, whose name pulls you in? Or, potentially even more instructive, when you’re busy and you triage the articles before you, who do you really pore over, and who might you just skim, or even skip?

I admit that I read lots of blogs, so I go via blog titles mostly, and the ones I find myself compelled to read first – for the content or the writing itself – are often not jewellery but arts or architecture related. And although I’m loath to admit, sometimes I feel as though I read the longer-form jewellery articles just for my health. You know, the article/writing is not that tasty, but it will make me stronger in the long run…

(By the way, I’m not talking individual artists here, [excuse me again while I generalise] as the blog posts of a maker are a continuing first-person narrative. I’m talking about jewellery writers – critics, historians, reviewers, and possibly even curators or gallerists who regularly talk about jewellery.  And for these purposes I’m also excluding academics, unless their academic research focusses on writing and not making.)

Places like the Art Jewelry Forum blog have a revolving list of articles by different authors, so if I do read something worth taking note of, I will find the writer’s name for future reference. But since it’s a multi-author blog (though Susan Cummins does a lot there at the moment) there’s not much chance that the writer will have one of their articles pop up twice in a row.

What I’m getting at is I could barely give you a handful of writers who regularly offer solid jewellery discussion and criticism. Bruce Metcalf. Damien Skinner. Kevin Murray. Susan Cummins. These people I know. As you can see, I think I need educating, so, who am I missing?

Melb/Syd cool on the internetz

Imagine waking up to a bunch of your mates telling you how awesome life is back in your home town. Damn you, Google feed reader! (hey, I hear you, google aren’t the only ones)

First up, the wonderful Nikky Hepburn hosted a Sunday workshop out at Northcity4. The second picture in this post shows some of my jewellery buddies (hi guys!) crowding around Nikky for the introduction.

Also upcoming at Northcity4 is a masterclass by Manon van Kouswijk. This is my second opportunity to miss a masterclass given by Manon due to being out of the country in the last 2 years. I can hardly believe it. Yay me…


Studio 20/17 have blogged about installing the now-open:

An exhibition of 100 jewellery pieces made in 2006
19th – 30th June 2012
CELEBRATION DRINKS – Saturday 23rd June 4-6pm

Everyone you can think of is in this show. Yep, even them. Hey, they needed 100 works, and they got ’em.

In the final picture in the post, my work is just about in the centre of the image. First correct guess posted in the comments gets… something… erm, how about a computer drawn postcard of the work sent to them? Made by me!

(I’m pretty confident I won’t have to do it, but I’m sure that there’s a drawing around here somewhere…)

fine print: Studio 20/17 employees and volunteers are banned from entering, as is TurboNerd. Though I’m willing to send you a postcard if you want one, Zoe…


Way down in the hole

Here is the temporary setup I had in our basement up until the delivery of my new bench last Monday. The piece of ply that I attached my trusty removable bench-pin to, sits on a stair tread at one end and is unfixed at both ends. Handy for making noise while sawing, less good at minimising vibration for a clean cut, but I’m nitpicking, since it was never meant to be a jewellery bench. Our housemate now plans to remove the ply shelf and use the underside of the stairs to practice rock-climbing!

Vale under-stair bench. Here I made my piece for Once More With Love as well as another half dozen brooches for an upcoming show entitled Badges & Buttons Waistcoats & Vests at Velvet da Vinci.

But finally, the bench arrived. As did the new new kiln. Huzzah!

The bunker is just about there… I’m now only short some power outlets. One for the kiln, one for the bench and one for the air compressor. So not much, but at the same time, just about everything. I know, what kind of jeweller am I? (One with an over-reliance on power tools, that’s who…)

Deadlines June 2012

Time for my semi-regular deadlines post (and please excuse the lack of post last month. May was pretty busy…)

The Wilson Visual Arts Award – for Australian citizens or permanent residents, due June 22nd.

The National Contemporary Jewellery Award – due June 22nd (Aussies only, and no non-residents *sniff*).

Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award – big grant for Washington State based creatives only. Just me then? Deadline June 25th.

Woolahra Small Sculpture Prize – Does not say that applicants have to be Australian, and it’s the first year you can pay with PayPal. However, you do have to provide your own postage in both directions. Closes Friday 20 July, 4:00pm AEST.
[ Julia deVille and I were in this exhibition last year, so snap to it jewellers!]

The Bascom – American Crafts Today (Yup, USA only) Juried exhibition with cash awards for best works, due Jul 21st.

Santo Foundation: Individual Artists Grants 2012 – International grant/prize, due July 31st.

Creative Australia – New Art/Creative Development – An AusCo grant for Australian artists, due August 1st.

**Lark Books – Showcase 500 Necklaces – Another publishing opportunity from the famous 500 line of books. Applications due August 1st

Re-Fresh – Juried exhibition at Brooklyn Metalworks, artists must pay transport both ways, due August 12th.

Skills and Arts Development – Residencies – Visual Arts – This was how I got to go to the UK for my residency. Due August 20th.

The Aesthetica Art Prize – International art competition in the UK includes money, exhibition and publication for the winner(s), due August 21st.

ArtStart – AusCo award for emerging arts professionals. Get one! Due September 20th.

Suspended in Pink – International artist call-out. Pink works wanted for juried exhibition to tour Birmingham, Munich (during Schmuck ’13) and the US. Deadline September 21st.


Might I be so bold as to say that winter/summer would appear to be the peak exhibition/grant/prize season? Best of luck to you!

[disclaimer – please check all dates for veracity, for only a fool would rely on my tiny brain…]


** EDIT: I forgot to add the Lark Books call for images, see above for deadline details.

SNAG 2012 pt II

A conference is not just the presenters, speeches and dinners, right? It’s mixing it with friends, new and old, and checking out both some great artwork, and hell, I’ll say it, the competition 😉

It came as a surprise to me, and her too I’ll wager, that I caught up with Danae Natsis on day one at the first event, the pin-swap. It was a great coincidence that we were both there, as our encounters over the course of the conference helped me in the ‘downloading + processing’ part that often accompanies such an experience. Generally speaking over the whole weekend I felt at ease, with no over-saturation or overtiredness, though I was being mindful of not overstimulating myself.

The pin swap itself was a little different from what I am used to. The Americans make loads and loads of pins, most relatively simple for obvious reasons, and swap them with many, many people. It didn’t seem unusual for someone to have 50 odd pins to swap, which were carried around in small containers and tins directly in front of the body, almost like the artists were vendors of miniature ice-creams. I went with my two JMGA experiences in mind, and had packed 2 pins, since I had yet to decide which one I wanted to trade. Suffice to say, both came to the pin-swap and went off with new friends. One to Sharon Massey, who introduced herself to me before we even got into the pool area for the event. She and I have corresponded previously, while she was working for the Society for Contemporary Craft, in Pittsburgh. I got a great coiled wire pin with turquoise spray touches from her in return.

My second pin went to Caitie Sellers, maker extraordinaire, who I mentioned earlier was one of the emerging artist speakers at the conference. For her pieces she had made shrinky-dinks on plastic from some of her digital drawings. If you follow her blog (as I have done for some time – who says you need f*book to stalk someone?) you’ll know that she posts a Photoshop-drawn image, usually of local architecture, once a week. I was pleased-as-punch to get the work that had featured just that week, which tells you the lead times that a lot of these busy artists were working with!

I actually got a bunch more, as many artists were feeling generous, and one featuring an owl motif in copper by Heather Magill was a constant companion over the rest of the weekend as I used it to fix my name tag to my person. (Lanyards? Ergh! Gimme an owl any day!)

The swap was the official opening gambit, if you don’t count the education room (all schools and universities set up tables to spruik their programmes) and the newbies meet-and-greet that I had attended earlier that afternoon. A fun night, which ended with a bunch of us at the ‘after party’, a restaurant by the golf course.

Then we started to get into a rhythm, in which the day time was spent at lectures in the main room, with breaks spent outside enjoying the warm or wandering the vendors room. Charon Kransen has his table set up (Aussies will be familiar with that, though in the US there are even more books) and a bunch of other vendors like Rio Grande and Otto Frei were doing a reasonably brisk business. In fact, by Saturday I had finally settled on the bench I wanted, having spent many hours investigating my options and pestering my loved ones with emails to canvass their thoughts in the preceding months (ever since I arrived in the US in fact, knowing that my delivery of stuff from Aus, once it finally arrived, would still leave me benchless. I had left the tiny writing desk that was functioning as a bench in my studio in St Kilda.) and put in an order with Otto Frei myself. After which I also put in an order with Rio for a new flexi-drive. [Hey, I’d been holding off on both until after the conference, so I could ensure that I would be at home for the delivery…]

There were also demonstrations, held outside mostly, of torch enamelling and hot forging and the like. Local Seattle legend Phil Baldwin did the silver forging demo, and came up with the following, which I shall now hereby proclaim to be the quote of the conference.

“Phil, what are you dunking the silver into, on your left?” Was a question put to him, as he repeatedly proceeded to dip the metal into a dark plastic container, kinda about the size of a waste-paper basket, each time he removed it from his little gas furnace using some hefty pliers.

“I’m dunking it into darkness.”

Phil was trying to see the actual colour of the heated metal so as not to overheat it, and while he was ostensibly situated in the shade of the hotel building for the demo, the Arizona sun doesn’t really have many gradations. In full sun it’s bright, in shade it’s slightly less bright. So dunking metal into darkness was his solution. Hot damn!

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Well, as you can see, my tale is once again getting outta hand, so I think I shall have to return with Part III. Soon, I promise 🙂

Categorized as Jewellery

The Year Was 2006

Studio 20/17 has a new blog. Hurrah! Go there directly, and check out the post about Claire McArdle‘s current show, which you have until Saturday to go see in person. Do it!

Then, from next Tuesday, you can go see:

An exhibition of 100 jewellery pieces made in 2006
19th – 30th June 2012
CELEBRATION DRINKS – Saturday 23rd June 4-6pm

with all these artists.

2006 was the year that I got married, started and completed a postgraduate diploma in jewellery production at Curtin University in Perth, and decided with my new husband to move to Melbourne, which we did in early 2007. It was the year that I took part in my first exhibitions, and by the end of the year I was selling my works in the store at form. It was also the last year that I worked as an interior designer.

Watershed year? Yeah, you might say that. Good luck with mounting the show, Bridget, Melinda and Zoe. It’s going to be a big one!

SNAG Conference 2012

So it’s about time I bit the proverbial. See if I can’t chew this mouthful, to mix my metaphors. Here’s my start of a bit of a run-down on the SNAG 2012 conference, that took place from the 23rd to 26th of May in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’m not sure how much of this I’m going to get through in one sitting, so in an effort to work strategically, I thought I’d start with an overview. What’s the catch? Well, it’s mostly by other people.

First up, you have to start at the SNAG website, where you can see who presented, and listen to the lecture given by keynote speaker, Garth Clark. There is also descriptions of the other presenters, and you can see the bio’s of the emerging artists who each presented 15 minutes on their own practice, at regular interludes throughout each day of the conference.

(As a quick aside, I recommend listening to the keynote. Clark’s material and his, dare I say, performance, were both top notch. I enjoyed his presentation and his views, which seemed to set the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons for the rest of the conference. To paraphrase, he suggested that craft as a term is too loaded, and that while design is in the ascendency [for which he was able to give a plethora of examples, but his first was possibly the best, in that Alexander McQueen was arguably the best artist of the early 21st C, and he was actually a clothes designer] we are best served to cut ties with craft, and call ourselves designers.)

As far as the other presenters went, there was makers, scholars, educators and innovators all of high calibre. Once again, many were featured in 15 minute interviews on Jay Whaley’s podcast that were recorded and first broadcast live from the conference venue over the course of the three days.

Now, aside from the official site, I’ve read a bunch of other commentary/reviews of the proceedings, and if you’re interested you can see below to check them out.

First up, some words from attendees:

Michelle Startzman is a grad student (<–like that?? it’s an Americanism you know?) at Arizona State, who I met on my first trip to Arizona. She talks about the conference from a student’s perspective, getting into some nitty gritty of the Education Dialogue that I didn’t get a chance to catch. I was being interviewed. (Not on the ray-dya, like they do to famous people, but a podcast, like ev-ry-bo-dy else with a computer.) She was also kind enough to help uninstall the Heat Exchange exhibition with me, and managed to rope in a couple of other excellent volunteers, Mary and Sarah, to help with same.

Halstead Bead talks up their highlights.

Jillian Moore and Liz Steiner do tag-team thoughts and review via the Crafthaus blog. I got to know Jillian a little better at Touchstone over the weekend, so I was impressed to find that her writings accurately (to my experience) portray her worldview.

and from presenters:

Caitie Sellers gave a stirring presentation, and her delicate works were a highlight of the Presenters Exhibition, and of my hand by the end of the conference 😉

Amy Tavern had multiple fingers in multiple pies. I’ll let her tell you about them all, though I will throw in a gratuitous plug for her soulful work in Heat Exchange.

Harriete Estel Bermann (a presenter in the final day’s Professional Development Seminar and general conference facilitator having hosted the ‘Smaller Conference Experience’ with Garth Clark over lunch the day following his lecture, as well as the speed-date style meet and greet for new attendees on day 1) talks about Garth Clark’s presentation in depth, in which she has sourced some of the images that he presented for inclusion.

And last, but not least, a brief wrap-up post from one of the conference organisers, Lynette Andreason, whose beautiful pieces were a highlight amongst the many exhibitions at the Mesa Arts Centre.


I was going to get all up in your face about the recent SNAG conference as well as the crafthaus Think Tank Symposium I was at over this past weekend, but I read an article this morning that I want to share instead.

Well, not exactly instead. After my weekend experiences at Touchstone, where a group of about thirty skilled and passionate craft makers, facilitators, leaders and educators came together to pave the path, through thoughtful dialogue, to a connection that will allow for much-needed collaboration between the fields, I think that this piece by Mauro Gil Fournier E. settles well into the part of my brain that is still ruminating.

While the article tends to paint ‘the architect’ as the primary agent, the piece is general enough to allow the same to apply instead to the artist/craftsperson. A message of care shaped to help engage architects with their “transformation of the collective and urban”  applies equally to actors in another kind of space, the community.

One of our ‘actors’ over the weekend was Michael Strand, self proclaimed ceramics evangelist, from Fargo, North Dakota. He explained his practice as existing in the space between objects and humanity. On his site is a list of his projects, as well as a link to his Tedx Fargo talk where he explains his work in depth. He spoke on Friday about the fact that he likens himself to the potters of old, a trades-person in service to a community, and you can see from his talk and his site that his projects are as much about people and their narrative and memory as they are about the object. He is an illustration of artist as care provider, and one thread of potential solution, in microcosm, to the essential problem that the group was discussing, craft awareness.


various mismatchings

male on male
regulator good
regulator bad

The dial for the regulator has yet to be inserted, so it’s not that, and really it’s not the regulator’s fault. It should be after the filter, but at the moment, owing to the size of the silly small filter, it’s in the wrong order – depicted correctly in my diagram above. I have to reorder the part online, when I get a spare minute…

Categorized as studio