Melissa has curated a show of emerging Australian jewellery artists over at Crafthaus.

I’ve been moonlighting as an online curator once again, back over at Crafthaus.

This time to showcase a group of emerging Australian jewellery artists, in an exhibition entitled:

The artists involved, in no particular order, are:

Sarah Hudson, Claire McArdle, Leanne Ryan, Chloe McColl, Jill Hermans, Sarah Munday, Justin Siow, Danae Natsis, Sarah Carlson, Amy Zubick, Kelly Jonasson and Kaoru Rogers.

Please check it out!

Enamel on Steel: Recently Added

Melissa is adding to her blog site all the time. This time it’s onto the Enamel on Steel section once again.

This is an excerpt from the Enamel on Steel – some insights section of this self-same blog. The enamel insights area is a work in progress that receives updates such as this from time-to-time. Please feel free to add your own insights in the comments, or email me.

enamel brands: behaviour of unfired and fired enamels

I’ve recently been working with my WG Ball enamels in earnest, enamelling a series of neckpieces that I have also enamelled in a Thompson colour, a 930 Chinese Red. The WG Ball colour I will use for comparison is their 10104 Sky Blue. Both are liquid enamels that I bought in powdered form, and both applied over a Thompson Clear (low fusing) base. First up, I have found the WG ball enamels to be grainier than the Thompson ones when in solution, and the application to be tougher as they either don’t give good, even coverage (too little water) or when they are covered nicely they then ages to dry and have a tendency to run as they dry (too much water). I’m yet to find a good medium, though as I’m newer to them than the Thompson ones it might just be my water adding and mixing technique. I’ve also tried grinding them down more to help them mix and therefore have better application results, which worked but due to other issues (see below) seemed to be of minimal overall benefit.

The other issue is that thus far, the aforementioned Sky Blue, (as well as some of the other WG Ball enamels I have tried) don’t seem to take on a glossy surface when fired. Again, this is measured in comparison to the Thompson colours (and other colours from Elizabeth Turrell’s studio – I remember a German range there) that I have worked with.

Even to get a semi-gloss is tough. It could be that in my temperature control and timing I am missing the optimum fuse point repeatedly (but once again, I’m hitting the desired time/heat fine with other brands), so the best I can say is that it is very elusive. I’ve either managed to overcook them (they started to flake off the work) or have them look slightly under-fired, with the tell-tale lack of glossy final surface. In the end I have resorted to adding a final layer of clear.

To save time I decided to try mixing them in with some Thompson low-fusing clear. This turned out quite well, to the point that I have begun to mix some of my own colours, thus far just sticking with a single coloured enamel with a single clear.

This works especially well if you are after a more transparent finish, which is something that I happened to want at the time, but in the long run is not really a solution to the gloss-less problem. So far the combinations have played well together in mixing, (meaning they actually go onto the work better) and in finish, as they have fired easily to the desired surface finish.

In my work I have been trying to dilute the strength of the colours a bit too – I’m not into opaque colours at the moment (I like the black of the steel to make itself known and the variegation of the thicknesses of the enamel over a surface give what I find is a desirable smokey quality), but opaque colours are just about everything that I have. In my experiments I’ve been making a mixture of 2:1 (the ratio being premixed clear to premixed coloured enamel, or even more on the clear side of the equation for stronger pigments or to get lighter colouration) on some to ‘water’ them down a bit. That seems to have worked well.

Or shall I say, I liked the finish. If you’re near Gallery Bilk in Canberra in the next month or so you can go check out some of my new experiments on the earrings I’m sending for their earring show to see what I mean.

Jewellery – back from Japan

Melissa had a show at Gallery CAJ in Kyoto earlier this year. Here’s some of the pieces that went away.

Some of my pieces of jewellery went on a holiday to Gallery CAJ in Kyoto earlier this year. They are all from my current series, entitled La Geometrie. Other works can be seen here and here.

Melissa Cameron, Floating planes – pendant I, 2012. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel, nylon cord.
Melissa Cameron, Target XYZ – pendant, 2012. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel, neoprene cord.
Melissa Cameron, 2 Axis Neckpiece, 2012. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel, 925 silver.
Melissa Cameron, Line-Planes, 2012. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel, 925 silver.
Melissa Cameron, Parallel Planes Brooch V, 2012. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel, 925 silver.


Deadlines: August 2012

Deadlines deadlines, deadlines. Get amongst it!

Current deadlines. Giddyup!!

** NEW!! – see below

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.

Skills and Arts Development – General grants – similar to above, but you can use it for general development (including conferences). Due August 22.

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

Studio 20/17 Christmas Showcase – Submissions of minimum of 5 works to feature in their Christmas show, due August 31st

Saul Bell Design Award sponsored by Rio Grande. Works in competition for metals and other prizes, renderings of proposals (which finalists then will make) due September 14.

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.

Art Jewelry Forum – Emerging Artist Award 2012. $7500 + a show at an AJF member gallery, for the best emerging artist. Won last year by Farrah Al-Dujaili. Deadline September 30th.

Ferrous – Simultaneous exhibition between Velvet da Vinci Gallery (San Francisco) and Crafthaus, applications close October 1st.

The State Your Politics Show: Applications for politically themed works of jewellery, to be exhibited at A Jewelers Art Gallery in Oklahoma City. Closes October 15th

** Indiana University Program for International Visiting Artist-in-Residence (PIVA): International artists are paid to teach for a term at Indiana University Bloomington. Entries open September 1st and close November 15th.

Preziosa Young 2013. Must be under the age of 35 for all of 2013. Eight finalists are selection for exhibition in Florence, Italy, 2013* Due December 15th.

*Details are a little thin. There was no exhibition this year (apparently due to poor entries?!) but in 2011 there was an exhibition and prize of a 2000 Euro voucher towards rental of a booth at Inhorgenta 2013 awarded to Kim Heejoo (who I was lucky enough to meet while I was in South Korea last year). In 2010 Erin Keys and I were in the exhibition, and there was no prize. Our works travelled for over a year, appearing in Florence, Inhorgenta Munich and in Poland.


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


Make my day

Melissa is spending lots of time underground. Today she’s up for air.

I did a strange thing on Saturday, for me anyway. I woke up with a burning desire to make jewellery.

I have a bit of a regime that I stick to from Monday to Friday. Monday I work in the studio, making jewellery. Tuesday I do paperwork, upstairs in my office. This time of year I’m busy getting my tax stuff in order, as well as the usual tasks of photographing works, making up price lists and invoices and responding to calls for entry, general emails and ordering materials and other supplies. Sometimes this spills into Wednesday mornings, but I try to keep myself on schedule.

From Wednesdays to Fridays I work in the studio. I don’t have any family where I am right now, and Turbo works long hours, so I spend fairly long days down there, uninterrupted. It’s great to have the luxury, but it is taxing. At my last studio, hours were 9am – 7pm, and 6pm on weekends. I only broke curfew a handful of times in my two years there, when a deadline for images loomed, or once or twice when leading up to exhibitions. Sticking to the hours was easy enough, since don’t like to work too late or put in too many hours when tired, because, as all jewellers know, making stuff takes it out of you. You have muscle fatigue as well as brain fatigue and sometimes eye strain added into the mix. It’s not like we’re doing keyhole surgery, but sometimes it feels pretty close. Since we’re generally dealing with dangerous equipment, toxic chemicals, sharp tools and such, I think it’s purely a matter of self preservation to be organised and to quit when you’re ahead. That’s the other thing, if I’m ever going to make a big mistake, it’s going to be the last thing I try to squeeze in at the end of a jam packed day. So I’ve learned to pack it in. Mostly. It’s a battle hard fought inside myself, since I used to be able to keep drafting to all hours and then have a wine or two with dinner (yep, that long ago, when I used to drink wine!) and go and red-line a bunch of drawings before bed. That’s fine when you’re on paper (literally) but a shitty idea in the jewellery studio.

So after a taxing week, my weekends, especially Saturdays, I rest and recuperate. Sleep in, maybe go out for brunch. Relax. Regenerate. On Sundays I used to get back into the office, like when I used to post here a lot more frequently. Sunday was a blogging and supplementary paperwork day. And a day to catch up on my reading, as I have – well what I think is at least – a formidable blog list that I try to stay on top of. And if I’m curating a show, I might lose some making time when I’m dealing with emails and writing documents during the week, so I will try to catch up with or anticipate incoming paperwork on Sundays so I can spend as much time in the studio as I can.

Lately though, my working hours have been intense, and the interruptions negligible, so I’ve had whole weekends to my ‘other’, non-jewellery-fixated, self. Time to spend and share at will, without nagging interruption from ‘work’. We have a new city to explore, and, lets face it, less buddies around to hang out with, so me and Turbo, we depend on one another more. Suffice to say, in recent times my weekend has changed shape a little. But then there was last Saturday.

I made a chain last week, one that I’d been turning over in my mind for a while. It’s a rarity for me, to the point that I think I could count the amount of proper neckpieces I’ve made on a single hand, and many of those have been for the La Geometrie series this year. Since my pendants are often big and detailed and time consuming, I had felt for a long while that in price alone, a hand-made chain would tip them over into almost unsalable territory. And as I have mentioned recently, for a long while I’ve been working of The Sieve works. This pattern lent itself to large yet complex pendants, each of them visually rich while maintaining a certain precision. With their aesthetic in mind I made the decision that any chain should reflect the strands of cable that held the works together. I used a lot of snake chain (not really a favourite, but appropriate for the work nonetheless) and a few other varieties that suited the scale of the pieces. I’ve recently been enamelling sections of the final Sieve works, and I thought that my chain idea would fit well with the last big Sieve pendant, so I finally decided to go ahead with it.

And I didn’t quite finish it, despite working til almost 8pm on Friday night. Well, I had a finished length of chain, with a stretch of links left over that I quickly turned into a pendant, but I didn’t get to attaching the main length of chain to the Sieve-pattern pendant. But I was so happy with the chain, including the five-part piece of it that I played with continually that night after it became my little pendant on a length of neoprene, that I immediately wanted to make another. Immediately. The idea had settled in my brain and would not let me go. In fact, just writing about it makes me want to get downstairs to work on the new one on the bench. I want so much to see it in red.

So on Saturday when I woke up, and Turbo asked what I wanted to do for the day, which lay as a clean slate ahead of us, I said I wanted to make jewellery. Unusual, to the point of being unheard of, but not as outlandish as suddenly deciding to, say, become a pilot… I’m a jeweller, and on my day off, I wanted to make jewellery. So I did.

It wasn’t a big working day, since some of my usual time pressure was gone, so we still went out for lunch as planned. On our walk back I didn’t mind at all waiting for the Fremont Bridge to close so that we could cross it, which I definitely would if I was there waiting on the other side of the channel on a week-day. All up, I spent a bit over six hours in the studio. I measured, saw pierced, drilled, trussed, sandblasted, enamelled, fired, cut, soldered, strung and soldered again at a great pace. It felt like a borrowed day, so I was keen and determined and absolutely no-nonsense. I had worked out how to make the piece with the first incarnation earlier in the week, so it went quicker, even with the changes I wanted to make. Once again, I didn’t quite finish. But I was satisfied just seeing the whole piece laid out, looking practically how it would once finished. I wanted to play with it, to see it move, but my first flush of curiosity had been sated, the eternal question of “how will it look?” had been answered.

I finished it yesterday and I finally got to play with it. The next question, “how will it feel?” could be experienced. I immediately I wore it. I turned its links and felt it move in my hands and around my neck.  The feedback loop had been completed and I was ready to move forward with the information gathered, so I immediately started making another. The next one currently occupies the position that the now-completed version previously took up on my bench.

I played with my neckpiece some more once I finished work, testing it, redesigning it, recolouring and restringing it in my head. Using it to design and visualise its descendants. Assessing while admiring. I like it, but I can’t wait to finish the next one because it will be better.

Man, this business is addictive.

Bunker news: the last of The Sieve

Melissa now works from her basement in Seattle. She’s finishing off the Sieve series, if that means anything to you.

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.

Melissa Cameron, The Sieve. 2010.

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.

Melissa Cameron, Fulsome Bloom, 2012. From the Sieve series, 2010-2012

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…

Melissa Cameron, Victory (reverse side) 2012. From the Sieve series, 2010-2012