getting ethical

Melissa introduces Suse and the Melbourne version of the Radical Jewellery Makeover.

Suse Scholem is a very busy woman. She has a thriving object and conceptual based jewellery and sculpture practice, and she’s at the forefront of the local ethical jewellery movement.

She’s organising a Radical Jewellery Makeover event in Melbourne, to take place on the 29th and 30th January at the Loophole Community Centre, 670 High St, Thornbury. For those of you familiar with the format, the 29th is the day for receiving and sorting the donated jewellery items, while the 30th is for making new works from the donated pieces. Everyone is welcome to attend both or either of the days.

Now, what be this?
In Suse’s words, it’s “an amazing initiative begun by the Ethical Metalsmiths, where old and unwanted jewellery is donated by members of the public, reworked and turned into new creative pieces of jewellery.”

So, who does the donating, and who does the making? Well, the answer is everybody!

Can be made on the first day (the 29th) at Loophole, or before by sending or delivering to 24 Henry St, Northcote or PO BOX 6/330 Smith St, Collingwood. For those wishing to donate you can email Suse ( so she can send you a simple donation form to send back with your donation. Why? This is so that people who make considerable donations (precious metals for example) can not only feel good that they’re recycling a valuable material that was collecting dust in a drawer somewhere and contributing to the manufacture of ethical  jewellery, but they can also have a discount available to them to purchase new works when the exhibition of the Radical Jewellery Makeover takes place. (There’s an exhibition too? Yup, but more on that after the making has commenced.)

As stated earlier, anyone is welcome to come and contribute to either day. Novices quite welcome, and if you’re a jeweller you’ll be appreciated too; even more so if you can bring some simple hand tools with you. There will be a protocol in place for those willing to have their tools shared, and those that are to be kept for private use. Suse also has a wish list of sharable tools that would be great to have on the day. See below.

One more thing – direct from Suse;
“Re: making and skill-sharing
Unfortunately there is a need to be careful with powerful or dangerous tools, and being in a community centre, we won’t have access to teachers or great facilities like Uni studios. Therefore there will be onus on individuals using resources to ensure they are proficient with their use and aware of safety protocol. Safety liability sign-in sheets will be used. That being said, to avoid a hierarchy, there will hopefully be both skilled and un-skilled makers on both the sorting and making days. Indeed, it is a view of mine, and of the Loophole Community, that skill-sharing is fantastic and should be undertaken at any opportunity, particularly given the potential for old trades like jewellery to take their secrets to the grave. I will be onhand to over-see and instruct the use of more technical equipment so that those who wish may enjoy their benefits.

Makers with experience are asked to take a moment occasionally (when it suits them) to help those around them who might need some advice and enjoy the process of sharing and consolidating their knowledge. Those with less experience are invited to ask for help and learn, and hopefully progress their skills and knowledge of the jewellery trade.”

Cool Tools! (the wishlist)
More pliers and hammers – all types
Files – all types
Any clasps, pins, findings, wire & tigertail
Safety material – face protection helmet, ventilation masks
Jewellery saw blades & saw frames
Dremel and drill bits
Bracelet mandrel
Mobile jewellery pegs
and any other useful materials or resources for a DIY public jewellery studio

I have a bit more info on donations and available equipment, as well as some stuff on the history of the project if anyone wants to get in touch. In the mean time, mark it in your diaries!