too many brooches

Melissa works in patterns. Sometimes they linger, popping up again in other pieces. Infrequently they get retired. This one has served well, so it has been put out to pasture.

not enough chest…

The piece that completes the pattern. The bride was given this one too. As I worked on the first brooch, I slowly planned what to do with all the other pieces from the pattern. As I neared completion it didn’t seem right to share such a big part of the pattern with anyone else. The bride got the last work, and the pattern is now retired.

holier than…

Melissa drills for a living. Not for oil though.

This is the holes layer of a drawing of a piece that I’m currently working on. There’s 208 holes. (Nope, I’m neither mathematician, nor borderline Aspergers. AutoCad kindly told me the amount.)

But that’s just the ones that have to end up in a specific location. I then add holes for the cut out parts. About another 80 of them.

I spent over an hour drilling today. Not that surprising really…

love lace?

Melissa has made it into the Love Lace show, happening in 2011. Plenty of time left to procrastinate, eh?

So, back in April I entered Love Lace. I have just found out that one of my entries (yep, I entered several potential pieces – I was gallery sitting, what else was an unoccupied jewellist to do?) has been chosen to be exhibited. My proposal was based on making a pattern in the vein of my Red Tin Set out of the tin pictured above.

It’s an interesting tin, and I’m going to design a pattern that fits in with one, or maybe many, of the motifs already present. Hopefully it’ll be interesting…?

here comes the…

Melissa made a brooch for her friend, the bride. Not ‘The Bride’ – Uma Thurman’s character from Kill Bill, but a different one, ‘k?

brooch I’ve been making for a friend.

and here was my first attempt at torch firing wet-process enamels…

not what I was going for, but interesting none the less. I made the rookie mistake of attaching the fittings first, so either way the enamel had to go.

and this is if you want to make one yourself!


Melissa meets titanium wire. The first round goes to the titanium.

can you draw down titanium wire? yes, but it breaks, as per exhibit A, above.

I don’t like to go off half cocked, as it were, so as usual I did my research. Once again, Ganoksin lead the way with their post Working Titanium. I should be able to draw it down three times once annealed, it says. Hmmm.

The tension built up so much that by half way through my first pass the wire was shooting through in 5mm clumps before grabbing again, which made an interesting pattern on the metal (that looked like the sections of a she-oak leaf). By 3/4 of the way through, it was down to 2mm sections, and it was making a loud ringing noise as it went. It sparked as the end of the titanium passed through the plate.

I then annealed it, and every time tension built up again, it broke. After a three breaks, I re-annealed, taking much more care in getting it all glowing red. I finished that pass, and well, you get the picture. It would seem that work hardens to the point that you can’t finishing drawing a long length of it, but at least annealing and cooling is quick.

I started with 914mm of wire at approx 1.2mm diameter. I now have 1390mm in nine pieces, at sizes ranging from 1mm – 0.7mm. Still, I should be able to manage a few ear hooks with that.


Aerobics: jewellist style!

I’m taking it slow today – and not just because it’s a public holiday in Melbourne. I’ve done something to my right arm. Yes, I am right handed.

It was rather unexpected and silly, though of late I seem to have been especially injury-prone. But it’s made worse by an old war wound… Well, not from a real war. I have a neck injury that stems from a car-accident, but as  a result I have a raft of exercises that I have to keep up with in order to work.

From my time as a designer (where I use to regularly sit on a fit-ball in the office – that went out when the neck injury came in) I know what I am supposed to do to keep a good workstation for drafting. And it can be roughly applied to the jewellers bench. Do I exhibit textbook best practice, in hours spent at the bench/computer, and indeed, in my setup? No, not always.

Jewellers are ripe candidates for repetitive strain injury, and come to think of it, industrial accidents, yet discussion focuses more on the latter than the former (which is not to say that there should be less discussion about the obviously dangerous aspects of the job). I’m not the only jeweller I know who carries an injury, and I know people employ varying measures to help keep them in working order.

If we are looking for the textbook best-practitioner in the field of body-friendliness, then Catherine Truman is probably the one.  Apart from her jewellery activities, she is also a Feldenkrais practitioner. Having done some Feldenkrais I can say that it promotes a bodily awareness and mindfulness that I think everyone should be taught in childhood. It takes in everything from the most appropriate way to get out of bed to posture when walking, and I can definitely see the benefits it could have to someone doing something as involved as jewellering.

As for me, I have what I learned from another Feldenkrais practitioner (long ago) and exercises prescribed by a sports physiologist, who is also an injury specialist. I have semi-regular remedial massages, for the neck, and I ride an exercise bike for cardio (aiming for five nights a week, though I admit I average 3-4).

Yet at the moment it would seem that all of this is insufficient.

I’ve decided I need to spend more time on breaks, doing stretches, and that I have to continue to work on my posture. I will also try to cut down on hours in front of the computer. This means I will need to do more in less time. Hopefully because of these changes I will be working smarter, and ultimately, be a jewellist for longer.


Melissa makes – well, remakes – a work. Lucky it looks good, otherwise she’d be wondering if it was all worth it…

Oh what a difference a day makes. I’d like to say I got it first go, but it took a second attempt. Still, some improvement…