Heating up

Image of the work HEAT in stainless steel and vitreous enamel. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.
Image of the work-in-progress, HEAT, in stainless steel, titanium and vitreous enamel.

It’s been a hectic time in the office and the basement/studio, but I finally snapped some images of this finished neckpiece yesterday evening. I’m going to have another look at the panels that this work comes from later in the week – I need some time away from them before I make any more decisions. In the mean time, the brooch from this set is in pieces on the bench, and for that the next step is sandblasting.

Enamel on Steel – a weekend workshop

Image of jewellery by Melissa Cameron. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.
Parallel Planes Brooch III, 2012. From the La Geometrie series

Come along to Pratt Fine Arts Center here in Seattle and learn how to use liquid enamel for steel and copper from one of the best in the north-west… ME!

“We’re surrounded by enamel fired onto steel, from enameled oven- and cook-wear in the kitchen, to whiteboards and signage in the school and street. But it’s not just an industrial process! Learn how to use liquid enamel on steel and copper, from metal surface preparation to enamel mixing, application, and firing. Extend your decorative palette with appealing textures and patterns using simple techniques, perfectly suited for items like jewelry and small objects. Also learn how to prepare and apply enamel to recycled steel and found objects.”

Want to know more about me and the two-day course I run? I recently led back-to-back two-day workshops in New York for The Enamel Guild North East annual conference, who just happens to maintain a great website with maker interviews from past conference speaker/instructors. See my recent profile here!

Class #: 5498
Date: Saturday the 13th + Sunday the 14th of June
Time: 9:30am – 5:30pm
Fees: $240
Master Member Fees: $216
Prerequisite: none
Supply fee: $20
Can’t make it this time? Send me an email and I’ll put you on the mailing list for the next one. Or you can read up on the process without even having to leave this blog!

The coda to Pheeew-weee!

White linen thread. Comes in Ecru and Black too ;)
White linen thread. Comes in Ecru and Black too 😉

Then there’s this little coda: that week of horror was also how I came to receive the monthly prize at Nancy’s Sewing Basket, my local fabric store (and yes, it is about as quaint as it sounds). Their system is this: when you shop there you enter a draw to receive a gift voucher, the sum of which equals the amount you have just spent at the store. I don’t go in there unless I need something to make jewellery out of, so I rarely go in at all, and when I do my purchase is usually a couple of meters (or yards) of ribbon.

The ‘tricky’ work from the last blog post? I had bought several versions of what I thought would be the perfect ingredients for the neckpiece, making two or three options in metal and plastic to no avail, so in a last ditch effort I decided to try fabric. Thanks to my insecurity about which ribbon to use after my other unsuccessful attempts, I saw no alternative but to buy my way out of the problem – which in the short term actually worked. I took home something that I ended up using. Not what I was intending to use when I left the store, but hell, it worked. The week after I remade the ‘mishap’ work I found out that I won Nancy’s monthly shopping spree, having just spent the most on ribbon I have ever done in my life! It has already come in handy, as the very next pieces I made – for the Comments exhibition – feature silk and linen threads from Germany and Mexico, which I now own in about 15 different colours 😉

Pheeew-weee!

Wow. Well team, the reason it’s been a little quiet around this blog is because I haven’t been able to move of late without bumping into a deadline. This is made all the more incredible by the fact that the only thought I had towards making a resolution this year was to cut down on the amount of shows that I apply for. If I’m honest, though, two of the three major deadlines this month were destined to collide from the outset (and yes, I signed up to both last year), and only really met so sharply owing to a bit of misfortune. Read on!

I had spent a couple of weeks working diligently in my studio on a new piece, getting it ready for a photography deadline. Having squared it away finally – after going to Nancy’s Sewing Basket and buying only about 1/3 of the cotton and linen ribbons in the store – I was taking photographs of it and some other pieces that I had finished a while back for the same application, which were due via email the following day.

In order to take photos of these bigger works I had, for the second time, transplanted my photography setup to a corner of the basement, taking advantage of the fact that we had brought inside our outdoor table for the winter. Down there I can sprawl out across the walls and of course the table, and position the lights more easily. Incidentally the setup remains downstairs; I’ve now built an overhead light-bouncer that doubles as a slightly more efficient way of hanging works than sticking pins into the sandalwood-paneled ceiling in the wardrobe that I was using as my photography booth before. (The wardrobe also acts as my storage/packing room, so it’s still getting plenty of action.)

I had promised myself that after photographing the recently completed and particularly tricky to arrange piece, I would be able pack it in for the night. It was about 8pm on Friday and Turbo was kindly preparing dinner for probably the 5th time that week. I was jubilant! I was literally clapping and jumping around the basement as I tidied and turned off lights. I had finally finished the work and captured it, marking the end of what had been a grueling couple of weeks of making, and the agonising decision making that sometimes attaches itself to a work when one is inventing a new thing and then figuring out how that thing is going to operate as a jewel in the world.

I had been checking in my images on the computer as I went, so I knew that I had some suitable sample images to go through that night, to figure out if there was anything that needed to be re-shot in the morning. The tricky piece I decided to leave on the table but I wanted to cover it (our basement ceiling is not the finest example of the art; dust and cobwebs occasionally drift down), so I grabbed the big shoebox that was slightly over-full of work and stopped past the table with the one piece left out in the open to cover it with tissue. Having done that I picked up the box, making a sharp right turn to head towards the staircase, and simultaneously sent the work on top of the overstuffed box to the ground, upon which it landed with a sharp “Crack!”

The work in question was wrapped in tissue and then put into a plastic self-locking bag, on top of a bunch of other similarly wrapped works. Plastic on plastic is slippery and when a person makes a sharp turn with a bunch of horizontally stacked bags, they’d wanna have a good hold on all of them…

At first I thought that the smacking sound was probably right for the wood-meeting-concrete scenario that had played out so effortlessly, that I didn’t think to worry. I put the box down on the floor, carefully, and then turned back to the dropped work. The noise was replaying in my head as I reached for it, and despite the packaging surrounding it so I couldn’t see in, I knew that what I had made was gone. My hand told me the truth, which echoed my thought. The tension had dropped, the work felt mushy. Before this, the wood had been hard and the tension of threads weaving inside and around the piece felt rigid.

This was not good. It’s one of those moments that had happened so innocuously that I almost felt that I should simply be able to access some sort of ‘undo’ button, where I could rewind the time and get my work back, whole. I think I was in that state of shock for a couple of minutes, long enough to make some regretful ‘arrgh’ noises and to wonder why I wasn’t yet crying. Then Turbo came down the stairs to see me huddled on the floor as I slowly re-wrapped the work and put it back into its plastic shroud. He dutifully claimed that I could fix it, of course I could, and that’s when the tears came. I had seen it. The tension that made the piece from ‘object’ into ‘wearable’ had also accelerated its demise. It was made from a turned wood bowl, which had itself been made from laminated timber, which I had gutted by sawing a pattern into its body and drilling holes and stringing waxed linen around and through it, rejoining some of the released sections to the bowl’s interior.

The wood, vintage if not antique, had been in use for a long time and joined for a longer one. Despite its considerable thickness – I gauged it at around 1cm thick all over, thinner with some shallow carving and thicker in the corners – it cracked at the lamination faces and at any point that I had created extra stress, and there were lots of those. Plenty of 90° angles next to thinner sections of material that I had left behind and holes in line with even sharper points, laying along the same line of grain. There were largish pieces, yes, but bits and pieces of splinter-size too.

Now, thanks to my style of resourcefully making several jewels out of a single found object, I had not one broken work, but three. The other jewels made from the same bowl, two neckpieces, were now context-less. And that’s not to mention another two works that are locked into a narrative with this piece. I was doomed.

The only thing that I could think to do that night was submit the work as it had been photographed and then apologise if it was chosen, presenting in its stead a replacement that had followed much the same plan. (That was if I didn’t quit the industry all together, or just give up on making this application that I had toiled so hard toward, as I didn’t think I could, in good conscience, throw my unfettered support behind a lost work.) The revision/remake is eventually what happened; I found a replacement object within my collection (incidentally, bought at the same time, from the same now-closed antique importers down in South Lake Union, and more importantly made of m e t a l ), altering the plan to fit its slightly different dimensions.

To be honest, I think it’s the better version. Some parts were improved upon in the design and others in the making, but of course the metal made a big difference to the aesthetic. After the experiments that went to making its older sibling, the manufacturing was more linear and went quicker. The final result, for better or worse, is less chunky, more refined.

The morning after my mishap, I was slowly coming to terms with the idea that I would have to finish fine-tuning an application to include what I knew was a destroyed work, whilst lying in bed checking my twitter feed. And of all the things… Out of nowhere came my reprieve! On twitter I read, right from the source, that the deadline for that night had been extended. By a week. I had a whole seven days to get the new work together. What was there left to decide? That day I took a well-earned rest day, and got back work the following morning.

And re-making that piece instead of moving on to new works as planned is how I sent my next two deadlines crashing into one another. Thankfully I’ve now dug myself out, and my reward is to catch up on paperwork…

Co:operation Garnish

Cooperation GARNISH pattern- tests

A little while back I posted on Crafthaus, waaaay down in the termite mound somewhere, that I that I’ve teamed up with another maker to have a bash at this exhibition. What exhibition? Read on…

Sean Macmillan got in contact with me to see if I would be interested in collaborating with him for the Co:operation GARNISH show, being curated by Rachel Timmins and Brigitte Martin. After some initial discussions about our suitability (it’s meant to be a collaboration of unlike forces aimed at building links between a fairly disparate jewellery community,) we decided that a large-sculpture-making, techno-challenged academic in Slippery Rock and a delicate-jewellery-making, CAD-using, basement-studio-hermit from Australia was about as different as we needed to be!

True to my roots, I got straight into drawing a pattern in Cad, which we had both agreed, over a long text-message conversation, needed to be ‘lacy’. And true to his, Sean produced a mobile-phone image of a model that was clearly hand sketched before being cut-out, made out of computer-paper and masking-tape, with felt-tip-marker line-work clearly visible across the pages.

Cut to a few months later, and here are some images of the sample squares of pattern that I’ve had cut, checked out and then sent off to Sean to play with. (Notice the miscommunication with the laser-cutters resulted in the lead-ins being on the wrong side of the line – we’re after the sheet more than the ‘drop-outs’ in this instance as that’s what Sean will work with.)

Next time, what I’ve done with those drop out parts – the pieces I’m calling the pattern’s internals…

Cooperation GARNISH pattern- tests Cooperation GARNISH pattern- tests Cooperation GARNISH pattern- tests

The One Design Workshop in Perth gets Baubled!

Back at the start of last month, on the 9th of November to be exact, I facilitated a workshop at Contemporary Metal in Perth. The One Design exhibition, installed in the gallery at CM, had opened the previous Friday night and with it the timber iteration of Clouds pattern had been put on display, fixed to the end wall. Now it was time to take it down and make something of all that laser cut jewellery in potentia!

I had seven eager participants, many of them local makers, who took to the challenge with gusto. It’s a pretty self-explanatory idea – grab the pattern, take it apart, wrestle fellow-participants for the pieces you like best and stitch, weave and wind the pieces into jewels that you like. For added interest, colour the wood surface to compliment your silk-thread choices.

The end result was… Well, many of the resulting works are displayed below for you to check out, but I was impressed at the unique array of very colourful pieces of mostly wearable jewellery, with the occasional object created for good measure. I had a collection of stainless fixings on hand, but makers being makers, many opted for their own mechanisms and for making fixings in precious metal.

As it turned out, three of the participants that Sunday are in the local Bauble Collective, who currently have a pop-up shop in Claremont in the Bayview Centre, and who will be featuring in the Fremantle Bazaar this coming week end. If you’re in Perth and surrounds I heartily encourage you to check them out – their display is great, not to mention the eye-poppingly beautiful work! (..and I say this as the proud new owner of one of Betty Walsh’s vibrant anodized bracelets!)

Many thanks to Claire (and daughter) for letting me in to take over the studio, on a Sunday, mind, for the workshop.

One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop

One Design Workshop One Design Workshop One Design Workshop

Interview on Klimt02

Hey! Now here’s a thing.. With all the One Design shenanigans (yes indeedy – opening this Friday from 6:30pm at Contemporary Metal in Osborne Park – do check it out!) I completely forgot to mention this: I was recently interviewed by Sanna Svedestedt for Klimt02. She published a lovely article about our chat, and with her she brought Jonas Carboo who took a wonderful array of pictures of our encounter.

Here’s a couple more images by Jonas that they shared with me, not included in Sanna’s post.

Image of Melissa Cameron, 2014 Image of Melissa Cameron, 2014

See how I can relate everything back to One Design this week? You must be so jealous of these mad skillz… OK, so just to assuage my guilt on becoming such a stuck needle on the record, the piece in the top image is actually a work in progress for the Heat Exchange exhibition. More pics of pieces like that to come. (In the mean time, since I’m on the subject, Ramon’s new works up on that blog are looking pretty fab…)

One Design Workshop – Perth Edition!

Image of the main workshop material, a laser cut pattern in 1.5mm thick timber
Image of the main workshop material, a laser cut pattern in 1.5mm thick timber

Here’s another way to celebrate the launch of my One Design collection at Contemporary Metal in Perth. Come along and try your hand at making a jewel or two to take home, using a timber version of the same components I used to make the whole show!

It’s taking place from 10am – 1pm on 9th of November at Contemporary Metal, Unit 4, 77-79 Howe St, Osborne Park, WA, which is next weekend, and I happen to know that there are still a couple of places left, so what are you waiting for? Sign up and come along and we’ll have a play! And did I mention that it’s suitable for ages 10 and up?

Workshop details and booking info.

But what is it exactly? Well…

How many different objects can you create from one pattern? Be part of a fun DIY collaborative workshop to create unique works from a suite of pre-cut forms designed by jewellery artist Melissa Cameron. The class will be held in the gallery space to ensure that the new works do not duplicate any pieces in the exhibition. The results will be shown alongside the artist’s work for the duration of the exhibition and can then be taken home by the participants.

The pieces will be joined by silk thread and I have hand-made a bunch of stainless steel fixings – brooch pins, earring posts and the like – to attach the pieces to the body. That leaves you to concentrate on the main challenge – making something completely new from the pieces of the pattern. It’s up to you to challenge the material and the design in any way you can!

Yes, this is the second time that this course has been run, but the first time that I have been able to run it personally, so I’m looking forward to collaborating on some more One Design originals.