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

Only a couple of places left!!

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

I have designed a workshop to coincide with the launch of my One Design collection at Studio 20/17 in Sydney. It’s on this weekend and there are still a couple of places left. Get along!

Workshop details and booking info

Taking place from 10am on 23rd August, 2014 at Studio 20/17 in Waterloo, NSW.

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 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!

Sydney Design link to Exhibition and Workshop


Melissa Cameron, Space, 2013. Vitreous enamel, stainless steel, 925 silver, Ballotini® spheres.
Melissa Cameron, Space, 2013. Vitreous enamel, stainless steel, 925 silver, Ballotini® spheres.

This piece, another in the series of La Geometrie works, was recently completed for a sister who has started working behind the camera for a TV production company. Everything she wears to work has to be black, so I figured a matte black brooch was in order. The outside section (the piece with all the holes through) is sugar fired, so as to not reflect light, while the inner panels have been rubbed back with diamond abrasive pads to reveal drawings in glass beads (themselves on white enamel) under their surface, and again, to make their surfaces non-reflective. The brooch pin extends along the full length of the back, so it can be worn ‘portrait’ or ‘landscape’.

The faint drawings represent the x, y and z axes of 3D space – from what we now call the Cartesian Coordinate system, after Rene Descartes, the progenitor. I guess you could call my La Geometrie series a tribute to him and his works.

backtrack – more Pittsburgh

I know, I’d just moved on to what was happening in Perth last month, but I have a little note to add to what I already told about the workshop entitled Building Jewelry from Found Objects that I taught at the beginning of the month, thanks to the recently refurbished SCC blog.

Kyrstyn, one of the group of amazing attendees I had for my SCC workshop, has taken the time to write both a review of the workshop as well as a curriculum proposal (she is studying to be a teacher at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh) for students to do a writing exercise based on the instruction she received and the works produced.

Creativity begets creativity. It’s a wonderful thing.

On the bench

Work in progress: enamelling plan for the work Cold Handle. © Melissa Cameron 2012

I’m working on a piece for an impending 3 person show at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA in the USA. The show opens in November, so this will be the last work I make before I send them all off at the end of the month.

It’s very rare that I break out the coloured pencils to settle on the colours for a work. It was a lot more common when I was an interior designer, though back then there was generally far less subtlety in the palette… The ability to mix my own pigments is just another reason to love this job.

Bunker news: the last of The Sieve

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

In Geometry I Trust

Melissa Cameron. Untitled (pattern in metal 4). 2011. Stainless steel.

I regard myself as the architect of my own worldview. Yet, like most of us, the foundations of my knowledge are based on truths discovered by others.

Using a code of point and line, on what amounts to an invisible – and borderless – plane, I create plans for jewellery in AutoCad.

To do this work, I accept and use the tenets of Cartesian geometry, almost without question. But how can I rely on this system, when I don’t know exactly how it all works?

I decided to go right back to basics. I sought to rediscover the truths that allow my works to materialise, beginning at the point where philosopher and mathematician René Descartes thought himself, and then the blank plane, into existence.

The drawings, as arranged before you, are the result of this search.

In geometry I trust.

Melissa Cameron, February 2012


My solo exhibition opens at Studio 20/17 in Sydney on Tuesday the 28th of February. There is an opening celebration (preceded by an artist talk) next Saturday the 3rd, with the talk starting at 3:45 and the opening from 4-6pm. The show runs until the 17th of March.

Melissa Cameron, Point, Line, Plane, - Pendant I. 2012. Stainless steel.

I’ve switched to DraftSight

And it’s driving me batty… Recently AutoCad LT was released for Mac, but against a free CAD package (the aforementioned yet craziness-inducing DraftSight), and despite my 7 whole years of loyalty to the smallest little program in the AutoDesk family, it’s finally lost me†.

But if AutoDesk decide to include some parametric capabilities in their next release of AutoCad LT, I’m willing to fork out for it (so long as the Australia dollar keeps up its end of the bargain.)

†For the moment, unless my grouping issues get to be too big to handle…


I have a sketchbook, or 7… I don’t draw my work in them, though I do draw patterns. Generally radial ones. Less precise than my ‘work’ ones (hey, I’m no computer), and more spiky. Too spiky for jewellery.  Of course I write in my sketchbooks too. Generally to-do lists. A couple of weeks ago I drew myself a weekly planner. Funny how with that extra bit of time invested, in actually drawing a nice weekly plan, I have been sticking to it –  though maybe I finally hit on a rhythm that makes sense to me.

Anyway, sketchbooks. I really do have 4 or  5 on the go. I bought a beautiful one in Venice earlier this year, which has lovely paper, so I’m using it a lot. At I’m least carting it around a lot. I always have a small sketch pad/unlined notebook in my handbag too – the current one is from my last trip to Florence, in ’08. My previous most beautiful sketchbook (probably why it’s still unfinished), is one I was given by Jin Ah, which has lots of things pasted in it. Then there’s the ordinary-looking suede one with cheap paper. I usually go through thin paper quickly since I’m not at all precious about what I put in or tear out. Lots of shopping lists with the odd book notation.

I have a lovely detachable leather covered sketchbook, also given by a friend, Jennifer. I’ve had to refill that one (I used it more as a competition appointment book, it got stuffed to the gills with alternate photos of the same works, and deadlines), and when I did, I fit two smaller books in it, one lined for work stuff and one unlined, for creative stuff. Invariably I’m in the wrong one when I’m writing/drawing. The unlined is plain cartridge. A bit boring. Probably why it’s predominantly filled with lecture notes. So, what’s that? Six?

Last year I carried around an A5 Archers Watercolour Pad for a while. Until I got too precious about the drawings I had completed, but wasn’t prepared to tear them from the block. This was unusual for me, since I often draw on the backs of coasters in pubs and leave them there.

Anyway, there are plenty of sketchbooks online to look at. This was a fave of a few years ago. And I used to have a print-out of a page from a book that was all done in biro by different artists which was scanned and put online. I can no longer find the print, nor the website.

I also recently bought (thanks to the massive Borders sale) the 1000 Journals Project Book. I saw the doco a while back. Cool project. There are plenty of imitators out now, offering a similar system with a guaranteed exhibition at the end (for a fee, of course.) The book is strange, as a sketchbook. It’s a collection of pages from several of the 1000 journals, so there’s no continuous voice, and often 4 pages (much shrunk) to a side.

The appealing thing about seeing other people’s sketchbooks is that they’re of a style. And their finished. The potential of the book has been realised. Wonder if I’ll ever finish one…