Still collecting washers…
Melissa spends quality time with a fence…
Melissa spends quality time with a fence…
Anamika is also at the CFPR enamelling department in Bristol, where she’s making amazing discoveries in metal and enamel.
Anamika has been in Bristol with Elizabeth since January. She has been working on sample-sized pieces the whole time, testing different techniques and variations, mostly on copper pieces of consistent sizes and shapes.
Her practice prior to this has encompassed many areas, including printmaking and composing large works from confetti-sized slivers of paper (all which she stamped out herself). While in the studio she has used roundels of copper (in a slightly larger format than her paper works of course) on which to experiment. It is easy to see how these parts will be used in the creation of a final work. She plans to take these back to India with her to compose several final pieces with the parts.
While here she has also worked on squares of copper (dimensions approx 100 x 100mm) creating literally stacks of pieces, one by one. It’s a trial and error process, without the error. Each work seems to lead to the next, but also allows her to trial each of the many processes that Elizabeth is familiar with. She is concerned with the weight of works she is making, so has worked on copper shim a lot, and has now begun working on ‘tin’ cans that she has cut apart and sandblasted. This gives her more rectangles of surface to use that are strong but light, as well as the round tin ends.
Until coming to enamelling, her works hadn’t really involved metalworking, so seeing how she engages with this material has been really interesting and instructive. I keep telling her she’d make a great jeweller as so many of her pieces remind me of jewellery. Lucky there are some magnets around the place to prove it!
I actually get up to some work myself. I have ground down the soil/rust that I shook of the washers yesterday and ‘glued’ it with white enamel onto some grip-coated washers. This is a first coat, later I add another to cover the dark patches. Even then, I’m unconvinced…
This is my attempt at drawing on a mug with an ink pen. After drawing the image I had planned to stick sifted enamel onto the ‘wet’ (or at least still tacky) ink. My new calligraphy pen is a bust however, so I’ll probably use a transfer instead.
And in a photographic mood, I document a couple of studio happenings; first, the liquid enamels setup. There is a permanent container of opaque black, transparent and opaque white enamels in the studio. They are constantly in use.
And here’s a tip for enamellers: pop a couple of 20p coins (we were short on 20’s, so there ended up being a 2 and a 10) into your sifting enamel if it has a lot of lumps in it. It breaks them down as you sift, meaning no grinding first!
Melissa walks to studio, observing much. Once in studio, more of same.
Big day for observation. First, crossing from Spike Island back to the mainland, an old railway bridge.
Next, my hunting ground for fallen washers:
On first viewing it may not look like an area rich in creative resources. It took me a week of walking to pick up on it…
Can you see them?
In the wild…
still clinging on…
Then, once I finally got into the studio, the lovely Em was having some panels fired by Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is the only person ‘licensed to drive’ the kiln. In the background there are many examples of enamelled signs.
Em controls the opening of the kiln behind Elizabeth. Firing this beast is a two person job.
Elizabeth gets the lift out of the way pretty quick smart, and the door is closed, for around four minutes, depending on the enamel type, the substrate and the coverage/thickness of the layer.
The mother of all extraction units covers most of the ceiling of this small room.
The panels are out, the lights are on, the room is warming in their heat. The steel trivet still glows a plum colour.
Finally, in amongst all the watching and documenting, I managed to colour up some washers.
Well, I de-coloured first. You have to start somewhere.
Individually painted on different faces. A little time consuming, and on reflection I’m not sure it’s worth the effort…
Small washer, grip coated and porcelain slip dipped. A nice finish, I think.
Melissa finds what she want to work on in Bristol.
München München, it’s a wonderful town…
One on of the best shows I saw in Munich was also the last one I went to, which I managed to squeeze in after David Watkins and Wendy Ramshaw’s presentation All About Me at the Pinakothek der Moderne.
Entitled Treasure Hunt, it showcased a range of jewellery, sculpture and furniture works from the KOV studio in the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. As you might expect, I really liked the idea of combining these works into a single exhibition. It’s an idea not without considerable risk, but it was clear that a confident curatorial influence was at work, ensuring that the pieces were of a consistent standard. The furniture works were all executed in a similar, if not the same, unfinished timber material, as were many of the sculptural pieces.
The jewellery works spanned precious and non precious metals, glass, cardboard, coloured pencils, plastic and thread, and exhibited (if I may be permitted to generalise a little) a strong spatial element, as well as an awareness of the body. I’ve managed to find some images here of works from the show. (Of course there is a Klimt02 page also.)
To quote the International Design Museum website, “Although the initials K.O.V. make up the Czech word “metal”, the Studio is the only department of the Academy’s Department of Applied Arts that has no assigned media. In fact, the letters stand for Concept — Objekt — Meaning.” The professor is Eva Eisler, and to give the show it’s full title, is called: Treasure Hunt. Class of Eva Eisler, Prague.
I thought the whole show, small that it was, was really impressive and exciting. The jewellery works, including two cast glass objects displayed in the charred timber in which they were cast, as well as the ‘tools‘ and much of the metalworking (via here) were really unique and wonderful.
Melissa gets around…
I saw 11 shows yesterday. Started at Helen Britton’s catalogue launch and finished at Peter Skubic at the Pinakothek der Moderne. I even managed to fit in a spot of shopping (and not just catalogues either!)
I’m told there is double the amount of shows this year on last year. I’m not going to make it to them all. Today is dedicated to seeing the Talente and Herbet Hoffman shows at the Messe. Better get to it!
Melissa schleps around London
I went to a few galleries in the last week. On Saturday I checked out the V&A for a few hours and then went to Argenta, (on a list of places to visit I was given to visit) which was a bit of a bust, so I didn’t go in. Electrum was good; I’m told that it becoming a part of Contemporary Applied Arts has meant some recent changes and a refit, given it was my first visit it looked like a standard jewellery gallery with white acrylic-box covered plinths and some wall installations. Interesting, mostly British work, with some heavyweights like Wendy Ramshaw in there too.
On Tuesday I finally made it to Lesley Craze gallery – I’d missed it on Saturday due to train lines having works and such. This is a very big space, with quite distinctive glass vitrines and a space for a small show to one side also. Work from everywhere, including Felicity Peters from Australia. (I wrote down who was showing but left it in the UK, so I’ll update with the ‘show’ info)
I next went to Gallery So, but it wasn’t open on Tuesdays so I didn’t get in. From peeking in the window it seemed to be a graphic based show. Next I stopped by at Studio Fusion which specialises in enamel works and which is owned cooperatively by a group of artists, which includes Elizabeth Turrell. I made a quick call past the Tate Modern to see Ai Weiwei‘s work in the main hall, which after all the controversy around the dust it was inducing, is no longer able to be walked on. (This is a great shame, as I think the work is less affecting because of it, but more on that another time.)
Finally, I went out to see the Fused exhibition at Flow Gallery, which was absolutely amazing. I think that was the pick of the bunch, and as always I almost didn’t make it so I was especially happy that I went. I really liked Helen Carnac’s work (which you can see on her blog) as well as Bettina Dittlmann‘s. There were others that impressed also, but again, notes are back in Bristol, and I’m in Munich.
More on that soon. (I know, I seem to have perpetual Munich teaser running through the blog. I will share soon, promise!)
Melissa goes for a stroll around Clifton and takes aim at her own shadow.
Melissa goes to Birmingham, and back into the studio at UWE in Bristol, and reports back.
After a poke through a local ’emporium of curiosities’ on the weekend I went into the studio today with some tins and a bun tray to enamel. The plan had been to use my usual method of making a drawing, sawing it out of the tin and then enameling them as parts for jewellery works, but when the computer ran out of juice, and I forgot to bring the UK connector for my power cable, the plan was simplified. Just enamel the tins!
We had Kirsten Haydon in for a visit today too which was great – she joined Anamika in enamelling some reclaimed tin cans. It’s a very interesting material with the lines already in the tin. I’ll have to eat more tinned food, or stalk the canteen…
As promised on Friday I did the tour of the amazing jewellery school in Birmingham, with the wonderful Bridie Lander. It is a huge building, filled top to bottom with jewellers of many different stripes and a few clock-makers thrown in for good measure. They have some amazing old equipment, and all the good current stuff too. And they are packed – so many MA students as well as the equivalent of TAFE and the BA programme as well, and more streams that I’ve already forgotten.
I then did the tour of the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter. As Bridie said, before sending me off with her recommendation to take the tour of the old Smith and Pepper workshop, it’s like the Mary Celeste. Smith and Pepper were manufacturing jewellers, a reasonably large outfit too, whose operations were deserted because there were no heirs to take over the reins when the last of the Smiths died in his early eighties. The Mary Celeste reference comes from the state of the workshop and offices themselves, as they look as if the workers left the premises on a Friday, and then forgot to turn up again the following Monday. Thus the whole place seems geared for the company to continue operations, despite the fact that the operations look older than a 1981 vintage.
As I said, it was a going concern until the last of the Smith family of jewellers, who owned the business, died, yet one can only wonder at its profitability given the archaic technology still in situ. The age of most of the equipment it houses is the kind that would have been used even before the beginning of the 20th Century, except for the electric driven machinery of course. But even that is dangerously archaic. Of course, jewellery manufacture in comparison to most industries hasn’t changed that much in the last several hundred years, but man, no drill press?
The saving of the facility in its ‘present’ state was due to the fact that the council owned the building, so somehow they laid claim, or made a claim, for the whole shebang, and sought to turn it into a museum. Sections of it still work too – there are demonstrations of old school hole-drilling, sawing (not very old school, actually) and soldering using a fixed arm gas torch with a blow-pipe. And rather than use bricks or a soldering mat for annealing, the guide held a handle at the base of a length twisted wire, atop of which was affixed a mesh ‘pillow’ on which the piece of metal sat. This, presumably, combated the fact that one had to have a hand free for the blow-pipe, and in any case there’s no movement in the plumbed-into-the-bench gas outlet.
There was also a demo of the fly press, and the silence being interrupted by the racket of the buffing wheels (nothing, thankfully, was buffed). There was also a die formed medal completed using a drop-press. After demonstrating this, we were told that a fellow guide (to the woman who operated our tour,) had lost some fingertips around a year ago while operating this machine. It was hard to make out exactly what she meant when saying this, as her delivery was of a quite idiosyncratic nature, but but seems as though this machine is a common finger-killer.
I’d have thought that should such an accident have happened so recently, they would have stopped demonstrating the press entirely. It’s amazing that several areas within the workshop tour are open to the public, as, even in its museum-state with sections blocked off, there are still a few hazards about that a working studio would have to deal with.
Back to the museum – one floor houses a small yet interesting selection of contemporary works, along with many historical jewellery examples, using all manner of materials. The curatorial direction is materials driven, which is a useful angle from which to look at wearable works as a whole when introducing them to the general public. The other floor mostly focuses on silversmithing, and given their location in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, this makes complete sense.
After completing the museum and the tour, to top off my visit I had a stroll around the Quarter. I then headed back to town, noting, sadly, that the nearby Pen Museum had closed for the day.
Melissa shows a finished work, from Bristol. It’s fully demountable though…
I was a little heavy handed with the last layer of clear enamel… I should have watered it down a little more.
The plan is to add two more linking strands of cable (at present there are only two, but there are holes drilled for four), just to firm it up a little. And to fray the ends of the cable, to which I’ll add some enamel to the frayed parts to clamp the layers into place. This will have to happen when I have access to a torch, so I can fire just the end parts.
Tomorrow I’m not in the studio, I’ll be going to Birmingham to catch up with Bridie Lander at the School of Jewellery within the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design at Birmingham City University. We met at Inhorgenta in Munich a couple of weekends ago. Which reminds me… More on Munich soon!