more coppery tones

Melissa is being lazy, and wants to tell you all about it for some reason…

I still haven’t got around to changing my pickle yet… This is a stainless steel piece with two 925 silver fixings soldered on, which made a lovely chemical reaction in my pickle bath. The solution went all cloudy with some vigorous little bubbles dancing about inside when I left this in there. I actually kinda like it, but in the end my desire for a plain matte surface won out, so I sandblasted it clean.

If I keep this up my pickle should lose its blue hue pretty soon. Then I won’t have to change it!


Melissa is not by nature a competitive person; yet she enters a lot of competitions… Why? Well, needs must, as the saying goes.

Were currently slamming into several end-of-year deadlines round here at studio jewellist (one enjoys employing the royal ‘we’ on occasions, it make one seem more, well, just more), but there’s always time to fill in the odd competition entry… Who needs sleep, anyway?

Klimt02, via their White Board has alerted me to one little number – an artist residency in Amsterdam with Studio Rian de Jong. The Franciose van den Bosch website elucidates; in the Current section (it’s flash – so I haven’t been able to embed it in the link, sorry.) The application is for 2 months in Amsterdam, with studio and accommodation, in May and June. Not bad eh? The rest of it is up to you. (‘Rest’ = travel expenses, daily allowances and insurance.) Might be worth putting the ole hat in the ring for that one, eh?

Also, via the description on Crafthaus I found out about Dual, the private life of sculpture, which is described in the Crafthaus listing as “Dual is a survey of artists creating sculptures that both stand alone as beautiful objects and also interact with the body in some way.” This closes on the 16th, but at this stage I’m still undecided about entering. I’m going to have to make a quick decision…

But what I’m really gearing up to enter is Preziosa Young 2011, whose entries close on October 30. Since their application can’t be filled in by stages (like Schmuck) expect there to be a lot of traffic at the end of the month. I’m hoping to have my work ready in the next week or so, in order to sit down and load it up well in time. Having been successful this year I’m working at some different pieces to what I last submitted.

new works in titanium

Melissa is making. See the sign on the door? It says ‘artist at work’!

A couple of pendants on silver chain. Still more to come, including another pendant and some brooches (one currently in pieces on my bench, waiting to be assembled…)

Floating 8 Point Star, 2010. 55 x 55 x 25 mm
Gothic Lace Window 2010. 70 x 70 x 15 mm

These guys will be on display in e.g. etal shortly, as will their friends. They’re all part of the pattern we know-and-love, the sieve.

The improvements in this series (from the previous one, showcased in the Return exhibition, amongst other venues) include blackened silver chains rather than the steel cable neck-pieces from earlier works, and a double sandblasting. The first blast, with aluminum oxide as the abrasive, is to remove ‘laser-splatter’ that forms on the surface of the metal during the cutting process, and the second, with glass beads, is to give it a more polished finish. The sum effect? It gives the final work more shine. It helps to see them ‘in the flesh’ to really notice, since it’s something that is hard to capture in a photograph.

I’m really proud of these pieces, as it’s the first time in a set of laser-cut works that I’ve made these two little changes. So far I’ve used chain and glass blasting only in my hand-cut works, as these are traditionally my exhibition ‘showstoppers’ (which, conversely, don’t seem to sell as consistently).

Owing to these changes, and my increasing familiarity with the diligent making process that such precise pieces demand (the knowledge of which comes in part from refining my own emerging visual language), I think they are the most stable, and therefore most wearable, works I have made to date.

cast off

Melissa’s rapid prototyped ring has been cast in silver. It looks all right!

well, here it is!

this is the casting – no finishing, as yet.

as you can see, something happened to the fabric of the wax when APECS added the sprue, which resulted in a little worm hole on the inside of the shank.

It fits!

Previously: a rapid ring – part 1, part 2 + part 3 and the rapid prototyping course that resulted in this ring.

picture this

Melissa is even more online than ever! Just check out Klimt02 and you’ll know what I mean.

I don’t have many images of myself up on the internet. Well, not ones that could be found quickly or easily, anyway. If I suddenly made into a headline, an online newspaper would have to do a fairly exhaustive search, or do what they used to do, ask the person in question (or in many cases, the bereaved family…) for an image.

That all changed yesterday. I gave Klimt02 an image for my brand-spanking new entry. Why didn’t I do something clever, like Julia deVille, or Maria Cristinia Bellucci?

Silly little cumquat…


Melissa cosies up with a new piece of Cad software; TurboNerd look out!

I’m a keen lurker. I read a bunch of blogs, on some of which I am fond of making the odd comment. However, on many more I just read and learn. One such blog is Digital Morphogenesis, which boasts the lofty tag line of “Evolving architecture through computation.” Now I might say that it’s a lofty aim, but from what I’ve read, blog author and PhD Student Danial Davis, seems to be doing a good job. Well, he’s educating me, at the very least.

So I was very interested when on Monday I got around to reading his latest post on some new Cad software launches. I was so interested in his description of a new piece of free software called DraftSight, I checked it out and downloaded it.

Why was I so interested?

Well, I use a clunking old version of AutoCad LT from 2005, which in software years is far more ancient than it sounds; AutoDesk is currently retailing AutoCad LT 2011. When I bought this program for myself I had a fairly new notebook, but the previous year my employers had to build me a specific machine to run it (well, they were a little behind times, lets be honest), while I had a second machine to connect to the intranet, access word processing tools and write emails, etc.

These days I run my license in Parallels, since I now own a Mac. This is not an ideal situation, and I have never managed to configure my mouse to run as well as it did when running natively in Windows. There are other native alternatives, but they’re either expensive, or being open source, have fewer resources. So Davis’s article told me that not only is the DraftSight software very similar to what I already use, it runs native on OS X (AutoDesk plan to bring AutoCad back to OS X in the new year, after ignoring Mac users for about 18 years) and what’s more, the DraftSight software is free. I felt almost obliged to give it a spin.

So I downloaded it, configured some settings, did the drawing you see here and saved it (which included registration of the product), all in about 45 minutes.

The drawing – with and without guidelines. (They’re my construction lines – consider it an insight into how I actually made the drawing 🙂 )

Yep, it works similarly to AutoCad 2D. One reason I did this piece so (relatively, at least) quickly is because I’m familiar with all of the commands as they’re so similar. They are more similar than what I recently found Rhino to be, but then again, Rhino is a much bigger and more powerful package. Of course there’s differences – it handles a little differently – an extra ‘enter’ here, a highlighted line when hovering there (which struck me as potentially useful for beginners) but in all, a pretty easy transition. And the website says that’s what they built it for, so it’s a big tick for them there.

And then lets not forget to mention the startup time. It took seconds. I’m not used to that. AutoCad loads libraries, a big help section and of course I have to engage Windows from the outset, so startup time is a real pain, especially if I just want to do a quick print as I also have to engage my printer in its non-native environment. But with all of the time that AutoCad takes, it is able to offer a lot of inbuilt support, which I get the impression this software doesn’t have.

In fact, they tell you in their demonstration video that you have access to lots of online communities and help, which is great, so long as you’re online. This doesn’t matter to me so much now that I know what I’m doing (and it helps that the internet is more ubiquitous than six years ago), and I have to say, most of my AutoCad was self taught from user forums and communities. So not only is it cheap for them, it’s also good for most users. In the end I suppose, at least on that front, you get what you pay for.

In their license agreement they also make mention that this is a BETA version, so they don’t recommend actual manufacture using this release. So I guess I’ll be waiting on the final product to ensure it’s stable before sending it to my laser cutter.

I’ve been a little worried about my Cad skills getting rusty of late – in my first three years as an interior designer I picked up two Cad packages and some rendering packages that went with them. Since then I’ve been getting better at image manipulation, but I worry that my Cad knowledge is getting out of date.

Using this software told me two main things. My Cad knowledge is transferable for 2D drafting (at least in this instance), and the basic technology hasn’t needed to change much in five years. I especially would recommend DraftSight for anyone who hasn’t learned any form of Cad fluently, since this product presents a cheap and easy way to learn a valuable, and it would seem, transferable, skill.

Now, if I wanted to use a 3D printer to fabricate all of my pieces, that might be a different story…


Melissa quotes a very quotable duo.

“We feel that the ‘craft’ vs ‘fine art’ discussion is irrelevant to what we do. We don’t waste our time or energy with it. Nor do we feel that there is a general malaise hanging over the field. We are in a time of transition, evolution and revolution. Those who embrace change will reap the rewards.”

Corliss Rose and John Lemieux Rose, aka 2 Roses, via an interview with Jillian Moore at the AJF blog.

The quoted section is right at the end of the article. If you haven’t had time to read it yet I highly recommend you do, as the rest of the piece is filled with similar gems.

out and about

Melissa went out to see some shows; now she reports back.

Friday I went to the opening of this;

which features the work of jewellery artist Deirdre Hoban. This collection is an extension of her handmade porcelain square pyramid forms, which have shifted up in scale and mirrored to become full eight-sided beads. They are strung on predominantly 1mm diameter rope-style cord, and are really beautifully resolved, right down to the silver fixings.

She’s part of a show that includes mostly painted and drawn works on paper, but owing to material and colour choices, all of the works exhibited show shared interests and aesthetics.

I also saw a Phooey Architects retrospective – printed on recycled carpet tiles and installed in the Wunderlich Gallery at Melbourne Uni. Having worked in a design office in which we used recycled carpet tiles to ‘repave’ our space, I was impressed to see them printed on and used as an installation medium. I was also interested to learn that Phooey are no strangers to innovation with carpet, as they are responsible for the carpet seat in the entrance to 343 Little Collins Street, this building also being home to Seivers Jewellery Supplies.

I spent a lot of time in the space watching the slide show that was part of the install, seeing some great works with sea containers and learning their aesthetic. For a more detailed explanation I’ll pass you on to Butterpaper. (Oh, and he’s right about the smell, adhesive off-gassing in an enclosed room is not pleasant.)

Finally, I made the trek out to see Home is where the craft is which I mentioned last week. The installation took up the back yard – utilising the clothes line, the stakes in the garden, the garden furniture as well as the inside of most of the house – not including the study or bedroom from what I could make out.

One entered via the garden, which also doubled as the gift shop. The rear of the house – laundry and bathroom came first – had works within including a shower curtain out of squares of recycled tarpaulin and those large tartan-style-pattern zip up bags. This was the first piece to grab me, in a room which also showcased a bath mat on the adjacent wall. It was an ordinary looking recycled fabric bath mat, but in a less than ordinary position. In the laundry there was use of picture-tea towels as wall hangings and  in the kitchen (as far I could tell) curtains. The kitchen/lounge transition wall hosted several framed cross stitch works, my favourites being needle point of Bettie Page and a Varga Girl by Louise Francis.

A more political piece (also in cross stitch by an artist whose name I forgot to record, sorry) on the home being whatever you wanted it to be (the statement elucidated that it was a comment on gay marriage rights) was above these pictures, but the sickly pink frame containing a mostly pink image left me feeling cold.  It was reminiscent of the stereotypical “Home is where the heart is” cross-stitched and framed works, so it does strike me as funny that having subverted my expectation of what constitutes a political work I still somehow found it less effective. Maybe it’s because I know I could not stomach the frame in my personal space.

Through the kitchen was the lounge/living area, which was (as was the rest of the house) still fully habitable, but with a few extra additions on the walls, ‘on show’ cushions on the couch, the coffee table replaced with a central display and some side tables sporting foam heads with hats by Clem Bastow (I assume it the Clem Bastow, but I didn’t ask). Memorable from this room was the warning signs in cross stitch by Mae Finlayson and Jess Kelly’s hand stitched ‘Eucalyptus’ pendants on silver chain.

Finlayson’s signs were bold and related to the kinds of extreme events that are now threatening the home; fire, flood and the like. While I liked the geometry, I felt that leaving the rest of the needlepoint canvas bare made the work seem a little insubstantial. (If anyone saw the show and can correct me on this being cross stitch rather than needlepoint, I’d welcome the lesson.)

Jess Kelly’s works were of incredibly fine stitching, layered up to make leaves with varying hues across their surface. They looked as if hours and hours of contemplative travel time went into their construction as they were quite thickly built up (she mentioned they were made on her commute to work) and the POA label attached to them spoke of this, and their meaning to her as objects.

When I spoke to the woman sitting the show, she mentioned that amongst their reasons for installing at home was that these were personal works that related to the domestic environment. So yes, it made sense to see them there, as traditionally such works were conceived for the home, and in many cases (especially in your more frugally minded craft-persons hands) in materials sourced from the home.

Obviously the gallery has evolved to remove this context, and in this show you could see why. It was hard at first to detach myself from the idea that this was a personal space, especially since you were reminded everywhere – from the papers on the fridge to the low light from small windows and the aging paint on the walls. This made it seem to me almost in poor taste to judge the works, since I apply a different set of rules to works I see lovingly hand fashioned by my grandmother – for example – than to those created by a professional artist or craftsperson.

Conversely this proved also to be the strength of this show. Prompted by the viewing, which elevated the home to the gallery, and the knitter/sewer/cross-stitch-er of need to the realm of the artisan, I spent the next while in a reverie remembering all the gifts I had been given that were hand-made, specifically for me. I remembered the practical brown slippers knitted by my nan (and it dawned on me that she had known that they would get dirty fast, so brown was the colour they should be) and a phone call from a friend’s mum when I was about ten or eleven, in which, seemingly from out of the blue, she asked my three favourite colours. My next birthday gift featured white with some pink and a touch of blue.

In reminding me of all the simple acts of craftly kindness I have received my life – slippers and cardigans and tissue box covers and such, I thought first as I did when I received them as gifts – that they were acts of love, intended only for me. Having now seen similar pieces mounted and priced with artist statements attached, I realise that the gifts I received were also a statement of the creative identity of their authors.

In joyful acceptance of these gifts I was accepting the giver in their identity to me as a precious loved one, and unknowingly to me, my acceptance was also of them as a maker.