And like Bilk just announced…

Melissa’s been acquired. It’s ok, she didn’t go cheap…

If you’ve already seen this on Instagram my apologies, but the lovely co-director of Bilk, Mio Kuhnen, let the world know over the weekend that two of my pieces from the recent Body Politic exhibition in Canberra were just acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. This takes their Melissa Cameron tally up to 3!

I was in a bit of shock to have such a long and considered gallery visit with Dr Robert Bell (curator of decorative arts at the NGA) while I was in Canberra, on the day before the official opening of the show. He was very inquisitive, and if you’re read any of the text surrounding these works, you’ll have seen that there are a lot of stories to tell, so I was honoured to impart my narrative of these and the other works. He even asked my opinion – what I thought of the pieces he was deliberating and why – and I had to tell him that it took me a long time to come to terms with the Tank piece especially, as I found it brutal and dark when I first finished it.

Finishing that work as one of the earliest in the series – the Cannon and Tank were conceived at the same time – made continuing and then creating even more complex pieces an easier pill to swallow. I look back now and see that they were really just a prelude to the Gun piece, which, while only completed in late 2013 early 2014, was really begun with the horrific events in Sandy Hook in December of 2012. I see now that I put those details away for a while, and decided to start in more neutral territory – a Civil War era cannon and an M1 Abrams tank as fitted out for use by the Australian Army, as a sort of way to first test and then brace myself before moving deeper into this series.

I had a terrible grief-ridden winter this year as I finished up this series, and while the Drone probably didn’t help, I can’t say it hurt either. I now conflate the two in my memory. The Drone and last winter were inevitable, and surviving each of them needed the other as a crutch, in a sort of incongruous symbiosis.

But before all that, when I just had a Tank and a Cannon in my arsenal, I wasn’t sure if I would continue. The duo could have easily remained an outlier, an experiment that was discontinued before it had really begun. So it’s also them I have to thank for begetting the rest of the Escalation series, including the Drone that got me through.

Goodbye good friends, I hope to see you again some time 😉

1100 Shot Round (breastplate) and M1 Abrams (neckpiece)
1100 Shot Round (breastplate) and M1 Abrams (neckpiece)
Jewellery from the Escalation series of altered new and vintage objects by Melissa Cameron
Seven Personnel (neckpiece) and 11 RPH Cannon (brooch)

A hint of enamel

There’s a hint of enamel going on…

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

Over at Pratt in Seattle I’m going to be involved with a group-led workshop: It’s All Material: 4 Artists Teach Their Specialties (scroll down for details) starting on the 8th of September. How unusual, I hear you muse, of what could I possibly be talking, you wonder aloud to your e-reading device, whose response is inaudible..?

Well friends, there are going to be 4 artists who take two weeks each to give an intro to their area of jewellery and metalsmithing specialty.  My two weeks will be working with enamel, and how you can add that to the arsenal of jewellery-making techniques. The other artists involved are Pratt regulars: Anne Randall, Julia Harrison and Sharrey Dore.

Should be a fun one!

New Class at Danaca Design

I’m teaching at Danaca Design in the U District of Seattle very soon. Get amongst it!

colour! washers from throughout the week
yes, I can do colour! Enamelled washers from 2011

Enameling Recycled Steel for Jewelry is a new class I’ll be teaching at Danaca Design on July the 16th and 17th. Registration instructions here.

The focus for this course is a slight shift from the other workshops I’ve taught to date, as I have finally figured out a way to teach what it is that I do without having to get AutoCad and a lasercutter involved for a 2 day class.

sandblasting...
sandblasting… (hand-cut fiddlies)

In my own studio I enamel fiddly little things, some of which I painstakingly draw, drill and cut out myself, and some of which I painstakingly draw and then find someone/thing else to do the drilling and cutting grunt work. In either case, it involves a lot of cutting before enamelling commences, after which I’m left with tiny fiddly parts to enamel, that I later piece together into jewellery.

painting on enamel and drying and drying...
painting on enamel and drying… (laser-cut fiddlies)
enameling...
after firing…
assembly...
assembly…

I could say that this is not really how I learned, rather that it was by trial and error I developed a method to suit my work, (which in some cases I did), but if you dig really deep on this blog, you’ll see that’s just not true. In fact my formative enamelling experience was working in Elizabeth Turrell’s studio at the University of the West of England (images below for a recap), where I spent a month dipping in enamel the things I found on the street on my walk to school in the morning. I then figured out a rather ad-hoc way to fire them, and to be un-flatteringly honest, I’ve not improved any part of my system much since then!

Day 11 CFPR Bristol washers found
they’re er’rywhere!

Since the U.S. has such an amazing array of steel bits and bobs lining practically any street edge, I decided it’s time to repeat the earlier England experiment in a workshop. The deluge of scrap metal that I find kinda shameful in a city full of metalsmiths like Seattle, will then go from environmental problem to beautiful, wearable jewels once we get our hands, and Danaca’s range of steel-ready enamels, onto them!

(And while we’re at it we will doubtless find a better solution to making them wearable than my own ‘hang it on a silk cord’ improvisation of 5 years ago, too.)

So if you want the tips and tricks on how I make my art, and more especially if you’d like to turn some trash into wearable treasure of your own, please come and join us. Oh, and on your way to the studio, you’ll inevitably find some steel washers and nails and other rusty odds and ends strewn across the tarmac. Why don’t you bring that along?

Nadia Myre and Sheryl Oring

Nadia Myre and Sheryl Oring – images used without permission, please contact me should you want them taken down.

Nadia Myre: Indian Act, 1999-2002. Detail.

A couple of great projects I’ve seen online that I thought I’d share.

Thanks to the perfectly titled Fuck Yeah, Book Arts! site, I’ve been meditating on the beautiful beaded works orchestrated by Nadia Myre:

Nadia Myre, Indian Act

Indian Act speaks of the realities of colonization – the effects of contact, and its often-broken and untranslated contracts. The piece consists of all 56 pages of the Federal Government’s Indian Act mounted on stroud cloth and sewn over with red and white glass beads. Each word is replaced with white beads sewn into the document; the red beads replace the negative space.

Between 1999 and 2002, Nadia Myre enlisted over 230 friends, colleagues and strangers to help her bead over the Indian Act. With the help of Rhonda Meier, they organized workshops and presentations at Concordia University, and hosted weekly beading bees at Oboro Gallery, where it was presented as part of the exhibition, Cont[r]act, in 2002.

Nadia Myre: Indian Act, 1999-2002. Detail.

The piece itself is strikingly beautiful, a perfect realisation of her concept.

A fuller description of the project and her method are available at The Medicine Project website, with more (exquisitely beaded!) work and great photos of this project at her website.

Secondly, with thanks to the Creative Capital blog, I bring you the I Wish to Say project by Sheryl Oring!

byuongupelforu
In summer 2015, a team of five typists took dictation at the Out of Site Festival in Chicago. Photo: Dhanraj Emanuel

Oring has been banding groups of volunteer typists to write postcards to politicians. She started the project with postcards to the President (of the USA, that is) and has recently moved on to the current presidential candidates, using volunteers to take dictation the same manner that she did with her first outing, dressed as a 1960’s stenographer:

In 2006, Sheryl dressed as a 1960s secretary, set up a portable public office complete with a manual typewriter in public areas across the country, and typed birthday cards to then President Bush as dictated by passers-by.

She has gone on to take in commentary of the Obama administration, and is about to start taking down community thoughts on the current lunacy presidential nomination battle.

and the effect?

I’ll never forget this guy in Chicago, at one of the last shows. He came down to where I was taking photographs and said, “I just want you to know that I am a better American because I participated in your project.”

The empowerment experienced by participants has of course been likened to therapy, which I think is a really interesting outcome of the process. Why does the act of airing your thoughts to someone who is an impartial observer give one a feeling of closure, more than, say, talking it out to a like-minded friend or relative? I also think of this project in relation to the public displays of jewellery creation and/or gifting that I have seen. I think the strength of this piece is its sustained and clearly impactful interaction, which is fostered using a rather generic and easily replicable format.

Sheryl Oring presents I Wish to Say April 26 as part of the PEN World Voices Festival at Bryant Park. You can dictate a letter to presidential candidates, or volunteer to act as a typist.

Heat Exchange: Symposium at St. Andrews Museum

Heat Exchange Symposium in Scotland! Go see the immense superpower Elizabeth Turrell talk about enamel. Register NOW!

HEsymposium-blog

 

The Heat Exchange Exhibition is in Scotland at St Andrews Museum, Fife, and to coincide with the final weeks that it is there on display, there is a symposium on Friday the 19th of February:

“The event will begin at St Andrews Museum (Kinburn Park, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DP) with registration and an informal tour of the exhibition, Heat Exchange II.  The remaining part of the event then takes place at the Byre Theatre (Abbey Street, St Andrews, KY16 9LA)

I’d encourage you to hit the link above to get along but the event is now fully booked, but you can get in touch via that link in order to be put on the wait list.

If you’re no where near the show you can see images of all the works installed at the first Cardiff incarnation of the exhibition on the Heat Exchange website here and here. My favourite at the moment is the collaboration between partners Cath Fairgrieve and Andy Griffiths.

Me-namel!

Enamelling is a great way to protect jewellery made from mild steel and is easy to master. Come join me in a weekend workshop at Pratt in Seattle to learn the skills to turn your rusty recycled bits and bobs into beautiful and unique jewels.

Workshop in progress: White Plains NY, 2015
Workshop in progress: White Plains NY, 2015
Image of jewellery and wall works from the 'Jewel for a Wall' series. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel
Image of jewellery and wall works from the ‘Jewel for a Wall’ series. Stainless steel, vitreous enamel

Come to Pratt in Seattle for a weekend of enamelling with me! We’re running the ‘Liquid Enamel for Steel and Copper‘ (at this stage you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the link for the full details) weekend workshop again on the 9th and 10th of April in the very well appointed Pratt facility on Capitol Hill.

What is there to say about this workshop? Well, there’s a bunch of cool techniques that don’t fly with using regular powdered enamels that are great options to convey meaning and beauty with liquid enamel; the kinds of tricks that you can see used in cake decorating, clay manipulation as well as glass painting are all up for grabs with this water-based medium. And then there’s my trick of creating a pair of earrings for everyone in the class to enamel from a single tin-can lid… How do you do that, I hear you ask? Bring along a pair of ear-wires and find out!

No prior enamel experience necessary! Bookings through the link above 😉

See yas there!

For your eyes and ears

For your reading/viewing pleasure – a few links I’m getting all ‘up in the grill’ of.

Rivet-ing..!

1/ There’s a lot of jewellery shenanigans afoot if you’re in the UK right now, but if you’re not, don’t despair – Junk: Rubbish to Gold are a multi-platform experience! The best place to find out what’s happening with these artists, who if you remember from an earlier posting are transforming tonnes (note UK spelling, y’all) of junk jewellery into fancy new art-jewel adornments, is to check the FB page or to see the feed (including mentions) on twitter. And of course there will be more YouTube videos like the above!

2/ An article that grabbed my attention today came from the mothership (ok, so home-land is so boring a te..z zz zzzzzzzzz) from Hazel Dooney. You can read up on her in your own time, but her post, a Declaration Of DIY Independence was a good kick-up-the-arse on a Monday afternoon for this slow-moving target.

3/ Finally – because 3 topics in a single post is such good number, (and hey, is even good in earrings – I have a couple of pairs who are missing mates at the moment and I can tell you now that I will never re-make their buddies…) I want to thank everyone who sent me warm emails and Instagram and Twitter posts after the last couple of blog posts I put up here. I did not expect, and really do appreciate, the kindness shown to me and the warmth of your consoling words. If I’m honest, it’s been a bit of a struggle to have the energy to do everything that I have wanted to, or would normally do without thinking, over the last few weeks, so now more than ever I appreciate the fact that people have taken the time to send an encouraging missive, in whatever form.

And on that note, I hope you’re all keeping well and enjoying the fruits of whatever season you’re currently in.

xx

m

Heating up

Melissa shares a work-in-progress for the Heat Exchange exhibition

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

Enamel on Steel – weekend workshop at Pratt in Seattle, with ME!

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!

Upcoming lecture: Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

Melissa was New York, Seattle, Perth and Melbourne via LA and Brisbane in the last month. Now she’s back in Seattle and catching up with business… Lecture business!

Melissa Cameron - Infinity Affinity II

Hello America! Yes, I’m back in Seattle, and just in time too. I’ve got a little over two weeks to prepare for my upcoming lecture at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, (known to locals as BIMA.)

I’m going to be talking about my art, my heritage, my moves across OZ and to the US, my inspirations and my work – the laser cut pieces and the hand-cut object series, and I’ll include a sneak peak of the Escalation Series that I’ve been working on for the last two years. Don’t know what I mean and live within a 25 mile radius of Seattle? I encourage you to come along and listen to my tale. We can take the ferry-ride across to BIMA together!

Tickets are free but you do have to reserve a seat and there will be light refreshments served. Fancy!

Looking forward to seeing some of you there.