Day 4: let the jewellery commence

Today the discovery period ended and our ranging band of experimentalists, like jumping salmon, switched streams. We battened down to become a concentrated group of studious studio jewellers. Work was slowly evolving around and within each of the mounds of blanks that had previously been left to accumulate on every desk. In every hand, jewellery was becoming.

Once again, the effort was concentrated, and incredibly tiring.

Day 3: Blankety …

Today we got down to bid-nez. I made a couple more blankers, and a whole lot of blanks got cut. And re-cut. Working straight in metal with immediate results is so different to my practice, and really seductive.

I’m a big fan of repeat patterns, (to which my third blank attests) so the whole idea of being able to punch out a bunch of pieces exactly the same really appeals. Of course it does.

Now I just gotta find a way to use ’em.

Day 2: fill in the blanks

We’re making blanking tools with Helen. This is where you make a tool that is used for cutting multiples of a shape in sheet metal. To do this you saw through a sheet of sprung steel while it is held against an angled bench pin. The angle is necessary so as to enable the metal that is later sandwiched between the two surfaces to be sheared easily.

Using this method you can make the punch and die in the same stroke of the saw blade, as both are part of a single sheet of sprung steel.

And in keeping with the title, there’s no image today as I forgot to take a snap of the tools, called ‘blankers’, as well as the blanks – the cut out pieces of metal that were the ultimate result of todays graft. Tomorrow, for sure.

Day 1: Where do I come from?

So like I said, I’m doing the short course at RMIT this week. I thought I’d share what I get up to each day, so here goes.

Day 1: two images of the city.

After being instructed to go out and take photos we sat to study what we captured. Before departing we were told to try and see the city with news eyes, as if we were tourists. It was tougher for some than others; being a fairly new recruit to the city myself I found it pretty easy to forget what little I know. But then again, I seemed to find what I always do in any city – junctions, slippages and odd details.

Master Class Workshop

This week sees me getting schooled. By Helen Britton no less. Last year I did the Bettina Speckner workshop (again at RMIT), which was a really great experience, and during which I made many new friends. This year will be different as I’m more knowledgeable about the artist and her works (yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m a fan), I know some of the people going, and because I’m now familiar with the studios and format. Last year was great in part because it was all so unexpected – I had no clue what I was getting in for, so I just drank it all in as it bubbled along.

This year it’s hard not to have some expectations.

The first formal schooling that I did that had anything to do with research jewellery (or artist jewellery, if you prefer that term)  involved Helen, back in 2004. (Well, outside of high school that is, which was arguably not in the ‘research jewellery’ arena  – and thanks LSHS for the jewellery workshop and for employing Sarah Elson to teach art when I was in year 12.)

In April of that year I attended a mini-symposium, organised by FORM, to present the four jewellery artists who were in Perth topping up their local inspiration for the exhibition to follow –  Home Ground. Helen and Carlier Makigawa on the one bill (and lets not forget the aforementioned Sarah and Bronwyn Goss) speaking about jewellery was very inspirational. And for me, an interior designer at the time, taking in all this amazing-ness was intertwined with the knowledge that they all started off in Perth… Incredible!

During my studies that followed I even read the MA thesis that Helen completed at Curtin Uni.

I’m going to try not to get all night-before-Christmas, but, in the words of the long-since-departed Big Kev, I’m excited!

Stu-stu-studio

(Don’t blame me if you’re now singing the melody to the above; you’re equally culpable.)

Call off the hounds, I have secured a studio!

No pics, yet, but it’s in St Kilda in an old house which has been converted into artist studios. It’s not the Oak St premises that I had been waiting on, but it’s closer, bigger and has the added bonus that I don’t have to cart a bunch of heavy equipment up stairs. Speaking of which, I finally got my drill press this week too. I know, isn’t that a load off everyone’s mind?

BUDA

Last year I had three pieces exhibited in the BUDA Contemporary Australian Silver + Metalwork exhibition at Buda, Castlemaine. The little pieces have been touring ever since (they were chosen by the judges to travel in the smaller touring exhibition that followed) and have been to Shepparton, The Arts Centre Melbourne, Geelong and just last week saw the opening of the show in the Mornington Peninsula. The show continues until the 8th of March.

where’s my trumpet?

… ahh, here it is!

Earlier this week I made a new website. It seems to be becoming a common occurrence for me, which must say something about my online activities, but I’m not entirely sure what that is.

This one is for an exhibition that I’m curating to coincide with this years JMGA conference in Perth (as I have mentioned before.) Return is being held to showcase the works of several ex-West Australian jewellers, while they’re in town for the conference in April. I wanted a place to show some examples of the artists’ older works, so those in the audience unfamiliar with these artists could see what has shifted in their works whilst away; hence the website.

The show is based on the idea that ‘you don’t know how far you’ve travelled, until you return’.

Feasting

Before feasting season ’09 completely fades from the collective memory (if it hasn’t already been blotted out by New Years ’09-’10), I thought I’d share images of a couple of works that went into the recently concluded Feast show. Curated by Zoe Brand, it took place at The Depot Gallery, under the auspices of  Studio 2017 in Sydney just before Christmas. Karen – aka Melbourne Jeweller – has a list of others who participated on her site, and if you’re interested they’re well worth checking out.

These works are feasting related – a Fowlers Vacola lid (the top of a preserving jar – for fruit and such) and a bamboo plate, of the same variety of the bowl that my Grandma would put the chips in when we visited for our customary Christmas morning drinks (the meal you never knew you had to have). This was the demi-meal consumed after a breakfast of Christmas stocking chocolate/candy canes and church fruitcake, and that generally came an hour or so before a massive Christmas lunch, back at home.

The Vacola lid is an object I remember from my spending time with family friends on their orchard, and the home-preserved peaches that would occasionally form part of the dessert line-up. My family (which was our five skinny but nimble girls back then – we’re still skinny, and some of us nimble, but we have a brother now too)  all thought that the peaches were a real treat, while the boys of the property (the five sons of the owners) would shun them in favour of more ice-cream!

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offcuts

offcuts

As I stared at the leftover saw-pierced sheet (on the right in this image), I realised that I liked the shape of what was left after the ‘piece’ had been removed, as much as what I had cut out. This led me to creating patterns inside (or outside) patterns, making each layer matter, and slicing them all from the same sheet (the offcuts in the centre of this image are from this idea). It’s a bit like architectural model-making, where you represent contours of a landscape using layers of flat card, cut to the lines of a topographic map. In my world I get to draw the hills and valleys, and later when assembling them, choose their height or depth.