I’ve been racking up some miles in the last week, having an in-person look at some sandblasting equipment, and carting tools and equipment around the city. As promised I went out to Dandenong last Friday to check out what Hare and Forbes had to say (not much on the cabinet, but a little more forthcoming on air compressors) and earlier today it was off to Pan Abrasives to check out a blast cabinet that’s on special.
It seems that owning a compressed air unit that’s big enough for the type of cabinet that I want to run might be a challenge, as many of the larger units need to run off a 15 amp power supply, and not your regular 10 amp wiring. Still, that may not be a problem, given that I’m still not sure on the best choice of blast cabinet.
Bob at Pan this morning showed us around, giving myself and my friend a quick lesson on how to adjust and take care of your sandblaster. Plus he threw in a quick pitch about sandblast grit which will definitely be of use in the future. He even gave advice on what to do to get the most out of a cheaper model should I happen to go with the one which I had been comparing his product to. In all I left quite impressed. And keen to take one of his machines home! (If only I didn’t have to think about cost, oh and how to get it up the stairs in the studio…)
I also managed to score a few pieces of second hand equipment late last week, some of which I delivered to the (still incomplete) studio. I had to hire a ute in Elwood to do the carting, while the muscle was provided by TurboNerd.
Week two: still no studio! This is going slower than even I expected (not because I’m a pessimist mind, mostly because I’m a slow… well, lets say deliberate, decision maker). The space is getting closer to being fully signed off – but it’s currently still under construction.
I would have had a drill press by now, but after waiting a week for it to come in stock, the one that had been delivered to the store was faulty. Next week it will be mine…
The workbench store (mentioned last week) turned out not to do the sort of custom work I’m after, so despite drawing plans over the weekend I haven’t been able to send them off to get a quote just yet. Luckily, a hint from another maker (thanks Candice, wherever you are) has netted another economical workbench manufacturer.
The biggest time burner in the last day or so has been the sand blaster or ‘abrasive blast cabinet’. Once again, the internet was my friend, but to get beyond the superficial some serious investigation was necessary. The reviews I’ve seen of the cheaper models, which are seemingly available everywhere at the moment, say that they leak media and the internal fluoro light and dust extraction are both a bit iffy. Finding a better product sees the price jump from a range of $200-$900 to over $3k. (Burwell, Pan Abrasives, ABSS, Blastmaster all have models in a similar price range) That’s not in my budget, suffice to say. Tomorrow I’ll take the long drive to Dandenong to check out a couple in the flesh.
There are no pictures this week, as I’ve been gathering information, making drawings and planning. This gives me very little to show for a days work, but like when reading a book, sometimes all you have is what you learned. I find this infuriating, because I like to track my progress, and this means judging how successful a day has been by the volume of my output, be it drawn, made or written.
I have organised a fair amount this week. I have a space (almost) and a plan of the gallery for an upcoming show, which I drew to scale (I’m not in favour of not working to scale, nor plans made in Word) in order to work on the exhibition design. I’ve found a place to have a work bench made, in Mentone. I’ve spent time on forums looking for ideas and recommendations (it’s been all online since Monday, when going out into the world netted several outlets closed for holidays) and spent an age looking at my options for flexi drives, whichleftmecompletelyconfused. (Luckily, I remembered a friend who could help steer me through the mire.)
Along this convoluted journey, (that’s another thing that bugs me, getting side-tracked from my main goal for the day, despite the diversions being ultimately useful! Maybe…) I learned about the benefits of citric acid pickle, from looking at other people’s studios. Actually, that brings me to another point.
I learn best by example; by seeing other people in action. Ben’s descriptions of his studio, coupled with the photos, I found to be really instructive. With luck, following other sidetracks will turn out to be equally informative.
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!
Location: Melbourne city, Richmond or St Kilda area preferred.
Requirements: Lockable, heated and appropriate for use by a jeweller who uses propane and oxygen tanks and a (small) sand blaster. If you have any leads, please leave a comment or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
I’ve been in this studio for nigh on 3 years now, at this bench. Slowly but steadily I took up the adjacent one too (it was allowed, even suggested). But on Monday it’s over, and I’ll go in and clear out. Mind you, before I go I plan to take it right to the wire and use the microtorch for 3 pieces that I’ll finish assembling at home this weekend (and yes, admitting that I do feel like the child who has just left the nest, but who comes home to do the laundry and then makes a cup of tea and a snack while waiting for the dryer to finish the sheets). Still, I will miss the place, and the people. And the industrial quality sand-blaster! While I don’t yet have a new home to go to, I’m excited (and nervous) to be moving on. It’s time.
It’s been an overly warm day. The kind of day that one does not bound out of bed with unbridled enthusiasm for working in an under-air conditioned studio. A day in which it would be imprudent to start up the kiln in said studio, set it to 840°c, wait for it to get to temperature, then stand next to it for a couple of hours feeding its fire-breathing, gaping maw with shards of sheet steel, one by one.
In attempting to heat-colour these sand-blasted pieces of stainless to a lovely light-blue hue, a blue that I have managed to acquire by torch heating on previous occasions, I overheated one piece. It didn’t melt (like you were expecting me to say at this point), it just went a dark grey. As it was the last piece to be heated for the day, that’s the way it stayed. Overheated grey.
Today is the re-launch of my website. It’s also the day that I can announce that I have been recently awarded an ArtStart Grant by the Australia Council for the Arts, “To maintain an independent studio practice focused on the creation of research based jewellery.”
The acquisition of this funding means that from now on, for the next year, you will see this notice attached to my work; ‘This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.’
A bit long for a mantra I’ll grant you, but I’m sure we can all get used to it!
This work, entitled Staggered Eight Point Star, has just been invited to participate in an exhibition. But it’s not just the work getting all of the fun; I have been invited to the opening myself, but it is considerably cheaper to send the piece on its own. So the ‘Star will have to brave the Texan wilderness without me.
The piece is destined for the US in the new year, to join in the REFINED VI: Back to Basics exhibition, as curated by Lisa Gralnick and hosted by the School of Art at Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas. The exhibition will open on the 30th of January at The Art Centre @ The Old Opera House, and closes on the 20th of March.
If you are out an about in downtown Nacogdoches at this time, please feel free to drop me a line and let me know how the opening goes.