fresh from ‘the sieve‘
I had a day of mixed success in the studio yesterday. I was re-blasting a piece that I had attempted to colour with the microtorch last week, which hadn’t worked out. Blasting and refinishing all went fine, with the colouring that I decided upon working a treat. Re-stringing was easy too; I had decided to omit a piece of the puzzle, the effect of which changed/improved the whole look of the pendant. It was going great, until I had to solder. Four simple ends should be easy-peasy; it’s something that I have to do on practically every piece. I’m looking right now at a brooch I wore recently, and it has eight of these solder points, which is about average.
Yesterday though? Could. Not. Do.
I had many attempts, with the ends of the cable getting shorter and shorter each time (you just can’t make silver solder stick to carbon-blackened stainless steel). In the end I had to walk away, three out of four points completed.
As my littlest sister would say: “Fail. Epic fail.” (The rest of my sisters would quote John Lennon in the Beatles movie Help and say “Jeweller, you’ve failed!“)
Today I’m in hiding from the studio, doing paperwork. Cowed?… yes. Attempting to regroup for more action tomorrow? Certainly.
Images of samples created during the Elizabeth Turrell workshop, conducted at Manifesto Glass in West Perth, April 13, 14 and 15, 2010.
Top image – enamel samples day 1 and 2. Bottom image – final day
During the workshop we were learned to use Tompsons Wet Process enamel, with the main difference in application between this and regular jewellery enamel is that you can paint it directly onto the metal surface, much like a clay slip. In fact, the mainly white above was half clay, half dissolved enamel solution. This once fired becomes a very matte surface, on which you can draw with graphite pencil, as I did in that piece, after which I fired over it a thin layer of transparent enamel, and then fired a transparent layer, painted over the star/flower shape, with the glass granules embedded into it. These were applied while the enamel was still wet.
Elizabeth had on display many different sands and oxides, which were laid directly onto a layer of pre-fired enamel and re-fired. Not all would stick, (especially if you piled it on) but a thin layer would be attached to the metal after re-firing. As you can tell I had the most fun with the black, red, white and transparent enamels, with the use of glass grit for texture. This I brought with me, as it’s the media I use in my sandblaster.
She also showed us stamping and transfers, the former using the liquid of the stamp-pad as a glue to hold a thin layer of sprinkled jewellery enamel or oxide (or sandblast media) to be quickly fired afterward. A felt tip pen can be used to the same effect (that’s how I got lines of white and clear grit onto the bottom right sample.) The transfers (top left sample on bottom image; dots on the LHS) were applied pretty much in the same way as a fake tattoo, but the burning out process of the plastic transfer medium was a little more complicated. You can’t afford to let it burn out too quick, as going up in smoke would shift the carefully-placed image.
It was an incredible workshop; each artist involved produced amazing and different works. Everyone was so happy to be there and keen to be experimenting; all the while testing the process, and their skills. Being involved with someone who is such a master of her medium – in the actual mechanics of the material as well as its historical and present-day applications in both the jewelelry and industrial worlds, was truly inspirational. To be honest I’m not impressed with my works, as I feel now that I should have pushed myself harder. Yet having said that, I know that what I did I will actually use in my own studio, so from that perspective my samples are all very successful. And it got me to draw in my work, which is something that I only ever do in a very mediated fashion. It’s nice to see some hand drawings, though it may not happen again for a while.
As I left yesterday I realised that I was actually sad that it was over.
This work is called ‘measuring the space between’. It’s a collaboration between myself and Chloe Vallance. Chloe is a good friend and fellow artist, who describes her practice as fine artist/painter/drawer. She’s a regular at the Craft Hatch markets, so her work may be familiar if you have been to one of them. Like the other spoons, this piece is going into the upcoming Hand Held show, and in fact Chloe had her own show at Hand Held in January.
We’ve been seeking an excuse to work together for a while. Chloe began separating out the figure from its context in her works last year, and I remember at the time thinking that the idea was ripe for interpretation as jewellery. Especially since our material aesthetic seems to overlap; in her case small works on timber offcuts and recycled board stand edge to edge with larger new panels and tessellated images on squares of watercolour paper. My piercing practice is summed up by “I’ll attempt to drag a blade through any material”, so the plan to work on small wooden objects was born.
Look out for some more shared works in the future.