A Bespoke Necklace for a Very Special Lady

Choosing to be a contemporary jeweller is certainly the road less travelled as far as career paths go. The journey is long, thoroughly rewarding and cannot be travelled alone. I am extremely lucky to have a great group of family and friends who have helped me along the way and if there’s one person who’s always had faith in my ability to turn my passion into a self-sustaining career, it is my lovely Mother.

Given our close relationship and shared passion for jewellery, Mum is usually the lucky recipient of my new prototypes or any pieces that never quite makes it to market for one reason or another. Though she is always very grateful, on the odd occasion I also like to take the time to make her a specially designed bespoke piece, and late last year I did just that.

Poor Mum has spent many hours being dragged along for yet another beach collecting expedition and as a result has become quite the fan of my Plastic Soup jewellery. Over the years she has developed an eagle eye for microplastics and at times gets more exciting than I do when she finds ‘a good one.’ It seemed only fitting that her next piece was to be a Plastic Soup necklace.

When constructing my Plastic Soup or Interlace Adornment, I always begin with a pile of sticks which I cut, file level and sand. I then create the tiny little boxes which will contain a precious collection of microplastics.

  It all starts with a pile of silver sticks.

It all starts with a pile of silver sticks.

The box shapes are loosely based on the shapes of phytoplankton: the tiny organisms which sea creatures believe they are eating when in fact, they are ingesting microplastics. For mum’s piece, we decided on circular boxes and so I constructed a variety of sizes to suit the necklace.

To form the tiny windows of the boxes, I have sourced industry offcuts of thin acrylic which I use sparingly to minimise my contribution to the plastic problem. I hand cut the acrylic and then file it until it fits perfectly within the outer ring shape. I then create another, slightly smaller ring which sits within the large ring and forms a ledge for the acrylic to rest on to avoid crushing the tiny plastic fragments within.

  Each box is originally made from flat sheet silver which I bend into a ring to form the circular shapes. To be able to solder the inner and outer ring together, one has to fit perfectly within the other.

Each box is originally made from flat sheet silver which I bend into a ring to form the circular shapes. To be able to solder the inner and outer ring together, one has to fit perfectly within the other.

  The boxes fit just right and are ready to be soldered together.

The boxes fit just right and are ready to be soldered together.

Once all the components are ready, I bring them to the soldering bench. I first create a seaweed like structure to form the geometric foundation of the piece, then strategically position each box on the structure to give the illusion of the plastics being snagged within a seaweed tangle. As all of the Plastic Soup pieces are handmade and unique, they will sometimes come together perfectly and other times look a little unbalanced. At this point I will cut pieces off and reposition the components until I am satisfied with the composition.

  The beginnings of an interlacing seaweed structure (and some earrings on the side).

The beginnings of an interlacing seaweed structure (and some earrings on the side).

  Once the seaweed framework is constructed, I begin to play with a very sophisticated tacking substance (blutack) to experiment with the position of the boxes.

Once the seaweed framework is constructed, I begin to play with a very sophisticated tacking substance (blutack) to experiment with the position of the boxes.

Choosing where to hang the seaweed structure from can be a little tricky and it is always important to ensure that the piece hangs well when worn. Once I have decided on a suitable position, I attach the chain, check that all of my joins are well soldered and then construction is complete.

  Now that the boxes are soldered in place and the pendant is well balanced on the chain, the piece is ready for filing and sanding.

Now that the boxes are soldered in place and the pendant is well balanced on the chain, the piece is ready for filing and sanding.

From there the most time consuming part of the process begins: clean-up. I file off any excess solder and scratches to the surface of the metal then sand the piece to remove the file marks. Any surface scratches will distract from the overall effect of the whole piece so I really take my time, spending days to ensure that the finish is consistent. This can be rather fiddly given the intricacy of the interlacing structure and so I have developed a range of tiny sanding tools to access those hard to reach places.

Once I am completely satisfied with the finish, I blacken the necklace and begin to choose the precious but deadly plastic collection to sit within the boxes: In this case, turquoise, blues and greens.

  A freshly blackened seaweed structure ready for setting.

A freshly blackened seaweed structure ready for setting.

I then dust the piece and set the acrylic on the underside of the boxes. From there I carefully place the tiny collection of microplastics in their new home and close the lid. The protective tape is removed from the acrylic and the final piece is revealed.

 The finished necklace all ready to wear. Photograph courtesy of  Bianca Hoffrichter .

The finished necklace all ready to wear. Photograph courtesy of Bianca Hoffrichter.

It was a little while in the making but Mum was thrilled when she received her bespoke Plastic Soup Necklace. The colours and length of the chain suited her perfectly and she ‘feels wonderful wearing the piece.’ It means so much to me to have her support and knowing how proud she feels when wearing my jewellery makes my day. Thanks Mum!

If you would like to commission a Plastic Soup piece of your very own, please contact me to make an appointment.

More Rewards Announced - Not Long Now!

In just a few short weeks I will be launching my crowd funding campaign to raise money to set up a wonderful new jewellery teaching space here at Karma and Crow Studio Collective. We have a fantastically supportive group of talented artists at Karma and Crow and I can’t wait to share our space and handmade skills with the local community. The workshops will be a place where people can come to relax and explore their creativity within a nurturing and social environment.

As I mentioned last week, I have been busily working away on some great new jewellery to say a big thank you for your donations to help me get this started. I am just adding the finishing touches to a beautiful new range of Microscope jewellery which feature hand chipped Andamooka opal. Each sterling silver piece will feature a collection of the chips which move freely when worn revealing a variety of luminous opal colours.  

  Magnifying some stunning opal chips from Andamooka, South Australia. 

Magnifying some stunning opal chips from Andamooka, South Australia. 

  Donate to my crowdfunding campaign to get your hands on one of these beautiful pieces of opal jewellery. I will be releasing a limited number of earrings, studs and pendants as a special treat to say thank you.

Donate to my crowdfunding campaign to get your hands on one of these beautiful pieces of opal jewellery. I will be releasing a limited number of earrings, studs and pendants as a special treat to say thank you.

  A sneaky peek at a finished pair of Microscope Opal Earrings. Photograph courtesy of the Talented  Bianca Hoffrichter .

A sneaky peek at a finished pair of Microscope Opal Earrings. Photograph courtesy of the Talented Bianca Hoffrichter.

Setting up this space means so much to me as a maker as well as our family of artists here at Karma and Crow. I would be absolutely thrilled with any donation you have to contribute, no matter how big or small, and even if donating is not an option, a simple campaign share with your friends would be a great help. 

Stay tuned for more information about the campaign and how you can be rewarded with your very own opal Microscope jewellery.

Introducing Hundreds and Thousands - New Earrings Just in Time for my Crowd Funding Campaign

This month I have been busily preparing to raise money for tools for my new jewellery classes here at Karma and Crow Studio Collective. Part of the deal with crowd funding is that I give you beautiful rewards in exchange for your generous donations. Coming up with a list of enticing rewards has been a great excuse to design something different and so today I introduce my new jewellery range, Hundreds and Thousands.


Naturally, I always manage to come up with the best ideas when I am in the middle of a huge project and have absolutely no time to work on it. Sure enough, this range of earrings was no different. The idea came to me at least three years ago and as much as I have tried to keep my focus and finish other projects before I jump into the next one, this idea just wouldn't stop nagging me. 

  I started where any good piece of jewellery begins for me – in model form.

I started where any good piece of jewellery begins for me – in model form.

Following a similar geometric aesthetic to my Interlace adornment, Hundreds and Thousands are hand cut from a single sheet of copper and hung from matching sterling silver hooks. There are nine different shapes in the range and I am offering them in either duck egg blue or rustic blackened copper.

  Each pair of earrings are hand cut from a single sheet of copper.

Each pair of earrings are hand cut from a single sheet of copper.

  I designed a new hook to match the geometric shapes on the earrings

I designed a new hook to match the geometric shapes on the earrings

  My new earrings: Only three years in the making! A small happy dance may have taken place when these were finally finished. 

My new earrings: Only three years in the making! A small happy dance may have taken place when these were finally finished. 

If you would like to snap up a pair of Hundreds and Thousands just in time for Christmas, keep an eye out for my Crowd Funding Campaign in November. I will be offering these as well as some beautiful new opal jewellery and exclusive pre-release jewellery classes in exchange for your donations.

Handmade Jewellery which is Truly One of a Kind - Interlace Studs in the Making

When I first designed my range, Interlace Adornment, I wanted to create an edgy, paired back version of my Plastic Soup exhibition work while continuing to develop my focus on sustainability. Leaving the microplastics aside, the recycled silver collection challenges traditional ideas of jewellery while also being very wearable. I maintained the same asymmetrical, geometric aesthetic and still hand make each piece with no set composition, ensuring that very little metal goes to waste. No two pieces are exactly alike meaning that when you purchase a pair of Interlace Studs they are very much your own.


To make a pair of Interlace studs, I begin by straightening my 2mm recycled silver wire which I then sand and cut into a variety of lengths. I always cut more pieces than I need to give me many options choose from when it comes to constructing the perfect shape. Nothing hinders my ability to create a masterpiece more than running out of sticks.

I begin the process by preparing a collection of tiny silver sticks.

After the lengths of silver are cut, I use a special tool, called a mitering jig, to hold them in place and file each end flat. I remove any excess metal and add them to the pile.

I then give the sticks a refined, geometric look by filing each end perfectly flat.

Once I have a good collection of silver sticks in different lengths, I move over to my soldering bench where the creative part of the process begins. I place the sticks together and the intersecting pairs are fluxed and soldered. I then progressively add more lengths of interlacing silver, positioning them at different angles all the while trying to create balance within each tiny composition. When soldering the lengths of silver, I have to be really careful not to overheat the piece as too much heat usually results in the surface tension of the melted solder pulling all the sticks together into an unsightly clump which means I have to start the piece again. 


The stud shapes are now complete and I choose a surface to attach the post onto, carefully attach it using a solder, then construction is complete.

A much faster version of the soldering process. This is my favourite part as I get to be creative while playing with fire.

After a good long soak in a mild citric acid solution to remove any remaining flux and oxide from soldering, the studs are ready to be cleaned and polished. I meticulously study each one, filing off excess solder and removing all imperfections. They are sanded to remove all file marks and then placed in a tumbler to give the silver a beautiful homogeneous, matte finish.

The final and most labour intensive part of the process is filing and sanding the studs. Though it is a long process, I use the opportunity to catch up on Netflix and podcasts. That's my kind of multitasking!

From there I look at all of the studs and select pairs from the group. Each individual earring I make is unique but I try to pair them to complement each other aesthetically. 

Depending on the piece, I either choose to oxidise the finished earrings, giving them a semi-permanent rich, black surface coating, or leave them with a brushed silver finish. I can never decide which finish I prefer and so I have pinched a pair of each!

  Interlace Studs ready to go. No two pairs are exactly alike.

Interlace Studs ready to go. No two pairs are exactly alike.

You can purchase your very own pair of recycled silver Interlace Studs through my Online Shop. They are most certainly made with love.

Single Origin Rose Gold Ring - A Very Special Order

When it comes to custom orders, you never know who might call or what project a customer might have in mind. I was recently thrown one of these exciting jewellery curve balls by a lovely client who had named her son Tanami after the Australian desert. Located on the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, the vast Tanami desert is known for its iconic red dirt as well as its gold. My client loved the idea of presenting her son with a single origin Tanami gold ring in a rich rose colour to symbolise the landscape he was named after. The whole concept sounded like a wonderful challenge and so I got started.


As a jeweller, I use a variety of suppliers who mainly deal in recycled metals so knowing where to start to find gold from a specific region required a lot of detective work. Through my research, I found a few metal refining companies who source freshly mined gold from the Tanami. Unfortunately, they also purchase their gold from other mines to keep up with demand. During refining, the Tanami gold would probably be mixed with other gold from elsewhere and they couldn’t guarantee that it would be of single origin. 


I needed to take a step back in the supply chain and decided to contact the mines directly. Given that they don’t usually deal with jewellers or the public, they thought I was a little nuts and couldn’t really give me much information. I persevered for days and finally found a company who was willing to help me which was music to my ears. 


The time had come to start the project. I went to make my order at which point the company informed me that the entire mine was closing! Panic ensued but luckily I had a brainwave which saved the day… Gold nuggets! 

  A handful of single origin Tanami gold nuggets.

A handful of single origin Tanami gold nuggets.

Now you may think I am crazy for melting down gold nuggets, given that their value as a specimen will often exceed their value in terms of gold content, however, I can assure you that no spectacular gold nuggets were harmed in the process of making this piece. After more research, I managed to find a hidden gem of a supplier, my new friend Wally. Wally had been fossicking for gold back in the 90’s and managed to find himself quite the collection which he released for sale from time to time. The stars must have aligned and at the very moment I was looking for a Tanami gold nugget, he was selling some.


Wally had an array of large gold nuggets for sale but I didn’t want to melt down such a beautiful specimen. I gave him a call and discovered that in his private collection he also had quite a few small nuggets which he would sometimes sell to metal refining companies around Australia. Finally, I had some single origin Tanami gold but what to do with it?

  The best kind of certification!

The best kind of certification!


Australian nuggets are some of the most pure in the world but they still need to be refined to ensure that that the metal contains 99.9% fine gold which can then be alloyed. I couldn’t send them to my usual suppliers as they would mix it in with the rest of their gold, defeating the purpose of the whole exercise. I searched far and wide, finding an amazing company who agreed to help me by refining my gold individually. When their work was done, I was left with a lovely fine gold ingot which I then made into an elegant rose gold band.

  My freshly melted Tanami gold ingot.

My freshly melted Tanami gold ingot.

  The beautiful ring all clean with a matte finish.

The beautiful ring all clean with a matte finish.

My delightful customer received her beautiful ring and presented the keepsake to her son, Tanami. Finding single origin Tanami gold was a tricky but rewarding process. It taught me a lot about the origin of my materials and made me think about part of the jewellery making process that I had always taken for granted. I was so happy that the project came together in the end and was really honoured to be able to produce a custom ring which was so meaningful to my client.

 

Want to have your own bespoke piece of jewellery made? Contact me to make an appointment.

A Bespoke Ring for an Artist - Ellie Kammer

One of the things I love most about working in a studio collective is meeting like-minded creatives who appreciate the handmade just as much as I do. I am really lucky to spend my days with such a talented group of artists and am so grateful to be able to exchange experiences, skills and advice with them.

One of those artists is painter, Ellie Kammer. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Ellie uses her experience of having endometriosis to inspire her paintings and uses them to raise awareness of this painful medical issue faced by many women. I have been a fan of Ellie and her beautiful work ever since meeting her, so when she had a challenge for me, to help her design and make a custom piece of jewellery, I happily accepted.

  One of Ellie's amazing paintings, 'Endometriosis (Imponderable),' Oil on Canvas, 76cm x 61cm

One of Ellie's amazing paintings, 'Endometriosis (Imponderable),' Oil on Canvas, 76cm x 61cm

Ellie was looking for a contemporary variation of a traditional men’s silver cygnet ring in a geometric style for her partner’s Birthday and was keen to help make the piece. To add a personal touch to the gift, she wanted the ring face to feature three fine lines which would act as a subtle representation of their family: herself, her partner, and her stepson.

To leave a bit more room to experiment with the shape of the ring, I decided that we would work in wax and cast the piece. I first taught Ellie how to cut the wax blank which would form the initial shape for the ring. She then removed the excess wax from the centre of the blank, ensuring that it was the right size for her partner’s finger. It was Ellie’s first time making jewellery but she got the hang of it quickly.

  Ellie testing her jewellery making skill on my unusually tidy workbench.

Ellie testing her jewellery making skill on my unusually tidy workbench.

From there I took over to work with the overall shape of the ring. I strategically removed wax from different areas to form an angular aesthetic. Once the carving was complete, I made the piece lovely and smooth, then sent it off for casting.

  From a plain piece of wax to an almost finished wax ring.

From a plain piece of wax to an almost finished wax ring.

After the carved wax piece was cast in silver, I filed back a fine layer from the entire ring to remove any impurities and imperfections from the casting process. I then sanded the ring giving it an even finish.

  Before and after casting.

Before and after casting.

Now it was time for the most important detail: the line work. I marked the three lines and sawed each one very carefully. When creating such a precise, geometric shape, any wrong move with the saw frame would almost certainly ruin the design, a fate which I wanted to avoid. Luckily, I managed to saw some good lines and moved onto the final clean-up and polish of the ring. To give the piece a more masculine and slightly grungy feel, I blackened the ring, then sanded it back leaving the patina in the relief areas only.

It was a delight to work with Ellie in creating this beautiful piece. We managed to make her deadline with time to spare and her partner was stoked to receive such a thoughtful gift. 

  The final ring complete with crisp line-work all ready to be gifted. Photography courtesy of  Bianca Hoffrichter .

The final ring complete with crisp line-work all ready to be gifted. Photography courtesy of Bianca Hoffrichter.

Feeling inspired? To have your own custom piece of jewellery made, contact me to make an appointment.

Fixing Fast Fashion - A Special Order Silver Necklace

Given the increasing popularity of ‘Fast Fashion,’ a phenomenon where trends are in one day and out (or thrown out) the next, it is no surprise that I regularly have customers coming to me with jewellery that they love but have not lasted the test of time. To keep up with fashion at such a speed, items are made quickly and cheaply to last a season rather than a lifetime. Not only is the throw away mentality terrible for the environment, but the premature death of a beloved piece of jewellery is often upsetting for the client. 


I’ve heard that some jewellers prefer not to go near costume jewellery repairs and remakes as they can often be tedious or not to their particular aesthetic, however, I really enjoy working with these pieces. Not only do I see it as a great opportunity to learn, but I really like the idea that I can either repair something that would otherwise be thrown out or remake the piece so that it will last a lifetime. It is more sustainable approach to fashion and encourages my customers to truly treasure their piece of jewellery.


One particular client came to me with her beloved necklace which was so well worn that the plating was patchy and the chains had fallen off so many times that there were layers of glue from desperate attempts to save the its life. My delightful client had two options. A: Discard the necklace she wore so much it practically became part of her body, or B: Find a good jeweller to remake the piece in silver. Luckily for me, she chose B and so I got started.


I began the process by taking direct silicon moulds from the original necklace as I wanted the silver version to be as closed to the original design as possible. I then melted and poured a special type of jeweller’s casting wax into the mould. The wax cast would form the shape for the final metal discs so I had to be really careful to get all of the bubbles out of the wax before it hardened to prevent any holes in my metal.

My highly sophisticated mould making setup. Aka - kitchen stove and patty pans.

Once the waxes had hardened, I filed the discs back to the exact size and shape I needed and then sent them off to be cast.

The freshly carved wax models. 

Freshly cast silver disks. During the casting process, fine plaster is poured around the wax moulds. Once the plaster sets, it is put into a kiln, melting the wax away and leaving a perfectly formed cavity for molten metal to flow into.

The discs on the original necklace had no backing plate to cover and protect the unsightly solder joins which is something I wanted to improve on in the remake. I used my computer to design a backing plate that would protect and help position the points where the chains were attached. I also made sure that the plates included holes to rivet everything together. These designs were then printed in wax and also cast in silver.  

Preparing the disk shapes with their rivets before cleaning to make sure everything fits snugly.

The original piece had a very specific size and patterned chain which was integral to the design. I wanted to use a high quality chain that would last which was quite a challenge to find. I ended up with a beautifully made Italian chain and soldered it onto the backing plate.

Inner workings of the necklace complete with some luxurious flat sterling silver snake chain.

After casting, there is a lot of clean up to be done to give the pieces a fine finish. I filed, sanded and polished the pieces to a near mirror finish, just like the original. 

The necklace is all ready to be riveted. I decided to give the backing plates a brushed finish for a bit of contrast against the shiny chain and feature disks.

I then riveted the piece together by hand and gave it a final touch up polish.

All riveted together!

And I'm finally done. The original necklace on the left and the new one on the right. I know which one my favorite is!

My lovely customer was very happy with her new and improved necklace and hopes that she will one day hand it down to her daughter.

One very happy customer!

Karma & Crow Cafe and Studio Collective - A Change is as Good as a Holiday

This year has been super busy in the studio (Yay!) with orders for galleries, preparation for our show at Gray Street Workshop and commissions for customers. To add to the chaos, I spent January and February moving studios, which was such a hard decision to make, but one I am really happy with.

After two wonderful years at Gray Street which was filled fantastic memories and the support of good friends, I was seduced by the allure of a large teaching space, air-conditioning and my very own lockable door. 

At the front of the Karma and Crow Studio Collective we have a lovely workshop area that is available to hire for classes and meetings. Featured to the right is one of Ellie Kammer's beautiful paintings which I mention below. Photograph courtesy of Bianca Hoffrichter.

My new studio is light filled and spacious which is an absolute treat for me, given that my previous studios have been bursting at the seams with my hoard. Before I moved in, I wanted to ensure that I had heaps of storage space (to store the hoard, of course). I looked long and hard to find some excellent cupboards which I painted white with the help of my Mum who made a surprise visit from Perth. Thanks Mum! You never really realise how much it helps to have two people around until you try to paint and move furniture by yourself!

My studio on the right with my awesome new cupboard (found on gumtree) which has pegboard storage cupboards as well as a retractable solid wood bench top. Photograph courtesy of Bianca Hoffrichter. 

My workbench where all the magic (and madness) happens. The new studio space is divided into two halves by a ply wood wall. Photograph courtesy of Bianca Hoffrichter.

The studios back onto a superb new cafe which is a happy bonus for a caffeine addict. Run by two energetic creatives, Janie Kammer and Alana Crowe, the recently opened Café is already making waves in the local hospitality scene and is always packed full of punters, eager to get their daily caffeine fix.

And most importantly, the cafe, where all the crucial things are made, i.e. coffee!

I am now sharing with yet another talented and inspiring group of artists. Running the studios is Janie’s twin sister, painter, Ellie Kammer. Her beautifully graphic work is inspired by the suffering caused by living with endometriosis, a disease that effects the lives of many but is rarely spoken of. Jack Devereux is a talented up and coming artist who has an amazing ability to create depth with just a single drawn line. Bianca Hoffrichter is a photographer, artist and illustrator who is studying at the University of South Australia, has a passion for watercolour and is currently illustrating her first novel with intricate detail. Georgia Bailey is also studying Art at the University of South Australia has recently started up her own fashion jewellery brand working with leather, textiles and found shells to create her own wearable treasures. Lastly, Caitlin and Adam Thomas run their own tattoo studio. Caitlin’s beautiful tattoos are simple and playful, featuring the finest line work my untrained eye has ever seen while Adam’s complex illustrations are like a window into another world. I have never really thought about tattoos until now, but this blank canvas is certainly tempted by their talents!

I am so privileged to be able to create in a lovely new spot surrounded by such a great group of people. If you are interested in coming down to see my new space and what I am making, please email me to set up a time.

Plastic Soup Sculptures in the Making

Exhibiting at Gray Street Workshop has definitely been a highlight of my year so far and after receiving some wonderful feedback and selling a few pieces, the show wrapped up last week. In celebration, we had an artist get together to see where the show might go next and it looks like we might take it on tour, adding new pieces to the collection, which is really exciting.

Making works for exhibition is one of my favourite pastimes as there are fewer limitations on time and money compared to production work. This means I can go nuts on detail! It is also a much more creative way of working and I feel more freedom to address concepts that I care about such as the environment.

For Solastalgia, I really wanted to use the opportunity to develop my work further. I have been making wearable Plastic Soup pieces for some time now to explore and engage people with the issue of excess plastics circulating our oceans. The response has been really positive, however, I have observed people struggling with the tiny scale of the work. Given their intimate location on the body, some people have been too shy to approach the pieces whilst others miss them altogether. In response to this, I wanted to experiment by removing the pieces from the body and increasing their size to see whether larger sculptural works would be more successful in engaging my audience.

The increase in scale I wanted to achieve meant that silver was no longer a viable material as is too soft and tricky to work with at that size. I needed to find a metal which would stay rigid and was also able to be coloured black to give the pieces that seaweedy feel. I began experimenting with mild steel which can be blackened with white vinegar, a product which is good for the environment and can be reused as a cleaning product. It sounded like a win-win to me! Working with steel was an enjoyable challenge and a welcomed variation from my regular work with precious materials.

Experimenting.... My first attempt at welding mild steel.  

To construct the sculptures, I began cutting various lengths of steel and finished each end to a blunt point which gave them a geometric feel.

Many sticks to cut = very dirty hands.

I then welded steel sticks together in pairs, intersecting them with other pairs to let the pieces take shape. I added more and more sticks until the shapes were completed then began working on steel boxes which were to contain the plastic fragments. I decided to make them using a range of different shaped and sized steel tubes and discovered a real difference in the quality of welded steel tube compared to the usual silver products I have grown accustomed to. I cut each tube to size and spent days grinding down the messy seams to give them the finer finish I required.

A whole bunch of steel tube slices fresh off the Brobo. They are really sharp and messy looking.

  So many hours work to clean these guys up, but the end product was definitely worth it.

So many hours work to clean these guys up, but the end product was definitely worth it.

I then hand cut the acrylic ‘windows’ and gently filed them down to fit perfectly within the tubes.

Each piece of acrylic is covered in tape to protect the surface and numbered so that I know which box they fit into. The acrylic has to fit the inside of the boxes perfectly so that they stay in place without glue.

Many sleepless nights and an injured shoulder later, the tubes were welded in place and finally, construction was complete.

All done! Yay!

When making jewellery and sculpture, finish is as important as construction. A beautifully constructed piece can be completely ruined if it is not finished well. I wanted to avoid this by giving my sculptures an even sandblasted finish which was then blackened and waxed.

A beautifully sandblasted surface. After this stage I make sure that the sculptures are handled with cotton gloves to avoid contamination before I blacken them.

Dipping the sculptures into boiling hot vinegar. Though I thought I measured enough before I began, unfortunately this one didn't quite fit and luckily I had some spare vinegar to top it up!

With only a day to spare I prepared a variety of plastic fragments I had collected earlier, and set them in place. Phew!

My favorite part of the process is choosing the plastic fragments to go inside each box. These plastic jewels were collected at West Beach and Aldinga Beach in South Australia.

The final piece all blackened and set with plastic jewels.

The response to the sculptural pieces was encouraging and my audience were much more inclined to approach the works to have a good look around at the colourful plastic treasure they contained. Even more interesting was their response to the related jewellery I wore after seeing the sculptures. They could see the relationship between the two and It really helped to open up a dialogue about the ‘Plastic Soup’ phenomenon which was my ultimate goal.

I wore one of my brooches to the opening night of Solastalgia and it lead to some great conversations about climate change. My audience seemed to have much more of an appreciation for the tiny brooch once they had seen the sculptures.

The Eternity Band Remake

Since working for a jeweller I have seen many old and sometimes neglected wedding rings come through the door to be repaired. Years of everyday wear tend to reduce protruding details of the pieces such as claws and delicate filigree.

Unfortunately for my lovely mum, her fifteen year old eternity band was in a bit of a state as hand making ceramics is not all that compatible with her desire to wear fine jewellery. Clay is a dusty material and the tiny little particles seemed to be wearing away at the surface of her glasses and her jewellery at a fast rate. Luckily I was up to the challenge of repairing the jewellery but maybe not the glasses.

The piece came to me missing diamonds and slightly squished. On closer inspection with a jeweller’s loupe, my jewellery friend Kristy and I were astonished to see that even though it was bought as a new ring, it had already been reshanked (a new band had been attached) and was falling apart so badly that it wouldn't have lasted much longer.

I had two options with this piece; I could try to salvage the remaining ring that, given the state of it, would probably still fall apart later or remake the whole thing to the same design. Considering that she works with her hands so much, Mum decided that she would have the ring remade using slightly thicker gold to make it more durable.

  I wasn't sure how good the quality of the original gold would be, so I decided to make the piece out of new gold, using the old ring as a reference. I rolled down a piece for the shank and hand pierced the pattern. As suspected, the original ring snapped apart with no pressure at all. Lucky she asked me to fix it when she did!

I wasn't sure how good the quality of the original gold would be, so I decided to make the piece out of new gold, using the old ring as a reference. I rolled down a piece for the shank and hand pierced the pattern. As suspected, the original ring snapped apart with no pressure at all. Lucky she asked me to fix it when she did!

  I had to source some beautiful rose cut diamonds to replace the ones which were missing and remove the rest from the existing ring. I then prepared the setting and soldered it together.

I had to source some beautiful rose cut diamonds to replace the ones which were missing and remove the rest from the existing ring. I then prepared the setting and soldered it together.

  I set the diamonds and hand carved the band.

I set the diamonds and hand carved the band.

  Then finished polishing it and set the ruby. Its not a bad match!

Then finished polishing it and set the ruby. Its not a bad match!

  All shiny and finished!

All shiny and finished!