Interlace Adornment Now Available at Platform Gallery

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of being contacted by a brand new gallery in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Founded by partners in crime, Kelly and JL, Platform Gallery offers beautifully crafted wares from Australian makers to a region which has previously been overrun by more traditional art forms such as painting. With a background in writing and a passion for the handmade, the pair have formed a deep understanding of both the maker and consumer. Given this enthusiasm and understanding, when they asked me to join the highly curated group of contemporary jewellers they support, I naturally jumped at the opportunity.

Platform Gallery on their very first opening night. Photograph courtesy of Georgia Blackie.

Platform Gallery on their very first opening night. Photograph courtesy of Georgia Blackie.

Gallery owners Kelly and JL. Photograph courtesy of Ona Janzen.

Gallery owners Kelly and JL. Photograph courtesy of Ona Janzen.

Nestled in the heart of Katoomba, the gallery now includes a display of my Interlace Adornment which looks great together with their art deco styled branding and clean aesthetic. As well as stocking a number of local and interstate makers, the space will be hosting a number of regular exhibitions and has also begun a series of exciting new residencies.

Interlace Adornment goodies are available in store and online through Platform Gallery. Photograph courtesy of  Perth Product Photography .

Interlace Adornment goodies are available in store and online through Platform Gallery. Photograph courtesy of Perth Product Photography.

A beautiful display of my work. Thanks guys! Photograph courtesy of Platform Gallery.

A beautiful display of my work. Thanks guys! Photograph courtesy of Platform Gallery.

Platform gallery is a space which is truly invested in their creatives and definitely worth a visit if you are visiting the Blue Mountains.

South Australian Living Artists Festival 2017

August is a very exciting month in South Australia as creatives from all around the state come together to celebrate the South Australian Living Artist Festival. This year is the 20th anniversary of the event and its a big one with 660 free exhibitions showcasing the works of over 6000 local artists. 1  Every possible space is used to exhibit during SALA. From shop windows, cafes and galleries to wineries, aged care facilities and even a news agency just to name a few. The vibrant and accessible festival bridges the gap between the talented artists of South Australia and the general public which is great to see.

This year, I will be exhibiting my work in group shows at two of those venues: Zu Design, Adelaide and Naomi Schwartz Jewellery Design Gallery at Henley Beach.

Blackened and brushed silver Wallpaper Ring which is about to be displayed at Zu Design. Photograph courtesy of Perth Product Photography.

Blackened and brushed silver Wallpaper Ring which is about to be displayed at Zu Design. Photograph courtesy of Perth Product Photography.

For D'Angle It at Zu Design I will be displaying my Wallpaper range featuring hand cut silver lacework which I rivet to create wearable forms. The designs are inspired by the much loved gaudy wallpaper of my great grandmother's beach house in Inverloch, Victoria. When creating the designs for these pieces, I wanted to hint at the original pattern but remove the intense colours to symbolise the way in which memories fade and change over time.

Silver Wallpaper Bangle. Each of these pieces are meticulously hand cut, filed, sanded and riveted. No two are alike. Photograph courtesy of Perth Product Photography.

Silver Wallpaper Bangle. Each of these pieces are meticulously hand cut, filed, sanded and riveted. No two are alike. Photograph courtesy of Perth Product Photography.

For Naomi Schwartz's exhibition, The Ring Show, I will display my new range of engagement rings. The collection is a development of my Interlace range, however, I have swapped my usual go-to metal, silver, for 14ct gold and recycled diamonds. The rings look great individually or as a stack and can be purchased in either white or yellow gold. It will be great to see how the public responds to my new range.

New 14ct gold Interlace Engagement Rings which are off to Naomi Schwartz's gallery for The Ring Show opening next week.  

New 14ct gold Interlace Engagement Rings which are off to Naomi Schwartz's gallery for The Ring Show opening next week.  

If you are in Adelaide over the next month, head over to Zu Design from Friday the 4th of August or to Naomi Schwartz Jewellery Design Gallery from Wednesday the 9th of August to see the wonderful creativity  that South Australian jewellers have to offer.

 

1 https://www.salafestival.com/news/16/ (accessed 01/07/17)

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.

New Contemporary Jewellery Gallery Opens at Henley Beach

When I first visited Adelaide for a jewellery conference in 2008, I fell in love with the vibrant contemporary jewellery community and was surprised by the number of flourishing jewellery galleries located in such a small city. I was so impressed with South Australia’s support for the decorative arts that I decided to move to Adelaide in 2014. Upon arrival, I toured the same galleries I had once visited but was sad to see that contemporary jewellers Kath Inglis and Naomi Schwartz’s wonderful gallery, Soda and Rhyme, had since closed its doors.

Luckily, my disappointment was short lived and at the beginning of this year, Naomi left her home studio to begin another big adventure: to open up her own gallery and workshop in Henley Beach, just west of Adelaide.

A bright and inviting entrance into Naomi's new gallery. Photograph courtesy of  Craig Arnold .

A bright and inviting entrance into Naomi's new gallery. Photograph courtesy of Craig Arnold.

Given that most of the beaches I scour for plastic treasure are far off the beaten track, I am still getting around to visiting all the inner city beaches in Adelaide and Henley Beach was a first for me. Overlooking the ocean with a variety of excellent cafes and restaurants, Naomi has chosen a stunning location for a gallery and has worked really hard to create a working space which displays the hand crafted pieces beautifully. The space is light and airy, featuring jewellery from a variety of emerging and established South Australian artists (myself included) in elegant displays which she designed and made herself.

The gallery space is also a fully equipped workshop.  Naomi uses anticlastic raising, a specialist metalsmithing technique, to create stunningly organic jewellery. Photograph courtesy of  Craig Arnold .

The gallery space is also a fully equipped workshop.  Naomi uses anticlastic raising, a specialist metalsmithing technique, to create stunningly organic jewellery. Photograph courtesy of Craig Arnold.

Naomi's bench full of silver goodies. Photograph courtesy of  Craig Arnold

Naomi's bench full of silver goodies. Photograph courtesy of Craig Arnold

My sterling silver Microscope range is available for sale through Naomi's gallery. Each piece features a collection of tiny fresh water pearls which move freely behind a magnifying lens.

My sterling silver Microscope range is available for sale through Naomi's gallery. Each piece features a collection of tiny fresh water pearls which move freely behind a magnifying lens.

After years of decimated arts funding, cuts to arts education and a wave of contemporary jewellery galleries having to close their doors in Australia, it is both inspiring and reassuring to see artisans such as Naomi fighting back to keep Australian contemporary jewellery alive. It is such a courageous move and one which is sure to pay off. Well done Naomi!

 

Naomi Schwartz Jewellery Design Gallery
Shop 4A, 340 -352 Seaview Road
Henley Square Pavilion
Henley Beach SA 5022
www.naomischwartz.com.au
8235 2683

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.

Don't Miss the Final Show at Gray Street Workshop - Up North by Claire McArdle

After many years at their Adelaide city site, the infamous Gray Street Workshop have decided to pull up stumps and move to Thebarton, just west of the city. Having offered the community a unique display of contemporary jewellery and object for the last 7 years, the dedicated team are taking a well-earned break from their busy exhibition program to focus on their own practices as well as an exciting residency program for interstate and international artists. The local contemporary jewellery community will greatly miss the wonderful gallery space. A rather large hole will be left in the Adelaide arts scene for a small, supportive, experimental craft-focused space who are open to both established and emerging exhibitors – one which I hope will be filled soon. 

The final show at Gray Street featured none other than Victorian artist, Claire McArdle. With 10 solo exhibitions under her belt, Claire has not let us down with this stunning show, Up North: a fantastic conclusion to the exhibition program. 

Up North responds to Claire’s month long residency at Textílsetur Íslands (The Icelandic Textile Centre) in Blönduós, Iceland; an unexpectedly small and isolated village. Unlike her fellow textile centre residents, she began her residency without preconceived ideas of her project, leaving room for exploration and experimentation. Claire embraced the unknown, responding directly to the fascinating scenery, wildlife, tradition and culture she saw before her. 

A sample of  some Claire's more elaborate Sheep Neckpieces and Brooches from her exhibition. Each piece was meticulously hand sewn with hand dyed Icelandic yarn.

A sample of  some Claire's more elaborate Sheep Neckpieces and Brooches from her exhibition. Each piece was meticulously hand sewn with hand dyed Icelandic yarn.

The exhibition was made up of several small series’ of work, each telling a poetic story of her experience. On the far wall of the gallery were a range of delicately placed sheep which she had hand stitched to form necklaces, brooches and bracelets. Positioned in threes, she emulated the sheep seen on her journeys who also traveled in groups of three: a mother and her twin babies.

Sheep Neckpieces travelling in threes.

Sheep Neckpieces travelling in threes.

Claire hand dyed every strand of Icelandic yarn she carefully threaded using local plants and other things she found along her travels. Meticulously recording her recipes as she went, Claire was highly innovative in her approach to the hand-dying process. From sunburst lichen, rhubarb roots and dandelion flowers to crowberries, yarrow and downy birch twigs, she created a sea of exquisite mustard, wheat and grey tones. The colour pallet created from these natural dies gave the pieces a beautiful earthy feel which helped me to imagine the stunning scenery she must have experienced during her travels.

Claire's beautiful display of naturally dyed Icelandic yarn.

Claire's beautiful display of naturally dyed Icelandic yarn.

In her other works Claire used minerals she crushed such a chrysoprase, malachite, rhodonite, red jasper and lapis lazuli to emulate the stunning Icelandic terrain. The central table of the gallery was covered in a series of hand raised, height adjustable mountains which she encrusted with these minerals. All of the pieces in the show surrounded the mountains, creating a landscape of memories within the intimate gallery space.

Mineral encrusted mountains.

Mineral encrusted mountains.

Close up of Claire's hand dyed and sewn 'Rapid Growth' Brooches.

Close up of Claire's hand dyed and sewn 'Rapid Growth' Brooches.

To tie the stunning works together, Claire displayed a pair of Icelandic Wolfish skin leather shoes. In Icelandic tradition, a journey is represented by how many pairs of fish leather shoes were worn through, for example, a one or two ‘fish skin journey,’ and so on. Claire displayed her delicate fish skin shoes on a bed of hand dyed sand to represent her ‘one fish skin journey,’ a rather poetic and meaningful touch to the magic she created within the gallery space.

'Coming Home,' the Icelandic Wolfish skin shoes that tied the show together.

'Coming Home,' the Icelandic Wolfish skin shoes that tied the show together.

I highly recommend visiting Claire McArdle's inspiring show and taking the chance to say goodbye to the Adelaide site of Gray Street Workshop. The gallery will be open from Friday to Sunday until the 25th of June, 2017. I wish the Gray Street girls success for their new adventure and hope that they enjoy the change of pace at their Thebarton studio.

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!