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.

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)

Private Jewellery Classes @ Karma & Crow Studio Collective

Good news, Adelaide friends! As of this week, I will be running one on one jewellery classes from my studio in Richmond. I will teach you a range of different skills such as how to design, beginner to advanced soldering, filing, sanding, riveting and basic stone setting just to name a few. Whether you are an absolute beginner or an experienced maker wanting to brush up on your skills, contact me to arrange your first class.

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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!