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!

The Ritual of Tea - JamFactory

If you plan to be in Adelaide anytime before the 4th of June, I highly recommend paying JamFactory a visit. They are currently holding a diverse group of exhibitions: Resolved: Journeys in Australian Design, which delves into the design process behind the works of twelve contemporary designers, NC4 Kick out the Jams which features the boundary pushing jewellery of the eleven artists from the renowned contemporary jewellery studio, Northcity4, and The Ritual of Tea, a show about…. well… the ritual of tea! 

I was really looking forward to seeing all of the shows, however, was most impressed by the exhibition I had heard the least about; The Ritual of Tea. Displayed in the front gallery, Collect, the exhibition featured works by artists Susan Frost, Studiokyss, Sylvia Nevistic, Ulrica Trulsson, Bruce Nuske, Sophia Nuske, Alison Jackson, Ghostwares and Yoko Ozawa

Sylvia Nevistic's stunningly handmade teaspoons. I love how she has carried intricate detail from the bowl of each spoon right up to the handle. Photograph courtesy of Anna Fenech.

What impressed me most about this particular show was each artist’s unique ability to perfectly balance outstanding craftsmanship with functionality and beautiful aesthetics. It was apparent that each artist had deeply considered the act of tea making and drinking while the curator had shown just as much consideration for the placement of the works. The display was simple, elegant and the show is definitely worth a visit.

Yoko Ozawa has used a subtle combination of matte and gloss glazes in her collection of black and white stoneware. These are some of my favorite pieces out of the whole show and my photographs do not do them justice.

I had the pleasure of meeting Alison Jackson when she had an exhibition at Gray Street Workshop last year. I have always been a fan of her playful use of traditional silversmithing techniques and love how she has combined silver with white acrylic in her teapot.

Exquisitely handmade Hendecagon Tea Canisters by Kenny Yong-soo Son from StudioKyss. Kenny has constructed these canisters with machine-like precision.

Ulrica Trulsson's porcellaneous stoneware canisters are perfectly balanced and look great as a collection. Ulrica is a talented craftsperson who is highly skilled at creating beautifully proportioned forms.

NC4 Kick out the Jams and Resolved: Journeys in Australian Design close on the 9th of July, 2017, however, if you want to catch all three shows, make sure you visit before the 4th of June 2017 as The Ritual of Tea has an earlier closing date

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.