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.

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.

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.

And the Winner is......!!

Last month I ran my first Instagram jewellery competition to celebrate the opening of my online store. I had quite a few entries, but there could only be one winner.

We Have a Winner

Congratulations to the lovely Khadijah Khalid from my home state, Western Australia, who is now the proud owner of these lovely earrings!

Instagram from Khadijah

A New Year, New Branding and a New Beginning

2014 was a super busy year, with a big move from Fremantle; I said goodbye to my friends and lecturing jobs then packed up my studio and moved to beautiful Adelaide, a small yet surprisingly exciting city. I settled in at my new studio at JamFactory an interesting and inspiring place to say the least.

My lovely big old studio in WA being packed up (top left) and my tiny new studio at JamFactory. It was a struggle to fit everything in but I did it!!

My lovely big old studio in WA being packed up (top left) and my tiny new studio at JamFactory. It was a struggle to fit everything in but I did it!!

This guy soon followed and has thoroughly enjoyed his daily ritual of greeting Paddy at 6am and asking whether he would like a ‘cup of coffee.’ I am not too sure whether Paddy enjoyed the wakeup calls from George.

George being creepy as usual.

George being creepy as usual.

Highlights of the year included fabulous workshops in Repousse with Nancy Megan Corwin and Korean Metal Craft with Master Cho and Kenny Son from StudioKyss as well as making friends with a bunch of crazy ladies and man at the Jam.

Samples and hand made tools from the 'Conveying Korean Metal Craft' workshop with Kenny Son and Master Cho.

Samples and hand made tools from the 'Conveying Korean Metal Craft' workshop with Kenny Son and Master Cho.

Progress shots from the  Nancy Megan Corwin  Repousse workshop as well as some Repousse earrings that I displayed at the  Zu Design  Christmas Show.

Progress shots from the Nancy Megan Corwin Repousse workshop as well as some Repousse earrings that I displayed at the Zu Design Christmas Show.

I started a part time job working on environmentally sustainable jewellery, including wedding and engagement rings at Studio Eco which just happens to be located in the best street (with the best coffee) in Adelaide, Ebenezer Place.

A new location and new skills helped me to design and make some exciting new ranges.

Learning how to weld big stuff!

Learning how to weld big stuff!

Action shots from the bench. Each little piece of metal is hand cut and soldered.

Action shots from the bench. Each little piece of metal is hand cut and soldered.

With many long days and much thought, I have also re-branded to suit my new collection with the help of fantastic graphic designer and faux auntie, Jo Collins.

Fabulous new Branding by Jo Collins

Fabulous new Branding by Jo Collins

After a long year, paddy and I decided to go on a bit of a road trip to Melbourne and had a bit of well earned rest whilst visiting places such as the creepiest koala in Australia which was definitely the highlight of my trip... not sure about paddy’s?! We also saw in the New Year right under the fireworks in the CBD which threatened to shoot debris at us until we moved down the road a bit.

Road trip with the Padsta.

Road trip with the Padsta.

Plans for 2015? I’m glad you asked. There are many things in the pipeline including some competition entries, new ranges, a trip to Sydney for the fantastic Jewellery and Metalsmiths Group of Australia Conference, as well as a studio move at the end of January. Looks like it’s going to be an exciting year!