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.

Private Jewellery Tuition Flyer.jpg

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.

My First International Show

Ahh, 2016; a year that was meant to be filled with making product, releasing a bridal range and approaching a few more galleries around Australia to stock my work. As is usually the case, life had other plans and I had the honour of being invited to exhibit with a group of established South Australian Jewellers at a fantastic new space, San W Gallery, which has recently opened their doors in Pudong, China. How could I say no?

San W Gallery is an absolutely stunning space with a fully equipped teaching studio, specialising in jewellery, glass and ceramics. Their passionate founder, Yiwei Wu, has worked closely with South Australian craft and design association, Guild House, to ensure that the space is a world-class facility. 1

San W Gallery in Pudong, China. Image courtesy of San W Gallery.

The exhibition, Nature, featured eleven contemporary jewellers, Julie Blyfield, Catherine Buddle, Jess Dare, Christian Hall, Kath Inglis, Sue Lorraine, Leslie Matthews, Alice Potter, Regine Schwarzer, Lauren Simeoni and myself. Each artist was invited based on their creativity, innovativeness and craftsmanship and the work showed great variety in technique and style. 2

A new Plastic Soup Brooch I made for the show at San W Gallery

The gallery had some beautiful images taken of my exhibition pieces worn by a model. Image courtesy of San W Gallery.

I am also excited to report that after the success of the show, the gallery have asked to display a collection of my work in their retail space and soon to be launched online store. While I am supplying them with some of my original Interlace styles, I will also be releasing some new asymmetrical earrings. I think I will definitely be keeping a pair of these for myself!

Thanks to Yiwei, the San W Gallery and Guildhouse for a fantastic show!

My new Asymmetrical Interlace Earrings for San W Gallery

 

(1 http://guildhouse.org.au/projects/san-w-gallerystudio, accessed 04.04.2017)

(2 http://guildhouse.org.au/projects/nature-san-w-studio-jewellery-exhibition-pudong-shanghai-28-may, accessed 04.04.17)

Solastalgia at Gray Street Workshop

I was approached recently by contemporary jeweller and emerging curator, Jo Wilmot, to be in a group exhibition with the theme of climate change. Given how close the theme is to both my heart and work, I naturally jumped at the chance. Together with jo, contemporary jeweller, Leonie Westbrook and contemporary ceramicist, Lesa Farrant, we began working on a collection to be displayed at the intimate gallery space at Gray Street Workshop.

The exhibition with my work at the front, Leonie's to the left and Jo's to the right. Photograph courtesy of Catherine Truman.

After much contemplation, we agreed on a name for the show, Solastalgia, a term developed by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht. “The word describes a form of psychic or existential distress caused by environmental change, such as mining or climate change... people exposed to environmental change experienced negative affects that are exacerbated by a sense of powerlessness or lack of control as the change occurs” 1 The term described perfectly the feeling of unease we all had in response to climate change, giving us a language to describe the distress we face given our current environmental situation.

Lesa Farrant's wall pieces with one of my sculptures tucked in there. Photograph courtesy of Leonie Westbrook.

Though we all started with a similar concept, it was inspiring to see how each artist approached the theme; applying their own skill, personal experience and passion for the issue.

Leonie Westbrook worked with a variety of materials, some discarded and others that she struggled to give away. During her research, Leonie discovered a rather concerning trend of people selling faux beach treasure which she was appalled by considering the abundance of rubbish already circulating our oceans. Her work for our show experimented with how domestic items could be reused and transformed. The results were subtle and beautiful.

Leonie Westbrook's beautiful installation. Photograph courtesy of Jo Wilmot.

Lesa Farrant spent her days combing her local beaches for plastic treasure, organic forms, noxious weeds and other items which had been introduced to the coastline. She then slip cast her bounty in delicate white porcelain, transforming what was once a pile of rubbish into stunning hybrid compositions.

One of Lesa Farrant's amazing porcelain compositions. Photograph courtesy of Catherine Truman.

Jo Wilmot collected impressions of sponges and seaweeds such as bull kelp, casting them in dark ‘oil slick black’ porcelain. Jo has been deeply troubled by the state of our oceans due to rising sea temperatures and used black to symbolise the resulted deadening of such beautiful lifeforms. She then set them within handmade brass ‘exhaust pipes.’ The pieces are magnificent and thought provoking.

Jo Wilmot's 'oil slick black' porcelain and brass looked striking against a freshly painted black wall. Photograph courtesy of Jo Wilmot.

I too spent time combing my local beaches and further explored the idea of how to display the deadly jewel-like plastics which are circulating our oceans. I used this opportunity to increase the scale of my pieces resulting in a tangle of steel seaweed and plastic which cast the most beautiful of shadows.

A close up of one of my steel and beach plastic sculptures. Photograph courtesy of  Jo Wilmot.

A close up of one of my steel and beach plastic sculptures. Photograph courtesy of Jo Wilmot.

The show opened at Gray Street Workshop, Adelaide, on Thursday the 30th of March, 2017, and closes on the 7th of May, 2017

.Follow the Solastalgia girls on Instagram to see works in progress and our future plans for the show @solastalgiaexhibition

 

1 https://www.nla.gov.au/content/solastalgia-extreme-weather-and-the-writer-s-role-in-a-climate-changed (accessed 25/04/17)

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!

Michael's Wedding Ring

After twenty years of service and three years of it cutting his finger, my Step Father, Michael, decided to finally bite the bullet and have his wedding ring refurbished. Though it looked beautiful and ornate to begin with, the 9ct gold ‘rope’ inlay on Michael’s original ring wore away over time and would regularly come apart leaving sharp bits of metal exposed.

Normally, a much easier and more economical way to go about fixing a ring like this would be to remelt it and start again with a less fragile design. In Michael’s case though, the ring had an important and sentimental message engraved inside that he wanted to keep. The solution? A technique that I have been known to have had bad dreams about: the gold inlay.

The original ring complete with engraving and sharp bit of gold 'rope' sticking out

The original ring complete with engraving and sharp bit of gold 'rope' sticking out

To start with I had to remove the original 'rope' inlay. Luckily not all of it was soldered down so I was able to pull it apart with pliers

To start with I had to remove the original 'rope' inlay. Luckily not all of it was soldered down so I was able to pull it apart with pliers

The bits that were soldered down needed to be completely filed away, leaving the very thin engraved ring underneath

The bits that were soldered down needed to be completely filed away, leaving the very thin engraved ring underneath

I then made a half round ring that fit perfectly into the channel of the original ring

I then made a half round ring that fit perfectly into the channel of the original ring

I soldered the two together ensuring that there were no holes in the solder then filed away excess once it was cooled.

I soldered the two together ensuring that there were no holes in the solder then filed away excess once it was cooled.

I then sanded and polished the ring. It was offensively shiny which isn't really Michael's style (or mine!!) so I masked the ring off and dulled the inlay down to a slightly matte finish while leaving the edges polished. Much better!

I then sanded and polished the ring. It was offensively shiny which isn't really Michael's style (or mine!!) so I masked the ring off and dulled the inlay down to a slightly matte finish while leaving the edges polished. Much better!

The finished ring all ready for sending. Now that has been refurbished, he should get at least another 20 years out of it.

The finished ring all ready for sending. Now that has been refurbished, he should get at least another 20 years out of it.

Gray Street Workshop

I had some great news recently that I have been accepted to become a tenant at Gray Street Workshop in Adelaide with partners Catherine Truman, Sue Lorraine and Jess Dare and fellow tenants Nadja Maher, Lisa Furno and Kelly Jonasson.

Gray Street Workshop ... Not actually in Gray Street anymore, just to be confusing.

Gray Street Workshop... Not actually in Gray Street anymore, just to be confusing.

Given that my equipment has been packed into Paddy's car since I moved out of the JamFactory and I have been emailing, blogging, Instagramming and carving FrogCakes on my very uncomfortable couch for a few months now, I jumped at the chance of moving in as soon as humanly possible.

My Cosy little space.

My Cosy little space.

So far, everyone has been really welcoming and the place has been busy with their 30 year anniversary celebrations. In only the first two weeks that I was there, we had an exhibition opening of the Partners' experimental work as well as four movie nights curated by a favorite contemporary maker of mine, Sim Luttin.

My new  profile  picture for the Gray Street Website taken by the lovely Catherine Truman. I believe I am getting excited about plastic.

My new profile picture for the Gray Street Website taken by the lovely Catherine Truman. I believe I am getting excited about plastic.

I have also spent the last few months in manufacturing overdrive, trying to catch up with orders so that the fun stuff can begin. Stay tuned!