Term Two of Handmade Jewellery for Beginners Starts Next Week - Don't Miss Out!

My goodness, Term one has just flown by! We recently finished up with the first round of Handmade Jewellery for Beginners and had a lovely group of ladies come together each week to share their projects and stories. The class got off to a flying start with an introduction to the versatile art of ring making, a great beginners’ project. We then ran through some great techniques which helped students develop their own designs to finish with and everyone left with a very personalised piece of jewellery.

This term has also been jam packed with private classes which are a great opportunity for students to work with me, one on one, to take their jewellery skills to the next level. Two of my private students, Vesna and Lilly, have been working on their very own bezel set rings which introduced them to a wide range of useful skills while also leaving them with their very own custom-made ring at the end of the project.

The lovely Lilly Buttrose setting her first cabochon gemstone during our one on one class together.

The lovely Lilly Buttrose setting her first cabochon gemstone during our one on one class together.

Lilly’s beautiful finished silver ring.

Lilly’s beautiful finished silver ring.

Vesna’s gorgeous chrysoprase and brass ring all ready for setting.

Vesna’s gorgeous chrysoprase and brass ring all ready for setting.

If you are needing some time out for yourself and feel inspired to develop your sense of creativity, you have just over a week to sign up for the next round of Handmade Jewellery for Beginners. Running over seven weeks from 6-9pm on Wednesday evenings, the class is a great place to start your jewellery making journey within the relaxed, social environment of my Studio Gallery in Glenelg South.

I have also just added some new dates for my one day classes, Make Your Own Earrings and Make a Bezel Set Pendant, as well as the term three dates for Handmade Jewellery for Beginners for your to mark in your calendars.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Claire Brooks Studio Gallery and look forward to seeing you next class!

A Bespoke Necklace for a Very Special Lady

Choosing to be a contemporary jeweller is certainly the road less travelled as far as career paths go. The journey is long, thoroughly rewarding and cannot be travelled alone. I am extremely lucky to have a great group of family and friends who have helped me along the way and if there’s one person who’s always had faith in my ability to turn my passion into a self-sustaining career, it is my lovely Mother.

Given our close relationship and shared passion for jewellery, Mum is usually the lucky recipient of my new prototypes or any pieces that never quite makes it to market for one reason or another. Though she is always very grateful, on the odd occasion I also like to take the time to make her a specially designed bespoke piece, and late last year I did just that.

Poor Mum has spent many hours being dragged along for yet another beach collecting expedition and as a result has become quite the fan of my Plastic Soup jewellery. Over the years she has developed an eagle eye for microplastics and at times gets more exciting than I do when she finds ‘a good one.’ It seemed only fitting that her next piece was to be a Plastic Soup necklace.

When constructing my Plastic Soup or Interlace Adornment, I always begin with a pile of sticks which I cut, file level and sand. I then create the tiny little boxes which will contain a precious collection of microplastics.

It all starts with a pile of silver sticks.

It all starts with a pile of silver sticks.

The box shapes are loosely based on the shapes of phytoplankton: the tiny organisms which sea creatures believe they are eating when in fact, they are ingesting microplastics. For mum’s piece, we decided on circular boxes and so I constructed a variety of sizes to suit the necklace.

To form the tiny windows of the boxes, I have sourced industry offcuts of thin acrylic which I use sparingly to minimise my contribution to the plastic problem. I hand cut the acrylic and then file it until it fits perfectly within the outer ring shape. I then create another, slightly smaller ring which sits within the large ring and forms a ledge for the acrylic to rest on to avoid crushing the tiny plastic fragments within.

Each box is originally made from flat sheet silver which I bend into a ring to form the circular shapes. To be able to solder the inner and outer ring together, one has to fit perfectly within the other.

Each box is originally made from flat sheet silver which I bend into a ring to form the circular shapes. To be able to solder the inner and outer ring together, one has to fit perfectly within the other.

The boxes fit just right and are ready to be soldered together.

The boxes fit just right and are ready to be soldered together.

Once all the components are ready, I bring them to the soldering bench. I first create a seaweed like structure to form the geometric foundation of the piece, then strategically position each box on the structure to give the illusion of the plastics being snagged within a seaweed tangle. As all of the Plastic Soup pieces are handmade and unique, they will sometimes come together perfectly and other times look a little unbalanced. At this point I will cut pieces off and reposition the components until I am satisfied with the composition.

The beginnings of an interlacing seaweed structure (and some earrings on the side).

The beginnings of an interlacing seaweed structure (and some earrings on the side).

Once the seaweed framework is constructed, I begin to play with a very sophisticated tacking substance (blutack) to experiment with the position of the boxes.

Once the seaweed framework is constructed, I begin to play with a very sophisticated tacking substance (blutack) to experiment with the position of the boxes.

Choosing where to hang the seaweed structure from can be a little tricky and it is always important to ensure that the piece hangs well when worn. Once I have decided on a suitable position, I attach the chain, check that all of my joins are well soldered and then construction is complete.

Now that the boxes are soldered in place and the pendant is well balanced on the chain, the piece is ready for filing and sanding.

Now that the boxes are soldered in place and the pendant is well balanced on the chain, the piece is ready for filing and sanding.

From there the most time consuming part of the process begins: clean-up. I file off any excess solder and scratches to the surface of the metal then sand the piece to remove the file marks. Any surface scratches will distract from the overall effect of the whole piece so I really take my time, spending days to ensure that the finish is consistent. This can be rather fiddly given the intricacy of the interlacing structure and so I have developed a range of tiny sanding tools to access those hard to reach places.

Once I am completely satisfied with the finish, I blacken the necklace and begin to choose the precious but deadly plastic collection to sit within the boxes: In this case, turquoise, blues and greens.

A freshly blackened seaweed structure ready for setting.

A freshly blackened seaweed structure ready for setting.

I then dust the piece and set the acrylic on the underside of the boxes. From there I carefully place the tiny collection of microplastics in their new home and close the lid. The protective tape is removed from the acrylic and the final piece is revealed.

The finished necklace all ready to wear. Photograph courtesy of  Bianca Hoffrichter .

The finished necklace all ready to wear. Photograph courtesy of Bianca Hoffrichter.

It was a little while in the making but Mum was thrilled when she received her bespoke Plastic Soup Necklace. The colours and length of the chain suited her perfectly and she ‘feels wonderful wearing the piece.’ It means so much to me to have her support and knowing how proud she feels when wearing my jewellery makes my day. Thanks Mum!

If you would like to commission a Plastic Soup piece of your very own, please contact me to make an appointment.

Artists who Inspire - Ellie Kammer and Crowdfunding

One of our very talented artists at Karma and Crow Studio Collective, painter, Ellie Kammer, has recently launched a Crowdfunding Campaign to explore new work and build on her portfolio to present to galleries for representation.

During my time at Karma and Crow studio collective, I have watched Ellie work incredibly hard to establish herself as a contemporary artist and advocate for women with endometriosis: a debilitating disease which she and 176 million other women (1) suffer from. She has had many successes along the way, but in a chronically underfunded field, also needs a leg up to help her pave the way to a sustainable career which is both meaningful, cathartic and thought provoking.

Endometriosis (Coagulate), by Ellie Kammer, 2016. Oil on Linen. 200cm x 150cm.

Endometriosis (Coagulate), by Ellie Kammer, 2016. Oil on Linen. 200cm x 150cm.

Endometriosis (Volatility), by Ellie Kammer, 2017. Oil on Linen, 121cm x 101cm.

Endometriosis (Volatility), by Ellie Kammer, 2017. Oil on Linen, 121cm x 101cm.

Endometriosis (Quiscence), by Ellie Kammer, 2017. Oil on Belgian Linen, 198cm x 137cm.

Endometriosis (Quiscence), by Ellie Kammer, 2017. Oil on Belgian Linen, 198cm x 137cm.

The wonderful thing about supporting Ellie’s crowd funding campaign is that you are not only helping an extremely talented young artist to reach her true potential (a reward in itself) but you will also be rewarded with beautiful paintings, prints and other exciting goodies. It’s a win-win situation.

Watching Ellie put her reputation on the line with unflinching courage and determination is incredibly inspiring. With the funds from this campaign, she can continue to develop and perfect her fantastic artworks whilst raising awareness about this terrible disease.

Head on over to Ellie’s Crowd funding campaign to read all about why she does what she does and you too can make a contribution to help this talented lady inspire more people with her work.

 

(1) https://www.endofound.org/endometriosis (accessed 02/10/17)

My Super Exciting News and How You Can Help Make it Happen

As you might have been able to tell, this month I am pretty darn excited! The reason being that, in February next year, I will be starting up jewellery classes from my lovely workshop, Karma & Crow Studio Collective, here in South Australia. The cafe and studio already have such a fantastic community feel which is a great environment to work in and given my teaching background, I really want to give back to our community by sharing my skills and experience. The joy and satisfaction I find in making jewellery just has to be shared with others.

My tool collection for workshops is slowly growing but I need your help to raise funds for more.

My tool collection for workshops is slowly growing but I need your help to raise funds for more.

I have a busy road ahead in order to get the project up and running and would love your help! There are two ways you can help me to set up a wonderful workshop area for my students:

1. Keep an eye out for my Crowd Funding Campaign where I will be offering a whole range of my handmade jewellery as well as exclusive classes as a big thank you for your donation. The campaign will coincide perfectly with your Christmas shopping so you can pick up a beautiful present for  someone special (or yourself) while supporting a local creative (that's me). 

2. If you are a jeweller or hobbyist, you can donate your old (preferably functioning) jewellery tools that you no longer need. I will organise to have them collected, all you need to do is send me a quick email with a photograph of the tools you are willing to donate and your details.

Just add tools and our workshop area will be ready for classes. Photograph courtesy of  Bianca Hoffrichter .

Just add tools and our workshop area will be ready for classes. Photograph courtesy of Bianca Hoffrichter.

Stay tuned for more information about my crowd funding campaign. With your help we can make this happen! 

You're Invited to Solastalgia @ Murray Bridge Regional Gallery

It’s not long now before our exhibition, Solastalgia, opens over at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery and we would love for you to join us. Running until the 15th of October, 2017, the show will be opened by Leah Grace on Sunday the 3rd of September and features a range of very different responses to the pertinent issue of climate change.

Solastalgia Exhibition Invitation Front
Solastalgia Exhibition Invite Back

You can read all about the tour on my news feed and we hope to see you there.
 

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.

Our Show is on the Move

After the success of Solastalgia, the exhibition we held at Gray Street Workshop earlier this year, our small group of environmentally inspired artists have decided to take our show on the road. Up next the exhibition will tour to the beautiful Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, South Australia, where it will run from Friday the 1st of September, 2017, to Sunday the 15th of October 2017.

To keep the show fresh, each artist will be adding to their initial collection and we will also be encouraging a select group of regional artists to respond to their experience of climate change. For this leg of the tour, Lesa Farrant has made a collection of plant specimens from debris found along her local coastline, Jo Wilmot has developed some photographic works to contextualise her porcelain installation and I have added a range of Plastic Soup wearables to accompany my sculptures.

Lesa Farrant's beautiful porcelain 'Lycium Ferocissimum' recently shown at our Gray Street Workshop Show.

Lesa Farrant's beautiful porcelain 'Lycium Ferocissimum' recently shown at our Gray Street Workshop Show.

One of Lesa's new pieces, 'Brown Algae 1,' made from plastics and other detritus found along the coastline. Photograph courtesy of Heidi Wolff.

One of Lesa's new pieces, 'Brown Algae 1,' made from plastics and other detritus found along the coastline. Photograph courtesy of Heidi Wolff.

Jo Wilmot's wall installation, 'Last Chance to See,' from our last show. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Jo Wilmot's wall installation, 'Last Chance to See,' from our last show. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

One of Jo's beautiful photographic works which will be displayed alongside her original collection.

One of Jo's beautiful photographic works which will be displayed alongside her original collection.

A close up of my 'Plastic Soup' Sculpture from the original show. Photograph courtesy of Jo Wilmot.

A close up of my 'Plastic Soup' Sculpture from the original show. Photograph courtesy of Jo Wilmot.

Some 'Plastic Soup' jewels will be accompanying my sculptures at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery Show. Photograph courtesy of  Perth Product Photography .

Some 'Plastic Soup' jewels will be accompanying my sculptures at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery Show. Photograph courtesy of Perth Product Photography.

For more information about the show and the tour, you can head over to the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery's website or keep an eye on my news feed.

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