The Next Big Thing...

For much of the year I have been keeping a pretty huge secret and I am both ecstatic and relieved to finally share it with you!

The lease is signed, the keys are collected and I am thrilled to announce that in August this year, I will be opening up my very own studio, gallery and teaching space in Glenelg South.

Positioned perfectly amongst a cute little group of shops and just a short walk from the beach, the gallery will be a space for purchasing exquisite handmade jewellery and rediscovering your creative side. I am currently working with local artisans to help me with custom built displays and furniture and have been busily welding up some new goodies to make it my own.

My little shop. There is lots to do but it will look great when its all done.

My little shop. There is lots to do but it will look great when its all done.

There is a large room at the front of the shop where I will host classes, set up my studio and display my work for customers to see. Out the back is a smaller room, which will be used for heavier machinery and hammering, as well as a little veranda where students can enjoy a cup of tea in the sunlight. 

There is a large room at the front of the shop where I will host classes, set up my studio and display my work for customers to see. Out the back is a smaller room, which will be used for heavier machinery and hammering, as well as a little veranda where students can enjoy a cup of tea in the sunlight. 

This new space is a great opportunity for a fresh start, bringing you all of the awesomeness promised in my crowd funding campaign, only better. As originally planned, I still want the space to be inviting, nurturing and community orientated, however, I am also nutting out some potential extra features such as day bench/tool hire and an area where I can consult with clients. Having my own venue will also allow more flexibility to offer extra classes and specialty workshops with guest tutors in future.

I've been welding up some new goodies for the gallery. Can you guess what these will be?

I've been welding up some new goodies for the gallery. Can you guess what these will be?

Class dates and the big launch party will be announced in the not too distant future, so stay tuned and make sure you subscribe to my mailing list so that you don’t miss out!

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.

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)

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!

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!