Archive for January, 2018

Glimpses of potential

Back at the day job + warm weather = slow progress

Object 2 of the embargoed project has been a roller-coaster. There are competing practicalities of sturdiness and weight – last night I was thinking of abandoning the attempt, today a balance seems closer. Basic construction is close to complete, but lots of finishing ahead.

It’s been an opportunity to try out a new tool – a ClampTite. This elegant little steel and brass number helps you bind wire around – well, nice firm tubes are easiest, but pretty much anything as long as you have space to work it. My project wasn’t ideal, but still a big improvement both visually and in effectiveness over my hand bound attempt on the left in the photo.

Play continues on the potential project. I’ve been thinking about all the materials and techniques I’ve been using in the last couple of years, also how I want to work (Ruth Hadlow’s streams). It might seem like I’ve been going in all sorts of directions, but things circle round, come together, inform each other, find some kind of balance…

Process and play


A good week, but not a lot I can show. Still it seems to be an important thing for me to pause and review on a regular basis.

The unmentionable object first glimpsed 26-Dec-2017 has been completed. The project is still under embargo, so no details (except for the photo above, which is all details). It follows that the second object I’m making for this project must also remain in the shadows.

Thinking about another potential project has begun, but that isn’t confirmed yet so… nothing to see here 😦

Instead a little general musing about process and play. How does one approach an exhibition theme? What does a viewer expect – and should I consider that?

One approach to the theme could include mind-maps and mood boards and sketches and plans. Not appealing (makes me feel claustrophobic) and I think something directly connected, even narrative, isn’t for me. I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learnt from Ruth Hadlow (see 25-Feb-2016 among other posts). So treat the theme as the beginning of a chain of thought and experimentation, and see what I’ve got when time is about up.

“Creativity” – definitions generally seem to involve creating something (physical or otherwise) new or novel and somehow of value or use. Imagination may be mentioned. But how much is truly novel? Play, curiosity and problem solving seem more relevant. And I love applying ideas or techniques learnt in a different area.

Quite a bit of reflecting, not much writing. To finish this lopsided and vague post, a pointer to something worth your time if in Sydney – Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age: masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum, at AGNSW until 18 February. I’ve been a few times – not directly inspirational, but for the interest of art history and the simple pleasure of looking.

Folding metal for objects & jewellery making with Christian Hall

This was my third time at Sturt summer school. The first was in 2012, Contemporary Weave with Liz Williamson (14-Jan-2012). The second, last year, was Basketry with Brooke Munro (15-Jan-2017).

It was the same lovely space at Frensham school in Mittagong. The general atmosphere was purposeful, happy and welcoming. The class was out of my comfort zone – a beginner, but I thought with some relevant experience from last year’s Welding Sculpture with Paul Hopmeier (22-Jan-2017) and working in wire during Steeling Beauty with Keith Lo Bue (23-Apr-2017). (Yes, I’m clearly a workshop fanatic).

So why am I back in Sydney writing up this experience, when I should still be in Mittagong giving the final polish to my work before the open-class walkaround that closes the week?

It’s going to take some time to think through many details, but I think fundamentally it was a bad match of my skills and ability to the major projects of the class. Although billed as suitable for all levels, I was the only beginner and it showed. There was clumsiness, mistakes, eyesight issues and lots of frustration. There was also learning, lots of camaraderie and support, and a good tutor. Combine all of these with a workroom which needs some tlc in arrangement and tools, and weather that hit 38° C yesterday with 40° C forecast today. Plus a particularly fraught afternoon yesterday. My final sample could have been finished in the time available today, but only with so much assistance from others that it would only theoretically be my work. So much less learning than ideal – and in that heat!

Class work 1

That’s not saying there was no learning or making. Above is my sample from the first day, made by folding a strip of copper, extensive hammering of selected areas, repeated annealing, and finally partially opening the fold. There were pretty results around the room, and some students returned to this technique repeatedly over the coming days. (those working much faster than me)

Sample day 2

On the second day we used hammering around a die to make a shallow dish, carefully sized to act as a lid to some brass tubing Christian supplied. The end result with two dishes/lids or one lid and one soldered base was intended as a tea caddy or similar.

The idea of precision and tight fits alarmed me, so I decided to experiment with using “too much” copper to see how the material behaved. Some beautiful folds, complemented by the roller embossing with leaves that Christian also demonstrated. On the left is the photo above is Christian’s sample. On the right is my response 🙂

The following two days, and what would have continued today, was my “major work” – hammered brass, scored, folded and soldered into a square tube, then soldered onto a base. Nothing fit to photograph due to a sorry (and for anyone else boring) tale of woe.

All is not doom and gloom. Since arriving home I’ve sourced and enrolled in a silver smithing course in February – three Saturday mornings at Sydney Community College. With the benefit of hindsight, just what I should have done before the Sturt class!


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