Archive for the 'Jewellery' Category

The space between orange and turquoise

I’ve been using kato clay, a brand specifically encouraging colour mixing with 8 “spectral” colours and a detailed colour mixing page (http://katopolyclay.com/index.php/tips-techniques/color-mixing/mixing-chart). But that only circles the colour chart. I love the colours in between as well.

With my first packs I made colour chips of blends with white and black for each colour. It took a little longer, but I now have a set of samples for every pair of colours. For each pair three strips – 100% colour, adding in half as much white, and adding in the same amount of white.

28 pairs mixed with the same amount of white.

If I want green, I could start with the clay labelled green
or the olive green hidden between yellow and black
or yellow mixed with greens or blues

just the beginning of greens

or I can start being a bit more adventurous. In fact the “green” clay turns out to be a very exciting mixer.

some of the green mixes

Green and magenta looks pretty. For each of the light strips I have the same colour pairs with 50% and zero white.

green and magenta

They are a great head-start when trying for a particular colour.

The “Skinner method” (named after the woman who developed and shared it) is a core polymer clay technique. As well as making the colour reference chips I used some of my results when attempting some kaleidoscope cane building.

These are enormous fun, created in a very free and exploratory way. Each set shown above uses just a pair of colours plus white. These are based on videos from Fiona Abel-Smith and Teresa Pandora Salgado.

On an aside, the power of the reflection/mirroring of the kaleidoscope and the pattern-finding of the human eye is amazing. I gave my husband a little clay demo, talking and fairly randomly grabbing scraps on the worktable. The end result:

Yellow and violet were used in a tutorial from Alice Stroppel

Purple and violet
Blend in progress
cane pretty much done

Actually that colour mix was a blast from the past – some silk thread dyeing ten years ago (27-Jan-2011 and on, concluding with final gamp shawl 20-Feb-2011)

A lot of the experiments remain in cane form, with just a few slices taken to make the kaleidoscopes, however I did have some fun combining an earlier Alice Stroppel experiment with some basketry techniques. The central clay medallion was baked with wires already in place.

OK, full disclosure – some earrings appeared too.

Leftover clay from pair mixing blends was used to make a cover for my latest research notes.

The research is around poignant / evocative and objects / things / stuff / sculpture… so I found it amusing to make the folder/holder of readings and notes into an object in its own right. (obvious future making note is to consider shrinkage).

Back to colour exploration, I should have mentioned making a series of chips showing values from white to black.

samples ready for baking in the oven

For that I somewhat laboriously cut out multiple squares.

In most mixing I’ve used the cutter while developing a colour, but when replicating in bulk a mix that was 1 part Turquoise, 32 parts Orange, 48 parts White and 16 parts Yellow I baulked. Happily the graph paper under my glass allows for more efficient cutting of sheets of clay. A 4 x 12 cm rectangle of white takes a matter of moments to cut.

That mix recipe neatly segues to my title topic. The beautiful space between orange and turquoise. It’s dawn or sunset, not mud.

A raw patchwork clump

became a beautiful little dish, about 7 cm across.

There are plans and experiments for making it into some other things,

possibly in combination with a cane made of leftovers, based on Alice Stroppel’s signature method

But I got distracted by a Clay Zoo tutorial (making a tree leaf necklace) using colours in this space, but with some very clever techniques along the way. One is the use of 3 colours in the blending, which has the effect of emphasising the turquoise end and reducing the oranges. The second is creating a leaf cane with colours changing down through it, meaning thick slices cut give leaves of different colours in the final cane.

This meant I needed to revisit my blend samples to get more precise mix ratios for my start colours.

The numbers are drawn into the clay before baking, and index to my colour mixing note recipe book. Across the top is a controlled set of mixing steps, at the bottom, the colours I eventually used.

Yesterday’s end-of-day results

Going to what attracts

Last month’s post had a rather cerebral, methodical, contemplative tone. I was faced with input, reading around it, developing responses. There was a similar, sedate follow-up post planed and partially written.

This morning I was overtaken by a kind of creative hunger. An overwhelming mad rush – try this, no try this, OK not good what about this, or this, or… And I ended with this:

It was important that this photo showed the bracelet on skin. My mini-photo booth was partially dismantled, one arm stuck through the side seam – but this is not an inert object. It demands warmth, insists upon its tactile nature.

I’m in the eerily quiet calm after the storm, trying to piece together what happened. Afterwards I walked through warm Sydney sunshine, held by my new bangle. My first use of memory wire, it gently presses the double-cone shaped beads into my skin, they roll against me – an embrace, holding me together. The swirl beads are polymer clay, made with leftovers from my latest project, baked in the oven this morning. No sanding or polishing, the simple matt finish left by the touch of my hands as I formed them. They feel warm against the skin. I have a sense of repletion, satisfaction, looking at the variations in scale and finish. The blue/green beads have a faint striation in them giving a glow, reflecting the striations of the cones.

I walked in warm winter sunshine, the air not quite still. Welcoming. Coffee sitting outside a local café, back to the sun, by my special request ceramic rather than takeaway cup. Today some of Sydney went into lockdown – both my sons, given where they work. At the moment I’m clear, but a friend who paused to chat as she was walking her dog went to her CBD office last week so will be in lockdown from midnight. Her husband is already in the mountains, on their planned weekend getaway.

I walked and sat and read and chatted and all the while felt the bangle. Felt a warm, active embrace – not exactly of mum, and not of memory of mum, but that new relationship or internal understanding or that kind of good hurt that isn’t tearing or scary but somehow a confirmation of being alive. I was thinking of mum, aware of missing her desperately, but also – well, at times I’ve felt a void, lost in emptiness, then more recently I read Gaston Bachelard: “The word vast, then, is a vocable of breath. It is placed on our breathing, which must be slowed and calm. And the fact is that always, in Baudelaire’s poetics, the word vast evokes calm, peace and serenity. It expresses a vital, intimate conviction. It transmits to our ears the echo of the secret recesses of our being. For this words bears the mark of gravity, it is the enemy of turmoil, opposed to the vocal exaggerations of declamation. In diction enslaved to strict measure, it would be shattered. The word vast must reign over the peaceful silence of being.” So I’ve been thinking – not of filling the void. Seeing instead my own internal vast. Inhabiting it. Making connections. Open to correspondence. Letting go a bit, so my relationship is strengthened, developed.

Let’s backtrack a bit on the making. The polymer clay beads were made from leftovers from this:

The making and baking completed yesterday. This morning off the glass bowl I used as a form. Still needs some sanding and buffing.

The design is based on fabric from one of mum’s skirts. Other variants were in my last post – a coiled vessel; a resined vessel; a resin bangle.

Just before sitting down to attempt to capture all this, I took a “family” photo.

This also shows some extra beads and a “backdrop” of some print-making play, but not all the notebook images exploring the fabric motifs and planning the various responses.

Back to the experience of today. The blue/green beads were from a double-stranded necklace that belonged to mum. I repurposed it as an arm wrap, but one of the strings broke so for the past couple of months it’s been sitting in a little box while I considered repair versus re-use possibilities. Today, in my flurry of activity, they called loudly. The little silver beads are stash – but for the sake of emotional completeness I’ve decided I got them when making earrings using family heirloom mother of pearl gaming chips from mum’s great-x uncle (July-2018). The memory wire is a recent purchase – but come on, it’s memory wire.

I wanted to finish with a photo of mum, wearing the same skirt and a shirt of similar colours to the blue/green beads. To be honest I don’t recall seeing her wear the necklace, nor any kind of bangle. Her standard was wedding ring, wristwatch, pendant. But that matching of the patterned, moving skirt with a shirt of that blue/green – classic mum. Perhaps that’s part of this morning’s frenzy – playing with materials and components, following emotion, going to what attracted. I wasn’t thinking, I was feeling.

It’s a different skirt. But you get the idea.

April making

April has been a quiet month of slow and gentle rebuilding, with more making than thinking.

Last post (22-Mar-2021) I showed examples of 3D writing, resin bangles, and coiled vessels using fabrics worn by my mother. This month’s variations:

WIP coiling completed, and embellished with a “family heirloom” hatpin. 19 cm diameter
A small, chipped jug, gifted by mum as material for re-making a few years ago, was broken up…
The base was repurposed in a tiny nest – around 7 cm diameter
Another fragment formed the centre of a shallow, saucer-like form (slightly over 16 cm diameter).
More fragments remain in the “to be considered” queue. I’d like to use every skerrick of the jug eventually

Feeling that some of the character of the prints was lost in the wrapping and coiling process, I experimented with embedding swatches in resin. All of this series so far start with a circle of fabric around 19 cm diameter.

First attempt – the resin+fabric, supported on a silicon sheet, was draped over a form too soon.
Attempt 2 – still too soon.
A free-form bangle while I considered my next move
Getting better, but this was with waiting 8 or so hours before draping. Brushing silver-coloured pigment over part of the resin before draping is effective. This shows the patterning of the fabric used in the top photo – the bowl with a hatpin.
The bangle has a few wraps of the same fabric in it.
Drips under control! I didn’t want to move to a different resin if I could avoid it, but Sydney temperatures in my unheated, single brick garage are a bit marginal. This time I followed the manufacturer’s suggestion of pre-warming the resin bottles in a water bath, plus put the setting resin on a warming tray repurposed from mum’s flat.
The vessel had gold coloured pigment brushed over the back. The same fabric is in the bangle, plus the broken-jug vessels above.
Thinking I had the resin-curing more under control, I tried pre-cutting slits in the fabric, wanting to spread it out like a lattice pastry top as the resin was setting.
It was a nasty, sticky battle and a disappointing result. Not sure if this is worth pursuing.
The bangles top and bottom in the photo are repeats already shown above.
The centre one had two new ideas, aiming to display more of the original fabric pattern – silver-coloured pigment brushed on the inner side of the mould before adding resin, and the fabric a single bias-cut strip (left over from making its matching vessel). This sample is a bit scruffy, but I think there’s good potential here.
This bangle uses some of the 3D writing of Anne Carson’s text seen in my last post.
The text had a tendency to float up in the curing resin. I quite like the effect of it almost escaping at the top, so only sanded the edge the minimum needed to remove sharp edges.
Very happy with this, and lots of possibilities to take it further.

In March I did an evening class in making silicon moulds (yay Sydney Community College!). The plan is to make my own bangle designs that better showcase fabrics. The tutor suggested I make my initial form in polymer clay, use it to create a silicon mould, so I can then cast the resin.

I haven’t got to that yet. Instead I wondered if I could use polymer clay elements to neaten up the beginning and ending of a coiled vessel.

My very first attempt at using polymer clay. 9 cm diameter.
The great thing about first attempts is you can look forward to improvement.

Re-structure

Following the “making reading” shown previously (22-Dec-2020) I wanted to take it further. Anne Carson’s work “Wildly Constant” in Float felt a good subject.

I slowly wrote the entire text.

Then I played with my new object(s).

As well as rearranging the text objects, I attempted a series of digital transformations – scanning the objects then optical character recognition (OCR); scanning the printed page and OCR (very accurate and boring); recording voice then automated transcription… Basically trying every relevant app on my fairly new tablet and seeing what distortions or misinterpretations I could generate.

Nothing very exciting emerged, plus priorities changed. My mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness, my father was seriously unwell at the same time, and then my husband (his not life-threatening). Five months, three patients, a total of nine hospital admissions to four different hospitals. My normally quiet, reflective life was turned upside down. One of five siblings, I took lead for mum with the various health professionals, while my sister took charge with dad. We were fortunate to be in Australia – Covid complicated things, but it was always possible for at least one us to visit and provide support. Mum’s hopes at diagnosis were for a final summer with family and friends, then to die at home. The five of us, together with a lot of professional support, were able to achieve that for her.

Life, creative practice, was restructured to new necessity. Not too mentally demanding, fitting into small fragments of time, supporting and nurturing me so that I could support and care for others. Reading changed – Kyo Maclear Birds Art Life Death was a great standby. There was a lot of reflective writing. Making – well I came up with a new project, as I explained to some friends who were e-discussing earrings:

I got my ears pierced in 1977 – went travelling after school, was living in York (UK), and it was a low-key assertion of adulthood. Lots of my earrings contain memories – of travels, or gifts, or connected to an exhibition, or that I made myself or bought from friends. Selecting them each day was part of checking in with myself – how do I feel? what am I doing? what message do I want to send? But over the years I’ve come to like dangley and for me they just don’t work with masks.

During mum’s illness I started wearing bracelets and bangles. Partly that same checking in, planning for the day. More important was as personal armour. One link is once knowing a child with behaviour problems, who wore an elastic band to snap if they were feeling stressed. Another from some sci-fi show where they wore wrist-lets that could produce a personal force-field. I rub them to centre and slow my thoughts and reactions – echoes of rosary beads, or maybe worry beads.

Extra fun – you get to “curate” collections of arm ornaments in different combinations. Plus I only had a couple of “proper” bracelets so I started improvising, wrapping chains and neck-pieces around my arms – stuff I haven’t worn for decades or maybe never (weight makes neck sore). I even dragged out some wire and beads to make a few bits, and in the last couple of days have played a little with resin. All very minor demands on time and focus and energy, when I don’t have much of those. It’s felt like my one reliable piece of self expression as everything else creative fell by the wayside.

What does that look like?

More experimentation with resin is planned – perhaps combined with 3D text in some way. With luck this will be a low-key project that recurs over time.

Since mum’s death I’ve begun another small increments, potentially recurring project. She used to love wearing brightly patterned cotton skirts – often Liberty prints. With the permission of the siblings I’ve been using the skirts to make small coiled bowls. Stitching them is quiet and meditative, or I listen to podcasts or an audio book. I’m on my third, and it feels a gentle expression of love.

Workshops with Mary Hettmansperger

Three days, two workshops back to back, spent in the company of fellow NSW Basketry Association members, inspired and led by Mary Hettmansperger – what a fabulous experience! The first two days were Sculptural Basketry – soft materials, the third Sculpture, Surfaces & alternative designs in Baskets & Vessels.

In physical terms there isn’t much to show for it:
There is some waxed linen thread, coloured with acrylic paints. This is the only thing you could term “finished” – and it’s a potential input into other projects.

Painted linen thread


A small, unfinished sample of twining. Lots of ideas here including the shaping, internal stiffening with modpodge, three rod wale, the painted linen, a bridge to create two tubes…

Twining wip


A barely started form in aviary wire, with three rows of knotting and the intended twining yet to begin.

Knotting wip


A complex form created with wire, pantyhose, glue and dress-making patterns, full of potential.

Bizarre form wip


Looping on a twisted and hammered wire form, progressing quite well.

Looping wip


All exciting in their own way and with their own potential, but the most exciting thing is my notebook, filled with ideas and lists and diagrams with arrows.

Mary’s underlying approach is just what I’ve been working on – creating components over time, ready as input to a faster, intuitive construction process. There were periods of quiet work throughout the days, punctuated with demonstrations by Mary when she threw out ideas, techniques, possibilities, alternatives… We all chose different things to experiment with over the time – I don’t think it would be possible to do it all. There was lots of metal play which I haven’t tried yet. I have lots of notes and photos, and plan to do my experimenting at home with the tools, materials and setup I already have.

A final photo – of Mary’s work with my own twist. Mary brought with her a lot of the jewellery she makes – but no earrings! Unacceptable!!! So two neckpieces came home with me and have since been appropriately modified. 🙂

Mary Hettmansperger neckpieces earrings

John Chester Jervis’s earrings

John Chester Jervis (JCJ) was a great great … uncle on my mother’s side. Born in London in 1823, he spent around 30 years in Australia before returning to London and Nice in later life. Mum’s research on his life can be read at megshistory.wordpress.com/
john-chester-jervis/
.

Furniture, vases and other oddments believed to have been his have been passed down through the family, including a small pile of shaped and engraved pieces of mother of pearl. Such counters were crafted in China and introduced to England by the captains of the East India Trading Company. These would have been used in bidding and scoring card games and were popular in the period around 1700-1840. Mum recently agreed that I could use some of the pieces to make earrings for anyone in the family who wanted some.

A few of us spent some time pairing up counters and beads over the recent family weekend. First results are shown below. (and before you look – from the photos I’ve realised there’s some rework to be done with poorly matched amethyst).


The photo on the right gives an idea of relative sizes – plus some of the pieces still available for a few in the family who were interested but haven’t decided details yet.

A postscript – I’ve mentioned JCJ on this blog a few times before. One of my favourites was an exercise in an Art History course in which I mixed family history with the requirement to act as a museum curator selecting artwork for a room in a terraced house. See 13-Oct-2013.

First stabile and other making

After initial attempts making mobiles (20-Aug-2017), I’ve moved on to a stabile. I’d never heard of them before starting Keith Lo Bue‘s Poetry in Motion: making marvelous mobiles DVD workshop. They balance just like a mobile, but instead of being suspended they pivot on a table-based stand.

So here in all its glory, full of blemishes but actually working … (drumroll) …

Galvanised wire and corrugated cardboard.

Gregory Hodge
Mime

I had some idea of making a variety of shapes and painting them, then drawing/painting the result (following Gregory Hodge – see 31-Aug-2017). Perhaps as well weights could be inserted in the cardboard, causing some apparent “impossibilities” in balancing.

The stabile isn’t right. Some clumsy connections that don’t hang well, the main balance is tilting to the side, obviously I haven’t gone on to painting, the “design” (let’s be kind) is awkward with parts hitting each other and the central support. Still, fundamentally it works!

I still think there are possibilities with the cardboard, but another idea has come up that loops around to experiments from a year or two back. More to be done 🙂

In other news, the ceramic earrings seen in progress 13-Aug-2017 are finally resolved, after multiple attempts. I’d rate them as OK, wearable, but not exciting. It was a good opportunity to play with wire, and a library of shapes is gradually building up.

Neolithic twining??

Neolithic twining? A video on Lanny Mackenzie’s instagram feed had me intrigued. I’m not sure my attempt is the same, but regardless it’s interesting. Unlike most weaving and basketry which structurally use two sets of elements – warp / rib and weft / weavers – this technique uses a single set of elements. Each length of material (yarn, wire, whatever – let’s call it “end”) follows the same pattern as every other. In her class Judy Dominic showed us that the same end can change function, a rib changing to weaver or vice versa. Neolithic twining, or whatever it is I ended up with, goes further – no differentiation. What possibilities does this bring? How could it be exploited?

Later edit: just so I remember: working end goes over 2 (a and b) and under 2. new working end is b. repeat.

More mobiles

A quiet week with a little progress in balancing and mobile making. Turns out it’s tricky to photograph something designed to move 🙂

First a mobile in .9 mm galvanised steel wire. About 16 cm high.

Very simple, but a good exercise to practice skills.

Next, I couldn’t wait to give earrings a go. I currently have asymmetrical hair, which is a wonderful excuse for mismatched earrings (not that I need any excuse). Design heavily influenced by earrings on Keith Lo Bue’s website. First the blurry action shot.

And the detail shot. It’s .7 mm galvanised steel wire except for the earwires (salvaged from a bought pair of earrings), so avoiding prolonged contact of the galvanised with skin. The discs are shell, with some 4mm Miyuki cube beads.

I spent ages trying to tweak the way the mobile earring hangs. Couldn’t quite get it, but in practice it moves pretty constantly so should look fine. Happy with these.

Trial and error

… although all is trial and learning, nothing is error when playing ??

Sugar tong and resin

The sugar-tong-end earrings seen last week got new inserts. These started as sample p3-45 in the Mixed Media for Textiles course (23-Sep-2015), threads partially embedded in a thin sheet of resin.

Sample p3-45

It turns out this stuff is easy to cut, sand and drill, and as I noted back then the thread effect is particularly effective when backlit.

I wore the earrings in this form for a day, but they still looked like wearing spoons. Shortening the stem has helped, and this may well be the final version – although it’s a powerful realisation than anything can be taken apart and used as components elsewhere.

Sugar tong ends and resin – final version?

Agapanthus earrings

These agapanthus earrings aren’t going anywhere in this iteration. They’re based on a component in a proto-neckpiece done in Keith Lo Bue’s class (23-Apr-2017). They just look clumsy and lumpen. Less energy, less joy. The idea’s time will come, one day.

Finally a piece in progress. It’s a larger, hopefully refined version of a sample seen 23-Apr-2017. Almost all the material is in there. Now it’s a matter of finessing the form, doing a little more forging, and then major polishing. Hours of fun ahead 🙂

Cold forged and random woven steel in progress

Making and unmaking

After

Before

A potential joy of my current type of making is the unmaking. Who knew a redundant electricity meter had such interesting and very nicely made things in it? Most of it went into the stash for now, but a few components have been re-purposed…

New stand, reworked earrings

… into a new stand for earring photography.

Ceramic and steel earrings – previous version

The earrings shown have been seen previously (23-Apr-2017), and since then have received smaller jump rings and a good polishing. The details make a big difference.

Welded and random weave

Oddly, when I enrolled in Keith Lo Bue’s classes (also 23-Apr-2017) I was focused on learning more about the reo wire I was already using in random weave (the ongoing welded and woven piece) and other basketry projects, and to develop some comfort using found objects. It was a surprise to see the class signposted as “jewellery”. As luck would have it, I am a long term wearer and collector of dangly earrings, and earrings are a great subject for practicing my new skills. Happy days 🙂

Earlier sugar tong earrings

The next making is on-going. This started as the end sections of some sugar tongs (the handle section has been seen previously – yet again 23-Apr-2017). A long process – so a short photo essay. I’m still mulling over the final inserts – the photo looks better than life.

Next up some wire work, inspired by a spiral pendant by Alexander Calder (pictured here).

The version on the right is the basic form. The one on the left has been cold forged (so slightly more polished and faceted, catching some light) and the lower section twisted to enhance three dimensionality. A bit heavy, and neither is good enough to become jewellery – maybe tree ornaments. More practice needed, and perhaps a finer gauge wire.

Exhibitions
Briefly…
Textiles out of Context, Braemar Gallery Springwood
This was a varied exhibition, showcasing a wide variety of textile disciplines.

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Ellen King’s Etosha was inspired by her travels. Great expertise shown in this work, the felting, the intricate dyeing. I like the way imagery has been abstracted, such as the tracks of animals to a waterhole, and extending the work to include both wall-hanging and bowl.
Variation in technique, and so scale, creates interest in Jillian Culey’s piece. One of the aspects I appreciate about basketry techniques is the opportunity to play with shadow, giving depth and richness.

Saskia Everingham
Light Seeds

Saskia Everingham’s Light Seeds has an elegance and scale that attracted a lot of attention at the opening. The work was serene on its low plinth, with no evidence of the practical issues of how the lights were powered. It simply glowed.

Sadhana Peterson
By The Water Hole

The combination of ceramic and basketry techniques in this work felt unforced and fully integrated. Colours and lines complimented each other, creating a complex and satisfying whole.

Pam de Groot
Fully Charged

The bright colour and lively movement of Pam de Groot’s felt work brought a moment of joy.

The National 2017
This new biennial survey involves three major Sydney galleries and aims to present the latest in Australian art. In initial visits to AGNSW and MCA I was attracted to some works which used repetition and variation on a massive scale, underpinned by serious symbolism.

Yhonnie Scarce
Death Zephyr

Yonnie Scarce’s installation references the Maralinga atomic tests and the displacement of Aboriginal communities. The hand-blown glass forms, suggestive of people or bush food, move slightly in random air currents, gently clinking – so fragile, so precious.

A midden, sign of long residence of Aboriginal communities, in a bed of copper slag, sign of the mining and commercial activities given priority today, tainting and destroying the land. The “myths and methods of colonisation” (quoting from AGNSW signage) continue.

Other works that grabbed my attention claimed space, approaching an idea from multiple directions.

Found rubber, galvanised steel, and bark – all incised by Gunybi Ganambarr in intricate patterns based on sacred clan designs. Forms echo. A history of use and misuse of the land.

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Gary Carsley’s installation was complex and included sound and video. Signage at the MCA references the artist’s investigations of what he regards as the artifice of European-Australian culture. I’m still thinking about this, wondering how it fits or challenges my understanding of my own heritage. A quick internet search turned up the definition “clever or cunning devices or expedients, especially as used to trick or deceive others”. Is my culture more rapacious, more contrived, less valuable than any other culture? I don’t want to accept that, and I don’t think I would want to categorize another’s culture in that way. Deep, ongoing flaws – yes. Dreadful damage done to others – yes. Artifice? Artifice as the sum total or dominant element of a culture? No.

I was very taken with a mixed media installation by Nell at MCA. No photos yet.

There have been a couple of lectures, bits and pieces, but I think that brings me as close to up to date as I’m going to get.


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