Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chain Gang.

The truth of the matter is that I am not very fond of flame. Hence the appeal of cold connected jewellery. I have made chains and links before by riveting wire but decided  I should have a go at a soldered link chain (wtf for?). Of course there is only electrical copper wire here just now so I stripped some of that, coiled it, sawed it so the ends were neat and then the fun began. My soldering experience is very limited - like really limited and it took ages. I fluxed and I placed neat little pallions of silver on the join. More often than not I managed to blow them out of position with my torch - despite heating the rings from the back like the book said ... I have ended up with exactly 19cms of chain - and it only took ONE HOUR and FORTY-FIVE EFFING MINUTES!!!

It is not even  that good for Heaven's sake! I vow to persevere though as I feel the gauntlet has been thrown down and I will make that metal behave the way I want it to!

At the moment my success ratio has improved from one in three to three outta five - go me!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Done and Dusted ...

The first Semester is finally over - phew it has been a bit of a haul these last few weeks! Now I am free to concentrate on making some jewellery for the upcoming SALA festival. I had thought I might get into it fairly well staright away but I have found myself messing about with new techniques, making molds and trying out ideas. I am hopeful that this is part of the "process" and that the real work will emerge any minute now!
I have kicked off the studio time with a roller printed, reclaimed pewter and vinyl LP cameo thingy.

I haven't used the saw to make decorative details like this before ( which is pretty obvious I'm afraid!) and I am not sure that pewter was the right material to practice on - it is soooo soft and "grabby".
Still it is kinda pretty and will work nicely for some Victorian-inspired pieces for the show.

I shall keep practicing with the saw - I can only get better huh?! I will share some of the molds and castings I have made tomorrow - oh and a long and tedious foray into chain making - too much for one small blog post!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Flea Market Finds

For a little while now, friends have been expressing concern over the increasing number of kitsch woodland critters that keep popping up in my home/ car / studio. Fearing an intervention, I have been quite steadfast in my resolve to leave these little critters in the op-shop for some other obsessive collector. However, this week, my resolve was sorely tested and I succumbed to the lure of  2 saccharin-sweet animals - I am saying this to you with my head bent in shame. Just look at them though ...

Such a sweet little sleeping fox - he reminds me of the way our cat tucks herself in to sleep away the cold Winter days.

The epitome of Australiana kitsch - a kangaroo salt shaker! The only thing better would have been to find the matching pepper shaker which I bet was in the shape of a little joey that nestled in Mamas "pouch"!

It would have been un-Australian to leave this baby behind - so it was in the spirit of patriotic fervor that I handed over my 50 cents!
 There you have it  - my resistance is shot - enroll me in the 10 step programme, bring on the intervention and send me as many quizzical 'have you lost your mind' looks as you like dear friends ( you know who you are).  I just cannot apologise for these, my most recent acquisitions. I know I am not going mad - my little critters tell me I am quite sane everyday.
Join in more collecting madness and mayhem over at Sophie's.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Some days are diamonds ...

... but today was not shaping up to be one of them! My very first mistake was to steadfastly ignore the dishes piled in the sink and the overflowing laundry basket in order to head into my studio. I had it all planned - a decent day at my bench. Well, ignoring housework doesn't really work 'cos it sets up a whole lot of white noise that gets louder as the day goes on. This is especially so if you make a mistake - instead of  finding your zen place and getting in touch with your lateral - thinking - inner - child, you get in  touch with your whiny - juiced up - ferocious- inner - psychopath and hurl whatever is giving you grief across the room. ( Ok so I didn't actually  throw anything but that is only because my workspace is so small I figured it would ricochet of the wall and hit me in the head! ). I wanted to make a brooch - I have been thinking about the design for a while now so I was keen to get going. I had in mind a lovely big Ovid shape. I drew up a pattern and got stuck in. So this was how it was shaping up ...

Now of course brooches require pins but I thought I had that covered - just a bit of soldering really. WRONG! One of the vagaries of using recycled material is that sometimes it won't do what you expect - like allow itself to be soldered. A person with less white noise cluttering up their brain might have had the foresight to try a piece of scrap first. Hhmmm - 20/20 hindsight! Not to worry - I have worked out how to cold-connect the hook part and I am sure some research will reveal a way to make the pin. My next mistake was this little disaster ...
Yucky saw cuts - bad patterning indeed. I shushed the white noise and came up with a way to add a piece to disguise the ugliness ...

So in the end the piece looks something like this ...

The idea is that whatever you are wearing will form part of the brooch as you will be able to see so much of your shirt/coat/ t shirt through all that negative space. I suppose I should count it as a success because I have learned a lot and call this one a "prototype" - it was pretty frustrating though! And I still have to sort out that pin issue ...

Enjoy Bobby Bare's version of the song in my title!

Hope  your week-end days are ALL diamonds!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Killing Jars

The "Butterfly Project" is done and dusted. Finito! It was installed today with absolute ease (thanks to some reasonably decent forward planning!) and I am really pleased with how it looks. It is indeed called The Killing Jars - in reference to the jars charged with gas that butterfly collecters have commonly used.

Not the best photo I'm afraid but it gives an overall impresion I guess.

The butterflies have a taxonomy that I created - based loosely on the way butterflies are actually classified in that their names are made up of a family, genus and species. Essentially it reflects the materials they are made of, where that material came from and what it was used for before it was made into a brooch. The family name was taken from the most common family of butterflies found in the region the material originated - so in the UK that would be Lycaenidae. The genus is the material - perhaps aluminium and the species is the what the material was used for - say a beverage can. I translated the genus and species names into Latin American so the result looked something like: Lycaenidae alumina bebida lata. Each butterfly was named using these parameters and labelled accordingly. This was actually a great project to work on - a goodly bit of research was involved so now I am pretty sure I know more about some stuff than I did before I began. That's pretty much always a good thing, right?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On my workbench today ...

The Butterfly Project continues! I am still making a series of butterflies from stuff that gets thrown away - mostly food packaging. I have used beverage cans, plastic containers and takeaway coffee cups to list a few materials. Did you know that in Australia we use about 1 billion takeaway coffee cups each year? And that many of them are coated with polyethylene which renders them difficult (pretty well impossible actually) to recycle? I didn't know that before I started  research for this project. Our consumptive ways have a big impact and sometimes it does my head in thinking about that!

These are made from aluminium food and beverage cans - which are immensely and infinitely recyclable but grubby to manufacture. The good news is that when you do recycle a can, you save enough energy to run a 100 watt light bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, and a TV for 2 hours.

That centre on has been made from a compact disc. They are made from some curious stuff - queer arse plastic and what not. Technically they can be recycled but it is a very costly exercise so many of them end up in landfill - or more happily as raw materials for my art!

What are you creating today? To see what other people are making in their creative spaces, head over here

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bye Bye Bead Tree.

My friend is closing the doors of her lovely bead shop at Semaphore. I love a good stroll along Semaphores' main street - fun shops , quirky cafes and grand old pubs. There is even a lovely old independent movie theatre called the Odeon.  My daughters love the atmosphere and the fact that all tickets are eight bucks - all the time!

There are several great op-shops and a great beach and jetty waiting at the end of the street as a reward for the exercise - comes complete with fairground in the Summer!

This is a lovely beachside suburb that has so far withstood the invasion of the dreaded McMansions that seem to be gobbling up the rest of the coastline. Still, it is time for Jackies shop, The Bead Tree to close its doors. The good news for Adelaide peeps of the beady kind is that there is gonna be a BIG sale this week-end - June 10, 11 and 12 - with 50% off store wide. woo hoo - that doesn't include the handmade jewellery there 'cos that is consignment work but all the beadies and findings from Swarovskis to Czech glass will be on sale. So you can knock yourself out bargain hunting!

 It won't be quite the same without the Bead Tree crew but I guess I will still manage to find a reason (or 20) to hit Semaphore Road!
Farewell Bead Tree!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Buttons, buttons - whose got da buttons?

Meeeeee! I do love buttons - everything about them is appealing from the sound they make when you shake your Mum's button tin to all the gorgeous colours they come in. Have a peek at part of my button collection ...

It's a mess right ? No order at all really which makes it difficult to access and use all those pretties! Well, it has been a goodly while since I have made any colourful button jewellery and I was in the mood ... So, I bit the bullet and sorted my stash!

I have to admit, it took a bit of courage to tip them out on the table but with the help of my trusty weird-arse divided microwave trays, I made great progress - fairly quickly. And the effort was sooooooo worth the result!

They look great now - and are so easy to find. Oh - and they take up much less space in the studio. I still have to sort the metallic buttons and the mother-of-pearl buttons into containers. This process has also reminded me that there is an AWFUL lot of white buttons in the world and I seem to have garnered more than my fair share of them . Still, after the apocalyptic clean-up I felt quite inspired. Here are some of the pieces I put together ...

After all this,  I feel I will sleep the sleep of the righteous and tidy - don't you?!