Thursday, March 5, 2015

Eco dying

When a fossick at the op shop yielded a cream silk dress for $1, I knew straight away what I would do with it. I have dabbled in dying textiles with plants etc before but without really being invested if you know what I mean ... This time I decided to focus and see what I could create.

The dress will yield lots of strips of fabric and is really soft from lots of laundering. First I dampened it and scattered it with rusty nails.

A quick trip around the garden produced some eucalyptus bark and dried rose petals (don't have to dead head them now!)

I wrapped the whole lot around a rusted steel sheet that I had printmaking plans for, and bound it pretty tightly with binding wire.

Then it went into my make-shift dye pot where it steamed for a bit over an hour.

It looked fairly mucky when I took it out ...

I rinsed it in salty water and then plain water - it is still pretty gross looking if you ask me!

Once it was dry I washed it with a gentle soap and finally once it dried again it started to look halfway decent.

Apparently the gumtree bark is responsible for making the rusty things turn black. I like how you can kinda make out some of the shapes of the rusty nails. The pics are not really a fair representation as it looks quite a bit more subdued in reality. I love the organic marks and the way the colours melt into each other. 

Not quite India Flint standard but intriguing and well worth trying again! I am hopeful that I can incorporate some of my dyed textile into a piece of jewellery ...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Recycle, reclaim,reuse ...

I aim to use reclaimed materials as much as I can in my jewellery work. I enjoy both the freedom and the challenges these materials bring to the bench .... but sheesh, they can be hard work! Deconstructing things in order to reuse them can be pretty tough on my hands. Sometimes the only answer is to break out the angle-grinder, which I loathe, so I usually have to enlist the help of the ManBeast. 

Aluminium is the easiest by far - but look how grubby that stuff is! Eewwwww!

Silverplated trays can be quite hard to chop up by hand - you never really know what they are under that plating ....

Old copper and brass planters are wonderful and whilst I adore that green patina, it is notoriously unstable so I usually have to remove it before I start and then work a little alchemy if I want it back on the finished article! Getting reclaimed metal clean can be pretty labour intensive and I have a bunch of 'weapons' in my cleaning arsenal.

These soap pads are awesome! They are  usually the first things I use. I also love those green scourer pads. Recently I discovered that you can buy these little abrasive pads that fit into a flex-shaft or Dremel  ( one of the joys of being self-taught is it takes an age to discover the right tools! ). They work a treat and are great for small diddly bits  and they certainly save my hands but they are kinda expensive and I seemed to wear them out super quick. I decided to have a go at making my own. I got my wad punch and punched some out ...

I used a mandrel designed for a buffing thingo to put them into the Dremel. They worked a treat although I wore them out pretty quickly! Still, given that they cost about 2 cents a piece instead of 4 or more bucks, I am ok with that!

Brass and metal brushes - I have a bunch of different ones and these are excellent for cleaning but are also useful for pattern making on the softer metals. So there are a bunch of steps to go through before I can even start on the actual making. It gives me time to think ...

This piece has had a basic clean and a bit of a polish but will need to be scrubbed with steel wool and then progressively finer grades of emery paper (3M paper is a treat!). Eventually, it will look like this ...

Reclaiming metal is harder than buying new metal when you consider all the effort that goes into the process but I prefer it this way. I think it makes me more adventurous because the materials are inexpensive and that's a good thing because I seem to learn best from my stuff-ups! Of course the best reason for giving things a second life is that I am trying to tread lightly on this beautiful planet and still make lovely (frivolous) things! 
Scrub scrub scrub polish polish polish clean clean clean ...

Friday, January 2, 2015

Back at the bench

Ok, so I was a less than a diligent blogger in 2014 ... I guess I could declare my New Years Resolution to be to write more regularly but I am a bit sceptical about both Resolutions and my ability to stick to my good intentions ...
Let's just start and see where it leads us!
I recently had the pleasure of spending some teaching time with South Australian artist, JoJo Spook. JoJo loves making marks on metal and this inspired me to have a go at making some texture hammers.

I have a bunch of hammers gleaned from op shops, as well as a few cheapies that I was happy to sacrifice if the whole thing went pear-shaped!

This was my first victim. I cleaned up the surface, evened it out and gave it a polish. Then I took to it with a Deremel wheel and files, creating an abstract pattern across its face.

This is the pattern it created on a piece of metal.

This is what it looked like with a patina added and a bit of a polish. I like it!
Next I turned my attention to the narrow end of the hammer ...

Again I used the cut off wheel in my Dremel to make some random marks.

I like this result too! I had to go ahead and make a piece of jewellery with my 'new' tool ...

It's pretty simple but I think the organic nature of the marks makes it quite interesting. Next time I will have a go at making a more regular pattern on the hammer face - right now it is 41 degrees Celsius and I won't be using any tools that create a spark today!