31 December 2010

Shell from Waychinnicup Bay.
I dived down as deep as I could on one gulp of air, the pressure of the water about as much as I could take. I grabbed this pretty shell.
I wont be able to do that anymore- no sea diving or sky diving. Here's why...
A couple of years ago, I think Esmé was about 1, I punctured my right lung. Nasty business; air leaks out into your chest cavity and gets trapped there, and starts to collapse the lung. At the hospital, an intern pierced my side with a 10mm ø lance to let out the air ( think fat knitting needle). This was done without anaesthetic. Ow.
Later on they stitched me up, I said "do a good job- I'm a chest-and-abs model" They laughed. (A child could have done better stitching- there goes that career.)

I suspect that this injury was caused by work hazards; maybe an inhaled steel particle? Or some acid fumes?
There is no way to find out for sure. In any case, the experience made me really think hard about looking after my body. I was holding little Esmé whilst on the hospital bed with a 10mm tube hanging out of my side. I am not invincible. I once thought of myself as a solid object- but now understand that we are more like a sponge or a cloud- permeable; vulnerable. Everything passes through us. Take care. We need you.

15 December 2010


Seguy insect illustrations; yes they've done the rounds on tumblr, but worth looking at some more- love the way the oblong page becomes a receptacle, and Seguy just piles the bugs in.

And another pile of bugs; wonderful Jizai Okimono from Haruo Mitsuta, - all handwrought in metal, to scale.

The Summer is abuzz with its myriad insects...

10 December 2010

3 December 2010


I forged these pine needles today.
A pendant.
Nothing much...
Nothing/Much; that's just what I think about pine needles.
They are hardly there, nothing really, just two fine strands- among the millions on a tree.
And yet... somehow significant... much.

2 December 2010


Annelies Planteijdt.

I admire her necklaces very much. A significant oeuvre.

So simple and straight up, yet rich with nuances and ideas.

Jewellery is not always worn.
It changes when it is worn.
So, what is it when it is not on a body?

One of the unspoken tenants of contemporary jewellery is that the object should stand on its own as a discreet object, equally meritorious when worn, or on the shelf.

This is challenging for the maker, because the forms used in jewellery are very specialised; a brooch for example has some sort of pin. Do you hide that or make it prominent?

I have been critical/bored of contemporary jewellery, in that it tends to shy away from the body- it is 'worn' only by the whitespace of either the gallery or the photograph. (I have been as guilty of this as anyone- so I feel qualified to make this evaluation). Like we are bathing it in milk, or putting it in a snowstorm.
This tends to result in dream-like objects that are probably more like sculptures about jewellery, more than they are actual jewellery, and lets face it, this is a bit weird, especially after we've seen about a million examples of it.

Before you c.j. kids start calling me a spoil-sport... I think Planteijdt negotiates this problem with extraordinary grace and clarity.
The 'on-shelf' arrangement of these necklaces is somehow monolithic, glyphic. Disarmingly simple, like an Agnes Martin painting.
Rather than being duped by an unwearble jewell, we get two-for-one; the shape of the piece becomes something else when suspended from the neck as it is rearranged by gravity.
They are immanently wearable.
Annelies Planteijdt exhibition now showing at Gallery Viceversa.
photos: jean beining via klimt02

25 November 2010


Here are some of the new brooches (about actual size on my browser) I delivered to Gallery Funaki today-- had to wend my way through the film set of beer commercial in the lane. Weird. My workshop got flooded by torrential rain. Leaves and sludge all over the floor!
+saw my work on the telly. Also weird.

Brancusi Junk?!

1.marble vase
2.Plaster vessel
3.Repeat 'Kiss' Tiles
5.Stainless steel plates, forged
7.Lemon juicer
9.Dish, brass

Making me pretty excited today is this stuff, up for auction; stuff said to be made by Brancusi- quite beautiful objects- very rustic. I would have posted more pics, but they was hard to nab.

Not sure if this is real- I mean the provenance of these objects? They have quite accessible reserves, some of them, like under 1ooo euro!!
I suspect the vendors have had trouble proving anything- or else surely this would be handled by Christies et al.?? But what do I know?
Bear in mind that Brancusi sculptures are world-record breakers, one from the YSL collection went for $37 million in '09.

I dont care- I love, love, love it. I am prepared to be hoaxed, if its a lie, its a beautiful one.
I would personally rather have a dish than a bird in space.
( I would also rather have $37 million than a bird in space, as nice as it may be)
Perhaps it will all be purchased by a big museum- hopefully not a Romanian one- because I doubt I will ever get to visit there.
Auction and story of provenance here.
All of which is old news, I was tipped-off by Dinosaurs and Robots

$37 million!

24 November 2010


Oh- in case you didnt know what I meant by Przewalski, its a horse breed;- sort of ancient-like.
Every I time I draw a horse, it comes out like a Przewalski for some reason.
You know me; Ancient-Skool, yo

Heavy Reading

Ironic (or goldic?) present from Mark... cheers, and all the best for your wedding day!

23 November 2010


Cowgirls & Cowboys ( Jack&Jilleroo?) party for our kids...
Made 12 of these hobby horses for all their buddies
(przewalski x dreadlocks??)

+one of the cowboy Dads; "plum tuckered out"

22 November 2010


Ive learnt a lot from 60's Donald.
Carl Barks was the illustrator here I think, aka Good Duck Artist.
Literature with capital 'L'.

19 November 2010


Several years ago, after I had quit my degree in Gold and Silversmithing, half-way through (as you do), I asked Sally Marsland to make me a comb. Sally had been one of my lecturers, and although I had quit, she remained a source of encouragement in my continuing to make any jewellery, at all, ever again. So- the comb- its a curious solution, not really an every-day functional object- but pleasing nontheless. Especially the dip in the middle- it is just perfect to hold between thumb and forefinger- the dimension of the metal at this point is mysteriously pleasing to measure with ones finger tips.
I never understand anything much about why or what she makes, but I like that. She is one of Australia's most interesting and talented jewellery makers.
Her exhibition Odd One Out is showing at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne.

17 November 2010

Proven Goodness

Provenance-where something comes from- can be very important.
In the case of gold, much serious degradation of the environment occurs in the mining process.
I was talking this over with an old school friend, Mark, who had approached me about custom-making  his wedding band. We decided that it would be best if we could make his ring from local gold nuggets- that we found ourselves, taking care not to do irreparable damage in the process- to seek, but not destroy. After two arduous but memorable prospecting episodes, we hadnt found anywhere near enough to make the whole ring. With the wedding date looming, I decided to get help from a supplier of local Victorian gold nuggets, who fixed us up with enough gold, all of which was found by small-scale detectorists.

Gold- as it occurs in nature, is seldom 100% pure- it will often contain traces of silver for example, and is known as native gold. Native gold from Victoria's golden triangle region is some of the richest in the world, typically assaying above 95% purity- about 22-23k.

Here's what I did with it... and if I may say so my friends, this is a wedding ring par excellence...

These are the natural nuggets. That small one above is a piece we found ourselves ( greatly magnified!)
Firstly, I removed all the quartz I possibly could.

Then, melted the nuggets in a groove carved into a charcoal block, forming a simple ingot.

The ingot is beaten out, gradually approaching the desired dimensions.
Mark requested a band 9mm wide and 2mm high, so care is required to keep to the specifications.

...it gradually gets better and better...
Mark wanted his band to look handmade- but not too rough or crazy- just "not like a piece of machinery". To achieve this aesthetic, I endevoured to keep my method very restrained- to only use hammers, both to forge the shape, and to achieve the surface finishing. No machines, no abrasives.
No material will be removed.

The bend begins. I had initially thought I would solder the join, and have to make up my own high-karat solder- but then... I thought, NO- I'll FUSE it. To solder is to join by melting a less pure alloy into the joint- which leaves a visible line of another colour. Fusion involves melting the joint on itself- a seamless, invisible join. The difficulty of fusion is that you have to get the whole piece up to almost-melting temperature... then just-melt the join– you could melt the whole thing! Its a bit nerve-wracking.

You can see in this photo how the whole ring is red hot- and the surface is just starting to 'swim'; to go liquid. Danger! But, this risk of total destruction is part of the romance of goldsmithing, gentle reader. Commitment is required. The smith makes himself vulnerable.
This makes me think of marriage, naturally; for good fusion you have to melt yourself a little bit.

Perfectly fused! But hmm... it looks a little droopy, no?
Its just this shape becuase I did a 'scarf' joint (big overlap) for maximum surface contact.
Don't fret- its getting better and better.

Next, I forge and forge and forge, with my hammer, stretching the ring to size 'U' on the mandrel, and perfecting the shape.

To get the soft, ancientish surface texture was a matter of damping the face of the steel hammer.

After a thousand and one hammer taps, we have arrived.

The weight is astonishing.
The lustre is celestial.
The provenance is without reproach.
The band is seamless, the simple methodology has dignified integrity.
Wear it well, Mark- 'tis a beauty.

and oh... if you need one of these, or something with the same attention to all the considerations; now you know who to ask... everyone should have their own Goldsmith.

12 November 2010

Capitelle= tres bon

Click on the pictures for the source.

Excellent buildings: local stone, strong shapes, multi-function.
I could do a whole blog about these alone. Would you come back?