Gold harp strings

20 10 2014

Recently I was told about wire strung harps, and that while mythology sometimes referred to them as ‘golden’ this may not have been hyperbole but in fact descriptive. What?! Yes, harps may have in fact been strung with gold.

What a fabulous thing.

Henry VIII playing harp; click on image for original Wiki source

Henry VIII playing harp; click on image for original Wiki source

A little bit of internets reading later, and I’ve found a few articles you may be interested in if you’d like to read more.

An article (2003) by Ann Heymann indicates that an Australian team were the first to practically explore the possibility of precious metal strings, and successfully used silver. Eventually she led a team that strung a specific kind of harp, a clairseach, with gold strings.

Another article (2010) by Cynthia Cathcart explores her own journey to string a harp with (sterling) silver.

Lastly, there’s an article comparing wire-strung and gut-strung harps … probably one for the musically focused reader. In fact the site this article is from is dedicated to harps … for the musician for sure!

So interesting … the second article will be of interest to technical metalsmiths, as it describes various hardness tests etc.

Upcoming Sydney visit

16 10 2014

So I’m popping into Sydney for a day-trip later in the month to see some jewellery exhibitions.

Powerhouse Museum’s ‘A fine possession: jewellery and identity‘ is first.
Then the ‘National Contemporary Jewellery Award‘ at COTA.
And M Contemporary ‘Intimately Connected‘.
If I have time I’ll pop into Studio 20/17 of course.

What else should I put on the list?

Update (20th October): maybe I can add Craft NSW ‘Emerging Artist: Craft Award 2014

Most important exhibition

14 10 2014

With thanks to a heads-up from the inimitable Zoe Brand of Personal Space Project fame, I’m now aware of a Kickstarter project ‘Shows & Tales‘: the AJF (Art Jewelry Forum) raising funds for a publication focusing on exhibitions.

Naturally I want to be a supporter … not the least because jewellery is my thing, but I’m very interested in reading and thinking about the content. I’m deciding between the various supporter levels, and one of them includes the publication on the AJF website of a brief paragraph about your most important exhibition.

I liked this idea so much I thought I’d write it here anyway. Perhaps there will be more than one when I give the idea a bit more time to sink in … but the first that came to mind was: ‘Ad Astra per Aspera‘ in 2003. I wrote the below a few years ago and I’m not sure I can put it any better.

When I moved to Melbourne (to study goldsmithing) the first exhibition I visited was the 2003 RMIT Gold & Silversmithing Graduate exhibition ‘Ad Astra per Aspera‘, which translates to ‘to the stars with difficulty’, at the Melbourne Gold Treasury Museum.

This was a key moment for me – I wandered around the exhibits and felt like I was in the right place; that this was something I not only wanted to do, but felt I was able to do, and it made sense to me and almost felt like home.


My jewellery collection #29

13 10 2014

I’ve finally had time to pop into Gallery Funaki (as evidenced by my recent post) and collect my Helen Britton Showtime bag



… and therefore I now have a new piece to add to my collection: a Helen Britton (obviously!) little sterling silver lucky tooth charm.

Helen Britton piece

Helen Britton piece

A genuinely significant piece of Helen’s is still on my lust-list … soon Karen, soon.

Svenja John ‘Assembly’ @ Gallery Funaki

11 10 2014

I do like the revamped Gallery Funaki website. You can see many of the pieces in this exhibition online if you aren’t in Melbourne; though it’s certainly worth personally seeing the current exhibition if you can, for Svenja John‘s ‘Assembly‘ is a riot of colour.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

Exhibition media: “In the 20 years since I began working with the polycarbonate MakrofolTM I have developed, bit by bit, my own ‘Jewellery Construction Kit’. In the beginning there were only bone-shaped parts (which I called x-bones), linked together with rings of various sizes to form chains, earrings and bracelets. Eventually more than 10 different basic elements developed from which all the complex jewellery assemblies are plugged together“.

Svenja has a wonderful gift of putting colours together; and the mobiles are whimsical and I think I’d like one in my house.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

To me the neckpieces are the stars of the exhibition. Strangely though I think I love the photographs of them more than the items themselves in person. It’s a strange thing indeed; I’m quite unsettled by the realisation. Perhaps the photographs are taken with some backlight, as the material somehow seems more translucent or even glowing.

Most attractive about these constructions are their allusions to medieval jewellery and Berlin iron work. My favourite is the piece in the middle; unfortunately there isn’t a detailed image of it on the exhibition site, but the colour combination is magnificent – magenta, purples, greys.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

I did take some photographs of the right-hand side of the gallery, but I was a little distracted at the time and it was only when I arrived home that I realised they were all out of focus. Oopsies.

Svenja John ‘Assembly‘ is at Gallery Funaki until 25th October 2014.

Also see: Svenja John ‘X_BRANEN‘ @ Gallery Funaki, August 2009

Picasso jasper

8 10 2014

In my continued Etsy experiments, I am once again pleased with the results of this little escapade.

I have the most amazing piece of … well … it’s described as Picasso jasper.

Just look at it. It’s like power lines over red earth … I love it!


Reading: Daily Rituals

5 10 2014

I’ve just finished reading ‘Daily Rituals‘ by Mason Currey. It’s a book with snippets about various creatives, mostly writers, and their daily routines. It’s quite intriguing and compulsive reading being easy to pick up at will (with each creative only taking up a page or two at most).

I like to peek into the world of others and to think about how they structure their day … do they battle the muse, wait for inspiration, have a regular time they force the work? There are many different approaches and it’s a frankly a relief that there isn’t one way it should work for everyone.

A few thoughts on the content:

  • there are lots of early mornings; many preferring the early hours and morning; believing to be most productive before lunch
  • walking comes up quite regularly; and long walks at that
  • I wonder if these people had to make their own meals or do their own housework or grocery shopping?
  • many of the people included are from previous generations; and I expect that the pattern would look remarkably different if one were to interview contemporary creatives; I wonder how many of the entries such as reading, entertaining, walking, playing music and such would instead be replaced with watching tv, playing video-games, checking facebook and other social media…
  • of course there is much mention of various stimulants

It was only after finishing the book that I finally read the introduction … and realised that the author started collecting these notes in a blog. Interesting. Though I wonder if the blog-to-book phenomenon may be at its natural end (with blogs dying out) … how will budding authors get their work noticed now? Perhaps twitter-to-books-with-very-short-paragraphs? Or tumblr-to-picture-book? Instagram-to-coffee-book?