My gold brooches

5 10 2009

Recently my ‘stats’ told me that someone had found my blog by using the term ‘metallic thread embroidery‘ in a search engine. This reminded me that I wanted to write more about the research behind the piece in the banner and which I shared in my 100th post – and what better post to do so than my 150th post (small cheer).

In the first semester of second year our main jewellery project was titled ‘gold’. We played around with creating various gold alloys, undertook some historic research, and formulated our own conceptual ideas to pursue for the project.

I enjoyed reading a lot about gold for this project, especially its use in ancient cultures. But as I mentioned in a previous post about Chinese embroidery, I’ve always had a love for oriental needlework and the use of gold thread is an important part of the fabric work. And so gold thread embroidery was my starting point for this project.

from my visual diary at the time; image from 'New Ideas in Goldwork', Tracy A Franklin; ISBN 0-7134-8780-1

from my visual diary at the time; image of 'old japanese gold thread'; from 'New Ideas in Goldwork', Tracy A Franklin; ISBN 0-7134-8780-1

While I couldn’t follow the oriental embroidery ‘thread’ (oh the joy of a well-placed pun) to fruition during this project, the embroidery and fabric-focussed research lead me to other textile work … including the kiswah, the black curtains embroidered with 15 kilos of gold thread that covers the Kabba in Mecca, which each year is cut into fragments to be given to special people; and then, in what now seems like a non-linear connection but I think was simply due to the section of the library I was in, quilting traditions of Provence.

image from visual diary; from 'Quilts of Provence', Kathryn Berenson, ISBN -0972369-0-1

image from my visual diary at the time; from 'Quilts of Provence', Kathryn Berenson; ISBN -0972369-0-1

The quilts of Provence are extraordinary in their detail and handcraft, and iconography of the local flowers and plants were commonly used. Instead of just copying one of these pieces, I wondered what design a quilt would have if I were to make one in the tradition. This brought to mind two flowers, the wattle and false sarsaparilla; the former because where I grew up was surrounded by wattle, and the second because my grandad took me on bushwalks when I was little and this was my most favourite flower.

From a group of sketches, I chose one of wattle to carve into a chunk of perspex. This mould was used in the swing-press, and later with handtools, to impress fragments of the design into pieces of sterling silver with a veneer of gold. As a part of the project development we were shown how to create a thin layer of gold on a piece of sterling silver; I loved this so much for the torn and frayed edges the intense rolling produced was exactly what I wanted to represent fabric fragments.

from my visual diary at the time; documentation of copper tests

from my visual diary at the time; documentation of copper tests

The final pieces are elevated upon and fixed to a framework that references the embroidery frames used by women to hold fabric taught while it’s worked; though it has the added benefit of raising the raw edges away from clothing and reducing damage to the piece.

amended copyright notice: not to be reproduced without permission

amended copyright notice: this image not to be reproduced without permission

Finally, they have the most sexy roller-catches I’ve ever made. I still love them.

amended copyright notice: not to be reproduced without permission

amended copyright notice: not to be reproduced without permission


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3 responses

10 10 2009
Claire O'Halloran

I love these brooches too and I enjoyed hearing the story behind them. I want to see an image of those roll-catches though!

12 10 2009
Karen

Thank you Claire! I don’t have a contemporary photograph of the sexy fittings … but I’ll attempt to rustle something up in the near future.
Also, I’ll publish a story about your exhibition later this week – I hope it’s going well and you’re receiving lovely feedback.
K

12 06 2013
Amazing nature | Melbourne Jeweller

[…] … they were everywhere in the area I grew up, and were the inspiration of the carving for my Gold Brooches from my second year at […]




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