First year, first semester, Jewellery, project #2: ‘Cut to the Bone’ – cuttlefish casting
This was the first making project, with the exception of the technical exercise we’d done in the first couple of lessons (filing a brass rod for a scribe handle – below).
As part of this project, we learnt how to cast in cuttlefish bone. We were required to source it ourselves – which wasn’t easy actually, because it is usually found either on the beach (if you’re lucky!) or at a pet shop (as it’s used for keeping birds beaks healthy, or something); and the pet shops I went to were saying there were supply problems. Anyway, I did get my hands on two or three from memory, which meant I couldn’t make too many mistakes.
Being the first project in a degree I’d wanted to do for years, I struggled a little to get my thoughts together. And as it wasn’t limited conceptually, just in that the jewellery had to have a component cast in cuttlefish, it was almost a case of having too much freedom and to many possibilities to choose from.
Looking over my visual diary from the project, I was mainly interested in art deco at the time. However, despite really wanting to use that reference, I realised that the pattern inevitably left by the technique didn’t at all suit the art deco streamlined aesthetic.
Eventually I was swayed by a classmate’s test pour – a simple rectangular shape that contrasted with the organic cuttlefish texture. From there I recall it was somehow a natural progression to add the fabric component – not sure now why that was. The construction wasn’t easy, but I had help from my lecturer and our technician.
I’ve written before how I was not too happy with the outcome – I had made too much allowance for the eventual thickness of the fabric around the metal inner frame, such that that part ended up slightly out of proportion with the cast square. It is simply to heavy, and the pin too unresolved, to reasonably be worn. In hindsight it hasn’t connected to any future work – but I guess not everything that is made leads to something else or something better.
The cast square though is still attractive and I have often struggled with the urge to cut the piece up and use that part for another jewellery piece… but I won’t, because it was an assessment piece, I will let it stay intact … and yet never worn.
As I go through my other university assessment projects, I wonder whether I’ll have a group of ‘alternate’ pieces that didn’t quite get made which together could make up a whole body of ‘other’ jewellery, the ‘unmade’ series… ooh, another project idea!