RMIT Year 2, Semester 2, Silversmithing

13 06 2012

The major project for Silversmithing this semester was …. drumroll please … the teapot.

I have said this before many times, and will say it one last time: this project almost killed me. Metaphorically of course … well, psychologically it was a very near miss! It thoroughly exhausted me and very near defeated my will to continue with the program.

Why? At the start of the project, to be truthful it was even during the holidays before the semester started (nerd much?) that I started the research for this project. I was really excited; I wanted to make something wonderful. I jinxed myself essentially. I did so much reading and research that I lost touch with my own original spark – I had polluted my mind with the ideas of so many others.

This meant that the design process for this project was utterly torturous for me. It didn’t go very well at all. I struggled to find my own voice. I couldn’t even find ideas for concept or feature. In desperation I turned to a design trick my jewellery lecturer had taught me in first year – just draw quick doodles based on primary shapes and see what comes of it.

Below is the image that finally unlocked a design for me. It’s quite beautiful – the trails of electrons and protons as atoms are split apart.

bubble chamber trails; click on image for original source

It was getting so far into the semester that I really had to start actually making something, anything.

sketch 1; image not to be reproduced without permission

After playing around with shapes I eventually settled on the one at the bottom of the below group.  Looking back at my visual diary of the time, many of the shapes strike me as quite beautiful. So I can’t be as terrible as I thought at the time!

next group of sketches; image not to be reproduced without permission

next group of sketches; image not to be reproduced without permission

the one I went with; image not to be reproduced without permission

Even through the construction I was disheartened … I witnessed other students making such marvellous and interesting and humorous pieces … and I was so disappointed I couldn’t start again or have the much-awaited epiphany. However, some projects are just like that and I needed to make it through.

I was pretty frightened of the large-scale soldering … our lecturer Wayne Guest [studio ingot profile] was an absolute star, staying later than he should do to help those of us who needed four or six hands to do the soldering (seriously, there were often two- or three-people soldering jobs, using both of the master-blaster torches to get these large objects hot enough for the solder to run). Without Wayne’s patience and understanding I would have fallen into a blubbering heap.

I had some lovely ideas about how to embellish the teapot … the shape reminded me of Arabic arabesques and I wanted to incorporate powder-coated pierced work … this would have made me happy and would have raised it above the ordinary. And it would have made the handle more comfortable for use.

favourite sketch of teapot – overlayed images of side, front and top profile; image not to be reproduced without permission

Unfortunately there just wasn’t time. This is a story of such missed opportunity – each time I look at the teapot (which is rarely) I can only see what I didn’t do with it that I wanted to … what it could have been and not what it actually is. Especially in relation to the handle … pft.

In contrast, making the little accompanying milk vessel was an absolute joy.

The below are the only two images taken at the time – before the objects were plated in silver.

teapot (without lid) and vessel; image not to be reproduced without permission

teapot (with lid) and vessel; image not to be reproduced without permission

I remember spending that Cup Day (first Tuesday in November) that year emerying the teapot … on the floor of my lounge, surrounded by worn papers and new papers to be used, a bucket of water, towels everywhere … it was the year there was that immense hail storm (2005).

I’ve thought about whether to get out the teapot for a photograph of it, as I don’t have one of it silver-plated. Perhaps another time.

… last post in this series: RMIT Year 2, Semester 2, Jewellery
… some photos from this post have been added to 2005 (RMIT Yr2) page



One response

3 09 2012
RMIT Year 2 exhibition « Melbourne Jeweller

[…] instead, I shall share two new photographs of the teapot that nearly killed me, after it was silver-plated. silver teapot; image not to be reproduced without permission silver […]

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