New piece: ‘Opal03’ brooch

23 07 2012

I’ve made it into the studio and have finished a piece that I started when I was working on the Oh Opal!‘ exhibition.

This is quite a different opal to the others I’ve made into pieces so far. Opal03 is entirely opaque and in earthen colours, with a very slight streak of dark blood-red through the edge of the top (sadly not visible in this image). I liked this opal for these reasons, as it was such a contrast to the disco-tastic opal stereotype.

‘Opal03’ brooch; image not to be reproduced without permission

It is of similar construction to the other pieces, though I seemed to me it befitted a brooch more than a pendant.

The images may not show it well, but the paper colours are so beautiful and subtle.

In terms of scale, the opal is 21 * 17mm.

‘Opal03’ brooch back; image not to be reproduced without permission

It may only just be visible in the above image, but in-between the paper-weave and perspex is lots of fine silver lemel … like a snow-dome! This was a little boo-boo. I momentarily forgot that I hadn’t yet filed the bezel down to the right height yet, and popped the opal in to set it. Oh oh, I did such a super job with a snug bezel that for the life of me (and Julia, my studio-buddy) it wouldn’t budge out. My only option was to file down the bezel with the setting already attached to the paper and perspex – and so, silver filings fell all around and got stuck under the paper. It’s a shame, as I liked the sharp view of the paper weave under the perspex – but we live and learn!

This is one of the few pieces I’ve made for myself for ages. Feels good to finish it.

Thoughts on ‘contemporary jewellery’

20 07 2012

‘What is contemporary jewellery?’. It’s a question that’s been bothering me for years and years. Many writers have considered the same topic, though I’m more interested in why I would use the term ‘contemporary jewellery’ and how I would consider defining it for my own use.

Using my recent visit to ‘Unexpected Pleasures‘ at the NGV, I’ve been giving it more thought.

Unfortunately I don’t have a cogent theory to offer, just a few thoughts. I have done no reading on the topic – as I find that in reading other people’s thoughts my own thoughts can easily get lost. I wanted to find my own expression and ideas before engaging with the thoughts of others on this topic.

So, I’ve been thinking that makers may use the term ‘contemporary jewellery‘ to:

  • differentiate from ‘high street’ jewellery – the mass-produced kind; and of course to differentiate from jewellery made in previous eras (vintage or antique etc), as the root of the word ‘contemporary‘ means of ‘the present time’
  • indicate a degree of critical engagement in the ideation and making process;
  • (often) suggest that there is a complex conceptual context for the work that may be sensed but not always fully understood upon superficial view;
  • identify as an individual maker, not a ‘brand’; perhaps even to identify as more of an ‘artist’ than jewellers are usually perceived as
  • permit a kind of freedom in, or perhaps justify, the use of all manner of materials;
  • separate from the … erm, how to delicately put this … jewellery made with minimal skill-sets;
  • separate from traditional, perhaps ‘conservative’, goldsmithing; though of course the majority of makers acknowledge their place in the historic lineage (and mine that tradition for resources and ideas).

Many makers of ‘contemporary’ jewellery like to challenge established conventions in jewellery – in terms of wearability (consider Lisa Walker), materials (I especially remember a ‘ring’ made of bread and jam) and ugliness (consider Karl Fritsch).

This is where I think my view of what I do differs from the hard-line (if I may use that term?) contemporary world. While I don’t devalue the place of this kind of making, I find I rarely connect or understand those kinds of pieces. Such differences are utterly essential in a vital making community. And I think I’d like to be part of a different stream of contemporary jewellery.

I’ve noticed those in the ‘challenging’ stream sometimes demean makers who choose to work more ‘conservatively’ … I’ve seen many a sneer at some of the less outrageous jewellers’ work. This is a shame – there is more than enough room for all of our approaches!

I feel like I’m at makers anonymous (MakeAnon???) … Hi, my name is Karen. I like to make jewellery. I like to make objects. I like to get crafty with traditional ‘women’s work’ (embroidery, knitting, crochet). While I appreciate crazy pieces, I make contemporary jewellery which is of a more restrained quiet nature. I prefer classic influences. I am not a fan of realistic figurative representation. …. I could go on….

What would you add to the list of ‘contemporary jewellery’ above?

‘Unexpected Pleasures’ @ NGV

19 07 2012

It’s only taken me three months (humpf), but I have finally managed to get a lucky day when everything is just right to visit ‘Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery‘ at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

image taken with gallery permission

Exhibition media: “Unexpected Pleasures looks at what we mean by jewellery from a number of different perspectives.  Taking as its starting point the radical experiments of the Contemporary Jewellery Movement that challenged a conventional understanding of the language of personal adornment, and looking instead at the essential meanings of jewellery, the exhibition brings together important work from around the world, and looks at it from the point of view of the wearer as well as the maker. Contemporary  Jewellery in this sense is at the intersection of art and design.  Curated by Dr. Susan Cohn for the Design Museum, London with exhibition design by Ab Rogers Design and graphics by Barnbrook.

image taken with gallery permission

There is so much to look at. As you can see in the two images above, the large room is split into two distinct areas – one with body-height plinths and video and photography, and the other very austere with hip-height plinths.

image taken with gallery permission

The scale of this exhibition is incredibly impressive.

Over the years I’ve been described by others, and am beginning to own the descriptor, as conservative in my aesthetics. I found this experience while visiting ‘Schmuck’ a few years ago, and again in this exhibition – I respond more to pieces that are quieter and restrained. It’s not that I don’t like the other work, nor that I don’t appreciate it (for I certainly do!) … it’s just a personal tendency.

Though that said, it may surprise and seem rather inconsistent that one my favourite pieces here is the neckpiece below: Ruudt Peters, Lingum 14 Black.

Ruudt Peters, Lingum 14 Black; image taken with gallery permission (no flash)

Other pieces I liked very much included a Bettina Speckner brooch and:

  • John Iversen, Cracked Up, 2009-10 (image here)
  • Beppe Kesler, Timeless, 2008 (artist’s site)
  • Shunichiro Nakashima, Maki Series, 2012 (images of similar here)
  • Gilbert Riedelbauch, CSH Brooch, 2001 (image on artist’s blog)
  • Robert Smit, Square, 1991 (image here)
  • Tjep, Bling Bling, 2002 (image on artist’s site)

The many many pieces in the exhibition are grouped sympathetically and I like the story it tells. The cabinet work is spectacular too.

Many other writers / bloggers have already seen and written about this exhibition, among them:

I’m still processing my visit … I can so easily get overwhelmed with so much to look at.

Unexpected Pleasures‘ is at NGV until 26th August 2012.
There are still a number of events attached to the exhibition – so check on their site to join in.

Getting my craft on: crochet

18 07 2012

Crochet. So nana-rific!

I think this is the first time since I was a teenager that I’ve taken up the crochet hook. No, that’s not code.

cowl 1

As I mentioned in my knitting post, I’ve now crocheted the cowl I planned. In 2-ply Mongolian cashmere (no less!).

I enjoyed making it … so much so, I used the remaining yarn to make a smaller version (which I think I’ll gift to my mum).

cowl 2

To be truthful, I was really very disappointed with the colours. I had ordered them online, so of course some colour difference is expected. However the jade green here was called ‘Jade Sapphire’ and I expected it to be a dark green-blue; though the yarn I received had no blue in it at all sadly. I was so sad. Even more disappointing than the blue-green difference was the difference of the other yarn; I ordered ‘Driftwood’ which was shown as a washed soft grey colour, however I received a dye lot that was more honey-beige-brown than grey. So unhappy about the colours, and it was such expensive yarn too. Lesson learned I think. Take care when ordering yarn online.

cowl 1 on … yes, blurry photograph of awesomeness

Next project is to learn how to knit socks … so excited!