Others in ‘Feast’

30 12 2009

I’ve written a bit about my experience with ‘Feast‘ – but of course I’m not the only one exhibiting in it! In fact, it’s a fabulous gathering…

I’ve listed the other makers (in alphabetic order; from here) below, and went a-looking online for any links to share:

Feast‘ was on at Depot Gallery, Studio 20/17, Sydney from 20th – 24th December 2009.

Previous post on ‘Feast‘ is here

Update 8th January 2010: Studio 20/17 blog has some more images of the setup and exhibition

My work: ‘Nana’s Trifle Recipe’

29 12 2009

In my last post on my ‘Feast‘ pieces, a little more detail on the second piece in the series ‘Nana ALWAYS brings the trifle‘: ‘Nana’s Trifle Recipe‘.

I’ve written before about how I came to weave paper and silver here; and for me it’s almost a way of preserving the paper and making it more precious.

photograph not to be reproduced without permission

This piece was woven from an A5 piece of note paper my Nana wrote her trifle recipe on – you can see the blue pen writing and that the back of the note paper was pink with a hot pink edge. I cut the paper into four strips initially, each about 5cm wide, and then cut 1.5mm strips into each of these. I started with the first group, and as the weaving came to the end of that paper, spliced in the next group, and so on. In the end, the woven strip was about 5cm by about 70-75cm (I started with 80cm of paper, but it ends up a bit shorter due to overlap when splicing and weaving around the silver).

photograph not to be reproduced without permission

The above image shows that the shape is held together with a silver pin, the shape of a bobby pin (which I actually was using during the initial decision-making stage) but with a loop on the top. This isn’t permanently fastened, so the piece can be repositioned and reshaped at will, as long as it can then be re-secured with the pin.

It can be worn as a brooch (above), which I like to think of as a ‘corsage’ given it references my Nana; or the pin removed and slipped on to a necklet (below).

photograph not to be reproduced without permission

Previous post on ‘Feasthere

Update (30th December): next post on ‘Feasthere (and I promise, it’s the last!)…

My work: ‘Nana’s Trifle Bowl’

28 12 2009

A little more detail on the first piece in the ‘Feast‘ series ‘Nana ALWAYS brings the trifle‘: ‘Nana’s Trifle Bowl‘.

I suppose it’s pretty obvious where this piece is derived from – the bowl itself.

detail; photograph not to be reproduced without permission

The formed panels on top were created from thinly-rolled fine silver, from buttons I melted from scrap metal in my final week at uni – the method is one I liked using in previous work. They were then pressed, so pieces overlapped each other, on the super-sculpey mold in the previous post. Yes the sculpey does shatter, but the metal was super-soft and I was careful with the pressure, so it didn’t go everywhere nor ruin the pressed pieces, but it did mean the sculpey mold couldn’t be used again.

scan (not photo; hence poor quality) of pressed pieces

After a bit of experimenting, I finally chose which of the ten pressed pieces to use. So next the perspex and sterling silver layer were saw-pierced together, using a pattern I developed from pencil rubbings of the outside of the bowl which was ultimately informed by which pressed pieces I chose – if I’d chosen others, then the shape may have been entirely different.

Then the silver layer was annealed and shaped against the side of the bowl, so its contour matched the bowl exactly. And the pressed pieces were also annealed and pressed against the bowl (with a burnisher), to make the detail more accurate and pronounced and to give them the same curvature as the bowl and silver layer.

Then lots of experimenting to figure out the layers heights. It was at this point that it came to me that the piece would make more sense as an object standing on the table than it would as a brooch or wearable piece.

working out the layering

Then a simple matter of drilling where necessary, making the ‘stake’ rivets, finishing each of the layers and putting it all together!

Previous post on ‘Feasthere

Update (29th December): next post on ‘Feasthere

One idea that didn’t make it / metal spinning / out-sourcing

24 12 2009

Sometimes the hardest part of making for an exhibition, or even an assignment or following a concept, is choosing the ideas that are pursued to fruition. For often there are more ideas than time to make them (I’ve written a little about this before).

One idea I was playing with for ‘Feast‘ was raising a bowl to replicate Nana’s trifle bowl – I love raising bowls! The only problem with this idea was that I was quite short on time and had no access to the necessary equipment. So I thought I’d get the skeleton of the bowl spun, then saw-pierce the design and fold some components in, or chase (yes, pretty labour-intensive!)…

Nana's trifle bowl (left) and spun bowl (right)

The above copper bowl was spun for me by Bob Thomas, a well-known Melbourne metal craftsman. I am happy with the bowl, but upon more looking and playing and thinking, I realised that I had other pieces I was more passionate about, and this idea didn’t get much further.

Metal spinning uses lathe-type machinery to rotate a symmetrical wooden shape, over which metal sheet is pushed. This is not something to do at home kids! There is a pretty cool short video of Bob doing his thing on YouTube here.

I have often struggled with the idea of ‘out-sourcing’ part of the making, but I understand that many artists do this in a variety of media. However, with this particular piece I later felt that what I planned to do to the bowl afterwards would not be substantial enough, to my mind, to make the piece enough of my own expression.

I see it in degrees: asking Bob to spin the metal bowl, and then for me to plate or engrave it and then pass it off as my own, is entirely unacceptable to me (and I imagine most other makers). Saw-piercing the bowl still doesn’t feel enough of ‘my own hand’. Perhaps more substantial ‘interruption’ of the bowl would be required for me to be happy with someone else’s handwork being a component of the piece, where their contribution to the work does not outweigh what I bring to the piece (unless it is a formal collaboration).

I have pretty conflicted ideas about out-sourcing in my own making. I’ve done it in the past with industrial processes like laser-cutting (my own design on large sheets of metal); however where I got a bit stuck this time is that I know how to raise, I was simply without access to a workshop to do the work myself. And it was an exhibition piece, not a production piece (where consideration of cost-efficiency for the end purchaser may be an influence).

What are your thoughts on out-sourcing? Do you out-source and what are your rules and boundaries?

The other matter this exercise brought to my attention was that Bob is likely to retire within a few years, though there are no obvious successor in Melbourne. Many of those skills practiced by single-practioner individuals, often in a workshop in their backyard, who are nearing their retirement are in danger of dying out. Where will these skills go? Do you know any other spinners? Another example a friend mentioned was the man who makes jewellers hallmarks (I don’t remember his name) – when he retires who will take over that work in Melbourne?

Previous post on ‘Feasthere

Update (28th December): next post on ‘Feasthere