The main thing on the workbench has been another of my projects which was started and then unaccountably abandoned, though I think that perhaps the complexity of it put me off. I've been working on the piece for two weeks and have only just started to approach 2/3 complete. This piece is a tribute to Alexander McQueen and the idea to make it first came to me in 2011 after visiting the McQueen retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Fashion:Victim - In Memoriam ALMcQ is made up of three parts, the first being a bangle-handcuff made from silver, inlaid with corroded iron and set with garnets:
I have to confess that this part was completely finished apart from the setting and it was the setting of the stones which was putting me off! In fact, because I had digitally milled the settings and cast them, it only took an hour or so to complete. I'm pretty pleased with the way this came out. The little skull is the head of a bolt which can be unscrewed to open the bangle. It is fairly easy to put on and take off single-handed too, which is good.
Hanging from this bangle are going to be two large metal spheres. These are really "handbags" as it were, the idea taken from pieces made by Shaun Leanne for McQueen, polished silver containers which were hung from leather straps. The spheres were found by me in 2008 in a burnt-out furniture factory:
I actually have six of these but have only used two for this project. Each ball has been cut in half and has become the basis for the two bags which hang from the bangle, "The Illusion Of Freedom Buys The Power Of Destruction" and "Before The Fall"; ultimately, it will be possible to wear these separately or together on the bangle. Until I picked these up again, the spheres were identical and for no reason other than whim, I started first with "The Illusion Of Freedom..." which tackles McQueen's fondness for falconry, something which is perhaps not so well known about him.
Some of you may recall that ages ago, I was trying to make falconry bells and that was for this project. One of them has now been attached to an element which is pendent from the base of the ball:
This is cast from a taxidermy model of a falcon's foot. The large "brilliant" is slightly included quartz.
The ball has also grown claws!
I spent last weekend cutting and engraving a monogram element for the base. This is the section which will hold support the claw and crystal and is based on the letters "McQ". It can be read from both sides as well as upside-down or the right way up!
I'm really pleased with the way that this came out and it made me re-design the top section which features a porcelain hooded falcon made by Lisa Stevens. The top section still has to be carved, engraved and polished but it looks something like this:
I've still got a lot to do to this, including fitting the magnetic catches, soldering the hinge shut and lining the ball with something (no idea what yet!). More on this and the other ball to follow.
There has been another photoshoot this week, once again with my friend and colleague, Simon Murphy behind the camera, this time with another photographer modelling! When I initially asked Simon to take the photographs of my brooches for Sharon Massey and Cortland Dewitt's "Supbrooch" project, I really wanted an older man as one of the models. In fact, I actually wanted all the men to be over 50 but for various reasons, it didn't work out that way. Tommy Cairns is someone I met at the Scotstreetstyle/Harvey Nichols event in Edinburgh, a friend of Simons and someone who looks exactly the way I had imagined the models for the brooches looking so we discussed him coming to the studio for a second shoot which we did yesterday. What a brilliant day! I haven't seen the final shots from Simon yet, but my shots of the shoot in process are enough for now. Simon's will, of course, be magnificent!
Tommy wearing my "Macbeth" brooch.
Wearing the "Verklärte Nacht" brooch.
In between all this, I've been reading rather a lot recently, including doing some research for a post-Christmas commission. I've been asked to make an interpretation of the Maltese Cross cuff bracelets which Verdura made for Chanel and found this book second-hand:
Which I proceeded to read cover-to-cover. Inspiration on every page and such a fascinating life. Another book which I have read cover-to-cover, though it looks like what is disparagingly called a "Coffee-table book", is the new book on emeralds called "Emerald"!
Luxuriously covered in emerald green silk (though the lighting in my room doesn't make it look that colour at all) this is subtitled, "Twenty-one Centuries of Jewelled Opulence and Power" and is utterly compelling, as well as being a luxurious publication bursting with beautiful images of emerald jewellery.
Finally, I've been reading a rather amazing novel: Rupert Thomson's "Secrecy", which I haven't finished yet. Set in 17th Century Florence and by some exceptionally deft writing, dealing with some very complex and challenging issues facing contemporary artists today. Although the book is utterly modern, it creates the world of renaissance Florence compellingly and is a must-read for anyone who is interested in the period or in the darker side of contemporary art. Perhaps most interestingly, it deals with real historical characters...
There is a superb review of the book and the work of the real character behind it here.