Sunday, May 18, 2014
Posted by Dauvit Alexander
It is getting on for the season of Degree Shows in Scotland again and it was with some interest that I went along to the exhibtion at "The Lighthouse" in Glasgow entitled, "16". This exhibition showcases the work of 16 of the people who graduated last year from Dundee's Duncan of Jordanstone, Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art - these links are to my reviews of the shows last year. It was great to see the work of some of these people as it moves on, especially those I really admired in last years' shows - Sally Morrison, Emelie Westerlund, Anais Paulard, Rhona McCallum and Hamish Dobbie especially.
Of particular interest this time around were the amazing enamelled bowls of Elizabeth Campbell:
And you may recall my enthusiasm for the concrete work of Sally Morrison:
Her more recent work in aluminium and leather is still interesting but I have to confess thrills me less. It may be that I have to see more of the work in this medium to understand it but I feel that while these are still striking pieces, some of the drama of the concrete work has gone:
It was great to meet up with Sally, Rhona and Emelie and I am hoping that we can finally kick-start the ACJ Glasgow group into action, especially as the new studios at The Briggait are now filling up fast with contemporary jewellers.
I also got to chat to the ever-fascinating Elizabeth Moynard whom I see only on the occasions of contemporary jewellery events and to whom I am eternally grateful for suggesting a topic for a lecture I've been invited to give at the Society Of Jewellery Historians in 2015.
The DJCAD Degree Show 2014 opened on Friday night and I couldn't go. I'm hoping to go on Tuesday afternoon and cover it later in the week on this blog.
I've been working wholly on the "20000 Leagues Under the Seas" project over the last week and have managed to complete a good deal of the elements, including setting and finishing the central element of the pendant which hangs from the collar:
The body of the squid is made from opalised fossil squid body - really! It is described in the book, "It swam crossways in the direction of the Nautilus with great speed, watching us with its enormous staring green eyes. Its eight arms, or rather feet, fixed to its head, that have given the name of cephalopod to these animals, were twice as long as its body, and were twisted like the furies' hair" and I have combined this description with the beast in the James Mason film to create the one here, departing from zoological accuracy by giving it Verne's "eight arms" rather than the correct ten (which would have driven Carol, who carved the wax, to distraction!). The eyes are jade with tsavorite garnets set over and the Nautilus has peridot portholes and a garnet-set propellor.
I managed to set all the silver "seaweed" elements which link the steel "barnacle" elements:
These are set with chrysoprase, two colours of chalcedony, diamonds, tsavorites, aquamarine, and tourmaline. I can't finish the construction of the collar properly until Shapeways send the replacement barnacle link which should be with me tomorrow (it failed to print correctly, for some reason). The collar is mostly complete:
The missing link should sit in the top right of the piece.
I've also created the rear pendant element which will be a decoration on the safety-chain on the catch. Made from one of Lisa Steven's "faux corals" - glazed porcelain - silver and a blue zircon, this reflects Verne's description of this comes from the cutlery used by the narrator, "Each utensil, spoon, fork, knife, plate, had a letter engraved on it, with, a motto above it, of which this is an exact facsimile:
'MOBILIS IN MOBILI.
The letter N was no doubt the initial of the name of the strange person, who commanded at the bottom of the seas."
This is the first time I have created this type of lettering digitally, only because at this scale it would have been too time-consuming to use my usual technique of cutting it out and carving it with gravers. It works well and is readable but I do prefer the manually-made lettering.
These corals were a departure for Lisa who normally works in white, unglazed porcelains but I wanted these to look like the mediaeval corals which were so popular in cabinets of curiosities. I'm really pleased with these and delighted that I have eight or so others similar left over to use on other projects.
As I've mentioned already, I am making this collar for "Handmade By Machines", an exhibition and symposium - at which I am one of the speakers - at The Lighthouse in Glasgow. The theme of my talk is "Integrating Digital And Traditional Techniques" and will focus on the importance of viewing digital technologies as part of a continuum of techniques available to jewellers. If you are planning on coming to the symposium, you need to book this through the "Eventbrite" website, though it is free to attend.