Sunday, May 11, 2014


Lots going on in the workshop in the last few weeks but I'll start off with the completed pictures of Fashion:Vitcim by the incredible Andrew Neilson at Neilson Photography, whom I use for all my portfolio images of key pieces:

Fashion:Victim - In Memoriam Alexander McQueen - Professional Photograph 1
I had each sphere photographed separately:

Fashion:Victim - In Memoriam Alexander McQueen - Professional Photograph 2

Fashion:Victim - In Memoriam Alexander McQueen - Professional Photograph 2
I've also asked him to photograph the other project which was completed this week, (It's The Time) Of April Snows, the Post-Apocalyptic Cocktail Ring set with a giant amethyst:

(It's The Time) Of April Snows - 29

(It's The Time) Of April Snows - 27

I am particularly pleased with this as is marks a bit of a departure from my more usual mediaeval themes and more of a move into 1960s themes drawn from Brutalism - especially the work of William Mitchell - and jewellers like Andrew Grima and John Donald. I'm not sure how this strand of work might develop in the future.

The sets of cufflinks for Susannah Hall were finished and posted off and anyone in London looking for a great suit and an interesting set of cufflinks should pop in and see her!

Cufflink Commission - Susannah Hall Tailors - 1

The main thrust of the workshop this week has been working on 20000 Leagues Under The Seas, another of those pieces which I started and then abandoned when something else came up. This time I have to complete it as it is my exhibition piece for the exciting "Handmade By Machines" at The Lighthouse in Glasgow, showcasing the way in which jewellers use technology in their work. I am also presenting a talk at the associated symposium on the theme of "Integrating Digital and Traditional Technologies".

I've always loved Jules Verne's novels and "20000 Leagues" is definitely one of my favourites. I even like the 1954 film starring James Mason despite the somewhat politically-incorrect episodes inserted into it for comic effect. (Anyone interested in reading it can download an E-book version of it legally and free here.)

The idea of starting to make this piece came a while back, when I bought some ghastly carved pink opals from my stone-dealer, Marcia Lanyon. I have no idea what possessed me to buy them as they are truly hideous:

Pink Opal Starfish

Amongst the students, they became known as the "Patrick Starfish Opals" and this inspired Dingo to elucidate!

These sat about for almost a year and a half - not, by any means, the longest a stone has sat unused in my stone boxes - until it struck me that the most staring-you-in-the-face obvious use for these was the only one: a sea-themed piece. I happened to be reading a collection of Verne's short stories at the time ("A Winter Amid The Ice and Other Thrilling Stories") and so the idea of a piece on "20000 Leagues" was born.

This was about the same time as I was making the "bomb" pendants from old CO2 cylinders:

V-2 Schneider and F1-11 Love Missile - 3

And it was immediately apparent that these cylinders would make an excellent submarine, which I made and then other things came along...

20000 Leagues Under The Sea - WIP - 5

Carol Docherty, who carved the snake for Fashion:Victim, carved a wax squid for me which is going to be set with an opalised fossil squid:

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 12

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 3

The top section was digitally-milled from a scan of the original fossil to ensure a good fit.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the collar is based on the Hohenlohe Collar, an intriguing piece referenced in Marian Campbell's "Medieval Jewellery" book for the V&A and about which I can find no other information.

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 9

I was particularly taken with the enamelled organic forms between the stone-set elements and wanted to use digital technology - with a view to the exhibition and the theme of the talk - to create a comparable form so turned to barnacle encrustations as a source, designing these links:

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 11

The links were drawn up using scripted Voronoi fills in Inkscape and then transferred to Rhino, where they were given dimensional form, again using scripts to create randomness. They were then "printed" in bronze-infused stainless steel by Shapeways.

The stone-set elements were also designed in a combination of Inkscape and Rhino and are a combination of digital milling and hand-piercing:

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 20

The steel links - brutally hard and can only be drilled with a carbide drill, which is one to remember for next time - are to be set with pearls and the opal starfish:

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 13

I also managed the basic construction of the squid/submarine element:

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 22

More to come this week!