Thursday, December 22, 2011


To very nicely round out my "jewellery year", my Apocalyptic work has been featured in Serendipity Magazine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brighton Rock

Off to Brighton on Friday for the festive holidays! Today I had hardly any students in, had finished the charms for the SCC show and have nothing that I can really be doing on my two big projects ("Fashion:Victim" and "Future Legend") so I picked up a nut from the old West Pier in Brighton, a beautiful Victorian pier which had a theatre at the end and which has been allowed to fall into disrepair following an arson attack by a company which didn't want it to be restored:

Brighton West Pier at Low Tide

The nut was found on the sand under the pier at very low tide once and is heavily corroded, like the rest of the structure:

Remains of the West Pier

I made the nut into a ring, set with black onyx on the top and a haematite behind. The shank is made from a piece of steel found on a different beach and not from Brighton:

Brighton Rock - Ring - 1

Brighton Rock - Ring - 2

Brighton Rock - Ring - 4

A friend of mine who used to live in Brighton pointed out that it is a kind of "mourning ring" for the pier. I like to think that Pinkie, the amoral gangster anti-hero from Graham Greene's novel, "Brighton Rock", might wear it with his sharp suit. One of my favourite books.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

charmed iii

I received an email from Sharon Massey earlier this week, inviting me to submit some pieces for the third "Charmed" exhibition at the SCC in Pittsburgh, to which I happily agreed. Some time ago, Bob Ebendorf and I had been talking about me making a series of charm bracelets which I started but which never got anywhere as I couldn't get over the hurdle of creating a complex piece with essentially no "narrative". (The original plan was to create 10 bracelets and 100 charms which would be sold to order on the understanding that each bracelet would have 10 charms selected by the purchaser on a first-come-first-serve basis.) This means, however, that my "vague" WIP tray - projects started and abandoned to varying degrees of temporariness - has a fair selection of partially-completed charms. Thus I have managed to bring together five charms for the show in two days!
As the show is in Pittsburgh, I also incorporated some of the metal objects I found in the street when visiting over the summer:

Charmed III

Bird Skull and Zircon 2

 Natural blue zircon and polymer clay faux bird-skull by Dee Wilder.

Bone Skull and Spinel 1

 Spring washer, black spinel and freely-moving carved camel-bone skull.

Nut, Chrysoprase and Amethyst 1

 Nut, silver, amethyst and chrysoprase. I will clean the setting wax from the stone before sending!

Obsidian Skull, Garnet and Washer
 Obsidian skull set on a washer, hung with a garnet.

Sawblade and Needles 2

 Sawblade from Pittsburgh, needles from Clydebank.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

leftovers (noli me tangere)

I made a piece today from bits left over from Supercollider and a boar's tooth:

Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

Probably not going to get much done before the holidays now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

supercollider completed

Finally finished the Supercolliderpiece today. Not really in my usual style, but I'm fairly pleased with the way this worked out. Off to the photographer now!

Supercollider - 56

Supercollider - 52

Supercollider - 55

Supercollider - 50

Supercollider - 48

Supercollider - 49

Supercollider - 46

Supercollider - 44

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I've just spent the last few hours going through my photographs taken over the last year, trying to select a favourite to post on one of the Micro Four-Thirds groups on Flickr as one of those "end-of-year" review things. It's been a brilliant year! I've been to Sheffield, Perth (Scotland), Genova, New York and Pittsburgh and have made Cold Genius, A Forest, all the Beneath The Skin works, Supercollider and have started Future Legend and Fashion Victim. 
Picking one overall photograph from the year as a favourite was really hard, but I whittled it down to seven, the one I finally submitted as the overall favourite being this one:

Summer Fun

Taken in Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Plaza. 

The other favourites were (in no particular order):


Street Portrait 77

Earth Free - Fiona McGarva 2

Peninsula Motel

Street Portrait 55

Sinister Satyr

The details of each photograph are on the Flickr page which hosts them. Clicking the photograph will take you to that page. All these shots were taken with either my Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake or the Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 on the Panasonic G1.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

stone setting

Nice day today; the students were either busy working on their Christmas sale or they were held up by the snow, so I spent a very relaxing day chatting to them and setting stones:

Supercollider - WIP - 37

One of the students said that this looked "like something to control a spaceship"!

Supercollider - WIP - 36

The little particle-clusters are set with garnets. They are really bright but don't show up here.

Supercollider - WIP - 39

Monday, December 05, 2011

black hole sun!


Supercollider - WIP - 30 (Black Hole Sun!)

Trying to cast the last - and largest - in the series of spheres made from old sewing-machine needles, I had to use a gigantic flask which I had never used before and which cooled down too much before the full vacuum could be drawn under it, so the metal chilled and the structure didn't fill. There was about 24 hours of milling involved in making the wax components for this piece and I don't have the time or inclination, so it will have three spheres instead of five, which I actually think will look more balanced with the upper element. This is the sphere I was trying to cast:

Second Supercollider - 3

It is not, by any means, all bad news. The main section of the pendant is coming along well. This is it pre-polished and ready for polishing and setting:

Supercollider - WIP - 33

Supercollider - WIP - 34

And I even managed to get another link made and ready for setting:

Supercollider - WIP - 31

 The students' jewellery sale opens tomorrow night. If anyone is in Glasgow and wants to pop by the college for a drink and a snack, to say hello and have a look at their superb work, it opens at 6pm and runs until 8pm. (Apologies for the photo quality: I took this with my phone.)

Highstreet. Trainwreck

I've been using the marble stamps carved for me by Janos:

Justified Sinner Stamp And Seal - 7

Justified Sinner Stamp And Seal - 6

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dr. Seuss, I Owe You...

The Supercollider piece is progressing apace. I managed to cast the central torus element today:

Supercollider - WIP - 22

I got really fed-up cleaning it! Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this, though it still presents the problem of how I am going to get all the investment plaster out of the inside of the hollow bits! I also managed to get some of the links for the chain made today:

Supercollider - WIP - 23

Supercollider - WIP - 24

And the "emitter" from which the secondary pendant, the needle pieces I posted previously, will descend:

Supercollider - WIP - 21

This caused one of the students to comment that I had obviously enjoyed Dr. Seuss when I was younger. As Dingo will tell you, I know "Green Eggs and Ham" off by heart and can (and do) recite it when required (or even not required).
Here is where I finished the day:

Supercollider - WIP - 26

Sunday, November 27, 2011

working backwards (sustainably)

On Friday, I was sent to the most annoying meeting I've ever been forced to go to. It was given by a moron, an idiot who thought that it was enough to pompously declaim his unvalidated, ill-researched opinions on things relating to "sustainability", yet was hypocritical enough to brag about his "frequent visits to Greece" and his "two weeks in the Maldives", presumably all involving flights. Well, it is nice he can afford these things by selling his services as an advisor on sustainability. The talk itself was dross - I wouldn't have accepted his Powerpoint as a presentation from one of my first-year students - and he succeeded in not only being rude and insulting to his audience personally - for not having the intelligence to understand the basics of sustainability, believe it or not - but was made assumptions about them - suggesting that we all spent our evenings watching celebrities on television - additionally, he was foully heterosexist, sexist and actually even managed to be racist...
You might well be wondering why I have used this space to vent about something so utterly irrelevant. Well, this particular cloud had a silver lining: I actually managed to use the time (almost one and a half hours) to prepare some drawings to make sense of my vague ideas for the Supercollider piece, channelling my fizzing anger into my sketchbook, rather than at the fat slob in a cheap suit who was haranguing us, thus being creative and keeping me in gainful employment!

Supercollider - WIP - 14

Here you can see the "torus" structure from which the "particles" will explode. For years, I've had some sections of rusted spiral steel from a car which I found on Southwold beach and which is some sort of shield for a brake or other cable. It is really hard to work with as it is tough and springy and won't really anneal:

Supercollider - WIP - 7

Previously, I used this material to make some earrings which were inspired by the location at which I found it:

Rock Pool - 3

This time, I thought it perfect for creating a sci-fi/steampunk hybrid feel to the piece by using it inside sections of the torus, returning, again to a MUCH older piece, one of my very first explorations in found-object jewellery from the late 1990s, "Scary Baby":

The Scary Baby
(So old, I don't even have a decent photograph of it!)

As you can see, some of the elements of this piece have transferred directly to the drawings for Supercollider. Originally, I was going to make the torus by hand, but as I can't reliably bend thick tubing, I decided to make it by modelling the basic form in Rhino and milling it out:

Supercollider - WIP (Rhino Model) - 17

As this is too big for our milling machines, I had to find a way to make it in sections. Remembering "Airfix" kits from when I was younger, I split the torus into sections with lugs and grooves to make it easy to reassemble accurately:

Airfix kit

(Photograph by "unloveablesteve" on Flickr, used under CC BY-NC-SA License 2.0)

Supercollider - WIP (Rhino Model) - 16

As with the "particle" elements, the steel sections of this element are going to be cast-in-place, this time using the spiral wire from above:

Supercollider - WIP - 10

Supercollider - WIP - 13

Ready to cast.
I also managed to get started on some of the other sections of the chain and for attaching to the torus:

Supercollider - WIP - 9

Supercollider - WIP - 12

I spotted work by one of my ex-students, Ishbel Watson, in a gallery window this weekend, which is excellent!


A week of getting excellent mail, too! I got this from Dingo:

Dingo Writes...

And Janos sent me a stamp and a seal which he carved for me from Cararra Marble:

Justified Sinner Cararra Marble Stamps 1

I'll post more of this when I get some stamping ink and sealing wax.