Saturday, October 29, 2011

another visit to birmingham

A flying visit to Birmingham for a meeting and the opening of Terry Hunt's marvellous "All Golds" exhibition. Terry has been one of the main educators in the jewellery industry in the UK for over 40 years, teaching at the jewellery school of UCE in the city at all levels of expertise. In his way, he has taught many of the current "movers and shakers" of the industry and to celebrate his retirement - it is hard to imagine how anyone could ever replace his boundless energy and educational expertise and skill - he invited 100 of his previous students to exhibit two pieces: one student piece from when he taught them, and one current piece.
The show is excellent and is well worth a visit if remotely near Birmingham (UK).

Terry's All Golds, UCE Jewellery School, Birmingham 20

Terry explaining something about the work of Martyn Pugh.

Terry's All Golds, UCE Jewellery School, Birmingham 16 Terry's All Golds, UCE Jewellery School, Birmingham 15

Work by Claire Denham-Smith (For Stephen Webster, right).

Terry's All Golds, UCE Jewellery School, Birmingham 8

Work by Abigail Stradling.

Terry's All Golds, UCE Jewellery School, Birmingham 1

Overview of the show.
As I always say when I come back from Birmingham, I love the place!
This has something to do with the jewellery tool shops there and I succumbed to temptation and bought a mini tube-bender:

Sorry about the photograph. I took it with my phone!

Been back in the workshop. The lovely Marvin made this piece:

Smiling Jack Copper and Brass Cross

Which reminded me of the skull-spoons I made some time ago from old spoons.

SpoonSkull 5, 6 & 7

So I asked him if he would mind me making a version using a spoon. Of course, the whole thing grew legs and I had intended it to be finished by Hallowe'en but my stone dealer came to visit and she had some oddly-cut garnets which just had to be incorporated and so it won't be ready for Hallowe'en at all. Never mind.
This time, instead of cutting the spoons, I took a leaf from Marvin's book and chased the spoon into a skull form:
Ugly Silver Teaspoon 1

One dog-ugly silver teaspoon. A souvenir of Florida!

Skull-Spoon Chased 1

In pitch, ready to chase.

Chased Spoon Skull 6

Chased and cut.

Chased Spoon Skull 7

Finished and stone-set.
More on this soon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Te.Ta.Bu. Gallery, Genova

While I was in Genova, I went to see the newest contemporary jewellery gallery in the town, Te.Ta.Bu., located in a back street near the castle gate in the ancient part of the city. Run by Camilla Teglio, Barbara Taramasso and Emanuela Burlando, this gallery aims to showcase the works of the makers as well as others.

Te.Ta.Bu. Galleria 1

The gallery is small and inviting and though it has no window display space, has made inventive use of the old inn in which it is housed, incorporating both workshop and gallery space.

Te.Ta.Bu. Galleria 2

Te.Ta.Bu. Galleria 3

The gallery is in both the upper section of the space next to the workshops and also in the basement, which used to be the wine-cellar.

Te.Ta.Bu. Galleria 5

Te.Ta.Bu. Galleria

Below, right to left, Camilla Teglio, Barbara Taramasso, János Gabor Varga, Me and Dingo.

Te.Ta.Bu. Galleria 4

Worth a visit if visiting the city in which there is very little contemporary jewellery on display.
(Though I did rather like this trashy lizard necklace, seen in a mainstream shop!)

Giovanni Raspini

Monday, October 24, 2011

campo ligure: wood and filigree

I've just got back from a visit to Italy, to one of my favourite towns there, Genova, the mediaeval city clinging to the cliffs which plunge from the foothills of the alps to the sea. Just to the north of Genova, is the tiny town of Campo Ligure, which is reckoned to be the home of filigree. By this, I mean true filigree, not just "anything made from fine wires" which the word seems to have come to mean. As part of my visit to see my dear friend, János, we also took in some of the other amazing things the little town has to offer.

First up was the marvellous Giardino Tugnin, which is a set of enormous sculptures by a local butcher turned sculptor and which are carved directly from the stumps of hardwood trees, especially olive trees.

Il Giardino Tugnin 13

His work is a bizarre and wonderful mixture of mythology, Dante's Divine Comedy and portraits of local people:

Il Giardino Tugnin 8

Il Giardino Tugnin 4

Il Giardino Tugnin 5

Il Giardino Tugnin 19

Il Giardino Tugnin 21

After this, we went to the Filigree museum. Campo Ligure is supposed to have been the place where filigree was first made and a study has been done which shows that all filigree work around the world can be traced to this town.

Museo Civico Della Filigana Pietro Carlo Bosio 1

Now, I am not a big fan of filigree - though visiting the museum and the workshop later did give me some ideas of things I might now try - but it was interesting to see a collection of it. I've only posted a few pictures here but there are more. Clicking on one of the pictures will take you to Flickr to see the rest.

Museo Civico Della Filigana Pietro Carlo Bosio 2

"Filigree" the word comes from the Italian words for "wire" and "seed" and it is traditionally made from twisted wires which are then flattened.

Museo Civico Della Filigana Pietro Carlo Bosio 12

For me, the most impressive pieces are the ones which combine filigree with other techniques, such as this plique-a-jour enamel goblet. The museum is very modern, bright and well-organised, with the different styles divided up into countries and regions.

Museo Civico Della Filigana Pietro Carlo Bosio 18

Some of the work is nothing short of vulgar!

Museo Civico Della Filigana Pietro Carlo Bosio 20

And some is of very great refinement

Museo Civico Della Filigana Pietro Carlo Bosio 19

After visiting the museum, we went to visit Franca Bonegra, one of the last remaining filigranists in the town. She was trained as a child and can remember her whole family working in the workshop at the back of her tiny shop from which she still works and sells.

Come Fare Filigrana 1

Come Fare Filigrana 2

Franca's bench.

Come Fare Filigrana 3

Partially-completed works.

Come Fare Filigrana 4

Various elements waiting to be soldered. These are the basic elements into which the filigree scrolls are placed.

Come Fare Filigrana 5

Decorative granules.

Come Fare Filigrana 6

Wire drawbench and forming bench.

Come Fare Filigrana 7

The special solder and flux mixture which is used to bind the elements together. This solder is a rather low-grade and therefore low-melting point solder. It is powdered and then mixed with borax and "aqua verde". None of us were quite sure what "aqua verde" actually is. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

Come Fare Filigrana 8

Franca making the little scrolls to go into the "scaffold".

Come Fare Filigrana 9

Soldering by moving the board under the flame, not the flame over the board, as most jewellers do. TO the left is a bottle of "aqua verde", looking horribly like "Mountain Dew"!

Come Fare Filigrana 10

The filligranist makes the wires using an ancient and non-standard steel guide which her grandfather used. All his patterns are marked out in measurements taken from this guide.

Come Fare Filigrana 11

Come Fare Filigrana 12

Finished filigree works for sale and export in the shop.

Come Fare Filigrana 13

Traditional designs in the shop.

It is really sad that this skill is being lost. Franca had taught her son to make this sort of work but he has moved to Genova to manage a food shop there. It pays more.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

waiting and waiting

It's been a week where I've not been able to proceed as I am waiting for other people to do things, thus Fashion:Victim is waiting for a piece of jet to be carved and Future Legend is waiting for some fresh acrylic enamels to be delivered. Instead of working on those, I've spent the last few days dusting off half-completed projects and finishing them, largely to restock my Etsy shop.

Some of the completed pieces:

Kinetic Peridot Ring 3

A kinetic ring made from a lump of cast-iron found in the street and a piece of iron gas-pipe. The whole top section revolves around the stone and is perfect for fiddling with! I've no idea what that top piece could have been used for.

Iron and Garnet Ring 3

Another simple ring made from a found, corroded iron nut, which has been smoothed out inside and set with six garnets. The garnets are set directly into the iron.

Wrecked Bolt and Citrine Ring 2

Over the weekend, a friend of mine gave me this wrecked bolt which he found lying on the harbour at Ramsay, Isle of Man and it was immediately made into this ring, set with citrines.

Druzy Pendant With Roofing Nail 1

Almost immediately we set foot in Pittsburgh over the summer, Dingo found this nail, which has been made into a pendant. I made the setting for the druzy AGES ago but then didn't use it.

Obsidian Pendant 2

Another piece which has been sitting in my "to do" tray for years. Actually years! Obsidian and a very brilliant quartz set on a corroded washer found in Glasgow.

Off to Italy next week, to Genova, where Dingo and I will be meeting with a very good friend who also works in found iron and who will be taking us to the new Museo della Filigrana, the Museum of Filligree, which he helped to set up. Quite apart from that, it is the season of WHITE TRUFFLES in North Italy, of which I am hoping to sample a few.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

gloomy sunday

It is cold and has done nothing but rain all weekend here so I spent the day at my engraving bench working on one of the elements for Future Legend. I'm fairly pleased with the way this came out as it is the first piece of scroll engraving I've designed and engraved myself all the way through:

Future Legend (WIP) 9

This being finished, I can now design the other scroll elements for more weekends of engraving. It also doubles as a replacement moustache, should I lose mine:

Baroque Moustache