Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wot, No Iron?

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been really busy with family matters as well as learning to use the new mill and the associated software, so I've not really had a chance to make any of my usual work. I've been forced to make quick projects and have also been using the products of the mill as it is always so much more encouraging and interesting to be teaching oneself something with a real goal at the end.
As a result of this, I've been working largely in more conventional materials and forms and they don't get much more conventional than that icon of unconventionality, the Skull Ring:

For Those About To Rock... 2

This was entirely designed in Gemvision Matrix, then milled out on the Revo Milling machine in wax and cast. I am proud to say that three out of the four male members of the teaching staff in the jewellery department at North Glasgow College now sport one of these and they have become known as "Secret Jewel Club" rings. Boys being boys, we hope that people overhear and think "Secret Duel Club"!
A while back, I was fortunate enough to find a whole load of 1940s French Bakelite hunting buttons with various animal heads on them:

Vintage Bakelite Buttons 6

Using the mill again, I designed a setting for these buttons, a simple, fluted rub-over, the back of which echoed the shape of the back of the button. These were cast up and have allowed me to make a small range of related pieces:

Settings For Vintage Bakelite - 3

Which have then become some pieces...

Der Freischütz - 1

Bracelet - Der Freischütz

Der Freischütz - 2

Der Freischütz - 3

Stag Ring - 5

Stag Ring

Stag Ring - 4

Quite fortuitously, one of my students brought me some spent bullet casings which her father had found when he was out hill-walking in the Pentland hills. I re-tipped the bullet with silver and a spinel cabochon and made it into a brooch with two faceted black spinels and a white quartzite:

The Deerhunter - 1
The Deerhunter

I have about eight of the buttons and their settings left and seven other bullets with silver and spinel tips. Who knows what comes next?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

not much about work

My colleague is off on paternity leave just now, leaving me holding the fort with our great part-time and temporary staff and my excellent technician, Fiona. A fault in the fire-alarm system in the building means that I can't cast anything, and I've not had time to work at the bench. Additionally, I just spent two weeks on holiday, so haven't much to report other than that I sent all my work off to the gallery at Cwmbran in Wales today, Llantarnam Grange, who are hosting an exhibition of my work next month.

An excellent time for musing on things I've noticed...

First up, I am rather taken by the recent acquisition by the British Library of the "St Cuthbert Gospel", a book written and bound in the late Seventh Century and then variously added to until the mid 1100s before being interred in a coffin with a putative "Saint" Cuthbert. The book itself is quite lovely. For me, the most amazing thing about it is that it is still completely legible, and easily so. It is quite possible to look at this and read the Latin text with the ease of a modern printed book. You can see the book on the British Library Website in fantastically fast-rendering High-Definition images. Unfortunately, it cost the library £9 million to buy...

My good friend, Janos, has been experimenting for some time with seals and stamps, carving the Carara marble from the Italian alps near his home in Campo Ligure and etching steel to make jewellery and pocket-pieces which are pleasing, robust and useful. He made some stamps for me some time ago:

Justified Sinner Stamp And Seal - 6

Justified Sinner Stamp And Seal - 7

Which I now use on all my packaging. More recently, he's made this brilliant "bangle stamp/seal":

Seal Bracelet - iron

These make for a fine touch when sending out hand-made items.
More later in the week!