Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Perils of "Secret" Projects!

This last couple of months has been absolutely unbearable for someone who enjoys sharing the progress of works online. First came the Caledonian Sleeper cufflink commission, then came my work with "The Contemporary Jewellery Exchange" for Jan Donaldson, which I can't show until the 1st of May!

The good thing is that I can now reveal the cufflinks for the Caledonian Sleeper, made for the designer of the uniforms, Alan Moore at Ten30 Designs. The service launches on the 1st of April but the press launch was on Monday this week and so I can now show the design, based on the company logo:

Caledonian Sleeper Cufflinks Macquette - 1

Caledonian Sleeper Cufflinks Macquette - 2

These were developed digitally from the original graphic files for the logo:

And then sent out for bulk casting, which then left me all the cleaning-up to do! I did have very kind offers from the students and my colleagues to help, but in the end, I completed everything on time.

Caledonian Sleeper Cufflinks - WIP - 3

Caledonian Sleeper Cufflinks - WIP - 2

I'll post photographs of the uniforms when I have them.

I've managed to get quite a lot done on the "Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat" watch chain for the ACJ exhibition and completed the application drawing. I hate making drawings like this as it denies the spontaneity of the way that I normally work, so it can only ever be an approximation of the final piece. My very detailed sketchbooks normally evolve along with the piece being constructed, designs changing in response to problems, materials and my general whims.

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - Drawing -  27

The central element is almost constructed and I'm waiting on the 3D-printed steel elements for the watch case which will drop into the Victorian silver case which I bought for "scrap" many years ago.

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - WIP - 28

It is always so lovely and flattering when people decide that they want to send me things that I might use in my work. This week, it was an absolute joy to open a parcel from Mel Gustafson and find all manner of goodies, including a huge batch of gemstones she no longer wanted:

A Wonderful Gift - 1

Some amazing beetle elytra (which oddly sound like metal when they touch together):

A Wonderful Gift - 4

And some "sleeping" doll's eyes:

A Wonderful Gift - 5

Last week was the resurgence again of a project which was started many years ago and which has been on tour round the world, in residence at the National Museum of Scotland and which is now a "Learning Resource" for schools and colleges to borrow. The "Silver of the Stars" exhibition was begun by the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, bringing together ten Scottish celebrities - though both "Scottish" and "Celebrity" are to be interpreted loosely... quite how Alexander McQueen qualifies as either is unclear! - with ten Scottish silversmiths to create work for them.

The learning resource was launched last week at Edinburgh's "Dovecot Studios". The event itself was worthy and dull, but it was rather nice to be able to see the silverwares again.

"Silver of the Stars" - 2

Left to right, John Creed for writer, Ian Rankin; Linda Robertson for Lulu; Grant McCaig for Robbie Coltrane; Sarah Cave for Cameron Mackintosh.

"Silver of the Stars" - 3

Left to right, Sarah Hutchinson for Sharleen Spiteri; Michael Lloyd for Sean Connery; Marion Kane for Ewan McGregor.

"Silver of the Stars" - 5

Left to right, Roger Millar for Nicola Benedetti; Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill for Billy Connolly; Graham Stewart for Alexander McQueen.

Regular followers will recall that a few weeks back, I met with Al Blair, a Glasgow artist and fellow junk enthusiast and spent a very cold afternoon in his studio. On Thursday night, I went to the opening of a bar in the city for which he has provided a lot of the fixtures and fittings. Bar Ten - now known as "Tabac" - was something of a Glasgow legend... originally opened in 1988 (I was at the first opening too!) with interiors by Ben Kelly, Bar Ten developed an almost cult following and almost everyone I know remembers it fondly but almost everyone I know has also stopped going there, so it is good to see that someone - Fergus McVicar - has taken the bull by the horns and re-opened it with a view to turning it around.

The original Bar Ten was very clean, fresh and wilfully modernist. It was absolutely tiny but somehow managed to be airy. Al and Fergus, along with other Glasgow artists, have taken the idea of "modernism" and the intimate qualities of the space and created a space that feels intimate and somehow illegal, somewhere that wouldn't be out of place in a dark corner of 'Total Recall' or 'Terminator'.

Tabac / Bar Ten - 4

Tabac / Bar Ten - 5

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Time Between Posts!

Gets longer and longer.

I need to get into the habit of posting more frequently.

The last couple of weeks have been very busy, mainly working on the cufflinks for the Caledonian Sleeper which I am not allowed to show you until after the press-launch on 23rd March. It is a real production job and not the sort of thing I really enjoy, even though I am going to be so incredibly proud to know that my work is part of something so big and impressive.

Other than that, we've had a visit from Maira at Gemstones Brazil and I bought some more stones from her stock of incredibly well-cut gemstones: 

Gemstones From Brazil - 3

I've also been working on my entry for the Association for Contemporary Jewellery annual competition, this year on the theme of "Sleight of Hand". I've decided to take a damaged and discarded silver watch case from an 1898 pocket watch and make a very untraditional watch and chain for a traditional magician.

The case was found in a bag of scrap bought for casting and always struck me as too interesting to melt down, so it has sat in my box of materials for years, along with the brass game spinner shown here:

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - WIP - 1

I've only too late realised that I didn't photograph the case before I attached the skull and ring, which was an oversight. The back and sides of the case are quite elaborately engraved:

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - WIP - 21

The tubing in the photograph above is to become the toggle which holds the chain into the waistcoat button and in keeping with the theme, I've engraved this to become a wand:

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - WIP - 17

The whole piece is called "Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat" in reference to the main centrepiece, a fob of a rabbit in a hat:

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - WIP - 13

The hat has been modelled in Rhino to allow it to be set accurately around the hatband:

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - WIP - 16

I'm having this 3D-printed but did run a test on the mill:

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - WIP - 15

More soon on this project.

Yesterday, I found out about and exciting project, The Contemporary Jewellery Exchange 2015. Olga, who runs the project, was short of one person for her pairs and through Mark Fenn, I became the final member of the project!

What delighted me most was learning that I was to be paired with Jan Donaldson in Australia for my exchange. I absolutely love her work:

I have just the piece to start me off on my piece for her, a ceramic doll body...

My Iron Lung - TCJE 2015 - WIP - 1

More on this soon, too!

My students have been blowing me away with their stone-setting and CAD abilities this term. These pieces were both designed, made and hand-set by students on my HND course:

Paula Sloan - 2
Ring by Paula Sloan

Mariusz Sugila
Ring by Mariusz Suliga

Finally, I received Andrew Neilson's amazing photograph of the watch chain I made for photographer Simon Murphy. Delighted, as ever!

Photographer's Watch Chain - Professional Photograph