Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Break - A Holiday And A New Suit

I've been on holiday!

Last thing on my bench were the silver "rabbit in a hat" charms, one of which I managed to set and polish:

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat - WIP - 36

This one has 24 x 1.8mm garnets round it and I'm making others with sapphires, rubies and mixed stones. One of my colleagues has commented that it is something of a departure from the "horrific" pieces made from silver rib-cages and broken dolls which have been on the desk more recently, "I can't believe you've made something cute", she said!

The hat was a digital model, printed in wax and then cast; the rabbit was cast from a toy (images of these can be seen in this post).

I spent the break - as usual - in Brighton with several trips to London in encouragingly sunny and spring-like weather. There was even time to get some gardening done, including the cleaning of the pond which I have been forestalling for over a year... Lots of flower photographs too, something I really enjoy and I was lucky enough to find a rather odd lens in a charity shop which became the lens-of-the-moment on my camera, an old East-German Leica clone, a Meyer-Optik Görlitz Orestor 100mm f2.8

Aesculus hippocastanum - Spring Growth

It is Election time over here and although these blog posts probably don't reflect it, I am normally very interested in politics but this time around, I'm just scunnered with all the politicians and their hidden personal agendas and photocopied catch-phrases; with their blatant and glib lies and their offensive bandwaggoneering. I am sick of the racism, the sexism, sick of the class-war (from both sides) and sick of reactionary and/or populist posturing. I don't know how I am going to vote... as a firm believer in Adam Smith's "Free Market" and with a social conscience - as, indeed, had the great Adam Smith himself - nobody suits me. Nobody. If only there were a box for "NO CONFIDENCE", but then the UK might find itself with no government.

I have been enjoying some of the political graffiti on posters, particularly this one on a poster for a horror-film:

The Conservative Party

London is currently awash with Shaun The Sheep statues and I think I found my favourite just outside Goldsmiths' Hall, designed by Vivi Cuevas from Bristol:

Shaun The Sheep On Guard

I was at Goldsmiths' Hall as a representative of the ACJ (Association for Contemporary Jewellery) at the Hall's "Make Your Mark" event encouraging graduates to register for assay marks. A busy day but a good one for the Association.

Goldsmiths' Hall - 2

As I've mentioned before, Cursley & Bond Gallery in Folkestone have been really good in terms of promoting and selling my work and Nicola invited me to speak at the gallery after the success of my previous talk last year as part of the Folkestone Triennial. This time, I decided to speak about the way in which a piece comes together and how I integrate digital and traditional techniques into my work, using the "20000 Leagues Under The Seas" collar as an example.

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - Professional Photograph

This had just come back from the Goldsmiths' Craft and Design Council show in Goldsmiths' hall and I took it with me as part of the talk.

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - Talk at Cursley & Bond Gallery - 3

It is lovely to actually meet and talk to people who enjoy my work.
If you are interested, you can download a copy of the talk here.

One of the highlights of my break was going to Bedlam Mews, in London, named after the notorious Victorian "lunatic asylum".

Bedlam Mews

I was off to meet with the radical tailors, Mark and Caroline, known as Earl of Bedlam, who have become the 21st Century equivalents of the swinging 60s Tommy Nutter or the 1970s Anthony Price, dressing rock-stars, Michelin-starred chefs, DJs, artists, eccentric businessmen and now me. Mark and Caroline are the furthest thing you can imagine from the stuffy British traditions of Savile Row while creating clothes to that exacting standard.

Mark and Caroline

Some time ago, I had become aware of their work through Grey Fox Blog (where I have found all my recent British clothiers) and a little research determined me that I should own one of their incredible "Tectonic" Suits.

Larry Love of Alabama 3 wearing an Earl of Bedlam Tectonic Suit, image courtesy of  Earl of Bedlam Blog
What stopped me from ordering the moment I discovered these suits was the realisation that it is possible to have too much tweed and wool in the wardrobe and that I'm better-dressed in winter than in summer. It was when Caroline posted a photograph on Twitter of some new summer Seersucker fabrics that the idea hit me:

A Summer Tectonic suit, made from classic Seersucker. When I suggested this to Caroline, she was most enthusiastic and so it is to be made: more on that soon.

From the moment I stepped into the creative lair of their studio, I felt welcome and comfortable. The studio is a fascinating space and Mark and Caroline are fascinating people, surrounded by paintings, fabric samples, screen-printing equipment and half-finished jackets on forms. One of the jackets was not by The Earl but by Jean-Paul Gaultier... fans of Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element" will possibly recognise it:

The Justified Sinner Wears A Legend!

After all that excitement, I'm back in the workshop today and back to making more of the signature "Nut Rings".

Recycled Nut Ring With Spinel