Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dundee, Brighton and Best of Britannia 2015

So, as per my summer norms, I am in Brighton again for the summer season, reminding me of the quote from "Prick Up Your Ears", 'When you say he's on the Coast, dear, do you mean he's in Brighton?'...
I arrived on Friday immediately after seeing my graduates officially graduate at the Dundee University graduation ceremony in Caird Hall. Here are Inness and Anne getting additional honours from Desperate Dan:

DJCAD - BDes. (Hons) Jewellery Graduation - 17

The actual ceremony was very good, with excellent speakers, which makes a change for these sorts of events.

DJCAD - BDes. (Hons) Jewellery Graduation - 14

The workshops were packed up on Thursday, which I always find a melancholy process. I finished the last piece on the bench, a bracelet made from old keys, silver, sapphire, ruby, garnet and tourmaline.

The Navy-blue Ghost Of Mr Belaker - 3

The Navy-blue Ghost Of Mr Belaker - 1

On Saturday it was up to London for the "Best of Britannia", an exhibition of makers who make work entirely in the UK. I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but I knew that several of my own favourite makers were going to be there, Susannah Hall and Cravat Club.

Best of Britannia - 9

Best of Britannia - 6

I hadn't really expected this to be a networking event, but it turned out to be exactly that and I got to meet with some very interesting and exciting people. The first person I spoke to was Denise of deni-deni leather, maker of top-quality leather goods:

Best of Britannia - 1

I loved Denise's confidence that she would be able to tackle any project in leather and discussed with her customised leather jewellery bags and a couple of wallets. The next most exiting discovery I made was that there is still a company in the UK which is making watches by hand, movements and all. I've been pretty disappointed to discover that a lot of the "British" watchmakers are buying in movements from abroad - China, Switzerland - and fitting these to British-made cases, so it was a pleasure to meet the people at Garrick Watches who not only make everything by hand but will also make movements to order...

Best of Britannia - 3

I rather wish that I had known about them before I had started on my recent "Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat" watch and chain as I would definitely have worked with them rather than use the off-the-shelf movement I used.

My favourite object in the whole show was this chair:

Best of Britannia - 5

Made from bicycle tubing and Brooks' saddle leather, the Randonneur chair by Two Makers is incredibly comfortable and although admittedly rather costly, the makers are working on ways of bringing the price down. I may be tempted!

There were a number of jewellers there and I had a long chat to Andrew English about his work, as well as all manner of other things, including politics, economics and philosophy:

Best of Britannia - 7

Best of Britannia - 8

All of these "Mobius" pieces are hand-carved from wax and then cast and he has been working for a while on the multi-coloured matt finish which is reminiscent of the colour-fades in some of Niessing's work.

I also had a long chat to Karl, jeweller and owner of the newish gallery, "London Rocks Jewellery":

Best of Britannia - 10

I have high hopes of this gallery being a possible outlet for the work of some of my graduates.

Holiday at last!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Handmade By Machines 2015

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 23

A year has passed since the 2014 Handmade By Machines show at The Lighthouse in Glasgow and this year bigger and better than ever. A show about digital manufacture for the jewellery industry, focusing on the work done by the tutors and students at the four Scottish colleges offering jewellery courses and, for the first time, work by staff and students at London's private jewellery school, Holt's Academy.

The standard of the work was higher than ever, which is encouraging, indicating that the people who are completing their courses and entering the industry are better-positioned than ever to deal with the massive changes which are sweeping through the jewellery industry specifically and the product-design world generally.

The range of technologies on show is as one would expect, laser-cutting, SLS in a variety of materials including metal, SLA which has then been set, cast, formed and used directly as product... There were so many entrants in the show and curator, Karen-Ann Dicken, has taken the admirable approach of mixing up the work of the different colleges and further mixing the work of tutors in with that of students, thus my photographs don't really have any details available on them. Anyone wishing to find the CVs of the makers from the photographs, can see the biography lists here.

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 1

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 4

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 22

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 9

A sucker for a good gimmick, I was especially taken with the "Train-Track" Rings...

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 15

The train moves and there is a video here.

This is a small selection of the work. More can be seen on my Flickr photostream.

Part of the opening day was a symposium about digital manufacture with five speakers, of whom I was one (the last). Normally I would hate going last, but the talks before me were all interesting and relevant and so the audience weren't bored! First up was organiser, Karen, talking about something dear to my heart - the continued importance of the paper-and-pencil sketchbook practice as an element of digital design:

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 26

Next up was an associate of many years' standing, Anne-Marie Shilito who was talking about her amazing, inexpensive, haptic modelling system:

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 27

We bought a copy of this, along with the haptic modelling device to go with it, had a hard-disk failure and never got round to re-establishing the use of the programme but as the improved v.3 software is now available, this is definitely a project for the start of next term. Have a look at the software and system - Anarkik3D.

Jack Meyer of Holt's Academy in London presented a talk about the changes in the jewellery industry brought about by CAD/CAM.

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 28

Largely about the decline of the traditional approaches to buying and selling - witness the closure of Electrum and Lesley Craze - and the rise of new forms of buying.

After the interval came Katharine Childs, who spoke about her experiments with "Smart Materials":

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 29

These materials change in response to stimulus (heat, light, electricity) and then return to their original form. I loved her samples!

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 24

Then it was my turn, talking about the way in which I integrate digital manufacture into my own practice, especially in terms of the difficulties of using found objects and reclaimed materials with digital processes.

It was also the first outing of my Tectonic seersucker summer suit...

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 31

After this came the reception and the official opening of the show.

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 33

Handmade By Machines runs at The Lighthouse in Glasgow until 13th July.

Almost time to pack up the workshops for the summer and I've been finishing off some stock items to take with me to Brighton for delivery to Cursley & Bond in Folkestone early in July.

Bring On The Dancing Horses - 3
"Bring on the Dancing Horses" - Bangle made from discarded stainless-steel bridle bit, silver, tourmalines and lapis lazuli.
Dungeness Works Iolite-Iron Earring Trio - 1
Earring trio made from iolite and corroded nails found on the beach at Dungeness in Kent.
La Forchetta - 2
Pendant made from a rusted fork found at a flea-market in Turin and set with emerald and rhodolite garnet.
Son Of King - Post-Apocalyptic Cocktail Ring - 1
"Son of King" - Post-Apocalyptic Cocktail Ring made from found, corroded hex nut (a gift from Al Blair!), silver, prehnite and rhodolite garnets.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jewellery Technology and the GSA Degree Show 2015

Another busy week, this time hosting at Glasgow Kelvin College our first "Jewellery Technology Day" comprising demonstrations and visits from a variety of people connected with digital manufacturing processes.

Digital Jewellery Day - Glasgow Kelvin College - June 2015 - 1

This was set up by Gemvision UK and Glasgow Kelvin College, in conjunction with Rofin Laser Welders, ES Technology, Sutton Tools, EnvisionTEC and Indutherm casting. It was great to get to talk to some of the people involved in the direct metal laser sintering at ES Technology and to get to see some of the incredible work they have been able to produce using this technology:

Digital Jewellery Day - Glasgow Kelvin College - June 2015 - 6

Digital Jewellery Day - Glasgow Kelvin College - June 2015 - 5

After that, it was off to the Glasgow School of Art for the 2015 degree show. As usual, I spent most time in the jewellery and silversmithing section and the show was good, as ever.

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 30

I started off by talking to Rachel Blair about her work in paper and precious metals, work chosen to feature on the poster for the general degree show, not just for jewellery:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 2 - Rachel Blair

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 1 - Rachel Blair

I really like this work, the use of the impermanent and decomposing paper with the utterly simple metalwork. It is always interesting to me how themes seem to seep their way through some shows and one of the themes of this show was definitely "surface" and there were a lot of exquisitely-considered surfaces on a lot of the work.

Amy Dunnachie makes work from distressed, painted and transfer-printed found wood. Some of these pieces are made from the bungs from whisky casks, so smelled amazing too!

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 4 - Amy Dunnachie

Having said all that, my favourite piece by her didn't relate to her main theme at all and was this elegant pendant using a found lens:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 3 - Amy Dunnachie

I'm proud to be able to say that Karen Westland learned her advanced CAD skills at Glasgow Kelvin College, where she furthered what she had already learned at the GSA with one of our advanced night-classes in Rhino and I think that she's applied her skills admirably:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 6 - Karen Westland

Not all of her work is CAD/CAM, however and I was really taken with these pieces which were developed in CAD but then completely hand-made - an interesting approach:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 7 - Karen Westland

Another unlikely connection with the show this year came in the surprise meeting with Kathleen Reilly who had produced a range of brilliantly subversive silverwares, which I loved:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 9 - Karen Reilly

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 8 - Karen Reilly

Kathleen did a 6-week school's evening class with me some years ago, age 15 or 16 and made a silver ring with a black onyx in it. I can't really claim to have helped with her show in any way, but it is pleasing to know that she was inspired enough to keep it going and to end up with such an impressive array of work.

Maliha Khan makes work in blackened balsa-wood, based on crystallography and the idea of gemstones, without actually using any gemstones. I particularly liked these brooches - lenses again!

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 10 - Maliha Khan

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 11 - Maliha Khan

I will confess to not knowing quite what to make of the work of Checkie Ieong:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 12 - Checkie Ieong

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 13 - Checkie Ieong

Unfortunately, she was not at her stand to discuss.

It will probably surprise some of you to learn that I absolutely love the work of Maisie Ford - especially my students whom I am always berating for working with 'flower' themes! - but these are something else:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 15 - Maisie Ford

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 14 - Maisie Ford

There is something here that reminds me of "The Clangers", something mid-1970s without any of the baggage, something 'pop' without being in any way cheesy and her collection in fabric and metals completely hangs together.

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 16 - Maisie Ford

Not so sure about Angel Reid's, "Like the Chapman brothers but camp..." work:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 18 - Angel Reid

Miriam Woolf makes jewelley which can only be described as "Dystopian" and needless to say, it appeals to me a lot. Her use of carefully-melted plastic, found and recycled materials and precious metals manages to deftly avoid cliché and is subtle, wearable and yet retains a certain punk ethos:

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 19 - Miriam Woolf

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 20 - Miriam Woolf

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 21 - Miriam Woolf

Surface again features largely in the work of Sophie Warringham's mixed-material pieces, which include plastics, salt crystals, silver, enamels and resin.

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 23 - Sophie Warringham

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 24 - Sophie Warringham

When it comes to my own students, I am not allowed to have favourites but when I'm reviewing other shows, I can be as partisan as I like! Thus by far my favourite work was that of Ieva Mikutaite and her kinetic pieces based on the seeds of a dandelion.

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 26 - Ieva Mikutaite

All of this work is finely made, largely in the digital realm and then hand-finished and constructed. All the pieces move on a series of riveted pivots or have interchangeable elements. They are to-be-played-with but are far from playful; instead, they intrigue and they are beautifully-made.

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 25 - Ieva Mikutaite

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 27 - Ieva Mikutaite

(I also admire anyone who knows the difference between SLA and SLS technologies!)

Surfaces again in the work of Tina MacLeod and her wonderful patinated mokume pieces which reflect the landscape and vegetation of Scotland. These are subtle pieces which have an immediate appeal but which also leave a lasting impression.

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 28 - Tina MacLeod

From a technical point of view, they are especially interesting.

Glasgow School of Art - Jewellery Degree Show 2015 - 29 - Tina MacLeod

If you are interested in learning more about any of the graduates, you can see their galleries on the GSA mini-site, here. (Scroll down on the site.)

On Sunday night, I went to hear Hans Joachim Irmler (of Faust) and Jaki Liebezeit (of Can) perform as a duo of drums and keyboards. I've always loved that motoric 1970s sound of Germany and it was brilliant to be able to hear two luminaries of the era working together at what they do best.

Hans Joachim Irmler & Jaki Liebezeit - 6

Hans Joachim Irmler & Jaki Liebezeit - 5

Hans Joachim Irmler & Jaki Liebezeit - 3

All through the gig, I kept thinking it was my ex-student, Inness Thomson on keyboards:

Glasgow Kelvin College - Interim Jewellery Degree Show (Year 3) - 1

The performance was stellar, unashamedly harking back to the heyday of Can and Faust but still fresh and new without any nostalgia or re-hashing of previous glories.

I never understand how support-acts are selected. In this case, the support act were the utterly insipid "Wolf" who did nothing but remind me of other acts who do it better, Portishead, Laika, Stereolab... "I have nothing to sell you" simpered the lead 'singer' from behind her rack of expensive technology. I was glad of that.

My own bench this week has been further occupied with making stock to keep me going over the summer, including some new "Dungeness Works" made from the ship's chain I found on the beach at Dungeness last summer:

Dungeness Works - Ship-Chain Bracelets - 1

Dungeness Works - Ship-Chain Bracelets - 5

More soon.