New special bespoke jewellery launch for The Weekender at Old Granada Studios

I am really excited about bringing this new special project  to Manchester this Saturday and Sunday for The Weekender at Old Granada Studios 20th 21st June.

The concept of this ring is to involve you to make your own contribution to create a unique piece  just for you.

 

Inspired by the wonderful world of nature, it is the Caddisfly's clever larvae which helped to create the concept of this new piece. 

To give themselves protection when they are in their young state they create their own tailor made casing.

They build their homes from the natural materials around them, each marvellous creature crafting their own perfect fit using their own choice of organic objects they find.

The artist Hubert Duprat even created an environment of minute gems and  golden nuggets so that the larvae that lodged within could en-robe themselves in the glittering treasures. I was blown away by this when I saw them in Paris at the Dries Van Noten exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs.

For this new collection of rings I want to allow each individual to be the crafty caddisfly collecting for their own ring.

Bejewelled cases left behind by the craftings of a clever Caddisfly larvae thanks to the artist Hubert Duprat.

Bejewelled cases left behind by the craftings of a clever Caddisfly larvae thanks to the artist Hubert Duprat.

I made the very first of these rings for myself to signify a big change in my environment and keep a piece of it with me and I am really looking forward to allowing others to wear a part of the places that mean something to them too.

 

For each bespoke commission you can find your own materials which I can use to create your own beautifully encrusted ring. 

This could be a little sand from your favourite beach, or some gravelly debris from your very own doorstep.

I will be at The Weekender, the free designer festival at Old Granada Studios this weekend to meet you and chat about this special project, but please also feel free to email me at info@jademellor.com with any questions ideas or just to say hello!

Exploring Uncertainty

"What happens when makers eschew certainty of outcome, instead embracing chance, volatility and impermanence in their work? Wood artist Nic Webb, and silversmiths David Clarke and Hazel Thorn discuss with session chair Lottie Davies, Taylor-Wessing Prize-winning photographer and BAFTA-nominated short film artist."

The sugar crystals took 6 months to form on this silver object by David Clarke.

The sugar crystals took 6 months to form on this silver object by David Clarke.

Hazel Thorn creates her own material through fusing rods of silver and gilding metal, creating an alloy, seen as the the third green stripe.

Hazel Thorn creates her own material through fusing rods of silver and gilding metal, creating an alloy, seen as the the third green stripe.


 

This was another great event held at Collect on Friday. It invited three artist makers with different forms of using unusual and "destructive" methods to give an insight into how it can help make something new and exciting. 

 

BURNING

 

Nic Webb was pointing out the difference he found between the work he makes and other artists using natural materials like Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy's work is fleeting, to be experienced but only for a time as it is left to the elements meaning that without photographs many people would never see his creations.

By making an object you see the effect of a person on a material, having some degree of control in order to leave a tangible record of their existence and ideas.

Webb likens it to the Castillo Caves where the hand of the pre-historic artist is traced in pigment for future generations to see. It is good analogy for an artist maker who harnesses the powerful, primeval force of fire to scorch out his designs.

It is this fine line between chaos and control that allows the most exciting work to be created. Our idea of beauty is often formed through the unpredictability of nature.

 

"MAKING IS A JOURNEY TO A PLACE I HAVEN'T BEEN"

Nic Webb


 

For Nic Webb his chisel is the force of the flame and his paint is the blanket of soot it creates. He says the decisions he makes are like sailing close to the wind. Go too far and you have lost the power but on riding on the edge you can control your manoeuvres and use the natural forces around you.

 

 

CUTTING 

Hazel Thorn gave a really thorough account of her making process which I really enjoyed hearing. She explained the many steps where she will make decisions on how to form her piece. Although appearing random she plans the outcome through instinct, using ongoing analysis and careful thought allowing a piece to "grow" to her design.

Hazel says how daunting a fresh sheet of silver can be, but she is able to lose that pristine preciousness through her approach where she literally cuts her material into pieces. Then it is almost like a series of repairs, each twist and turn as the material is altered is not a limitation but an opportunity she can work with.

Hazel also highlighted how important the hands on aspect of her making process is.  The incidents that occur such as when she unintentionally overheated a piece creating a new shape, means she has discovered something about her material. She can then choose whether to use this in her work having learned how to allow or deny it to happen.

 

 

DECAYING

 

 

David Clarke's work often provokes a big response. A skilled and talented silversmith with his graduate designs flying out to the V&A and Goldsmith's collections he eventually grew bored of making work he found repetitive. 

“It’s the level of perfection in silversmithing that I really moved against – the belief that you should polish every joint until the process becomes invisible,” he says. 

 

He insists on being called a silversmith rather than an artist. This recognises his understanding of this material through his working life so far devoted to learning and practising the skills to create with it. Through this he has earned the right to challenge it and push it. Like a close family member or old friend who can call you out on something you've done wrong when no-one else would dare, push you beyond your limits, and even make jokes at your expense. Just like your best buddies you both know how much you love and appreciate each other and would only ever want to bring out the best in both of you.

He goes against the conventions of a precious and revered material by fearlessly devouring or engulfing the silver using other materials, like baking it in salt or with lead. His work is a lesson to lighten up and enjoy a wonderful material for everything it is. It also serves as a memento mori reminding us of the fragility of a fleeting existence, to live life and enjoy it as it comes as we don't have the control we believe we have.

 

The Big Bang 2015 by Maud Traon at Gill Wing Gallery

I have been enjoying a brilliant start to 2015 by helping to create this exhibition at Gill Wing Gallery in Islington, showcasing an installation of French jewellery artist Maud Traon's jewellery and objects.

Maud's objects create a post-apocalyptic landscape as a collection of glittering, futuristic cosmic debris. She describes her approcah as "Naive, playful & messy". I love the sense of intrigue they inspire, some are wearable, others are objects to enjoy and ponder. By creating a whole installation it has created a strong atmosphere of her work and by making it visible on a busy city street it makes this kind of exciting work visible  to the general public and their daily lives rather than in a closed gallery. 

Maud Traon ring from her collection, "Oh toi mon Petit Poney"

Maud Traon ring from her collection, "Oh toi mon Petit Poney"

Here is some information on our  concept behind the exhibition, and reasons for holding it at Gill Wing jewellery gallery;

The Big Bang 2015 by Maud Traon 

"An explosion of colour and creativity in the jewellery universe. Maud takes us on a flight of fantasy in her use of unusual materials in eye catching colours and sparkling textures to create objects that fill us with wonder. Finest Swarovski and toy trinkets are engulfed in resin glitter, with gold and silver layers sealing their fate.

We chose to work with Maud for our first exhibition of 2015 to show an example of the creativity and individuality of the makers work we have in the gallery. We now house over 60 original jewellery artists, from the accomplished artisans, many of whom are now teaching the next generation and the up-and-coming, experimental makers. These designers push the boundaries of jewellery by utilising new technology, or demonstrating ancient jewellery techniques combined with fresh ideas. We hope that by continuing to showcase these talented individuals, exemplified by Maud Traon's extraordinary objects, we welcome in 2015 with the only limits to jewellery being those of our own imagination."

Maud Traon ring from her collection "The Constant Gardener"

Maud Traon ring from her collection "The Constant Gardener"

 

Here it's as if they are in a  vivarium creating an atmosphere for these other worldly specimens to thrive in allowing viewers to see them in their weird and wonderful habitat.

 

Maud says she enjoys walking when coming up with a new piece, I agree that it is perfect way to allow yourself space and time to think and dream. Maud's foam rings here are encasing fairies, mermaids and princesses, we suspended them as if they were floating away, showing the lightness and delicate beauty, something for the daydreamers wishing to escape the mundane.

 

When we asked her what fragrance her pieces would have Maud answered (they would smell of) "spices and sweets". They certainly look tempting to passers by, catching the eye of even the busiest shoppers and commuters on Islington's busy Upper Street!

This installation is still on now, you can see it for yourself at Gill Wing Jewellery Gallery:

182 Upper St.
London
N1 1RQ

 

www.gillwingjewellery.co.uk

www.maudtraon.com

 

Give Me A Spoon, Exhibition at Atta Gallery

This Fantastic exhibition at Atta has been extended until  Sat 15th Nov! 

The jewellery gallery in Bangkok is currently home to a collection of amazing wearable objects, all developed from the idea of a simple spoon.

The artists featured all have their own unique approach to this humble utensil, demonstrating various techniques and a utilising a variety of materials.

Albert Setyawan, ceramic wearable "spoons"

Albert Setyawan, ceramic wearable "spoons"

Ho Koo's side scoop spoon and precious  "grains"

Ho Koo's side scoop spoon and precious  "grains"

Poly Nikolopoulou  unusual, textured spoons

Poly Nikolopoulou unusual, textured spoons

Simon Cottrell's spoon  Silver +10% Zinc alloy, Monel, Recycled woven nylon cord.    You can see Cottrell's work at Schmuck Munich, where he has been selected to show next year!

Simon Cottrell's spoon Silver +10% Zinc alloy, Monel, Recycled woven nylon cord.

You can see Cottrell's work at Schmuck Munich, where he has been selected to show next year!

 

I am a lover of spoons, using them to mix and make my work which themselves become records of the colours and textures that I use.

One of my Hewn rings and a spoon from my studio.

One of my Hewn rings and a spoon from my studio.

The idea is to challenge artists to create something that they do not normally create and exercise their creativity by translating their practice into a new kind of work. Most importantly, it is for the artists to have fun!" - Vipoo Srivilasa, Curator (you can view the website here)

 

For this exhibition it was a chance to take an everyday object and explore it's shape, symbolic meanings or function with the individual artists creating their own interpretation of a spoon. The simple brief allows exploration of ideas and materials leading to a fabulous array of textures and shapes and making a familiar object into a wearable, thoughtful piece of art.

Yiumsiri Vantanapindu

Yiumsiri Vantanapindu

Whether a usable object or decorative, spoons have many meanings. Love spoons were a folk tradition, made by young men and given as a token of their affection to a woman they admired. The wooden carvings were a chance for them to show their skill, taking time and patience. The complicated shapes and symbols  communicated how deeply they admired their loved one. If a girl accepted a spoon form a suitor she might then wear it or tie it to her clothing to show that she was taken, in a similar way to an engagement ring. Even more of a reason for them being the perfect focus for a jewellery gallery!

For practical purposes wearable spoons make sense. In a nomadic lifestyle you would carry the objects that you used daily. They were useful, and therefore precious and important. 

Spoons in my studio

Spoons in my studio

Easily overlooked, the spoon is simple & reliable, perfectly formed for it's purpose and a daily necessity. I am happy to celebrate this essential tool (and I couldn't polish off my dessert without it!).

Hooray for the beautiful, useful spoon!

You can see plenty more pictures from the exhibition here on the Atta Facebook page.

 

 

 

"What Is Jewellery?" Exhibition Piece No.3 Nebula Knuckleduster

Jewellery is...LOOKING BEYOND

The third ring from the exhibition "What is Jewellery?"  celebrates the stargazers, dreamers and out-there thinkers. Jewellery is not an essential item, it is a means to express ideas, to challenge preconceptions and to go further than a practical object may do.

Nebula Ring 2011, As featured on Vogue China Oxidised silver, resin and metal dust by jewellery artist Jade Mellor.

Nebula Ring 2011, As featured on Vogue China
Oxidised silver, resin and metal dust by jewellery artist Jade Mellor.


This piece is available to buy directly from my    STUDIO SHOP  along with other pieces including more from this exhibition.

This piece is available to buy directly from my STUDIO SHOP along with other pieces including more from this exhibition.

This ring fits over three fingers, binding them together comfortably, but noticably so that it you are aware always when you are wearing it and it cannot be missed by others. It makes you feel powerful, charged with the energy of the cosmos, weightier than some of my other resin pieces due to the metal dust contained within which gleams through the surface giving an uncanny appearance. 

 

 

 


 

This is a prize jewel for a space warrior, protection to travel to new planets fearlessly and push the boundaries when escaping the mundane and constraints of local convention.

 


Here is some more on the origins of this piece:

"I am fascinated by meteorites, the properties these alien rocks have, often more than meets the eye. They fall from the skies as a gift from other worlds. The exhibition "Jewels from space" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York was a huge influence on me. The Cape York meteorite housed there is the biggest and heaviest ever moved by man with a weight so great special supports were built into the bedrock of the building. Seeing such a monumental object that had arrived from so far away made me want to create something otherworldly that would have an impact when worn. In exploring resin I find I can create larger scale objects, light enough to wear which at once look familiar and perplexing."

Nebula Ring 2011, As featured on Vogue China
Oxidised silver, resin and metal dust by jewellery artist Jade Mellor.

This piece is available to buy directly from my STUDIO SHOP along with other pieces including more from this exhibition.

 


"What Is Jewellery?" Exhibition Piece No.2 Sweet Ruin Ring

Jewellery Is...JOY

The exhibition this ring is in is about answering the question "What Is Jewellery" by using unorthodox materials. With this piece I have included a marble, a lovely object to enjoy but not considered precious, or a usual material for jewellery as it is, although it is delicate and made of glass. By working in resin I also get to explore colour in my work. This sweet pink shade brings many comments on how tasty it looks, "nougat" being a word often heard from people seeing some of these pieces for the first time. 

Sweet Ruin  Ring, 2014 silver, resin, glass marble, granite, Jade Mellor.  Read about this ring and the Modern Ruin series in the shop   HERE

Sweet Ruin Ring, 2014 silver, resin, glass marble, granite, Jade Mellor. Read about this ring and the Modern Ruin series in the shop HERE

Chanel Jelly Shoes! 

Chanel Jelly Shoes! 

Playing marbles. The milky white one above was used in the Sweet Ruin Ring!

Playing marbles. The milky white one above was used in the Sweet Ruin Ring!

One of my studio snacks, sweet dried papaya! I love the bizarre chewy, squidgy crystalline texture and it gives me a sugar buzz!

One of my studio snacks, sweet dried papaya! I love the bizarre chewy, squidgy crystalline texture and it gives me a sugar buzz!

Here's a wonderful comment from a visitor to our annual open studios last month on seeing my work for the first time:

They’re playful, not stuffy. They cheer me up.
— Michael Flood 2014

This ring is about enjoying life and celebrating and sharing the things you love! By wearing jewellery you are offering it to the world. You are communicating, you nearly always HAVE to touch it, it invites you to interact, it is playful. It is sharing a bag of sweets. It is saying to the lady on the bus, "I like your hat..." it is smiling at a funny looking sausage dog on the street. That extra effort of dressing up, to take pleasure in life and decorating the world around you, taking the time to finish off an outfit, making a statement of who you are or what you like. 

My mother was very chic and she used to say you could have a single dress but with different accessories you could have 27 different outfits.
— "Rare Bird of Fashion" The Irreverent Iris Apfel.

Even the plainest outfit is transformed with an interesting piece of jewellery, or that exquisite piece could also be the cherry on a delicious, fruity, multicoloured, hot fudge, nutty ice cream sundae of an ensemble.

Iris Apfel The "Rare Bird of Fashion".

Iris Apfel The "Rare Bird of Fashion".

So now let's spread the jewellery rainbow! If you don't do it already, or if you have gotten out of the habit (I know my studio scruffs don't always lend themselves to "accessorising" beyond safety glasses) then let's take that extra two minutes to put on something extra, not for habit or practical reasons, but just for the sheer pleasure of choosing something you like. And if you are already a strong card carrying member of the accessories club, how about acknowledging someone else you see who has worn something just for the joy of it. 

The "Sweet Ruin Ring" is currently in the exhibition "What Is Jewellery?" at Manchester Craft and Design Centre, curated by Eve Redmond. Details HERE.

"What Is Jewellery?" Exhibition Piece No.1 Gold Cubed Ring

 

Jewellery is... DESIRE

Gold Cubed Ring, metal, resin, metal dust, Jade Mellor 2014

Gold Cubed Ring, metal, resin, metal dust, Jade Mellor 2014

Box of pyrite specimens: A cube of cubes...

Box of pyrite specimens: A cube of cubes...

In the exhibition What Is Jewellery?" curated by Eve Redmond the purpose was to show unorthodox materials being used by artists today. This ring is made from resin, very different to jewellery traditionally created from precious metal. The piece is also inspired by another material which I use a lot in my work which is Pyrite...


"Pyrite is one of my favourite minerals, the cubic formation has always fascinated me, it looks manufactured with it's crisp metallic edges but builds naturally in this way because of it's unique structure. I love learning about the formation of our environment, triggered by unusual finds like this and researching in Manchester Museum's amazing stores of specimens. This ring is my homage to the beautiful mineral. If Fool's Gold is called so because it appears like gold, this must be (Fool's) Gold Cubed." (my description for this piece)


So with this first ring I want to explore the aspect of jewellery meaning DESIRE: To want something for how it looks, the glint of metallic catching your eye with the magpie's instinct to swoop in and fly off with these shiny treasures. 

This ring was inspired by pyrite. The sparkling mineral nicknamed "Fool's Gold" could be all about it's appearance for those who would be tricked into thinking it was the real thing. 


 
Five "Fool's Gold" Rings of mine,  all using real specimens of the mineral pyrite available now at Craft & Culture  HERE

Five "Fool's Gold" Rings of mine,  all using real specimens of the mineral pyrite available now at Craft & Culture HERE

 


I am attracted to pyrite for how it looks*, it's natural facets twinkling and the smoothed areas gleaming make it a good choice for jewellery, as who doesn't want to wear something that lights up the room in such a way? However the benefits of using this mineral instead of expensive real gold is that I can manipulate it more and I am not afraid to experiment without knowing what the final outcome may be. Gold is a wonderful material to use, but it's preciousness makes it a material you plan for, savouring it, using just enough to make what you intend. Pyrite is much more available to me, this means the exciting part comes from how I can push it. I can smash it, I can grind it, I can use the BIGGEST GOLDEN CHUNKS of it for maximum impact. And when it is worn in this way, it is not showing off value and wealth in the way that a giant 24ct medallion might. It's golden glow is great, but after the wow of the initial impact, there's the head tilt and the chirrup of the curious sparrow. What IS it? How did that come to be? To realise these angular nuggets or magnificent cubes have formed in that shape by themselves as a wonder of nature, that is the thing that continues to excite me, the thing that I love, as well as desire which will never lose it's lustre. 

For some excellent insights into materials and exploring their values vs appearances and how they are being used in contemporary art jewellery today check out the latest CURRENT OBSESSION: FAKE  ISSUE. These guys are the cutting edge of what's happening right now...

 

 

The following posts will look at the other rings in the exhibition. It's been good for me to take the time to think about why use certain materials in my work. Be great to hear what you choose to make your work with! Sometimes having limits can even be the best way to be inventive...

 

 

*(call me a fool, but an honest fool)

 

What Is Jewellery? Exhibition at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Very excited to join the work of some amazingly talented artists in this exhibition, hosted by Manchester Craft & Design Centre and curated by Eve Redmond. Showing during the Free For Arts Festival from the 3rd - 12th Oct. Preview starts at 3.30pm this Friday, event details HERE hope to see you there! 

Somerset House Showcase

jade mellor hewn ring grey granite.jpg
jade mellor hewn ring blue lapis pyrite.jpg
jade mellor hewn ring green malachite.jpg
jade mellor hewn ring black pyrite screws.jpg
jade mellor hewn ring white orange carnelian clementines.jpg
jade mellor hewn ring grey carnelian.jpg

This little collection of images show some of the pieces that will be at Somerset House in London next weekend. The event is the School For Creative Startups Showcase where my work will be available through Shoreditch Muse. "The Startup Showcase is a two-day creative festival celebrating the best and brightest of London’s new creative startup scene. The event features a truly unique pop-up marketplace with over 100 creative businesses showcasing the hottest new products and services of 2013."

As well as showcasing exciting designs also available to purchase there's a packed schedule of fantastic talks and workshops with advice and skills for young entrepreneurs and new creative businesses. So whether you are a design magpie, involved in a creative company or a maker yourself, hope to see you there!

You can find the schedule and information on their site here

Somerset House

Embankment Galleries
Victoria Embankment
London
WC2R 1LA

Saturday 23 March: 10 – 6pm
Sunday 24 March: 11 – 5pm

More Beautiful Objects

This is the second half of Aram gallery's Beautiful Objects exhibition. As the work was so diverse in style and materials I tried to separate them into categories to look at them a little closer. These are the artists I felt were led by their process and materials.

If you went to this exhibition I would love to hear your thoughts. I hope it's the first of many jewellery themed events at Aram as it has been curated to show the depth of what goes into designed and made art objects which may be missed in a solely retail environment, so hopefully gives us the chance to appreciate them more.

Beautiful Objects jewellery exhibition at Aram

Beautiful Objects jewellery exhibition at Aram

The pieces on the right by Karola Torkos are part of her "Changeable" series. Both the large statement object pieces and simplified metal versions in this collection look at layering and transparency, but the latter focusing on wearability and practicality. Her inspirational object was a children's book as she had previously dismantled and re-built these into jewellery. By reassembling an object and giving it a new purpose she is interacting with it and wants the wearer of her jewellery to do the same by having aspects of her pieces that can be personally altered by them, (different coloured swappable sections etc.) The fact that she uses children's books rather than adult literature is interesting because they often have to try harder to engage the young by having pop up sections, textures and moveable tabs and wheels. I don't think this is something we ever grow out of and this is a sophisticated way of letting us interact with our objects as a piece of jewellery.

Four Colours, 2006 - 7 Silver, gold plated, low temperature enamel   Garland, 2007 Silver, gold plated  Karola Torkos

Four Colours, 2006 - 7 Silver, gold plated, low temperature enamel

Garland, 2007 Silver, gold plated Karola Torkos

Glow, 2012  Beautiful Mutant, 2012 Nylon, dye, copper, zirconia   Weidenbach/Klein

Glow, 2012

Beautiful Mutant, 2012 Nylon, dye, copper, zirconia

Weidenbach/Klein

Silvia Weidenbach and Tobias Klein's collaboration also shares the responsibility of the finished piece. Working separately but "ping-ponging" ideas between them allows the ideas to be shared and develop over a set time frame. The name of the work is "Metamorphosis" relating to both this process and their subject matter. Their collections and grouping of information is shown in their inspirational objects which were the first 170 images found on a search engine when typing chrysalis and butterfly. Their finished designs were actually two pieces that are worn together realised using 3D printing.

Bombyx Mori Moth

Bombyx Mori Moth

Exuvie . Hybrid – 3-2, 2008 925 silver, rough silk, organic waste  David Roux-Fouillet  

Exuvie . Hybrid – 3-2, 2008 925 silver, rough silk, organic waste David Roux-Fouillet 

David Roux-Fouillet is another designer who after starting the piece on it's journey, actually leaves the part of the fabrication to another. His "3D printer" in actual fact is the amazing Bombyx Mori silkmoth! His own theme of metamorphosis also includes the living pupae housed in the piece of jewellery hatching and flying off. I love the way he describes how he works with the moths: "This piece is the result of my collaboration with five generations of worms building up layers of silk...Proposing a structure to the first three silkworms, they quickly find their way to the spots where they can build a conventional type of cocoon. Then the next ones will start weaving wherever they want while I try to direct them wherever I would like them to weave." It makes me think of a little team of moth larvae looking intently at David's designs in a miniature boardroom. He likens it to sculpting a Bonzai tree, "this fine balance where the material claims its independence is the space where I like working." 

Golden spider silk cape

Golden spider silk cape

This way of using the skills and materials of amazing creatures also reminds me of the beautiful cape I saw in the V&A made by combining the creative skills of Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley, a team of handloom weavers and the silk of thousands of Golden Orb Spiders. I will look out for more designer/nature's craftsmen collaborations in 2013, and possibly plan one of my own with the sand lizards in the garden (I hear they are good at mosaics).

Woven textures were Lina Peterson's inspirational object represented in the Swedish Rag Rug.  She says that she is interested in: "material qualities and the inherent language that we associate with different materials and I enjoy playfully turning these elements on their head." She combines this approach with traditional craft techniques like carving in her painted lime wood and resin brooches, the process of which created coloured curls. Loving this by-product Lina was then able to use these as the material for more brooches so they are a sequence of objects with one creating the other. These wood shavings change our view on what we would expect from a brooch made from wood and (indirectly) the process of carving.

Lina Peterson's inspiration: Swedish rag-rug texture with her Shavings Brooches

Lina Peterson's inspiration: Swedish rag-rug texture with her Shavings Brooches

Carved wooden brooches, 2012  Wood, resin, silver  Lina Peterson

Carved wooden brooches, 2012  Wood, resin, silver Lina Peterson

Blues Collection Necklace, 2011 cotton braid, cotton yarn  Eleanor Bolton     Cannele Mercerised Cotton on cardboard cone her inspirational object was the material and therefore process she uses.

Blues Collection Necklace, 2011 cotton braid, cotton yarn Eleanor Bolton

Cannele Mercerised Cotton on cardboard cone her inspirational object was the material and therefore process she uses.

Long Red Coiled Necklace, 2010  Eleanor Bolton

Long Red Coiled Necklace, 2010 Eleanor Bolton

Eleanor Bolton (who's work I knew from her being a fellow Darkroom jeweller) is her own silk moth when creating her colourful coiled pieces. Bold, interesting shapes and textures organically grow through the repetition of her processes, Eleanor says: "The yarn is the material that enables the forms to be created from the cotton braid. I am interested in using simple techniques to create unexpected forms."

It looks quite chunky and solid but the round shapes are actually hollow and springy, my sister Julie met Eleanor at Great Northern Contemporary Craft last year and says "I was immediately drawn to these sculptural neck pieces by Eleanor Bolton. It's great to be able to get up close and try things on. They are light and comfortable, easy to wear."

Bust of African Female Carved solid wood

Bust of African Female Carved solid wood

This beautiful carved wooden bust was the object chosen by Simone Brewster, a piece that's been in her family since the 60s. Simone (who is another Darkroom jeweller) states that this object from an era of "ethnic pride" and the use of a lathe in her work both contribute to her collection title "Ebony Revolution". Featuring rings and necklaces of wood shaped to highlight it's natural grain patterns she says: "I wanted to use something I considered precious (wood) and treat it like you would a precious stone to reveal its beauty."

Turned Wooden Rings  Simone Brewster

Turned Wooden Rings Simone Brewster

simone brewster aram necklace 1.jpg
simone brewster necklace aram.jpg


These necklaces were the favourites of my artist friend Gweni Louu who accompanied me to the exhibition. They actually look like they were made for her as she has a fantastic collection of big bold 60s jewellery in unusual materials she unearths in charity shops all over.

Little Pony Series, 2008 - 9, Little Pony 1, Little Pony Gothic, Electroformed Little Pony, Little Pony Thailand, Magic Rainbow Clay, synthetic stones, Swarovski stones, glitter, copper  Maud Traon

Little Pony Series, 2008 - 9, Little Pony 1, Little Pony Gothic, Electroformed Little Pony, Little Pony Thailand, Magic Rainbow Clay, synthetic stones, Swarovski stones, glitter, copper Maud Traon

Maud Traon's obsession with objects is the origin of her work. Hypnotised by the psychedelic equine world of My Little Pony (I admit I am from the generation of pink mane combers and glittery castles in the sky) she distorts and builds from these plastic figures to make ring sculptures. The commercial craft items of former high street favourite Woolworths provided Maud's inspirational item a "Paint by Numbers" kit. This "do it yourself" art as a hobby amongst other toys and objects to amuse us and pass the time seems obviously to have influenced these abstract impressionist pony ring sculptures. However one mustn't leave out another important aspect to Mauds practice: "I work during concentrated periods, in silence just eating sweets which is important - colourful sweets." I am hazarding a guess that Maud also did some Woolies pic 'n' mix plundering back in the day, overdoing it on squidgy, fizzy jelly delights leading to a trippy sugar-high experience in the toy department. Nice one Maud :)

Light Constructions bangles, 2003 - 2012 Bioresin  Sarah King

Light Constructions bangles, 2003 - 2012 Bioresin Sarah King

On the opposite end of Mauds's excess of bright, glitter encrusted coloured plastics are Sarah King's bio-resin bangles. Colourless, and ethereal the pared back scheme and simple geometry are a super edit of her mass of influences. Struggling when asked to choose a single inspirational object she says:

” I felt it was an impossible request as all my work is a synthesis of many interests and influences.  Many objects and books that I have collected reflect these interests and I could have brought armfuls of monographs relating to abstraction, as well as materiality and structure."

Light Constructions bangles, 2003 - 2012 Bioresin  Sarah King

Light Constructions bangles, 2003 - 2012 Bioresin Sarah King

Sarah's shortlist of objects included: a series of African wooden head rests, artist Kim Lim’s folded paper pieces and the high-tech insulating foam used by NASA, Aerogel, demonstrating that although looking very simple there is a lot of careful consideration and interests that inform these pieces. I'm glad Sarah mentions how varied and deep her research runs as sometimes it is forgotten if a piece is made from non-precious materials or doesn't automatically show signs of a brush stroke or labour intensive craft technique. The image Sarah ended up choosing is from a photographic series that was produced when glass objects from Kettles Yard in Cambridge were placed directly on UV sensitive paper as it most embodied her strongest theme, the "combination of somewhat solid objects and the ephemeral qualities of light and the effects affects produced when the two interact."

Sarah Kings inspiration: Light Spells Series Photograph by Kathryn Faulkner, 2000

Sarah Kings inspiration: Light Spells Series Photograph by Kathryn Faulkner, 2000

Another artist who selected photographs as their contextual object was Mah Rana. The jewellery work she had on show she had researched and made during an international research fellowship in Australia, staying in Melbourne for two months in 2004.  Having first been wowed by the new environment, she soon found herself becoming accustomed of her new surroundings and no longer appreciating them. When she realised this she says: "I made the decision, to take my time each day and look at what was in front of me - and to become more present in the moment and to see more."

So the photographs she took are not only a record of her time, but were also at the time a way of engaging with her surroundings in the present and noticing the small details missed when rushing from place to place. These images, along with her writing join together with the jewellery she produced  to form the whole body of work, including even the name, "Little differences" a reference to a passage from a Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, the book she was reading at the time.

Little Differences, 2004 50 pendants, 18ct Australian Gold, Synthetic Polymer Paint  Mah Rana

Little Differences, 2004 50 pendants, 18ct Australian Gold, Synthetic Polymer Paint Mah Rana

Digital Prints

Digital Prints

"If you look at Little Differences very briefly, one can be forgiven for  thinking that the pendants are all the same colour, all the same grey, but if one takes a little more time to look again, one can notice that each grey is different from the next." Mah Rana

Perspex light  and reflection installation

Perspex light  and reflection installation

Lili Colley's Perspex and Brass pieces lit up the room beautifully. Her main inspiration is light, the whole spectrum and ways of capturing it, revealing it and dazzling a room with it (which is what a fabulous piece of jewellery can also do).

She says, "I love the flood of colour through stained glass windows. In the art deco times they celebrated it, they celebrated electricity, the light bulb and life; they lived for the moment, as they didn’t know what tomorrow brought." I can really get this sense of joy from Lili's work, shown in her choice of neon and sweetie wrapper colour scheme, gleaming brass and bold shapes. I believe that serious and important are two different things, and even though Lili's work is bright and playful the technical aspects, quality construction and depth are very important to her.

Underside of necklace shown via mirror reflection

Underside of necklace shown via mirror reflection

Octo Deco LEDs Neckpiece, 2012 Blue Deco LEDs Neckpiece, 2012 Both, perspex and brass  Lili Colley

Octo Deco LEDs Neckpiece, 2012 Blue Deco LEDs Neckpiece, 2012 Both, perspex and brass Lili Colley

"I always like to make things that have an extra dimension...more than what first meets the eye...seen only when you become more involved with the piece". During the planning the exhibition Lili also wanted her pieces to be visible from as many angles as possible. Not only to let the luscious light stream through but also so to show the gleaming brass components that not only join it  together but allow it to move to refract colours and make shapes.

Bangle: The Human Body as a Landscape for Design and Intervention, 2012 Brass with 18ctg gold plating  Stephanie Bila

Bangle: The Human Body as a Landscape for Design and Intervention, 2012 Brass with 18ctg gold plating Stephanie Bila

Stephanie Bila uses geometry but it is the symmetry of the human body, skeletal structures and shells. She says: "Although the pieces are quite geometrical and symmetrical, the purpose of my project was to explore themes of evolution and metamorphosis, which created a spontaneous and organic feel to my pieces." 

Her intricately structured designs both large scale catwalk pieces and smaller versions aim to use "jewellery as a medium to redesign and compliment the structure of the human body and to reinterpret the silhouette."

Stephanie Bila's moodboard was her contextual object literally showing us her inspirations

Stephanie Bila's moodboard was her contextual object literally showing us her inspirations

The work of Naomi Filmer is also intended to be catwalk pieces such as this glass and metal orb created for Alexander McQueen's S/S 2002 show: 

"McQueen asked me to make bubbles that capture the negative space around the torso of a flamenco dancer...I was particularly drawn to her expressive hand movements, and so this bubble was a way of capturing both the space in the arch of the back, but around the hands in motion."

Ball in the Small of my Back, 2001  Blown glass and electro-formed copper (silver plated)  Naomi Filmer

Ball in the Small of my Back, 2001  Blown glass and electro-formed copper (silver plated) Naomi Filmer

Creating big sculptural objects that echo the shapes of bodily movement but actually restrict it by having to be held carefully or are unmissable due to their largeness Naomi says: "Impact on flesh as well as to the eye is  important to me."

Suspended Body Scapes, 2011 Glass and leather  Naomi Filmer

Suspended Body Scapes, 2011 Glass and leather Naomi Filmer

naomi firmer aram honey.jpg

The languid shapes and colour choice of flesh tones allude to the soft and rounded areas of the body. The leather harnesses and metal hardware  also give them the appearance that they are to blend into a body and almost look like they could perform a function as some replacement organ or incubator providing comfort and nutrition. They would look completely different in any other colour, and I feel could almost have a sinister edge in a less pristine setting.

However by displaying them with a massive jar of honey, the nutritious sugary sweetness rubs off on them so they seem friendlier, their soft curves appealing. Naomi herself describes them as oozing, which as a choice of words could go either way, the grotesque and disgusting or the deliciously decadent.  I would love to wear one in my day to day life, filled with a dark heady treacle ready to pour all over anything (or anyone) I find bland and dry and lacking in goodness. 

"Oooooooooooozing" Naomi Filmer's hand blown glass and leather body sculptures

"Oooooooooooozing" Naomi Filmer's hand blown glass and leather body sculptures

great lighting at the exhibition

great lighting at the exhibition

Beautiful Objects

beautiful objects aram sign.jpg

Beautiful Objects was Aram's first jewellery exhibition. Originally on from Nov 22nd, it was extended for a further two weeks til the 26th Jan which meant I got to catch this exhibition (any free time in the month or so before Christmas just got vacuumed up with extra workshop hours/festive functions). Situated above the Aram store it's also an excuse to window shop the stylish furnishings on the way up to the gallery. I have divided the exhibition into two posts, here's no.1 the designers who I think look at the meaning of objects (the second will focus on materials and processes)!

aram beautiful objects.jpg

Each designer was asked to provide an object to be displayed with their work that was connected with their approach, inspiration or making process. To appreciate the work as contemporary maker's pieces they shunned traditional jewellery fixtures and conventional display stands giving the work space and a blank background to be interpreted by the individual.

One of the best explorers of jewellery meaning by turning tradition on it's head is Lin Cheung exhibiting a collection of brooches from 2010 inspired by the quilted "luxurious" packaging found in the world of traditional jewellery.

A trio of Cheung's brooches

A trio of Cheung's brooches

Her inspirational object was a copy of the Argos catalogue circa S/S '85 from her teenage years relishing the first opportunities to choose and buy precious pieces for herself (from these tiny flat images, it must have taken a lot of imagination). Pre-online shopping meant hand made pieces like Cheung's own work would only be available by visiting individual galleries or events at this time.

"...to encourage the re-valuing of old, broken, odd, unfashionable and unwanted jewellery. This series of brooches are designed with the idea that each can act as a physical barrier between an old piece of jewellery and the wearer. The ‘preventing of intimacy’ between the object (old jewellery) and the wearer is the central concept behind this work with the brooches themselves acting as carriers of old earrings, chains or other brooches. Here I bring into question the constantly evolving meaning of jewellery and find new emotional and literal spaces for old jewellery that seems to have lost its value and potency"  Lin Cheung

Wear Again, Again, 2010  Nylon flocked acrylic and brass, faux leather, stainless steel  Lin Cheung    Inspirational Object: Argos Catalogue, Spring & Summer 1985

Wear Again, Again, 2010 Nylon flocked acrylic and brass, faux leather, stainless steel Lin Cheung

Inspirational Object: Argos Catalogue, Spring & Summer 1985

close up of a brooch fastening  Using fine jewellery skills, like a clean perfect pin is even more important when using an unconventional material to demonstrate attention to detail for a quality object.

close up of a brooch fastening

Using fine jewellery skills, like a clean perfect pin is even more important when using an unconventional material to demonstrate attention to detail for a quality object.

Her Argos hoard lives on by being carried on her person in other ways as it still has a lot of sentiment. These brooches have pockets and pouches to house small treasures turning the items from wearable jewellery to keepsake. This is the opposite of many contemporary jewellers who turn found objects and personal items into wearable pieces. 

Katy Hackney is one such artist, although I think she collects and collates her found objects more through their joint aesthetic rather than because of their sentimental value. Her inspirational object was a set of vintage children's play shapes in beautiful stained wood, which you can see directly reflect in her choice of colour pallete.

Brooch, 2012  Plywood, silver, coloucore, boxwood, steel, hand dyed nylon cord    Katy Hackney

Brooch, 2012 Plywood, silver, coloucore, boxwood, steel, hand dyed nylon cord

Katy Hackney

Necklace, 2011   Silver, rosewood, box wood, bamboo, formica, found ceramic  objects, 18ct gold, vitreous enamel,  bone, colourcore, hand dyed nylon cord, paint   Katy Hackney

Necklace, 2011

Silver, rosewood, box wood, bamboo, formica, found ceramic  objects, 18ct gold, vitreous enamel,  bone, colourcore, hand dyed nylon cord, paint

Katy Hackney

Inspirational Objects:  Box of vintage Abbatt play shapes   Katy Hackney

Inspirational Objects: Box of vintage Abbatt play shapes

Katy Hackney

Inspiration for Katy Hackney

Inspiration for Katy Hackney

Zoe Arnold also has a magpie approach, collecting objects that interest her and combining them with her hand made components using various materials and techniques. She calls these assemblages sculptural collage, influenced by poetry:

"I use the ideas and abstract imagery from the poems to feed into my pieces, and in this way add a depth and meaning to my work." Zoe Arnold

Opinion No.1, 2010 Antique wooden frame, antique prints, pearls, red thread, oxidised silver  Zoe Arnold

Opinion No.1, 2010 Antique wooden frame, antique prints, pearls, red thread, oxidised silver Zoe Arnold

Emotions Brooch Green, 2009 Oxidised silver, 18ct gold, picture Jasper, diamonds, antique marble cameo, mother of pearl, dyed agate, steel pin  Zoe Arnold

Emotions Brooch Green, 2009 Oxidised silver, 18ct gold, picture Jasper, diamonds, antique marble cameo, mother of pearl, dyed agate, steel pin Zoe Arnold

Another of the artists using found objects in Maria Militsi who sources her objects through auctions and includes their printed listings as her inspirational objects.

"By hunting down, researching, classifying and responding to incidental qualities of existing objects this work revolves around  the rare and aged or the unusual and worthy of collecting." Maria Militsi

Pin Holders, 2009 Antique pin cushions, gold  Maria Milit  si 

Pin Holders, 2009 Antique pin cushions, gold Maria Militsi 

Printed listings from the auction sites where Maria Militsi sources her objects

Printed listings from the auction sites where Maria Militsi sources her objects

Maria Militsi drawing of cross used for  57 Edward Spencer for the Artificers Guild

Maria Militsi drawing of cross used for 57 Edward Spencer for the Artificers Guild

57 Edward Spencer for the Artificers Guild, 2012 Altar Cross/ Circa 1910, silver  Maria Militsi

57 Edward Spencer for the Artificers Guild, 2012 Altar Cross/ Circa 1910, silver Maria Militsi

Another fan of internet auctions sites is Laura Potter. "I’m interested in the echoes of time invested in the making of Lifetime medal 280100507863. Initially there was the eBay search for the subject matter, which can be a drawn out process of stalking listings until the right thing comes up. Then there’s the waiting and watching for the countdown to end, followed by more waiting for delivery. Appropriately then you use an equally lengthy process; hand embroidery."

Laura Potter's accompanying object: "Cash-for-gold" envelope  "It is an object designed to obliterate the emotional content of an object by pointing directly to its physical substance."

Laura Potter's accompanying object: "Cash-for-gold" envelope "It is an object designed to obliterate the emotional content of an object by pointing directly to its physical substance."

The processes and added materials Potter used to create this piece of work from the ebay purchases were very important:

"I made the piece with care, incorporating some fabrics that belonged to me, and applied the quote using an embroidery technique that has connotations of female family ties, passed on with patience and love. It is true that the labour intensiveness of this process was important. If you are prepared to listen, learning to cross-stitch with your grandmother will teach you much more than how to sew. This is what I mean by equivalence: one person’s lot of scrap gold is another person’s realisation that they are forever in debt to their Nan."

Lifetime Medal 280100507863, 2007 Gold, linen, cotton  Laura Potter      "In these lots of second hand jewellery I was looking for private sellers who were advertising old family pieces, and especially those who gave an insight into the emotional status of the items for sale. The embroidered quote is taken directly from the eBay listing: it contains no punctuation, no capitalisation and ‘jewellery’ is incorrectly spelled."

Lifetime Medal 280100507863, 2007 Gold, linen, cotton Laura Potter

"In these lots of second hand jewellery I was looking for private sellers who were advertising old family pieces, and especially those who gave an insight into the emotional status of the items for sale. The embroidered quote is taken directly from the eBay listing: it contains no punctuation, no capitalisation and ‘jewellery’ is incorrectly spelled."

Other artists in the exhibition also found the craft of hand sewing associated with their mother to be strong influences. Hans Stofer adapted the needle to lose it's function and become decorative only whereas Caroline Broadhead combined her mother's necklace, a collaboration with her daughter and  bracelet from Mexico with labour intensive hand beading. 

Hand Tinted Portrait (Applied)  Hans Stofer     When asked what actvities accompanied the making of this piece:        "Thinking about my mother, her habits and her practical intelligence."

Hand Tinted Portrait (Applied) Hans Stofer

When asked what actvities accompanied the making of this piece: 

"Thinking about my mother, her habits and her practical intelligence."

Hans Stofer:   "By changing the eye of the needle into a heart you change its original purpose as a functional sewing implement. The sewing needle simply becomes a pin with a heart, a narrative object that still has the ability to pierce     cloth and therefore can be worn. I was less interested in the notion of ‘piercing the heart’ than wearing something close to the heart - the notion of emotional connection through an action."   Pin Cushion, 2006 - 12 Ceramic, stainless steel pins, thread, rubber, silicon

Hans Stofer: "By changing the eye of the needle into a heart you change its original purpose as a functional sewing implement. The sewing needle simply becomes a pin with a heart, a narrative object that still has the ability to pierce 

cloth and therefore can be worn. I was less interested in the notion of ‘piercing the heart’ than wearing something close to the heart - the notion of emotional connection through an action."

Pin Cushion, 2006 - 12 Ceramic, stainless steel pins, thread, rubber, silicon

Wearing my Mother’s Pearls, 2012 Glass beads, pearls  Inspirational Objects: Pearls in Box, Mexican Beaded Bracelet    "My mother was given a string of pearls by her father, following her graduation in 1940s. The photograph on which this bracelet it based was taken at the time."      Caroline Broadhead

Wearing my Mother’s Pearls, 2012 Glass beads, pearls

Inspirational Objects: Pearls in Box, Mexican Beaded Bracelet

"My mother was given a string of pearls by her father, following her graduation in 1940s. The photograph on which this bracelet it based was taken at the time."  

Caroline Broadhead