Love Struck!

Just a few days left to see the amazing work of Bernhard Schobinger at Manchester Art Gallery!


Pearls and saw blades, brought together in a Schobinger ring at Manchester Art Gallery.

Pearls and saw blades, brought together in a Schobinger ring at Manchester Art Gallery.


The exhibition "Rings of Saturn" curated by Jo Bloxham and Gallery SO finishes on Sunday. Details can be found  HERE. Bernhard Schobinger combines exquisite skills and precious materials with unconventional objects collected for their importance to him in his jewellery work.

 
Bernhard Schobinger rings in Manchester Art Gallery

Bernhard Schobinger rings in Manchester Art Gallery

 

I find something that sets the artist apart from a more conventional maker is never being able to switch off from your desire to create, seeing "jewellery potential" in objects encountered in all the days of your life. The amazing objects Bernhard Schobinger has gathered mean that so many of his pieces have a story of how that first morsel of inspiration was discovered. Here is a closer look at the fabulous "Lightening Rod Chain" necklace which is in the exhibition.

    Bernhard Schobinger, Blitzableiterkette, 1990, necklace, copper, gold fire gilding, patina, rose quartz spheres, gold, stainless steel, photo: Gallery S O

 

Bernhard Schobinger, Blitzableiterkette, 1990, necklace, copper, gold fire gilding, patina, rose quartz spheres, gold, stainless steel, photo: Gallery S O


ZAP! A decorative lightening rod finial in an electrified shape!

ZAP! A decorative lightening rod finial in an electrified shape!

"An old lightning rod is partially a device to ward off evil, pointing back into a mythical, animistic world." Bernhard Schobinger



Lightening rod components like Bernhard Schobinger collected from a roof for his jewellery.

Lightening rod components like Bernhard Schobinger collected from a roof for his jewellery.

It seems like Bernhard is fearless in his quest for collecting objects. The lightning conducter components for his necklace he actually rescued from the roof of a building about to be torn down. You could consider them jewels worn by the building itself. Although they had a practical purpose being made from a material with properties that would assist with the safety of a building if it should happen to be struck, the rods and finials are also beautiful objects, made by skilled craftsmen so that many are collected and highly valued.

ASSEMBLED COLLECTION OF LIGHTNING ROD FINIALS, CA 1860-1920: Courtesy of Jeff Bridgeman

ASSEMBLED COLLECTION OF LIGHTNING ROD FINIALS, CA 1860-1920: Courtesy of Jeff Bridgeman

This necklace reminded me of something I learned about kerauni or "Thunder Stones". In studying early cultures an aspect I have enjoyed learning about was the history of the discovery of their objects in relation to our own knowledge and how our it has changed as we studied and learned more. Stone age arrow and axe heads were mysteries for a long time. Before we had any idea of the existence of Lithic culture, when these unusually shaped objects made from rocks were dug up by farmers they knew they had obviously been around for a very long time but without a notion of early cultures we created our own explanation for them. With a defined shape, as if crafted by a skilled hand but emerging from under the earth,  we knew they were special but we didn't know why. This is why they were often interpreted as "Thunder Stones". the explanation for their existence was that they fell from the sky, created in terrific storms. With no understanding of science, it was mythology and superstition that reassured us lightening wouldn't strike twice. This made these prized objects, and we now believe they were placed on the roofs of homes to protect them from being struck in a thunderstorm (our understanding of these stone age finds only changed much later after travelers could see these kinds of tools being used by distant tribes still utilising this technology from our pre-history).

 

"Thunderstones" Pre-historic axe-heads and arrowheads, once thought to be  fossilised thunderbolts!

"Thunderstones" Pre-historic axe-heads and arrowheads, once thought to be  fossilised thunderbolts!

 

I love this idea of knowing an object is special but not knowing it's original purpose, and cherishing it as a precious thing. It is what a lot of jewellery is about, wearing these about your person to protect, decorate and dream about.

There were many other beliefs all over the world and throughout history about these objects. If I believed in reincarnation I may well have requested some time spent as a Thunder Stone in Scandinavia. These were worshipped as sacred objects or Gods and lavished with offerings,  being poured over with beer and  annointed with butter (sounds a bit like an 18-30s).

Although these may seem unusual some to be used in a piece of jewellery, by interpreting these ancient Thunder Stones or using real lightening rods would make sense as the best gift from a partner to show a union between them. If lightening doesn't strike the same place twice, if given to the wearer it would  protect them from being love struck by someone else...

Bernhard Schobinger Rings of Saturn finishes this Sunday! Visit this exhibition on this fantastic jewellery artist while you can and prepare to be amazed by jewels which are not always what they seem.  We are very lucky to have this work in Manchester!!!

 

Here's a little more about Thunder Stones on Manchester Museum's Blog.

 

Collection Bites: Designed By Nature, Made by Hand

Check out the feature from this weeks Benchpeg's Newsletter on the event I'm running on Wednesday:

"Jade Mellor is a sculptural jewellery artist based in Manchester where she has been researching at Manchester Museum.

She will be showing work there to demonstrate how important the museum collections can be for inspiration for contemporary design from the 4th June.

Jade will share a unique insight into her experimental processes and unique designs which have graced the pages of Vogue Magazine, The Contemporary Jewellery Yearbook and Swarovski Trends. To kick off a series of events she will be hosting a free ‘Show and Tell’ where she will talk about how she utilised the museum collections and the importance of having these resources for process led and conceptually driven work. This show will delve deeper than surface aesthetics where science and nature meets art and design to create something new.
 

She will also be getting some beautiful treasures out for attendees to look at.

Since studying 3D Design at Manchester School of Art, Jade has found a rich resource in the Museum’s collections, her research and discoveries shaping the pieces she makes

The purpose of the events held at the museum are to encourage others to make use of our amazing Museums and see them as somewhere for new discoveries rather than just old things!"

Date Wednesday 4th June
Time: 1.05pm – 2.00pm
Venue: Manchester Museum, Seminar Room, 3rd Floor
Book on: 0161 275 2648 
Or email: museum@manchester.ac.uk
Cost: Free.

For more information:
[w] events.manchester.ac.uk

[w] www.jademellor.com

Many thanks to Benchpeg for supporting this event, I hope it will lead to some inspiration for all of us! You can read about more news and opportunities in the jewellery world on their website here and also subscribe to their newsletter. It's a great resource for everything going on in jewellery and it's all free! 

 

I am really looking forward to hosting my Collection Bites Event at Manchester Museum this Wednesday, 4th June. I have been to see many of the previous talks (and blogged about some including which you can read about here and here) and they have included a wide range of people who work with the Museum. From curators, artists, conservators and visiting experts they provide a personal insight into the influences the museum has and the importance of the objects it holds. My own talk will be a show and tell featuring the amazing specimens that have inspired my work and the pieces it has resulted in. I want you to experience the objects which have had an impact on me for yourself and hopefully we can engage in more of a chat sharing ideas and looking at some really cool things and some of my own one-off pieces, experiments and processes.

I may also be asking you to help me create something based on one of the objects!

 

Hope you can make it!

Rust Lust

 

The fossilised egg of an iron dragon...?

This lovely textured stone is from the collections at Manchester museum. The iron content that makes up the rock has rusted in the atmosphere over time and weathered beautifully exposing different layers. Rust is something we're used to seeing in man-made metal objects, but here it is in a natural, organic object.

This lovely textured stone is from the collections at Manchester museum. The iron content that makes up the rock has rusted in the atmosphere over time and weathered beautifully exposing different layers. Rust is something we're used to seeing in man-made metal objects, but here it is in a natural, organic object.

I have sculpted this ring in an iron and resin composite. It starts off pale and gradually darkens as the metal content oxidises within. The little old metal hammer I acquired (origin unknown!) has been rusting for such a long time it looks like it has formed organically rather than being intentionally manufactured.

I have sculpted this ring in an iron and resin composite. It starts off pale and gradually darkens as the metal content oxidises within. The little old metal hammer I acquired (origin unknown!) has been rusting for such a long time it looks like it has formed organically rather than being intentionally manufactured.

 
More close ups of the rusty rock from the museum

More close ups of the rusty rock from the museum

jade mellor rust hammer hewn ring.JPG
jade mellor hewn ring rust peacock ore.JPG

One of these unique experimental rusted rings are available online Craft & Culture here. Smooth to the touch from the hand shaping and polishing this one is also sculpted around a piece of peacock ore mineral inclusion embedded withing with purple and gold tones.

jade mellor rust peacock ore hewn ring.JPG

I am currently researching more textures of objects in Manchester Museum, really looking forward to sharing the fruits of my labours soon... 

Edgy Shapes

Learned a new shape today...rhombic dodecahedron

"In   geometry  , the   rhombic dodecahedron   is a   convex polyhedron   with 12   congruent     rhombic     faces  . It has 24   edges  , and 14   vertices   of two types. It is a   Catalan solid  , and the   dual polyhedron   of the   cuboctahedro n."

"In geometry, the rhombic dodecahedron is a convex polyhedron with 12 congruent rhombic faces. It has 24 edges, and 14 vertices of two types. It is a Catalan solid, and the dual polyhedron of the cuboctahedron."

I found this label on a mineral specimen I was checking out in Manchester museum in the pic below.

I found this label on a mineral specimen I was checking out in Manchester museum in the pic below.

I love how a natural shape like this mineral can have such amazing angles. There's a design there that looks like it has been made somehow but at the same time it's not perfect, it is just how it's formed from it's structure and environment.

I love how a natural shape like this mineral can have such amazing angles. There's a design there that looks like it has been made somehow but at the same time it's not perfect, it is just how it's formed from it's structure and environment.

Quartz crystals have a really interesting shape. Slightly prismatic but with nibbled edges like an early glass artefact which has worn but survived underground. A lovely chunk of quartz makes up this one-off ring available at Craft & Culture. The silver lustre brings out the facets of the sculpted ring and it's polished to a metallic shine.

Quartz crystals have a really interesting shape. Slightly prismatic but with nibbled edges like an early glass artefact which has worn but survived underground. A lovely chunk of quartz makes up this one-off ring available at Craft & Culture. The silver lustre brings out the facets of the sculpted ring and it's polished to a metallic shine.

jade mellor quartz mineral ring jewellery hewn.JPG
This piece is available online now at   Craft & Culture

This piece is available online now at Craft & Culture

Flint: Hewn Through Nature at Manchester Museum

jade mellor hewn manchester museum flint hand axe collection bites .jpg

Collection Bites are a series of short talks put on at Manchester Museum once a month. Featuring a range of experts from different areas of the museum they share their knowledge over a lunch time slot to a small group. The talk usually features some objects from the collection, giving the public a chance to get up close and even handle some of these precious artifacts allowing a bit more in depth focusing on one or two things in particular. Today's objects were stone age tools presented by Museum director Nick Merriman.

Gripping the ancient axe it was amazing to fit my finger tips into the purposely made grooves, and I happened to be wearing a pair of my "Hewn Rings" which were originally inspired by the contrast of worked surfaces with rugged edges found in objects like these.

Pieces of the flint were carefully chipped off by hand to create sharp edges

Pieces of the flint were carefully chipped off by hand to create sharp edges

Victorian enthusiasts collected whole flint rocks believed to be the predecessors of the hand sculpted tools. The lack of evidence for them means they are now just kept as curios.

Victorian enthusiasts collected whole flint rocks believed to be the predecessors of the hand sculpted tools. The lack of evidence for them means they are now just kept as curios.

More info on the next Collection Bites can be found  here.

 

The "bulb of percussion" shows a piece of flint was worked rather than weathered.

The "bulb of percussion" shows a piece of flint was worked rather than weathered.

blades were carefully made for hand held scrapers and implements to be hafted onto wooden shafts

blades were carefully made for hand held scrapers and implements to be hafted onto wooden shafts

This is not a meteorite...

This is not a meteorite. 

slag imitating meteorite.JPG

No, honestly. This is not a meteorite. 

slag metal imitating meteorite.JPG

This is a meteor-wrong! And it is actually man made slag. It may attract a magnet (meteorites should be magnetic) but this is because it can contain iron, often a waste product from smelting. Even though the surface looks like a close up of the surface of some far-off planet, this was actually made by bubbles of gas when this was a material in an industrial process. A meteorite will never have bubbles. The ripples in the surface also tell us it is not a meteorite. Although the surface of a meteorite burns in the atmosphere it just forms a crust (fusion crust)  it never melts to solidify in this style.

Today at Manchester Museum the Curator of Earth Sciences Collections, David Gelsthorpe held a workshop on how to identify a meteorite. The above was an example of a meteor-wrong, used to point out the distinguishing features a meteorite should (and shouldn't) have.

These are the first, most basic ways of beginning to identify if the rock you have found is a meteorite:

Question 1. Have you seen a bright light streak across the sky? 

Question 2. Have you heard a bang? 

Question 3. Have you seen a crater where the meteorite hit the ground? 

 

The Moon's surface is battered with craters from meteorites crashing into it's surface. It gives us an unadulterated view of what their impact looks like.

My black and pyrite Hewn ring and the Museum's lovely 70s model of the Moon.

My black and pyrite Hewn ring and the Museum's lovely 70s model of the Moon.

This is an example of a fusion crust. Where the burnt black areas have chipped off the metallic silvery colour can be seen underneath.

meteorite crust manchester museum.JPG

This thumb print shape in the meteorite above is known as a Regmaglypt (which is what the word translates as). 

meteorite specimen manchester museum.JPG
meteorite sliced manchester museum.JPG
meteorite metal flecks in slice.JPG

To study a meteorite scientists will cast a model of  to record its shape then slice it to look at the inside. This one on the right shows lightning bolt flashes or threads of metal running through it, beautiful!

It's wonderfully exciting to hear about the latest discovery of meteorite-beads found in the jewellery of Ancient Egypt, I'm sure more of their place in history will pop up as studies progress. (more on that here). It combines my love of ancient civilisations, outer space and our lovely natural goodies worn as jewellery! Imagine making jewellery at that time using an item fallen from the sky, it would seem like a gift from the Gods themselves.

Scans of the beads from Manchester Museum, showing their nickel metal content.

Scans of the beads from Manchester Museum, showing their nickel metal content.

Meteorites continue to capture our imagination, so when we find an unusual rock that looks out of place in it's surroundings, we hope that it might be extra-terrestrial. However, meteorites are very rare and there is a long checklist to determine if your miscellaneous chunk is from far, far away...

This online meteorite lab shows you how to look at your specimen using a rotating mock-up.  

Here is a link to a great, rather tongue-in-cheek checklist for identifying a meteorite which is also really informative to what else your specimen might be and how it's formed, but be warned you might prefer the mystery... 

Meteorite Identification Checklist

The Galactic Exhibition at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists showcases the work of contemporary craftspeople inspired by the Universe and what lies beyond our skies. It's on until October 19th, with items all available to purchase including a wide selection of my work. If you would like to enquire about a bespoke piece made using your own precious metoerite (or meteor-wrong), or any more questions into my jewellery get in touch!  info@jademellor.com

galactic exhibition jewellery rbsa.jpg

Collection Bites-Conservation

Yesterday's Collection Bites let us see behind the scenes with Manchester Museum's precious objects. Two conservationists from the museum showed us some of the objects they had been working on and their methods.

The steps to looking after the objects as a conservationist are as follows:

RECORD

CLEAN

CONSERVE

RESTORATION

 Norwegian Headdress restored at Manchester Museum 

 Norwegian Headdress restored at Manchester Museum 

This beautiful Norwegian headdress was worn to show the in-between status of the bride, as a crown for her wedding day. Before this girls would wear their hair down or a hat to show they were maidens so this was a special symbol for an important day. It would be a treasured possession passed down throughout the family with each bride wearing it and adding their own extra embellishment. I asked if there were any signs of additions but the piece was in such a state that it was hard to tell although the beaded fabric section at the front was pinned in place rather than sewn, as if too precious to actually commit to making a change. 

This echoes what many conservationists believe: that the originality of the object should be preserved with restorations being made in non-permanent ways wherever possible. 

Map of replaced beads-many conservationists use methods which are reversible so they can be undone and don't harm the original object.

Map of replaced beads-many conservationists use methods which are reversible so they can be undone and don't harm the original object.

I also learned a new method for protecting the pieces - I had not heard of "Scavengers" before. This is the term for the method of attracting corrosion or decay from the precious artefact to another item as a decoy. The wool in the headdress will erode the silver pendants of this headdress so they plan to put something else nearer so that it takes the effects. This means the silver pieces can be left natural and untreated. Many display cabinets have their controls built in so you can't see them such as the cloth they are upholstered in.

Frank vs App

 I mentioned in my last post that there's an App  for the new Ancient World's exhibition at Manchester Museum so here's my friend Natalie and I trying it out.

Transient

Using the museum wifi you can download their new app on your smartphone.

Transient
Transient

Along with each exhibit there is a unique combination of Pheonician codes. By "unlocking" the extra info yourself  you only need access the extra info on things you are particularly interested in. 

Transient

I liked this idea of using the symbols, simple but brilliantly in keeping with the exhibition (although as Nat was scrolling through I kept wanting to shout "Get the crystal, GET THE CRYSTAL")

Transient
Transient
Transient

As well as accessing image galleries and info on the objects (how they were discovered, uses etc) there were also audio commentaries. It was interesting to have a multi sensory experience but this kind of thing could be used for those with visual impairments too. Blown up details and videos of modern guides were shown on brightly lit screens as well, so you didn't need a smart phone to for all of the shiny new technology on offer.

Transient
Transient

I liked the vibrancy the screens and interaction added to the museum. I think it would make the place more inviting for a lot of people and there was definitely a feeling of making it relevant to today but with a spirit of adventure and discovery being able to find things out for yourself.

I think there are some good possibilities with the apps as they could be kept up to date with new info so you could potentially revisit the exhibition but get a new experience and learn more as you go along. (new discoveries, news, techniques on how they were made, links to current events going on in the museum etc).

But much as I like clever and cool, I am also a HUGE fan of WISDOM AND WONDER. And for me you an only get that by learning from a real person who has a deep interest they want to share.

Cue Frank...

Transient
Transient

I was really happy to see the museum's hand's on section with some fab objects to find out about and even  (carefully!) handle. Frank is a volunteer at the museum and his enthusiasm was infectious as he answered our questions and taught us about the pieces on the table. I asked how long he had been interested in finding out about history through objects and he said always, when he was a small boy he would sit in the coal shed with a little hammer smashing the black lumps to find fossils.  Viva the Urban Palaeontologist! 

When I quizzed Frank on his fave object at the museum the winner was this mysterious white fragment and it was very exciting when he told us why...

Transient
Transient

In a true Antiques Roadshow "Turner in the loft" kind of thing, this piece had been buried in a box of stored objects since it was donated in the 1930s by a German Archaeologist. It was unearthed 10 weeks ago during the prep for the new exhibition. There was no quick look on wiki for this, but by researching in "proper old books" to find images to photocopy like the one Frank's holding of Rameses II it shows the object to be a finial on a chariot used to tie the reins to keep hands free (for fighting with a massive sword or maybe I think eating a nice sandwich* "on the hoof"). 

Transient

*or ancient Egyptian carb equivalent

It is the ONLY piece in the museum with a Pharaoh's name on it. The stylised Dead Duck and Snake you can see -apart from sounding like a jolly nice pub are actually the hieroglyphics for "live in fear of". It also states that he was away fighting at the time. And we got to hold it! Erm just please keep it over the cushioned table. It is very old. Sorry!

For more cool stuff on museums going digital check out culture hack here. To learn more about the objects with a brill volunteers like Frank check out events on the museum website here or just get in and visit. It's free!