Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Fresh Start

There's nothing like an exhibition looming to kick start my focus in the direction of The Laundry!  Click here to get the details:  House Gallery

While the work on display won't be new, my plinths are designed to wet the appetite of potential students.  This is the year I will launch classes in Queenscliff.   

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


While my daughter has been away I've used her image to create a CAD project in an attempt learn the software I have called MOI.  I'm the sort of person who needs a project to really understand what I'm learning.  I guess you would call me a hands on learner.  Needless to say my daughter has been on my mind!

I'm nearly finished my cameo, however it won't be the perfectly polished flawless piece I was hoping to make.  When my digital image was printed in wax, so too were the horizontal lines produced by the printer. On top of that, when the wax was cast in silver, several imperfections showed up in the cast itself.  These imperfections have gone unnoticed in previous castings as they disappeared in the organic nature of my pieces.  This new work, however, is far from organic.
I was going to abandon the project when my son said "why don't you just make it a feature of the work?"  Don't you just love kids!  Sometimes they are so spot on.

Taking my 12 year olds advice, as you do, I decided to go for a matt finish on the pendant and a high polish for the image.  Given I don't have the tools to get into the small crevices I decided to oxidise the pendant which will, hopefully, hide a multitude of sins!  Besides, if it looks aged, the odd dent here and there gives it more character.  I'm not finished yet but I'm already glad I didn't melt it down for scrap.  All this because my son could see the obvious solution, where I was looking at imperfections!  Yet another steep learning curve.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Baby Steps

It all started when I thought I'd create a file that could be printed with a desktop printer.
My very rudimentary rings feature my name subtracted from the band. Even though I know they would not print successfully, I thought I was clever to have gotten that far! I have to say when I uploaded my thoughts to the MOI forum I was politely given a very nice alternative that I could try...Flow!

What a great idea to raise the letters following the curve of the band. However to achieve this started me on a CAD journey I never thought I'd go on.  Yes, I have been up late at night on the forum being guided in baby steps by some very patient experts.

Eventually I learnt to UnwrapCurve and use the Flow command as you can see from the screen shots below:

One baby step at a time...I am looking forward to the point when I can cast one of my CAD creations and get myself back into the workshop.  Be warned, this is an addictive pastime when you have a project in mind!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

From Frustration to Inspiration

AutoDesk "beginners" tutorial...I got lost!
In 1998 I decided I wanted to learn Computer Aided Design.  As this was not common for jewellery students I appeared to be ahead of my time, but only just.  I was, however, persistent and so was given the option to study AutoCAD in the Furniture Faculty, which I did for 2 years.  That time is an absolute blur, literally!  I found it difficult to comprehend.  Recently, I  have been tackling a newer, more user-friendly version yet all my T-Spline nightmares just came flooding back to haunt me. Having said that, with some unexpected time on my hands what better use to put it to...conquering my CAD phobia!

One inspiration for my new project came from the experience of teaching a group of middle years students who were very attentive to any tuition that involved manipulating their own images.  Luckily, as a Photoshop user, I was able to introduce a few tools then let them explore the workspace on their own.

The other motivation for this project is that my daughter is away with her school for 8 weeks and I am probably missing her more than the reverse.  So while I sit and wait for Skype to light up each night, I have had a play with her image in CAD.

Notice the word, play!  This is due to the fact that I have found software with that: I think I can, I think I can, quality.  I  am having fun using it and I never thought I'd say that about CAD software.

I am using/learning a software package called MOI or Moment Of Inspiration.  It's price is in the $100s not the $1,000s or $10,000s plus it has a 30 day try before you buy trial.  So, for the baby beginner I am, I can see it's potential, not only as a jewellery designer but also as a teacher.  I like that it is compatible with my Adobe software and that it exports in all major 3d file formats.

Don't get me wrong, I have no affiliation with the product except that, to me, it represents a light at the end of a previously inaccessible tunnel! I may even dare myself to cast this pendant in silver?  I am having a prototype printed on an UP 3d printer, the problem being if it's too good I may have to make room on my desk for one!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Rocks in My Head

It may seem odd to make a chain with raw slate but...I think it works.   Not only does it look good but it is a weighty reminder of all my memories of Valentia.  Ironically, its very light, if not fragile.

The icing on the cake is that both my children think it looks cool!  Yet again my beautiful daughter was the model.

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Clean Slate

I have spent many Summers staying on Valentia in Ireland.  Over the years I've been inspired by its beauty and history. Every time I visit I walk away saying I'm going to make a tribute to the place, like a photo book or something similar, yet every year I do nothing.

Last year, inspired by Nellie O Cleirigh's book:  Valentia. A Different Irish Island, instead of just visiting the Slate Quarry as part of the must see tour with the kids, I opened my eyes and paid more attention to the evidence of slate around Knightstown and by implication the history of the Quarry and Valentia.     

What drew me to the slate?  Texture, stories, lives, industry, community.  I could not get the idea of turning some slate chips I picked up into jewellery.  I'm not interested in a touristy cliché but rather a tribute, not only the material, but to my memories of Valentia itself. 

So I had a go at making a slate chain, or should I say a chain with slate inserts.  I decided to fuse each jump ring which turned a simple task into an exercise in patience and restraint.  Basically, a nightmare!
I was halfway through before I had an epiphany to use heat off the slate. Once I turned the silver back onto the slate and heated it, rather than the silver directly, it worked beautifully.  I was of course kicking myself for not doing this earlier!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

On Display

Over Easter and the school holidays my work is on display at The Seaview Gallery in Queenscliff.


T +61 3 5258 3645

Opening Hours

Open 10:30am - 5:00pm

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

A Tributary Pair

Have you ever had a customer that loves your work so much it just lifts your spirits every time you have a conversation with them?  I did.  He purchased a pendant for his wife and from then on when we spoke he urged me to make earrings to match. 

When I started producing in my workshop people came out of the woodwork with ideas and commissions they wanted me to make. While this was flattering, I took a step back and decided against it.  If I was 20 and just starting out I would have considered this a great way to build up a client base.  As I'm now over 50 I chose to spend time in my laundry making what I like.  Yes, I am the world's worst business woman, however, I figure if I produce a piece that someone likes, and they go on to buy it, I have achieved something by making an object of beauty/desire.

I had many discussions with the client mentioned above about the Moonah earrings pictured to the left.  In the end he thought they would be too heavy for his wife.  In one email he urged: "Any chance of you making a pair of ‘stud’ earrings...featuring two or even three Moonah seed pods...?"  My response was I'll let you know if or when I make them.  
The last time I met my client was at the QUARK Market on a Friday night and he was still trying to convince me to make smaller earrings.  On a quiet market night he lifted my spirits and breezed in like a breath of fresh air.

The next day he died.

I did not make the new earrings as a belated commission,  rather I made them as a tribute to my persistent client. There is nothing more complimentary than someone who likes your work, even better, who chooses it to give to the person they love, in this case his wife. So I made the earrings for her, inspired by him.  A tributary pair, if you like, quite simply to a person I didn't know that well, yet, who managed to lift my spirits and build my confidence.

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