It was a really tough few weeks getting everything ready in time for the deadline, I worked harder then I ever have done before! I’m really happy with all the finished pieces, they all look great together as a collection. Because I chose to make very intricate and technically challenging pieces I did have to ask for some help on one of the show pieces which is a very large copper ring filled with rubber (photographs to follow). Although the piece looks simple it was very hard to make, my tutor and I made the piece together and we figured things out as we went along. I learnt absolutely loads from watching my tutor work and it was great for my metalwork skills and future practice. I’m glad I didn’t settle for easier designs though as this project has really tested my skills and patience and has also made me question who I want to be as a designer. As a creative person it can be quite hard to be absolutely sure of the direction you are going in. When I started the course I was sure that I wanted to make fashion style jewellery but now I’ve discovered the world of art jewellery and I feel torn between the two. I feel this questioning is important for me, as it is something that I will need to figure out. At this point in time I have no answers to the question but I feel I need to explore what I can do first before answers are necessary. I have decided to study Jewellery and Metalwork at university next year and I’m really looking forward to the next phase of the exploration!
I’ve been very very busy working away at my final outcome. Had some real challenges with the construction of most of the pieces, which has meant I’ve pretty much spent every waking hour making jewellery (just as well I love it!) These are images of a stone getting set into a solid copper rod which will then be riveted between layers of flat bone which I plan to dye black. I chose to use copper as it is a metal which is mined in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and so is used in lots of the traditional jewellery. I chose a stone which was cobalt blue as cobalt is heavily mined in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. I used a solid rod of copper as I felt it would add a really nice weight to the piece which would make it go well with the other rings in the collection which are pretty big and to be cast in brass. I really like the design of this ring, I think it could look quite sophisticated if I can construct it well. I’m in the process of making the bone usable as I bought four beef shoulder blades which were huge and so I had to process and resize them all. I chose bone as I had bought some from a farmers market and liked the idea of using them for this project as it is a very tribal material to use.
I watched a really interesting Storyville documentary on BBC iplayer called Mugabe and The Democrats. It is about the leaders of two political parties in Zimbabwe trying to get people to vote honestly in a referendum about the electoral system of the government. In a speech to the voters, one of the leaders talks of how they once fought a war with guns in Zimbabwe but now they fight a war with pens. I thought that this was a powerful statement and that it could also be a really powerful visual. I have been trying out different finishes and shapes with pen lids in order to create a striking necklace for my collection. It might take me quite a lot of work to make them into something good, but I think it would be worth the hard work!
I kept seeing these branches everywhere, I’m not even sure what they are but they were a beautiful red colour. Unfortunately the red colour dissipates when the branch dries out but they still stay really nice earthy colours. I have decided to use them as beads in my collection, with parts of them gold leafed. I have been having some issue’s varnishing them but I think they will look pretty good in the end.
According to the artist Ralph Ziman, guns have an ‘almost mythical ‘ status in South Africa. Good or bad, the AK47 has become a massive part of the culture in cities and rural area’s of Sub-Saharan Africa. As I have mentioned before, I am interested in the contrasts of Africa and in the image of the young girl from the Mursi tribe holding a gun so casually, we see an evocative example of this which is what I am hoping to express through my work. When I visited the British Museum recently, they had an example of a fake assault rifle which was made by poor road workers as an attempt to warn off potential ambushes. The fake gun was made from wood and covered in tar. This has inspired me to make my own version of a fake gun using tar amongst other materials. I have been working on gun designs to be used as a motif throughout the collection
I have been working on some maquettes of ideas for the collection. I am really liking some of the shapes that are coming out, I think it looks quite African but also very me which is important. Every idea that I am having looks as if it wil be quite involved and time consuming and so my biggest worry is getting it all done in time.
So another amazing year at Schmuck. I didn’t get to see nearly as many shows as I would have liked, but with there being 80 exhibitions as well as the main show at the Messestadt, it’s no easy task! I didn’t take photographs of everything but here are some of my highlights from what I saw. I have put names and descriptions on the photographs so if you like what you see, make sure you check out the jewellery artists!
Contrasting textures and tones are something I have been interested in over the last few projects. The research I have done on modern Africa has led me back on that path once more. In the above images (taken from the amazing photography book of Leni Riefenstahl’s photography by Taschen) we see the beautiful painted bodies of two tribes people, I really love the contrasting skin tones and how the finishes accentuate their form. Contrasts, however, have not only been skin deep throughout my research, they have been integral to many parts of it, from tribes people against city people, traditional against modern and poverty against great wealth. Africa really is a land of contrasts and so I thought it was really important to show this through my work. I have been playing around with different surface textures on recycled rubber inner tubes. Recycling has become a big part of my practice, it is also something which is prevalent in African culture. Tribe’s people are very resourceful and will use what is available to them to create beautiful adornment.
I really love the amazingly over the top gold that the Asanti tribe from Ghana wear. For centuries they have been making jewellery using the lost wax casting technique, where wax models are covered in thin layers of clay, which is then fired so that the clay hardens and the wax melts out, the clay is then used to cast the gold. I thought it would be interesting to recreate the texture and look of the cast gold jewellery using a non precious material, something which could be done by anyone. I have cut rubber inner tubes and sprayed them with gold paint which I actually really like!
These are images of some of the beautiful work by Carina Chitsaz Shoshtary and Annamaria Leiste in their exhibition ‘Microphilia’, a reference to the micro world they both work in, spending hours working on tiny elements which make up their jewellery. Annamaria’s work is made from fish scales amongst other materials, strung upon delicate gold and blackened silver chain. I find her the pieces have a fragile, ethereal beauty. Carina’s work is made from pieces of wood that she finds close to her home, she covers these in tiny pieces of graffiti, a signiature material she has been working with for some time. It was a real pleasure for me to get a chance to work so closely with Carina’s jewellery, not only are they beautiful shapes with exciting colours, they are also incredibly tactile. I had admired and coveted Carina’s jewellery for some time and seeing them up close made me love them even more.