Friday, January 28, 2011

Brought to you by the letters D, F and the number 3

Created entirely with "F"s.

Another fabulous week of creating.  In a different gear this week though, we shifted to desks and pencils and paper (initially) for a week of Design.  What a fabulous instructor we had: Sarah Troper is infinitely patient and encouraging.  ( You should check out her work.  I love her Wonder series!)  Anyhoo, it was a bit of a mental shift to change from "create, create, create, we only have a week", to "slow down, sketch, develop the idea, sketch some more, rethink, evaluate, assess, alter" and then create.  Still no silver this week, all our creations were of the paper or alternative materials.  Sorry, I have no shiny baubles to show you this post!  We explored how to avoid making the first idea that popped to mind, instead working with lines, and shapes, creating interesting designs with no immediate jewellery piece intended.  Only then did we find sources of inspiration from within those designs and begin working with them to create ideas for rings, pendants, bracelets, etc.  Through very creative assignments and excellent powerpoints showing the work of other jewellers utilizing a particular design theme, I came away with a greater appreciation for the work involved in the process of design, rather than expecting inspiration to be a lightbulb moment in my head.  It is an immense relief to have discovered tools to kickstart new ideas if (when?!) I hit a creative wall, as well as ways to stretch my current designs into new directions.

So I thought I'd share some of the jewellers Sarah introduced us to in order to illustrate some of the elements of design we covered this week.

To illustrate the value in repetition:
Tara Donovan, working with disposable cups and paper plates:

and Lily Yung:

In discussing working with representational forms:
Andree Wejsmann:

In discussing emotional/communicative jewellery:
Elizabeth Yarborough:

Gabriela Feldentrager:

Katjz Korsawe:

Thea Tolsma, working with bicycle inner tubes (!):

Some very interesting work by some very inspired artists!  Next week we're onto Surface Design and Art History.  I'm looking forward to delving into patinas!  Until then, a bit of skiing, a poke around the thrift store here with some classmates, and some relaxing with the deer.


Saturday, January 22, 2011


Coming full circle

I didn't recognize this sculpture, but it has been 25 years since I and it were at Expo 86.  It's by Bill Lishman, of "Fly Away Home", domed home with circular refrigerator, sculptor, and husband to Paula Lishman ( fame.  A multi-talented man to say the least and his wife used to teach here at the college.  This sculpture is positioned right in front of the college and, if you can make out the girl clinging desperately to the horse's back, is a bit the way I felt last week as the course load here became apparent! 

This week has been a less intense learning curve than last week.  We made rings this week and learned the piercing technique with the jeweller's saw.  Both of these things I have done before, so I focused my energy on the aspects of these techniques which was new to me.  With rings, we were making much thicker rings than I am accustomed to, anywhere from around 2 to 2.5mm thick.  That requires some effort to form I can tell you!  We also formed the shanks not from silver sheet, but from a 6mm piece of square stock and the rolling mill.  While time consuming in it's approach, this method does make more efficient use of materials in that you can make many differing shank thicknesses from the same length of 6mm stock.  Also new to me this week was the technique for forming a half round ring - think wedding band - which is surprisingly time consuming in the amount of filing required!  Once mastered though this filing skill can be applied to many different profiles of rings.  Our piercing project was mostly an exercise in mastering the jeweller's saw.  I modified a painting I found online for mine, and will use this sample later (as with some of my rings as well) in the week we spend on stone setting.  The final project for the week was to design and make a pin.  I wasn't entirely happy with  mine the way I left it yesterday, (as seen in the group image with the other projects), so I came in to the studio this morning to darken the tree.  Now I'm pleased with it; the bird doesn't seem so lost against the tree background.

I have been very surprised at the scarcity of birds here.  I've seen a few chickadees, crows, and the turkeys.  Last weekend I went for a ski near my house and saw, actually heard first, then saw, woodpeckers.  I got a few pictures of the small one, (perhaps a downy woodpecker?), then heard the larger one and was amazed that I wasn't listening to someone chop wood in the distance.  My error with him was trying to get closer before snapping my first picture, and of course he flew away, but I believe from his size he must have been a piliated woodpecker.  I saw a raptor of some sort on my drive to school one morning, but that's been all.  I'm surrounded by forest and other than these sightings I've mentioned, the birds are just absent!  Is the plight of the songbirds so much more serious in central Canada?  Or maybe I've just always lived surrounded by birds because I surround myself with bird feeders.....

Saturday, January 15, 2011



Silhouettes! I love them!  These fish are a portion of a panel honouring the sponsors here at the college.  Each fish has a name on it and is a different patinaed metal.  Just one example of the originality of thought I've encountered here so far. 
I thought I'd tackle this blog in an effort to stay in touch and in tune while my production work is temporarily on hold during my studies.  I hope I can make this weekly synopsis of my activities here sound interesting to those of you who choose to read my blog.
Haliburton is a gorgeous area of the country, as everyone has told me it would be.  I'd love to be here in the fall sometime.  It's full-on winter here now, and that has been missing in my life for a number of years, so I'm drinking it all in.  Beautiful snowy vistas greet me everywhere I go.  The deer and turkeys are my silent sentinels each morning and evening: 

So my first week has been a whirlwind, as I had expected.  We've been tackling chainmaking with Susan Watson Ellis (  Five days and five impressive (I must say!) chains later, my soldering skills are vastly improved.  Bye-bye paste solder...I've reconquered chip solder after casting it aside in frustration years ago.  I'm super impressed how quickly my classmates learned to solder this week, many of them for the first time.  We soldered heavy and fine chains, as well as doing some chainmaille designs.  There's a certain zen-ness that one must find, I think, in order to do chains well.  You can't do any of it in a hurry, that's for sure.  While I wasn't super excited to do the chainmaille, it turns out to be quite a soothing process.  You're watching for a repeating pattern, and imagining the possibilities if you were to just change the twist of rings this way or that.  It would definitely appeal to knitters I think, or even those who enjoy origami.  Jewellery tools are invariably expensive, so any cost saving measure is always a great boon to production.  The niftiest tip we learned this week was to use steel knitting needles as spindles/mandrels for winding jump rings!  They're cheap, easily replaceable, and they have the sizes clearly marked on the ends!  Genius!