Here are some of the new brooches (about actual size on my browser) I delivered to Gallery Funaki today-- had to wend my way through the film set of beer commercial in the lane. Weird. My workshop got flooded by torrential rain. Leaves and sludge all over the floor!
Several years ago, after I had quit my degree in Gold and Silversmithing, half-way through (as you do), I asked Sally Marsland to make me a comb. Sally had been one of my lecturers, and although I had quit, she remained a source of encouragment, in fact, I would say, was instrumental in my continuing to make any jewellery, at all, ever again. So- the comb- its a curious solution, not really an every-day functional object- but pleasing nontheless. Especially the dip in the middle- it is just perfect to hold between thumb and forefinger- the dimension of the metal at this point is mysteriously pleasing to measure with ones finger tips.
I never understand anything much about why or what she makes, but I like that. She is one of Australia's most interesting and talented jewellery makers.
Her exhibition Odd One Out is showing at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne.
Provenance-where something comes from- can be very important.
In the case of gold, much serious degradation of the environment occurs in the mining process.
I was talking this over with Mark, who asked me to make him a wedding band. We decided that it would be best if we could make his ring from local gold nuggets- that we found ourselves, taking care not to do irreparable damage in the process- to seek, but not destroy. After two arduous but memorable prospecting episodes, we hadnt found anywhere near enough to make the whole ring. With the wedding date looming, I decided to get help from a supplier of local Victorian gold nuggets, who fixed us up with enough gold, all of which was found by small-scale detectorists.
Gold- as it occurs in nature, is seldom 100% pure- it will often contain traces of silver for example, and is known as native gold. Native gold from Victoria's golden triangle region is some of the richest in the world, typically assaying above 95% purity- about 22-23k.
Here's what I did with it... and if I may say so my friends, this is a wedding ring par excellence...
These are the natural nuggets. That small one above is a piece we found ourselves ( greatly magnified!)
Firstly, I removed all the quartz I possibly could.
Then, melted the nuggets in a groove carved into a charcoal block, forming a simple ingot.
The ingot is beaten out, gradually approaching the desired dimensions.
Mark requested a band 9mm wide and 2mm high, so care is required to keep to the specifications.
...it gradually gets better and better...
Mark wanted his band to look handmade- but not too rough or crazy- just "not like a piece of machinery". To achieve this aesthetic, I endevoured to keep my method very restrained- to only use hammers, both to forge the shape, and to achieve the surface finishing. No machines, no abrasives.
No material will be removed.
The bend begins. I had initially thought I would solder the join, and have to make up my own high-karat solder- but then... I thought, NO- I'll FUSE it. To solder is to join by melting a less pure alloy into the joint- which leaves a visible line of another colour. Fusion involves melting the joint on itself- a seamless, invisible join. The difficulty of fusion is that you have to get the whole piece up to almost-melting temperature... then just-melt the join– you could melt the whole thing! Its a bit nerve-wracking.
You can see in this photo how the whole ring is red hot- and the surface is just starting to 'swim'; to go liquid. Danger! But, this risk of total destruction is part of the romance of goldsmithing, gentle reader. Commitment is required. The smith makes himself vulnerable.
This makes me think of marriage, naturally; for good fusion you have to melt yourself a little bit.
Perfectly fused! But hmm... it looks a little droopy, no?
Its just this shape becuase I did a 'scarf' joint (big overlap) for maximum surface contact.
Don't fret- its getting better and better.
Next, I forge and forge and forge, with my hammer, stretching the ring to size 'U' on the mandrel, and perfecting the shape.
To get the soft, ancientish surface texture was a matter of damping the face of the steel hammer.
After a thousand and one hammer taps, we have arrived.
The weight is astonishing.
The lustre is celestial.
The provenance is without reproach.
The band is seamless, the simple methodology has dignified integrity.
Wear it well, Mark- 'tis a beauty.
and oh... if you need one of these, or something with the same attention to all the considerations; now you know who to ask... everyone should have their own Goldsmith.
Don't get me wrong, I love it when my pals come over and play "kumbaya" on my guitar, while everyone else just has to listen.
But I felt it might be more sociable if we had two guitars in our house, so I thought I'd get a "guest's" guitar, that way, two of us can jam out while everyone else just has to listen.
So I acquired a busted guitar and set about refurbishing it to a playable state. The idea is to spend zero money. The machine heads ( the tuning keys) were all missing, so I made some from Fimo™, but they proved to be inadequate™. The white one just busted off when I needed to shred a drop-D tuning.
So it looks like I'll have to spend money after all.
But not the coin of the realm ( Oz dollarz)
Let's make some knobs out of Danish Øre and Japanese Yen.
I like this coin- with its happy font and love hearts- why is that, Danes? A royal wedding?
who is NR and JP?
The line up. ¥100, 50 øre, and 1 kroner, I think?
Soldering on the coins...
(ok this photo is sort of a fake- you cant solder and take photos at the same time)
Unless you are an octopus. Who can live out of water. And wants to blog about his misadventures.
On reassembly, I discover that Ive soldered them on up-side down!
Still.... I reckon it'll be good for Blues- nobody knows the trouble its seen.