I am home again after a fabulous week in Brisbane at the 'Textile and Art Academy' conference, immersed in inspirational creativity. Such a joy to spend my days purely on making stuff - no cooking, cleaning, computer, etc, and the bonus was that I spent some evening time with my sisters.
Keith lo Bue is an Australian/American jeweller/mixed media artist. He calls himself a 'Stuff Smith'. Go to his website for a knockout experience.
Keith is a great teacher and generously shares his tips and hints whilst teaching the most amazing techniques allowing for attachments and integrations of just about any materials. Found objects [often metal and usually antique] form the basis of his works, and the pieces evolve with old photos, watch parts, organic objects, tiny precious gems, crab claws, etc, embedded into lenses, resin, glass, all peeking through and allowing for various views and interpretations of the one art 'object'.
The first exercise was to take one object from our 'stash' from home, one object found in the garden in the school grounds, and one object donated by another student, then to make a wearable piece of jewellery [nothing else added].
This was my 'brooch'.
The green pencil is a relic from my father/grandfather's carpentary days, the red pencils were found in the garden and the perspex was a casette case donated by another student. I learnt heaps whilst sawing the perspex to make a new 'box' and making tiny perspex pins to jam into the sides and base of the pencils to hold the whole construction together. This was a whole day's work. I had trouble holding the front and back together, so at the end of the day I gave up and cheated - the wire was a fourth element, but it was also found in the garden. I figure life's too short to stress about being too pedantic.
The next exercise was to make something autobiographical. My personal martra is 'SIMPLE, HONEST & NOBLE' - I learnt to confidently drill holes in a tiny sea tumbled rock to take the pins from an old gold earring, and to house an antique pearl cuff link button - simple, nonest and noble.
Back to my love of driftwood - I used Keith's favoutite medium, reo tie wire, to make a riveted pin to go through the driftwood with a black rock and rubber washers as features. The memory wire will go through fine scarves and jacket lapels to attach to the garment. Simple, honest and noble once again.
Next, a fun name tag to wear at creative workshops and functions. Antique game letters, driftwood, tiny ceramic beads made 30 years ago, linen thread to mend and hide where the wood cracked under stress, and the rio wire rivet pins again. Lots of drilling tiny holes and trying to line them up.
Keith loves to make 'stuff' that has a dual purpose - usually wearable, but sculptural whilst not being worn, so this was my next piece - a little sculpture that becomes a neck piece.
The 'stand' is an old silver plated salt shaker [thanks Geoff and FaB] adorned with rubber rings and the top is the neck of another salt shaker, rubber ringed, with set in photos from an old family post card and a photo of my daughter on the other side. The radial memory wire pins have watch winders attached to the ends. The material covering the photos is mica.
The neck unscrews and voila!! the chain is contained within the salt shaker. The sculpture is now a neckpiece.
This is a special piece - started years ago when I did my first class with Keith. It was a lawn bowls 'tape measure' used by my grandfather. I 'de soldered' it, saw pierced out the window, attached the pointy end of the spring steel tape to the front of the housing with the pearl, and tried to make a hinging device to open the window. Not successful. So this week, I drilled out the pin and redid the 'hinge' - it works now. I made a mica window and forged my own brass and rio wire 'S' links to lengthen the found copper chain.
Under the spring is a photo of my great grandmother with me as a baby. I'd like to make a thin round book with all the significant family women in my life to also sit in this space.
The neckpiece can be worn complete, or the spring can be worn on its own. Maybe one day I will make another housing for the spring - just for fun !!
Thanks Keith for a great week.