People familiar with my work may be surprised to learn that I use CAD (Rhino, primarily) as a design tool and that quite often, elements of my work are made using CAM processes, such as 3D milling of wax which is then cast in precious metals. My own approach to these technologies is not unique and while I don’t use them as a primary method of production, there are many makers who do – Janet Huddie, Christopher Hentz and Joshua Demonte to name a few with varied approaches.

 

CAD/CAM is here to stay, the 'new industrial revolution'; as with the last industrial revolution, there are the luddites, those brandishing sabots but so far there has not been the equivalent of wealthy, bourgeois mediaevalist, William Morris to lead a movement against it. (Despite the beard and mediaevalist tendencies, I have no such desire to call up arms against new technology quite apart from being of somewhat modest means.)

I recently received an invite for my students and me to participate in a very exciting exhibition of work which focuses on the use of CAD in jewellery. Organised by Karen Dicken, one of my colleagues who teaches CAD and product design in several other Scottish colleges, the exhibition is on the theme of “Handmade by Machine” and is going to be hosted by the prestigious Glasgow arts venue, The Lighthouse, which also houses the only open-access CAM lab in Scotland, MAKLab.

The brief for the competition is very open:

[Students and lecturers] will be invited to explore the possibilities in design using CAD as a tool to make jewellery. They will be asked to produce one piece of jewellery using the computer and its software components as their main tool in production. Pieces may be rapid prototyped, laser cut, printed or presented as animated virtual jewellery as long as their piece has entered and exited the computer at some stage in the manufacturing process. Pieces will be finished to a high standard and if the design requires finished by hand.

This has forced me to seriously think about my own practice and to consider what I am going to make for the show. I could have used one of my existing pieces, such as "Supercollider" or I could have finished off the Coco Chanel tribute piece for it, but I feel that this challenge needs to be met by something even more subtly exploring the area in which I work, blurring the boundaries between "handmade" and "machine made" to the point where people are unclear which bit is which.

 

Opalised Squid

 

Opalised squid. 

 

In recent years, I've enjoyed working with those little steel carbon dioxide cylinders which are used in cafés to whip cream and the like and it has always struck me that they would make a great little submarine. I also have a section of opalised squid and I a happy conjunction on my desk has led me to create a piece on a theme of "20000 Leagues Under The Seas", taken from the Jules Verne novel of the same name. I remember reading this and really enjoying both the book and the film with Kirk Douglas and James Mason. In a way, it is surprising I haven't tackled this theme before. 

The piece is going to be a collar with a large pendant, the collar based on the remarkable Hohenlohe Collar, dating from 1460 - 1500:

 

 

I couldn't find any references to or photographs of this piece online, so this is scanned from the marvellous V&A book "Medieval Jewellery" (sic) by Marian Campbell. I am not even sure what this is made of, but I think that the branches may be enamelled iron.

I've always loved this piece and thought that it would be fun to interpret this in a more contemporary way. It is my intention to recreate this style digitally.

The submarine is well underway:

 

20000 Leagues Under The Sea - WIP - 6

 

And I am delighted to report that the propellor actually rotates!

 

Video here

 

 

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Tags: CO2, WIP, cad, cam, casting, cylinder, exhibition, fossil, found object, gemstone, More…glasgow, hand made by machine, handmade, iron, jewellery, jewelry, jules verne, justified sinner, karen dicken, lighthouse, machine, mill, nautilus, nemo, opal, opalised, pendant, revo, rhino, rust, silver, squid, steel, sterling, submarine

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A modern metalsmith/metal artist can be found working in traditional metals as well as in nontraditional materials. The designs can range from the classic to the extravagant, and the techniques can either be centuries old or decidedly current.

The wide range of expression preferences, design options, materials, and processes has lead within our field to unfavorable misconceptions, misunderstandings and in some cases even outright disdain between artists. Can the metal and jewelry field overcome its division and send out a much-needed signal?

We appreciate and respect our historical past and acknowledge that current materials have a rightful place in jewelry/object making!

Arriving at this message is the goal of this traveling exhibition opening at the SNAG conference in Boston 2015, Velvet da Vinci, San Francisco, CA - Aug 19 - Sept 20, 2015, Equinox Gallery, San Antonio, TX - Oct 16 - Nov 15, 2015, Baltimore Jewelry Center, Baltimore, MD - Dec 11, 2015 - Jan 08, 2016, Brooklyn Metal Works, Brooklyn, NY - Feb 5 - Mar 4, 2016, Thomas Mann's Gallery I/O April 1 - June 25, 2016.

DETAILS on exhibition premise, call for artists, submission guidelines.....

OFF TO THE RACES:

Rachel and Brigitte got started on their own cooperation. Follow along and comment.

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Instill - Material Matters 2014 - The School of Jewellery at Birmingham City University, UK

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