Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 23


A year has passed since the 2014 Handmade By Machines show at The Lighthouse in Glasgow and this year bigger and better than ever. A show about digital manufacture for the jewellery industry, focusing on the work done by the tutors and students at the four Scottish colleges offering jewellery courses and, for the first time, work by staff and students at London's private jewellery school, Holt's Academy.

The standard of the work was higher than ever, which is encouraging, indicating that the people who are completing their courses and entering the industry are better-positioned than ever to deal with the massive changes which are sweeping through the jewellery industry specifically and the product-design world generally.

The range of technologies on show is as one would expect, laser-cutting, SLS in a variety of materials including metal, SLA which has then been set, cast, formed and used directly as product... There were so many entrants in the show and curator, Karen-Ann Dicken, has taken the admirable approach of mixing up the work of the different colleges and further mixing the work of tutors in with that of students, thus my photographs don't really have any details available on them. Anyone wishing to find the CVs of the makers from the photographs, can see the biography lists here.

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 1

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 4

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 22

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 9


A sucker for a good gimmick, I was especially taken with the "Train-Track" Rings...

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 15


The train moves and there is a video here.

This is a small selection of the work. More can be seen on my Flickr photostream.

Part of the opening day was a symposium about digital manufacture with five speakers, of whom I was one (the last). Normally I would hate going last, but the talks before me were all interesting and relevant and so the audience weren't bored! First up was organiser, Karen, talking about something dear to my heart - the continued importance of the paper-and-pencil sketchbook practice as an element of digital design:

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 26


Next up was an associate of many years' standing, Anne-Marie Shilito who was talking about her amazing, inexpensive, haptic modelling system:

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 27


We bought a copy of this, along with the haptic modelling device to go with it, had a hard-disk failure and never got round to re-establishing the use of the programme but as the improved v.3 software is now available, this is definitely a project for the start of next term. Have a look at the software and system - Anarkik3D.

Jack Meyer of Holt's Academy in London presented a talk about the changes in the jewellery industry brought about by CAD/CAM.

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Largely about the decline of the traditional approaches to buying and selling - witness the closure of Electrum and Lesley Craze - and the rise of new forms of buying.

After the interval came Katharine Childs, who spoke about her experiments with "Smart Materials":

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 29


These materials change in response to stimulus (heat, light, electricity) and then return to their original form. I loved her samples!

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Then it was my turn, talking about the way in which I integrate digital manufacture into my own practice, especially in terms of the difficulties of using found objects and reclaimed materials with digital processes.

It was also the first outing of my Tectonic seersucker summer suit...

Handmade By Machines - 2015 - 31


After this came the reception and the official opening of the show.

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Handmade By Machines runs at The Lighthouse in Glasgow until 13th July.



Almost time to pack up the workshops for the summer and I've been finishing off some stock items to take with me to Brighton for delivery to Cursley & Bond in Folkestone early in July.

Bring On The Dancing Horses - 3
"Bring on the Dancing Horses" - Bangle made from discarded stainless-steel bridle bit, silver, tourmalines and lapis lazuli.
Dungeness Works Iolite-Iron Earring Trio - 1
Earring trio made from iolite and corroded nails found on the beach at Dungeness in Kent.
La Forchetta - 2
Pendant made from a rusted fork found at a flea-market in Turin and set with emerald and rhodolite garnet.
Son Of King - Post-Apocalyptic Cocktail Ring - 1
"Son of King" - Post-Apocalyptic Cocktail Ring made from found, corroded hex nut (a gift from Al Blair!), silver, prehnite and rhodolite garnets.

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Comment by The Justified Sinner on June 21, 2015 at 11:59am

Brigitte,

Good to hear from you. It is disappointing that Lesley Craze and Electrum have closed. I have never actually been to NUDE, so can't really comment. My own experience is that galleries dealing in high-quality mixed-craft products (eg: ceramics, fabric, prints and jewellery) are still able to survive and do well but this often has to do with location.

It is not just "millenials" who are changing their buying habits: it is everyone. People are much happier with buying online and are also much happier with "semi-bespoke" and they will actually spend large amounts of money to buy commissioned work online. 

The easy DIY CAD/CAM jewellery is not the bane of our lives! This goes back to my talk about how I can offer product that nobody else can make and how the CAD/CAM is just a tool. My own thought is that the DIY stuff whets people's appetites for more. Perhaps a threat lies somewhere down the line when, in a few years' time, it is possible to directly "print" precious metals easily and cheaply. This is already possible but is very expensive still. Katharina showed us on Friday some test pieces she had made putting a castable extrusion plastic through the very cheap and reliable "Ultimaker" and has also been looking at a PMC-type material for it. At the technology day on Wednesday two weeks ago, I spoke to ES Technologies who have found a way of using their SLS metal printer to "set" stones by sintering the metal around them! Lots of exciting developments there. 

All that any of this means is that we have to be much better at design and much cleverer than the competition.

I am not so concerned about the idea that the "wealthy and visually-educated people" will stop buying jewellery - neither Lesley Craze nor Electrum had a useful e-commerce presence and perhaps Nude will win there. Jack thinks that galleries can survive but they need to be about more than just selling a product and I agree. He mentioned Stephen Webster's LA shop having a private restaurant and bar on the roof! 

Another problem he cited was the way in which 'brands' like Bulgari want to take over the high-value end of jewellery and at the other end - another problem I've identified myself in talks I've given - people will spend £120 on a sliver of stainless-steel cast with the logo of Armani and hung on leather; the fashion brands are wanting in at the other end. 

We need to be nimble and creative but bespoke jewellery will survive. There has been such a resurgence in bespoke tailoring for men here in the UK and it is about quality, uniqueness and the general experience. Jewellers can do the same.

Comment by Brigitte Martin on June 21, 2015 at 9:49am

Thank you for this, Dauvit. Feels almost as if I had been there right with you. I am very saddened to hear of Electrum Gallery's and Lesley Craze's closing. I have been to Electrum in the past, was very impressed and always wanted to go back next time I am in London. What a shame. If they have to close such a neat place in an easy-to-find (admittedly expensive) area of London, with loads of wealthy and visually educated people, what hope do we have?

Question for you: I would like to hear a bit more about Jack Meyer's opinion (and your own) regarding changing buying habits. Are we talking millennials only or does this effect everybody?  It always struck me that having a piece of jewellery, or any kind of hand-made item for that matter, in ones hand, especially unusual, OOAK pieces, would be the key to a purchasing decision rather than buying an image online. Is the rise of fairly easy to get DIY cad/cam jewelry the current bane of our existence? Let me know your thoughts, please.

Also, what do you think of this place: NUDE JEWELLERY ? Are they doing well? They are just a stone-throw from Electrum.

B.

PS: The "Bring on the Dancing Horses" bracelet is awesome! I am an on-again-off-again horseback rider, this piece has my name written all over it!!

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