PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
What I was not prepared for was the incredible treat in store for me just inside the front pages:
An original Andrew Grima paint-up for a tourmaline earring, included by his wife, Francesca's mother, as a beautiful surprise:
This is, without a doubt, the most wonderful and unexpected gift I have ever received.
Andrew Grima - without knowing it - was a major influence on my own work, his monumental cocktail rings; his jewellery for men; his use of crusted textures and the abandon with which surfaces are scattered with gems; his joyful use of colour. More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that he made me realise that "contemporary jewellery" and "fine jewellery" are not necessarily in opposition. When I was learning to be a bench jeweller, the European minimalists - Kunzli, Meierhoffer et. al. - were on the rise, often wilfully rejecting traditional jewellery techniques in favour of concept. Grima's work was modern (modernist, even) but firmly rooted in the traditions of "fine jewellery" and the joy he plainly found in using precious metals, sensuous textures, beautiful gemstones and riotous colours was very much part of that tradition, building on it, blowing it open, pushing it forward with the confidence of an artist who knows that he has nothing to prove, no agenda to further.
As I said in an email to Francesca, "I will stop now before I become a gushy fan-boy"... but I think it might be too late!
Back to my own workshop now and I have leapt ahead in the production of the final part of my Alexander McQueen tribute, "Fashion:Victim", the second ball/handbag, "Before The Fall". This has been a somewhat stressful undertaking as there are some 350 separate elements making it up, all having to be assembled in the correct order, starting with the setting of the carved prasiolites on the stars, affixing the stars and then starting on the snake element. I missed out photographing a number of those stages so here they are, condensed into one:
I then started attaching the other supports and leaves for the floral elements, which included about a dozen flowers which had to be attached directly:
I also took delivery of the pomegranate element which will hang from the mouth of the snake, stone-set by one of my students, Inness Thomson:
Inness is an exceptional stone-setter. This wouldn't look anything near as good if I had attempted it myself! It is set with rhodolite garnet "seeds" and the top is set with Mali and Tsavorite garnets, orange and yellow sapphires, zircons and spinels.
At the end of the day today, the whole piece looked like this: