Another week and this time punctuated by a visit to my favourite Scottish city, Dundee. It is hard to put a finger on exactly what I love about Dundee but one of the essential elements is a truly dynamic and exciting arts (and crafts) scene: there is always something new going on, often encouraged by the Duncan of Jordanstone Art School. I took the train through an icy night on Friday to visit one of the gallery spaces in the art school where the newest project for jewellery makers was being unveiled, Vanilla Ink.


Vanilla Ink Cupcakes!

Bait for the "Sex In The City" set!


The concept of Kate Pickering, Vanilla Ink is, at the moment, an online jewellery shop and community. It came about after Kate gathered together some of her favourite artists from "New Designers" and decided to promote them in an online shop: the project grew from there and is now a functional shop and Crafthaus-style community (discussion forums, associates, designer profiles, etc.) but is aimed at recent graduates in Jewellery from any institution. It is envisaged that this will eventually grow into workshops - a little like the Birmingham Designspace project I blogged about last spring - offering business advice and support for graduates as well as technical support and inexpensive workshop spaces. 


Kate Pickering

Kate Pickering introducing the project.


The online shop and forum are worth having a look at just now.

This bridging of the worlds of industry or "the real world" of commerce and the somewhat isolating and isolated world of the art school is something to be encouraged and Kate is to be commended on her vision and for the sheer hard work she has obviously put into making her vision reality.




The exhibition comprised two elements; the launch of the website and a very open look at the work of the makers represented on the site. 


Web Trial

"I could do this at home!"

The exhibition was small but excellent; everything was laid out and viewers were able to pick the pieces up and look at them closely. One of the most interesting features was the way in which Kate has put together a collection of work which has a very certain "look" - she said that this was not a deliberate policy, but more something she realised after the fact - and how the collection is quite universally very reasonably priced, an important consideration when launching a project like this in a recession.


Katie Lees

Work by Katie Lees.

It was nice to see interesting contemporary jewellery which was both accessible and affordable, well-made and eminently wearable. Features of the collection include a lot of micro-granulation of silver, blackened silver, gold-plate and focal coloured gemstones. Everything has a lightness and delicacy and an attention to detail that is commendable and a few of the makers were not without humour. My own favourite piece in the show was Zoe Duthie's "Spectacles":


Zoe Duthie

"Spectacles" by Zoe Duthie.

The reception/opening was well attended and throughout the show there was a Twitter feed being projected showing online support for the project, a very nice touch! Overall, Kate and Vanilla Ink are to be wished every success with their endeavours.


The Crowd



In terms of my own work, I've been making pieces for the show at Llantarnam, including this bomb pendant, "Dr Strangelove":


Dr Strangelove (WIP) - 4


Made from a discarded steel CO2 cylinder, silver and a blue topaz, it made me think that I would like to do a number of these, almost a little "diffusion" line, as the are fairly commercial, use found objects - normally a barrier to production -and are open to all sorts of variations. I've modelled up a few variants on the vanes - using Rhino - and will be looking into this next week. I would quite like to use enamel on the vanes.

Also on the workbench, production Skull pendants for Zook:


Zook Skulls In Three Sizes

I finished a set of iron, polymer clay and silver cufflinks:


Bird Skull Cufflink Trio - 3

And started on a brutal iron chain:


From The Thunderdome (WIP) - 3

More soon!


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