Monthly Archives: March 2010

Material Research and Experiments

I’ve been talking for the past few weeks about all the experiments I’ve been doing- testing out new construction methods, image transfer techniques, forms, and colours. Part of the current assignment for my project is to do extensive material and technological research (not only doing the research, but also extensively documenting it and turning it into a research booklet), so I’ve currently got almost 150 photos of the processes I’ve been testing out. Rather than subjecting you to 150 photos (AND giving away all my process secrets!), here are selected photos of a few of the more successful experiments I’ve had recently:

One thing I’ve been working on with the chandelier pieces is trying to figure out a way to highlight the details of each element: when it’s all in white, you just see the overall form, but as soon as there’s colour added (and selectively removed), the details suddenly pop:

White Chandelier

Blue Chandelier

After seeing a lot of blue-and-white china at the V&A (as well as some lovely blue-and-white fabrics in their textiles index!) I decided I’d try out the blue-and-white motif with these. I experimented with black dye and grayscale (pictured below), but I felt like it made the pieces look dirty. I feel like the blue is so much more successful with these pieces.

Grayscale Experiment

Greyscale Test Piece

Blue Test Piece

So I’m really happy with the solution of using the blue-and-white look for the chandelier pieces- what do you think? What colour would you use if you could choose any colour for these chandelier pieces? If you have a colour to suggest, I’ll try it out and post photos of the results in my next post.

I also did some more experiments with image transferring, using it as a way to make the “lace” pieces more exciting and add another dimension of detail to them- again, I feel like this is really successful and I’m excited about doing more with this and making some really interesting and exciting final pieces!

Lace Image Transfer (click photo for larger version- it's difficult to see the image transfer in the small size)

Image Transfer Lace

So there we go- these are just a few photos of the more successful developments for my project. I’m thrilled with all the variations I’m discovering and I’m looking forward to turning all these tests into new, exciting pieces of jewellery. Thanks for reading!

I leave for Amsterdam on Saturday and will get back at the beginning of April. We’ll see how things go, but I’d imagine that you can expect photos and an update about Amsterdam the first week in April. Not too long after that (when I’ve had a chance to get back into the studio!) I’ll hopefully be showing some finished pieces of jewellery based on some of this new research!

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London Trip

When I moved here I started making a list of all the exciting galleries and museums that I wanted to go see. Of course, once life starts and things get busy, it’s so easy to say “Oh, I can’t go this week because I’m too busy” or “Well, getting there by train and eating meals out and paying entry fees will take too much money”. I moved to England in September, and it’s taken me til March to figure out that I’m not going to have time to go do these things unless I make time to go! I decided that this was the week I was going to go- there was a show I wanted to see at the Contemporary Applied Arts gallery in London that was ending, so I made up my mind that I’d make a day of it and start seeing all the museums and galleries I’ve been thinking about seeing for the past 6 months.

I started out at the Victoria and Albert Museum- I’ve heard so many good things about the V&A- I started out in the fashion section. There were loads of great pieces out, kind of going through the history of fashion since the 1600’s. Here are a few highlights from the fashion section:

Alexander McQueen, Spring 2010 Collection

Catherine Walker, 1994

Jean Patou Evening Gown, 1934

Jean Patou, Bead Detail

From there I went through the jewellery section- saw a lot of impressive pieces, but nothing that was really revolutionary or all that helpful for my project research. After the jewellery section of the V&A, I made my way to the Textiles section- a place I could spend days in. They have glass drawers cataloging fabric, lace, and tapestry sections from as early as 400 AD. Hugely overwhelming! I found some Venetian lace patterns that will be helpful for what I’m currently working on, and now that I know that huge fabric index exists, I’ll be going back there with specific fabrics and time periods in mind.

Venetian Lace, 1853

After the fabric room, my friend Marilyn (who worked at the V&A last summer) gave me a quick tour of a few other highlights of the V&A. This is a sight-specific installation by Cornelia Parker called “Breathless”: steamrolled brass instruments suspended from the ceiling.

"Breathless" By Cornelia Parker

"Breathless" Detail

"Breathless" Detail

There was also a large Chihuly piece in the front foyer- Dale Chihuly is one of my artist crushes, so seeing one of his pieces glittering in the sun under the skylight was certainly a happy moment!

Chihuly in the V&A Foyer

I found some other interesting pieces that I snapped photos of as I went through the museum. I kept seeing blue-and-white ceramic pieces that struck a chord with me, and when I got back to Birmingham, I started using the blue-and-white colour scheme in some of my material experiments (which I’ll talk about in my next post):

Blue and White Ceramic

Dutch Tiles, 1720

Dutch Tiles, 1720

This fireplace and mantlepiece were stunning: I love the white decorative forms and am already envisioning a neck piece made of plaster with this as an inspiration…

Fireplace and Mantle Decoration

To be honest, I could have spent the whole day at the V&A, but I had other things I needed to see, so I moved on. I went to the Contemporary Applied Arts gallery to see the exhibition “Intelligent Trouble” with work by Helen Carnac, Lin Cheung, David Clarke, and David Gates. I really liked how the gallery space had been transformed into a studio space: the objects, in various states of completion, were displayed around the perimeter, and in the middle of the gallery space there were several work benches set up. It was interesting, as a maker, to see the show set up in a way that I identified with so well. I wonder how non-makers felt about it when they saw the setup. You can read more about the exhibition here: http://www.caa.org.uk/exhibitions/archive/intelligent-trouble.html

After the CAA, Marilyn and I wandered around town, looking for Electrum Gallery, but we stumbled across Liberty of London instead. Liberty is this really impressive four-story building full of furniture, jewellery, clothing, handmade papers, lighting fixtures, fabric… Liberty’s fabric selection was impressive: they have a design house and their fabrics are quite well-known (in fact, their website tells me they’re launching a line of clothing for Target featuring their prints: http://www.liberty.co.uk/

After about an hour speeding through Liberty, it was getting late and we were getting hungry. After dinner I got the train back to Birmingham- exhausted, but so glad that I’d finally made up my mind to go start on the museum and gallery visits I’d been wanting to do. Sometime in the next few months I’m going to make a 2-day trip to London so I can spend as much time at the V&A as I want. I haven’t even scratched the surface of London museums and galleries: I still need to see the British Museum, the Tates, Electrum Gallery (really well-known contemporary jewellery gallery in London)…. the list goes on and on.

Other than the day I spent in London, I got to spend a lot of quality time in the studio this week. Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot more experiments. No finished pieces to show yet, but a huge table full of test pieces. Because this post about London has gotten so long, I’ll do a post all about my test pieces and material research in a few days, so be on the lookout for that. I’m looking forward to having a good bit of studio time next week- there’s a lot I need to get done before I leave for Amsterdam next Saturday!

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Crafthaus

Just a quick update- I got a lovely email in my inbox when I got home tonight telling me that I was picked as one of the featured artists of the week on Crafthaus, a social networking site for artists, gallerists, and the artistically-inclined. Quite exciting! Here’s a link to the main page of the site: scroll down a bit and you’ll see an image of one of my pieces and a link to my profile (though if you click this link in a few weeks when the main page has been updated with new artists, you won’t be finding me on there).

Crafthaus main page: http://crafthaus.ning.com/

My crafthaus profile: http://crafthaus.ning.com/profile/MiriamRowe/

I’ll write again toward the end of the week and post photos of the newest studio experiments… there have been lots of new things happening lately!

~M

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Munich for Jewellers

Cathedral, City centre

Another new place to visit: this past week I went to Munich for a jewellery show called “SCHMUCK” (which is the German word for jewellery, but comes from Yiddish, I’d guess). Not only was the trip exciting because of all the jewellery events happening, but for me it was also really exciting because one of my very good friends I went to undergrad with in the States was going to be there! I haven’t seen Kathleen in well over a year- she’s been working in Amsterdam and I’ve been working in Birmingham (the English one, not the Alabama one). It was so great to reunite and get to spend the week with her, my friends from grad school, as well as several new friends we met from staying in the hostel.

SCHMUCK is a jewellery show set up in the Messe Munchen exhibition hall- SCHMUCK is only one of the shows that’s going on there- other galleries and jewellery exhibitions were going on too, and a load of independent art gallery shows were going on all week in the city of Munich. It would have been impossible to go to absolutely every show that was on- not enough hours in the day- and I wanted to be able to see some of the city, too. The first day and a half was spent doing jewellery-related activities, though. Went to several independent exhibitions, as well as spending hours at SCHMUCK (and the related exhibitions like Talente and Master of the Moderne)- there was a giant trade fair going on so not only were there jewellery shows going on, but also ceramics, sculpting, fashion, food…

Messe Munchen Exhibition HallSCHMUCK, Talente

I ended up being able to strike a balance between doing jewellery-related activities and sightseeing/people watching sorts of things, which is what I enjoy most about being in a new place. The jewellery galleries alone were enough to fill up a week, but the jewellery activities combined with seeing the sights and spending time with people made for a CRAZY week. After spending most of a day doing jewellery galleries, I went off to see some sights and do some “touristy” things.

The first destination was Nymphenburg Palace, one of the many summer homes of the king. We walked down a long avenue, lined with trees, that ran along the canal toward the palace. It took a solid 30 minutes or so to get from the beginning of the avenue to the end at the palace. There were two bridges along the way that offered really cool perspective vantage points and showed us a little bit of the large, sprawling castle that we were about to see. You can look up the castle on Wikipedia to see some pretty cool panoramic shots of the entire thing- I’ll just show a few of my favourite castle photos:

Nymphenburg Walk

Nymphenburg Windows

We walked around Nymphenburg for a while, then got hungry and went back to the hostel to eat a “picnic” lunch of food that we bought from the grocery store. Notice that each of us bought our own personal jars of applesauce. Also, please be aware that even though we bought this food with the intention of eating it all at once, it was actually eaten over the course of several days.

Hostel "Picnic" for Three

That evening we took a break from the art scene and Steve, Kathleen, and I went to see Alice in Wonderland at an English language theater that wasn’t too far from the hostel. Kathleen has been living in the Netherlands, and because of some copyright drama with Disney, the theaters there aren’t showing it, so she was quite excited that she was going to get to see it. We saw it in 3D… I really liked the creative twists on the original story, but the ending was severely disappointing: very stereotypical Hollywood ending. The ending went from bad to worse when the film closed with a song by Avril Lavigne. Even though the movie was rather disappointing, the German audience was fantastic. Unlike the English, who sit in the theater in complete silence, Germans laugh uproariously at everything, whether it’s funny or not. We had some older German men sitting behind us, guffawing at everything that happened- starting with the opening title (not sure what’s so hilarious about the words “Alice in Wonderland”?)  Very good experience- I really enjoyed watching a movie with a German audience and even enjoyed laughing aloud myself a few times as the movie went on!

Alice in Wonderland, Deutschland

The next day, it was more gallery openings. The evening opening was a highlight for me: Karl Fritsch curated a show at the Pinakothek der Moderne that was by far the best jewellery show we went to in Munich. The Pinakothek building was gorgeous and had a lot of really fantastic displays from their permanent collections that were up.

Gallery opening at Pinakothek der Moderne

There were a few other openings going on in the Pinakothek, including this one, that for some reason involved a very large-scale fluffy monster thing that was frighteningly cute (in a “I’m going to eat your soul and look really cute doing it” way).

Pinakothek opening gallery- people and cute monster thing

We went back to the hostel from the Pinakothek openings and spend the evening hanging out with some of our new friends from the hostel. We had a really fun evening tasting the local beers and explaining “contemporary jewellery” from an academic standpoint to our new friends, who were a French physicist, an American philosopher, and some British marines. Then, we had show-and-tell and started passing our jewellery around:

Explaining Contemporary Jewellery

The philosopher and physicist contemplate...

The next day I spent a little bit of time wandering around the city, and made my way to a cafe that Kathleen had recommended to me. This cafe, The Glockenspiel, was amazing. The amazing chandelier that greeted me as soon as I walked in the door was enough to make me love the place:

Glockenspiel Chandelier

Broken plates and flying cutlery? Mad Hatters Tea Party? Brilliant! Someday I’m going to make one of these for my house. The whole restaurant was decorated with a lot of exquisite chandeliers (I’m really into chandeliers at the moment, in case you couldn’t tell?) and really lush wallpapers in gorgeous colours. Every room in the restaurant had a slightly different colour scheme and “feel” to it- I found a table and ordered an “aapfelstrudel” (apple strudel, of course!) drowned in vanilla cream. It was gorgeous.

Aapfelstrudel from Glockenspiel

For our last night in the city, all of the jewellery visitors in Munich were invited to go to the Augustiner Beer Hall for a meal, drinks, and socialising. Our group from BCU went and that evening we met a few new friends- students from Dusseldorf and their professor, and we had a really great, long evening talking about jewellery and drinking Augustiner beer. When you get a bunch of jewellers in the same room for any length of time, it doesn’t take too long before everyone starts showing each other their jewellery, and from there it doesn’t take too long before everyone is wearing everyone else’s jewellery. Daniel (one of our new friends from Dusseldorf) wore my earrings, but because he wanted to make sure he still looked manly, he made sure he was photographed with a beer in his hand too!

Beer and Jewellery

Augustiner Beer Hall

We were at the Augustiner quite late: I was the first of our group to leave around 11 p.m. The only reason I left was because “traditional German food” (a.k.a. sausages) didn’t appeal to me at all, so I hadn’t had supper yet. It was our last night in Munich that I discovered the beauty of German doner kebabs. I’ve had doner kebabs in Italy and England, but this German one I had was THE best kebab I’ve ever eaten. I took it back to the hostel and ate it in the bar and got very envious looks from everyone who was in there. It didn’t take too long for the rest of my friends to make it back from the Augustiner, and then our jewellery party continued at the hostel. It was a late night, but it was our last in Munich and we felt like we needed to make the most of it and enjoy the last of our time with our new friends.

[a late night photo with a few hostel friends: Kathleen on the left, who I went to undergrad with and now lives in Amsterdam. Then Steve from LA, who’s spending a few months travelling around Europe for fun. Then Greg, our cardigan-wearing New Zealander bartender at the hostel]. We eventually went to bed and dreaded the next morning, when we had to wake up and pack our bags and spend the day travelling back to England.

It was snowy for our last day and night in the city- the next morning as we walked back to Hauptbonhoff to catch the train, it was so lovely and sunny and everything was glittery with snow. It was beautiful to see, but I was glad I wasn’t staying around and having to walk through snow and sludge for a few more days!

Snowy Bikes in Marienplaatz

The trip back home was a long one, and when I finally made it back to my house in Birmingham, I was completely dead. I still haven’t completely regained my energy and am still trying to catch up on sleep, but the trip was a great experience and was well worth the sleep deprivation! SCHMUCK happens every year, so there’s a very good chance I’ll be back there for it next year- I think next time I go I’m going to have to give myself two days when I get back where I have no obligations and can just stay in bed for 48 hours. That sounds so amazing….

Now that I’m back in Birmingham, it’s back to work. I’ll do a post early next week with an update on my latest jewellery experiments and will also be doing a post on all the crazy-random public transportation experiences I’ve had in the past week. I don’t know what’s gotten up with the general public here, but this week I’ve experienced more bizarre things on trains and buses than I have on the rest of my trips in England combined. More on that later- have a good weekend!

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