Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Signature Style

Coming up at Craft Victoria: Signature Style, a group exhibition exploring models of collaborative practice in contemporary jewellery.

Image of work by Katherine Doube and Natalia Milosz-Piekarska, 
from Craft Victoria exhibition media

The exhibition features work by pairs and groups of artists:

Nicholas Bastin & Matthew Dux
Dan Bell, Bianca Hester, Charlie Sofo, Nathan Gray, Christopher LG Hill, Liang Luscombe & Oliver van der Lugt
Tessa Blazey & Alexi Freeman
Michaela Bruton & Kane Ikin
Milly Flemming & Dani Maugeri
Natalia Milosz-Piekarska & Katherine Doube
Nina Oikawa & Bridget Bodenham
Meredith Turnbull & Manon von Kouswijk
Karla Way & Dylan Martorell
Katherine Wheeler & Polly van der Glas

Opening night will be held Thursday 7 March from 6 pm, with the exhibition running 8 March - 27 April.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Japanese School Pins

I found these pins in a drawer the other day... They were given to me by two high schools I taught at in Japan. At many schools all the students wear these pins as part of their uniforms. I love the old-style lettering, and the pin backs, which on two of them are flat disks that screw on to a thick threaded rod, instead of a sharp pin. 

This one was given to me as well, although I didn't teach at the school. The characters are Morizo and Kikkoro, mascots of the Aichi World Expo 2004, and since here they're representing Toyota Technical College Nagoya, they have a little screwdriver and a wrench!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Summer Colour at Arbor

I made some colourful new earrings for Arbor in December...You can read more about them here

Some pendants in a similar will be featured in Arbor's new online shop, coming soon!

photos by Arbor

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Work in Progress: Tap and Die

Putting the finishing touches on a new piece with my new tap and die set! 

Without giving too much away, here's a little bit of a sneak peek... 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Memories of the Yuma Symposium

Meanwhile, in Arizona...

This week is the annual Yuma Symposium, a series of workshops, demonstrations, lectures and presentations by craft practitioners from around the United States. I used to attend the symposium every year as a jewellery student at Arizona State University, which was a long time ago now! Over the years some of the most memorable presentations I attended were a great presentation by enameling artist Sarah Perkins on her work, and a demonstration on making brooch fittings by jeweller Donald Friedlich.

Each year the Yuma Symposium begins with a networking pin swap event. Participants make a series of (often quirky, sometimes hilarious) brooches or pins to swap with other symposium-goers. You can swap as many times as you have pins, so the more you make, the more people you can meet. One year I made "Need a Hand?" pins, using plastic doll arms to "lend a hand". Unfortunately this was before the age of digital cameras (or at least before the age of me having a digital camera), and I've since lost all my photos of the symposium.

I think everyone looks forward to one of the more unusual events of the Yuma Symposium, the Saw File Solder Sprints. It's a relay competition where ring making is turned into a spectator sport. There are three jewellers per team, together on the starting line. At the other end of the "field" is a jeweller's bench for each team. When the race starts, the first jeweller runs to the bench with the relay stick - a square sheet of copper. As soon as Jeweller #1 saws out a thin rectangle to make a ring, they sprint back to the starting line and hand off the ring to Jeweller #2, who runs to the bench and files the edges smooth for soldering. Jeweller #2 passes the ring (which, with any luck, they've bent into shape while running back,) to Jeweller #3, who runs to the bench to flux and solder the ring with all possible haste! Jeweller #3 races the finished (unclean, still flux-covered) ring back to the start, and the first team to finish wins a strange trophy cobbled together from recycled objects that may or may not have been found in someone's garage. The only catch is that the ring must fit the finger of one member of the relay team - so it pays to have a small person on your team! It's not the most reliable or prettiest way to make a ring, but relay-style ring-making does make a good spectator sport, and may be unique to the Yuma Symposium. At least I've never heard of this sport being played anywhere else...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

White Whites: Getting a perfectly white image background with GIMP

I've spent a fair bit of time recently working on my new website, and a big part of that was making sure my images had a truly white background, so that the object appears to float on the page rather than looking like a flat photograph.

So white! Madeleine teapot with integrated tea cosy

Part of that was a lot of professional photography, and part was standardising the white of my image backgrounds using GIMP, a free, open-source photo editing software similar to Photoshop. I feel I should start this post with a disclaimer: no amount of editing is going to take the place of really high quality professional photographs, and for some applications, like submitting your work for some books, you'll be asked not to edit images in any way unless you are a professional photographer. That said, it's likely that there will be circumstances where you need to or want to take photos of your work yourself, and that's where knowing how to successfully edit for white backgrounds comes in really handy.

(For instance, the photo I'm using for this example is my Madeleine teapot, which I finished just before the exhibition deadline and didn't have a chance to have professionally photographed. It was shown in the Small Beautiful Objects exhibition at Self Preservation Gallery in 2008 and won the Small Beautiful Objects Award, and was sold through the exhibition, so I didn't have the opportunity to get a professional shot of it.)

So, after a bit of searching around the web, I learned how to get those really white white backgrounds that look great on screen or on paper. Here's how it's done:

Monday, 4 February 2013

Art in TAFE: Impacts of the Funding Cuts in NSW and Victoria

Last September the NSW government announced it was discontinuing funding for fine arts courses in TAFE, effective 1 January 2013. The government justified these funding cuts with the argument that employment outcomes for fine arts TAFE graduates are low.

NSW TAFE advocate group Our Tafe has published a comprehensive factsheet outlining the predicted impacts of the NSW cuts and highlighting the varied employment outcomes for visual artists that are not always immediately measurable, including self-employment and professional involvement in an interdependent web of businesses and services in the arts industry, a sector which, as has been noted frequently in this debate, contributes $30 billion a year to Australia's GDP.

While it is difficult to argue that there are really no employment opportunities for arts graduates, there will certainly be fewer opportunities in NSW following the cuts, with 200 teaching jobs expected to be cut from fine arts programs in NSW TAFEs.

Well, here we are on the other side of the new year, and TAFEs in NSW are reportedly already feeling the impacts of the cuts. According to the Save TAFE campaign, with fees finalised in December, fine arts courses were left with an extremely short turnaround to publicise courses and attract enrolments for 2013. Save TAFE reports that:

"the new national curriculum has split the existing two-year Diploma course into a Certificate IV and then a Diploma. VET Fee Help is not available for Certificate courses, and many students straight from high school cannot afford up front fees of around $6000–8000 for a Certificate IV, so their pathway into art training is blocked. In a further blow to affordability, the number of hours making up a full time course have been halved to 16, which falls below the hours required for a student concession on public transport.
The sudden drop in student numbers will result in the loss of artist/teachers across the state. Already many part-time staff have lost all teaching hours and by the end of March it is likely that many art schools will be unable to maintain full time positions. Schools in rural and regional centres are likely to close. Disadvantage in rural and regional areas is again highlighted – there are few alternatives for studying even if people could afford the fees."

NSW TAFE students, teachers and supporters are continuing the fight to reverse the cuts. NAVA (The National Association for the Visual Arts) is reportedly forming an industry action group to advocate for arts education in NSW and nationwide.

If you are eligible to vote in NSW and have not yet signed the petition, show your support here. If you live in NSW you can also download a printable petition to collect signatures. Petitions will be presented to Parliament on 21 March, so be sure to sign and return your petitions to the address on the form before then. You can also show your support by calling on Insight and Q&A to run a program addressing de-funding of TAFEs across Australia's eastern states, emailing the NSW government, or attending a rally. NSW Save TAFE is planning a rally at Parliament House on 21 March: stay tuned via their website.

Meanwhile in Victoria, VTAC (the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre) has released figures showing a 25.8% drop in TAFE applications this year, following the Baillieu government's $300 million funding cuts last year. The figures also show that 170 fewer TAFE courses are being offered this year. Although VTAC admissions account for only a small percentage of TAFE enrolments, the figures are a telling sign of the ongoing impacts of the cuts, adding to the damage already done last year with the course and campus closures announced throughout 2012. We'll know more as the year goes on.

At NMIT, the Advanced Diploma of Jewellery continues and classes started last week. Welcome to the new Advanced Diploma class of 2014!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Second Nature and Love

Coming up: Second Nature, works by Julie Blyfield, at Gallery Funaki.

The exhibition runs from 5 February - 2 March.

Arbor Jewels is also holding what I believe is its first ever exhibition: Love, 10 artists' response to Valentine's Day.

Love also opens on 5 February with opening drinks on Wednesday the 6th from 6pm. The exhibition runs until 17 February.