Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Progress: A Question of Taste, Part 2.

Welcome back!

Now that my title brass plate is looking as I'd like it, I can put it aside and turn towards modifying the shirt-stud box.

 The top chamber's fabric is gently lifted away. I'll be saving this for something else in the future, perhaps.

 I'm fascinated to expose the hand-carved wood which hasn't seen daylight in almost 150 years. This was truly from a time when most everything was hand-fashioned.

 A circle is scratched into the leather covering...

 ...then cut from the wood to allow a lens to be fitted.
A gorgeous old science-instrument lens is chosen, with an amazing geometric mirrored focusing hairline.

 Now the bottom velvet is eased out. Not sure if I'll use this or not just yet.

Here's another quiet delight - the backing material for the velvet panel sports a fragment of mid-19th-century ledger paper. Yum. I ponder all the millions of hidden fragments that lie dormant behind old picture frames, inside book bindings, etc. This little discovery really thrills me.

 The inside of the box exposed. Now it's a blank canvas, just waiting.

Returning to the cello bridge, I inlay a lovely layer of paua shell laminate and grind down the diameter of two small lenses to fit the lower openings.

Checking out the fit and feel.

 As I return to the fork and prepare to bend the tines, I make two decisions: 1) the fork itself will be the element that holds the whole piece in the open position, and 2) from it will be suspended a small mobile.

 The tines ready.

 Off to my storage bits and pieces to find just the right material to fill the box. I find and settle on a spectacular 1787 book cover whose intricate marbleized end paper is perfect.

Cutting out the shape.

The hole in the center will be barely visible behind the lens.

Checking out the order of things...

 Now the interior is built up. Horseshoe crab spines encircle the opening.

In preparation for attaching the lens to the outside of the box, I wax up some heavy 1920's Irish linen thread.

Threading it into place.


The spines and book cover as seen through the lens.

The faces to peer from behind all three lenses are chosen from my archives.

 The engravings in place and drying.

 Now strips of text are cut to rim the interior of the magnified space. The man is peering at a green chalcedony, but I decide to replace it with a more subtle organic object:

The whole assembly in place and finished.

With the inner chambers complete up top, the piece awaits the bottom treatment.

Next week, the bottom of the box is addressed, the mobile is created for the front, and the hanging chain or cord is configured, putting the finishing touches on A Question of Gravity. Please join me for the home stretch.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In Progress: A Question of Taste, Part 1.

After many months working in other areas, I've been able to get back into the studio to make my first major wearable piece of the year. It feels thrilling to be amongst my tools and materials again - with some new techniques honed in the last year to expand upon.

It starts with a tiny fork.

I've had this little fella for almost a year, and as I'm straightening up my studio to prepare to film my new online workshop, this fork stops me in my tracks and I'm sitting and working with it before I really realize it, the rest of the cleaning forgotten.

My jewelers saw gets a warm-up by piercing a 5 into it.

Next I choose a beautiful Victorian wooden shirt-stud box, which will become the scaffolding on which the piece will unfold.

 I love the silhouette when open.

 As soon as the fork meets it, the fur starts flying.

 One of a pair of cello bridges I've had in my stash emerges from a drawer, complete with the bone button I'd pushed into one of the openings years ago. I draw the new outline of the bridge to fit into the stud box.

Sawing the new form. Despite the yummy fit of the button, out it pops.

The bridge in place - now to give it some new detail.

 The shaping comes together.

 The lovely pierced shape in the center gets some quiet carving to soften the geometry.

 Now the fork is split down the handle to allow for it to spread into the piece.

 For the first time, I have a sense of where I'm heading, though it's open to many possibilities still.

Although I often wait until later in the game to select a title for the piece, I'm compelled to see what works at this early stage. This box contains a quarter-century of collected titles in one place.

I'm glad I found it now, it can flavor the direction it takes from here. A Question of Taste. I make a photocopy of the piece at this stage so I can draw ideas for the title plate.

 I decide to hand engrave the lettering, then to etch it.

Almost ready to etch.
 One of the discarded ideas for the shape of the title plate. One thing I will keep from this initial design is to retain the prongs that will hold the fork in place.

 An odd design, but I think it reflects the cello bridge's curvature, so I'll go with my gut.


...and finished. I love the hand-engraved text, it really sits in the 18th-century aesthetic of crude hand-hewn metalwork that so much of my work aims for.

 Now I prep the plate to be cut into shape around the etched title.

 This gives me a good idea of where I'm heading.

 The plate is shaped and the prongs are bent up, so they can lay over the fork handle.

Now the cello bridge has been stained and drilled to accommodate the prongs of the title plate.

In Part 2, I'll be turning my attention to the shirt-stud box itself.

See you next week!