The Graduate

I should probably have more to say after two years of school, but the last month and a half has been a whirlwind.  Between finishing up projects at school, critiques, packing my entire life up and saying goodbyes, getting home, doing shows, and attending the SNAG conference and trying to setup up a work space there has been no time to sit down and write about everything that's on my mind.  I am going to have to do this in a few parts so as to not overwhelm myself more than I already am. 

Maybe I will just post a few pictures from the end of school, sound good?

My cursed enameled lady all done:


So many silky earrings:

Even more silky earrings setup on my bench getting ready for final crit:

Boy am I ever going to miss this view....

Though a bit of a reluctant hero, Alphonse was ready for his trip back to Ontario.

One More Week!

Since there is only one week left there is much to do so this is going to be short.  I have been taking a lot more process shots lately as I feel that it is really important to show all the steps and how much work goes into these handmade pieces.  

This was my starting point for my little Matryoshka lady.

cloisonné wire fired on, looking a little bit creepy:

packed and ready for first firing:


getting closer:

all packed and ready for another firing:

firing on the cheeks!

There are still a few things to be done, but this chronicles most of my progress for this piece.  Now I am going to compile some more process shots for my final portfolio! 


Almost There

This was all that was left after my show came down.  It all passed in a whirlwind: install, opening reception, artist talk and tear down.  And now I am crashing, and hard.  It has been difficult to keep the momentum going when there was so much build up for my exhibition. 

I have been through a roller coaster of emotions in the last month and for now at least it doesn't seem like that roller coaster is slowing down at all.  I am gearing up for a lot of changes, I am not entirely sure I am ready for some of them though.  When I started this semester almost three months ago, I was so ready to be finished and just go home and start fresh again back there.  While I am still more ready than ever to leave Halifax (maybe not some of my friends though), going back into the "real world" and getting back down to business seems really daunting.  I realize I have been through all of this before, and granted I am not as terrified as I was the first time around, but it still seems like there is a long road ahead of me. 

I think it's important to talk about these fears since everyone who is getting ready to graduate from school right now is having similar anxieties, and because being an artist is definitely not all sunshine and rainbows.  We have a tendency to only broadcast all the positive things and it's sometimes important to acknowledge the roadblocks because often how we handle those roadblocks helps lay out a better path that we may not have anticipated.   It is especially hard though when you are thrown for a loop and forced to do a little bit of re-evaluating.  Unfortunately the only thing that will solve any of my anxieties is time and a little bit of patience.  I am hoping that by the end of the summer the wrinkles in everything will be ironed out, though it is kind of defeating to know that there is really nothing else that I can do but wait. 

While I wait though, there is lots of work to be done.  Our next big enamelling project commenced after my show was up.  Enamelling reminds me a lot of kiln casting as well as electroforming because of all the testing and the importance of a logbook.  


The starting point.  Because the project was about components and enamel for me is all about colour I started looking at quilts as my inspiration.  I took the dresden circle and abstracted it a little bit.  

how they are all magically attached:

in progress:

I still don't have an image of the piece all riveted together, this is the closest shot to it being complete.  The IT solder and I had a little bit of a disagreement with a couple of the tubes, despite being as careful as I possibly could they abandoned ship.  Despite wanting to give up completely I stuck it out and finished it the best I could.  I managed to glue it as best as I could and even sort of disguise it (you have to look pretty hard to realize which two tubes are the broken ones).  Perhaps in a few months when I have settled a bit and am no longer frustrated I will be able to revisit this, but for now it's done. 

All the while there are more samples to be done.  While not a fan of how the purple reacted with the silver (the awful yellow halos), I really like the cloisonné technique.  

Working with underglazes was really interesting as well.  They are in the form of chalk pastels and pencil crayons and they are great.  Another great discovery on this piece is my love of the titanium white enamel.  It reminds me a lot of the "enamel white" glass colour bar that I used pretty exclusively in my third year work at Sheridan. 

After a particularly tough couple of days I was encouraged to start doing some more electroforming again.  I have been thinking about how I could do a pine cone for a couple weeks now and this seemed like the best solution.  I wasn't entirely sure if there would be enough of a connection through the copper foil, the technician wasn't very confident either but.... 

  ...when left overnight, look at the magic that happened!  

I am slowly started to be excited by my work again.  For now I will hunker down and try and get as much work done as I can, and deal with all of the unknown later.  With 24 days left in the semester I can't afford to do otherwise. 

Growth - Solo Exhibition

My show opened on Monday! The last two months of hard work has really paid off.  A view from the outside: 

This is the vinyl that the guy in the print shop was reluctant to print for me because it was going to be a nightmare.  Let's not tell him that it sort of was, but I am so happy I was patient with it. 

The statement in the picture reads: To me, growth has many meanings.  Firstly it is a direct reference to my subject matter.  The form and texture of various seeds and mushrooms are fascinating and I admire their resilience.  They pop up in unexpected places and I am amazed to see them thrive even in adverse conditions.  Secondly, it makes reference to the electroforming technique I have employed to make this work.  Electroforming is a technique that allows me to create forms by literally growing copper ions on a base of sculpted wax.  Thirdly, as a metaphor for my journey of personal growth; it references my increased self-knowledge as an artist and skilled craftsperson, my experiences in business development and my confidence in making cross-disciplinary connections. Finally, seeds are a launching point for growth in the lives of plants and similarly the exhibition itself represents a seed from which I hope to grow and develop professionally.

Lotus Pods:


With these pieces I am really glad that I chose to get more than just the one vinyl decal cut.  I think it would have been too much if they were all clustered together.  It was nice to be able to spread them out. 

Banksia Pods:

Milkweed Seed Earrings:

Even though this piece was probably the biggest pain to install (ask my friend Katrina, she hammered in and bent the 48 nails needed for it) it is probably my favourite.


Like the lotus pods I am really happy with my inclusion of the decals here, it was worth the effort of weeding all of the vinyl!

My favourite little guys:

I, of course, had to make cupcakes for my opening.  And because I am a stickler for detail I simply had to make cupcakes that matched my show.  Imagine my delight when I found the little gold wrappers! 

Now for a bit of behind the scenes on the show and the little details that needed to be complete leading up to it.  I struggled for a really long time about how I wanted to display the banksia pods, mostly because the longer I looked at them the less I saw them as jewellery and the more I saw them as objects.  I decided to display them museum style on a shelf instead which meant creating braces for them.  Rather than work with stainless which by that point I had no patience for, I made some brass stands and nickel plated them. 

This is the nightmare that was the vinyl.  Thank god I could do this at home in pyjamas while watching movies. 

Installing the vinyl wasn't quite as difficult as I had predicted.  Installing in general was not as worrisome as I anticipated either.  I know from installing and doing other shows that it would definitely take a bit of time.  I estimated that it would take a minimum of four hours and an absolute maximum of six.  By some miracle (or two miracles, Katrina and Aimee) we did it in just less than four. 


What a difference a space makes though, look at how different the pieces look just laid out on my bench! 


I was foolishly hoping that I could get some sleep following the show but no such luck as there are applications to get done!  Maybe I will sleep this weekend?

One Week Until Install

I install my show at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in one week (therefore this is going to be a short post).  I am doing better than I thought I would be at this stage in the game.  I have only had one complete meltdown and that was over my printer refusing to work last night.  All things considered I think that is pretty good. 

I have had an incredibly productive week!  That is likely the reason that I am not falling apart at the seams with stress.  I gold plated a few pieces yesterday, and here is a little preview.... 

The milkweed seed earrings are multiplying at an incredible rate.  I will have 24 pairs for my show.  I am probably the most excited to see these guys installed, especially since I now know how I am going to install them. 

The lotus pods have given me more grief than I really want to express right now.  They are turning out well but there have been many roadblocks and several extra steps along the way that should not have been necessary.  At least now when I have to make more of them (because I have to make more of them) I have most of that troubleshooting out of the way and and I can just make them without a fuss. 

There has been a lot of progress on this piece in the last few days (it all depends on how much I love or hate the two things that are in the e-bath right now) These glass elements are for a piece that I desperately hope will be done for the show. Everything is a matter of priorities right now, or at least that's what I keep telling myself about the pile of dishes in my kitchen... 

Oh and on top of everything else that is going on, I still have other classes.  Thankfully this week was "break week" at school.  I was still at school every day but I didn't have any of those pesky classes getting in the way.   I posted lots of progress shots of these in my last update and here they are all finished! 

These are some of the colour tests I did for the above piece but it also references what I want to work on for the next project in enamelling.  I have been slightly obsessed with quilts lately (despite my inability to use a sewing machine) so since our next project is based on components that is what I am using as my inspiration! 


The next post will be a big one, with lots of pictures of my show... stay tuned! 


To go along with my last post I figured I should show some of the inspiration for the work I am making this term.

These are banksia pods, and they are my new favourite thing.  The pods are such fascinating objects in and of themselves, but the plants are pretty interesting as well.  The most fascinating thing I have learned is that they can be pretty resistant to brush fire and that the brush fires coming through can even help with germination. 

I love the textures in mushrooms so much.  Look at those beautiful gills!


The colours in these ones are really beautiful too

Lotus seeds

Love the colours in this photo:

I love how light and wonderful these milkweed seeds look.


Electroforming and Enamelling

Well I am three weeks in.  It sometimes feels like it has been much longer than that because I feel like I have accomplished a lot already.  Sometimes it fills me with existential dread knowing that my show is coming up in just a few weeks and I feel like I should have more done. 

But let's look at the progress, shall we?  I have 5 of the banksia pods made.  I am planning on enamelling the little beaky parts.  I am off to the studio soon to do a small scale test of some colours. But hopefully these: 

Will look something like this when I am done:

All of my pieces start out at the wax stage, I embedded copper foil into the wax which is all fused (for lack of a better word) together when it has been coated in copper. 

I still have a lot of decisions to make in regards to these pieces but a few things will be decided today (once I venture out into the -20 degree weather)

Mushrooms are also sort of taking over, these are my test pieces, I figured out a lot working through these ones.  I used copper foil again for these.  It was embedded far enough in the first one, but was put it too far in the second one. 

These ones, still in wax and foil stage were at the best of both worlds stage. 

blog 6.jpg

As with the pods, I have some decisions to make with these too.  Enamelling is probably going to play a huge part in these pieces as well.  It's kind of weird that before I see these as jewellery, I see them installed in a gallery.  I suppose that is kind of a good thing, seeing as my gallery show is in 40 days, but I am kind of concerned for how everything is going to come together this semester.  At the same time though, I am really excited by this new work. 

This picture might seem completely random, but all will become clear soon.  I ordered some mulberry silk roving.  It is so luxurious and beautiful.  I will hopefully be using it to make some earrings, actually time permitting, lots of earrings. 

And have I mentioned before how much I love enamelling?  I have been lucky enough a few times to be the only person in the small room.  One day, I will be as organized as our instructor Lillian.  Everything in this studio has a place/is colour coded/is labelled clearly.  

A few of my sifting samples from last week.  I really love this blue (it's called Wedgewood).  I mostly love it in the sample on the left because it covers up the really terrible fleshy colour I used as a base with the lace stencil. 

blog 5.jpg

This, I have put up purely for my parents delight.  I was always a little bit neurotic when it came to sorting things by colour, there were always categories and often subcategories.  Specifically there was always argument when it came to the aqua range of colours. I had clearly distinguished the difference between green-blue, and blue-green to my parents (I was probably 7 or 8 years old, possibly younger).  Eventually they learned not to argue with me, mostly they just laughed at my long winded descriptions of colours. 

Imagine my joy when I saw the enamel board with all of the colours and saw two distinct categories "green-blue" and "blue-green" (the third row from the top of the opaques).  See Mom! There is a difference! 

The opaque enamel colours are really beautiful, though I am not really partial to the transparents.  This struck a few people as odd at school given my glass background.  Perhaps layered over similarly coloured opaques (something I am going to test today) but I am not a huge fan of them as is.  Who knows, maybe I will learn to love them. 

New Year - New Adventures

I am still blown away by the fact that it is 2013 already. Even more blown away that in 100 short days I will have completed my degree at NSCAD.  It is so nice coming into 2013 having had a very relaxing break after an incredibly busy and stressful 2012.

Now that everyone has gotten their Christmas presents I can finally post the picture of the earrings that I laser cut at the end of the semester.  I did some black acrylic ones as well but I really love how the walnut ones turned out. 

I am so excited for all of the possibilities and great things to come this year.  This final semester at school is sure to be the best yet.  I am finally taking enamelling which I am already in love with.  This is the one class that I just couldn't wait to take.  I spent my afternoon today doing some fun samples (not the samples I need to do for my homework this week, but samples nonetheless!) 

In less than two months I have a show at the Anna Leonowens Gallery which I am not as panicked for as I thought I would be.  I will be posting lots of pictures as the work progresses in the following weeks. 

As far as school goes I am also in studio this term which I am also excited about but with mixed feelings.  It's strange to be in studio level being an interdisciplinary student rather than a jewellery degree student.  I get the distinct feeling that not all of the degree students feel that I deserve to be in there with them. That's okay though, I will have fun proving them wrong. 

It's unfortunate that interdisciplinary work isn't promoted and encouraged more, I really wish that it was.  That's one of the things I loved about Sheridan is that we were in such close quarters with the other studios.  In fact I have heard that the students this year are all participating in a big cross disciplinary collaboration project.  I am so jealous, I so wish that such a project existed while I was studying there.  I don't know if it's just because this type of thing has been on my mind a lot lately but the work of Pia Wüstenberg just came to my attention.  She fuses several media together to create these fantastic stacking vessels. 

It is hard to say exactly what I am going to be doing when I leave NSCAD.  To be honest, I thought I would have a much better idea by now.  All I know is that I love working with metal, but I still like glass, I even sort of fell in love with textiles along the way.  I do keep coming back to glass as my preferred medium, I think mostly because it's the medium that my personality can relate to the most.  But I have always wanted to explore lots of materials and processes, to the point where I can get very easily overwhelmed.  Even back at Sheridan I didn't want to be pinned down as just a glass artist, and still now I don't want to be known as just a jeweller because there is so much to explore beyond that. I would so much rather be overwhelmed by possibilities than to purposely limit myself by exclusivity in material.  

What will my work look like in 5 years?  Who knows.  My work is constantly evolving and I love finding inspiration in something new.  I spent a good part of this evening obsessing over pictures of quilts. Will this new obsession manifest into something great one day? Perhaps.  All I know is that I love that I can explore anything that I want and that would have never happened without an interdisciplinary approach to my work. 

Midterm and Beyond

Hey, I have a new computer!  Now I can finally do the mother of all updates!  My title for this post seems sort of ridiculous since we are way beyond midterm now, in fact there are only 21 days left for me this semester.  This post is going to be a lot of pictures and not a lot of writing as I have one 10 page paper to write and another 12-15 page paper (which really should take priority over this, oh well).

Anyway, here are my final pieces for the first casting project!  They were a little bit of a soldering and riveting nightmare, but I am so happy with how they turned out. 

After I made the rubber mold, I started injecting waxes.  It took a while for me to get the timing right, and it was definitely a test of my patience waiting to pull them out but I got some good ones for my duplicates. 

All sprued up and ready to go!

After many hours that included investing, casting, cleaning, grinding, chain making, soldering and patinas it was done! 

I have been playing around more and more with electroforming, especially since that is going to be a huge element in my show at the Anna Leonowens Gallery next semester.  I am still finding it slightly difficult to get consistent results, but I am still really happy with the tests I have done so far. 

I did a small test with some of my wax rejects from my duplicates project. Success! 

More testing, this time with wax wire.  The interior is really interesting, that's something I want to play around more with later on. 


And then there was more laser cutting!  For my sample, I cut two of these out of a piece of paper-backed veneer. 

There were some riveting issues, but it was a good test to see some of the possibilities with laser cutting/engraving.  

During my long absence from blogging, Kai Chan did a lecture at NSCAD in conjunction with the opening of a retrospective show at the St. Mary's Gallery.  His work was incredibly inspirational, especially in regards to our alternative materials project in jewellery.  He talked about having collections of things and not wanting anything to go to waste.  The images he showed during the lecture were fantastic but they paled in comparison to what they looked like in person in the gallery.  The image below is from Kai's website and shows his piece La Primavera - Homage to Bottocelli.  It was my favourite piece at the show by far.  Kai was not only inspiration he was hilarious too, he even earned a quote in my quotebook: "I'm going to die soon, so I better throw away some of my things.  Maybe a few boxes." 

For my alternative material I used scraps of fabric mostly acquired from Katrina who was glad to be rid of all of these tiny scraps!  I will have to post more pictures of the materials project when I get around to taking good photos of them, but here are a few.  This one is one of the pieces in progress:

This is the pink and purple one completed. 

And then I started working with glass again. This is one of the times of year where balancing school and business is a fun adventure.  On top of all of my school work I am making work to send to L.A. Pai Gallery for their 25th Annual Contemporary Canadian Jewellery show (more info on that later).  I am making little beer bottles!  After some of the more elaborate things I have been doing in school, I have definitely missed doing simple production work, it's been nice to get back at it. 

Final projects are also well underway.  Here I am having fun with facets on the mill for my final project in precision fabrication. 

Transformation is the theme for our final project in intermediate jewellery, which is also the theme for a call for entry for a show that will be running during the SNAG conference and Toronto International Jewellery Festival next year. 

My wax is all prepped and ready to go in the e-bath tomorrow! 

Assuming I am not melting down while trying to write papers I will hopefully have another post up soon. 

Nocturne 2012

Well it was a cold night, we needed warm coats, hats, mittens and scarves but that didn't stop us from exploring the city and checking out some great art at Nocturne 2012.

First stop: the bubbles! They were surrounding a house that was under construction and glowed so beautifully.

Across the street at Nova Scotia Power they encouraged visitors to write down "what lights up your life". Our contributions included mitten claws and alpaca hugs, but this one was my favourite.

Gorgeous work by NSCAD student Jack Candlish at the Seeds Gallery

This lady was setup in front of the Mary E. Black Gallery. We thought it was just a warping mill at first but it's a loom!

This photo really does not do this justice, but I loved this installation so much. There were tons of these little guys scattered all over a little hill. It was mildly unsettling to see all of their glowing LED eyes though.

We also got to go on one of the ships in the harbour. Apparently there was art on it, but we were more interested in just exploring.


Some more beautiful cut crystal at Nova Scotia Crystal. They gave us chocolate and let us drink apple cider out of their glasses!

There was a really fun exhibit at Gallery Page and Strange. It was set up as a club where the women were only allowed in one side and the men in the other side. You go with a sense that you are missing out on something but once you get in there were television screens hooked up to a camera feed of the other side.

My absolute favourite thing that I saw we accidentally stumbled upon on the way home: Interactive Tetris! A camera followed the movement of whoever was standing in front and the pieces would move or rotate based on their actions. AMAZING!