4th Year

This is my final year in university, and I’m currently working on a year-long project that culminates in a collection that will be exhibited at the Glasgow School of Art this June (2019). Inspired by historical jewellery (the past), my collection looks at how to use the classic pearl in today’s jewellery (the present) while simultaneously emulating timelessness (so they may be passed on, and worn, in the future).

Starting September 2018, here’s what I’ve got up to thus far.

I personally think the interesting stuff starts at Stage 2B, so if you will, skip on ahead.

Stage 1

In this first stage, we were tasked to make 30 objects. To just make, collect, modify, do whatever we wanted as a method of exploring what we enjoyed, what caught our eye, what we might potentially want to take forward. These are some of the things I made and collected.

Amongst them, there are clay beads painted with homemade mineral paints, salt dough, cut, carved & drilled shells (food waste), rough copper ring imitated from a book on ancient Egyptian jewellery and found beads. There’s broken plaster of paris ‘rocks’, crushed pearls, and nacre bits embedded in plaster and on incense wax. Also, glass, and jade shaped and cut by me.

Stage 2A

As a continuation from Stage 1, I went on to make more objects, this time, with a focus on glass and looking at the possibility of making my own stones. I tried crushing out of date Swarovski crystals and casting them into resin. Carved gem imitations (from clay and metal), glass pearls and glass cabochons in colours similar to genuine gems started to come about.

Stage 2B

Simultaneously, I was creating 3D collages with out of date Swarovski crystal beads, pearls, and mother of pearl. Here, they’re attached with plasticine to keep them removable. There are some CZs (both machine cut and hand cut), jade, moonstone, and sugar nuggets in the mix.

Stage 3

2D collages of the 3D pearl and crystal collages from Stage 2B.
Can’t afford to create this many physical 3D collages, but with Photoshop, cash flow is not a problem!

Materials included: glass, mother of pearl, pearls, food waste (oyster shells), silver, brass, plasticine, Swarovski crystals and beads

Stage 4

Research - currently looking at historical paintings, symbolism and cultural connotations of the pearl, as well as the social history of jewellery.

Here’s a reading list, and a small collection of images.

Stage 5

Selecting a narrative.

Genuinely struggled with this part - I wasn’t able to make anything because I was placing restrictions on myself, on the materials and techniques I was using and the theme of the collection. I was afraid to commit to a set thing. Then I decided I needed to stop that and just make a decision and commit to it. I figured I’d just write everything else I wanted to do that came up that didn’t fit into the collection. When the time’s right, I can come back to them to explore more.

So, I chose a narrative to base my collection on. It was something I had thought of much earlier in the year, but took a few months to commit to. It’s the story of Ruth and Naomi, from the bible. It’s about the journey they went on, through the desert, from a foreign land to a new home, and from a place of nothingness to a place of full joy. It was as much a heart journey as it was a physical journey, and that’s what drew me to it. Also, they were such brave women, and that inspires me so much.

The story of Ruth and Naomi in the bible is a really short one, so I took the narrative I used from the book Lineage of Grace, by Francine Rivers. She has done research into the time period and has taken some creative license with the story, but we can’t know for sure what really happened or not happened. But I think it’s about as vivid as it can get for now.

Stage 6

First steps in actually making the collection - underlining text and drawing freely.

I basically read the entire story, underlined parts of it, and drew whatever came to mind that was related to the image formed in my head. From there, I started to make physical objects from those drawings.

Stage 7

Made my first actual piece! Even if I’m underwhelmed by it, I got it out the way, and now I can make more pieces and get the ball rolling and create some momentum. Who knows if this piece would actually be a part of the final collection, but the amount of silver in this thing is massive, so I’ll have to repurpose it if it’s not going to be in to collection. Either way, this is progress!

Stage 8

At this point, it’s really just making, reviewing, editing, and drawing. And repeat over and over again. We got the momentum going and this collection is really taking form!

Stage 9

It’s getting close to degree show now. Reviewing the pieces, seeing what needs to be finished, finishing, editing, and firming up. Also, some hallmarking!

And sending things off to get photographed, business card designing and recording our talking heads video (I wonder why they’re called talking heads).

Stage 10

ASSESSMENT. And professional photography, and setting up, and pricing, and choosing paint colours and realising that I forgot to invite people for the opening.

The last two weeks have been somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster but I’m thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel, and amazed at the journey so far.

Wrote a bit about photography, pricing and choosing paint colours in the journal.