Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2013

A piece I made many years ago.

While reading a biography of Giordano Bruno, the scientist/alchemist, I was struck by the fact that he was the first Westerner to propose the idea that the stars were in fact suns and that space might be infinite. He was burnt by the Inquisition for his views. The notion proved harder to suppress, however. It unshackled the minds of many of Europe’s leading thinkers, and the phrase ‘infinite space’ wastes no time in appearing in Shakespeare. Bruno’s ideas mark a significant transition to modernity.

But a more interior and extensive notion of infinite space has long existed in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology. Though the Renaissance, as the beginning of the modern, has been of interest to me, as Robert Thurman points out there was another, historically concurrent modernity emerging— the Tibetan, which ‘…can be understood as a kind of alternative modernity, a spiritualistic or interior modernity as opposed to the Western materialistic or exterior modernity” (Rhie and Therman 31).

Much of my work has concentrated on the transition to the modern in the history of jewellery. I set out to create a piece which would capture something of this paradox of Infinite Space.

The piece is illustrative of my design approach: based on the Shakespearian conceit, “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet, II.ii.270-273),  the piece uses Renaissance forms found during Shakespeare’s life, and alludes to the extension of Elizabethan knowledge and power into the rest of the world: moonstone and labradorite from Madagascar, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan iolite from India, pearls from China, rubies and sapphires from Ceylon, shakudo from Japan.

To complete the Shakespearian conceit, hidden inside the piece is a carved lapis lazuli face – a representation of the Tibetan Buddha Samantabhadra, Buddha of boundless space.

The door, which stands in place of the transition between interior and exterior, serves as a pivot between the interior and exterior, the inside being roughly inscribed with the words: “The door to the..”, leaving the wearer freedom (space) of interpretation. 

Technique: The piece is technically interesting inasmuch as it includes a number of different techniques: Piercing, shell inlay, stone carving and polishing, setting, lost-wax casting (the gold detail at the base), a catch which works, and assembly by means of a single bolt, as well as the usual repertoire of fabrication techniques.

Pendant: The Door: silver, 18ct, shakudo, labradorite, moonstone, iolite, rubies, sapphire

Pendant: The Door: silver, 18ct, shakudo, labradorite, moonstone, iolite, rubies, sapphires

Pendant: The Door: silver, 18ct, shakudo, labradorite, moonstone, iolite, rubies, sapphire

Pendant: The Door: silver, 18ct, shakudo, labradorite, moonstone, iolite, rubies, sapphires

I wanted to make a sculpture of a buck that could lie sleeping in the palm of one’s cupped hand. I did a fair bit of research for this one, in the course of which I discovered that all buck all over the world sleep in pretty much the same way, with the nose tucked in between the ankles, allowing easy breathing.

Sleeping buck: Sculpture, silver

Sleeping buck: Sculpture, silver

Sleeping buck: Sculpture, silver

Sleeping buck: Sculpture, silver

Technical details: it was carved from wax. I tacked two blocks of wax together by melting a few spots along the seam, marked it up and carved it as a single piece. Then I separated the two halves and hollowed them. In the end they were soldered together. It was sold to a friend, which pleases me.

There’s a glass crystal hanging in my window. While I was taking pictures these rings, the sun shone on it, and one of the half-dozen or so little rainbows it generates fell across them. Here are two pictures. The rainbow moved on pretty quickly.

Four silver rings with various stones and a rainbow

Four silver rings with various stones and a rainbow

Silver rings with (from top clockwise) Peridot; garnets and peridots; citrine; carnelian

Silver rings with (from top clockwise) Peridot; garnets and peridots; citrine; carnelian

 

When we were in Istanbul last year, I went looking for turquoise – a sort of nominal determinism since the mineral is named after the country. I found these two strings, and have made clasps for them. Ironically, the turquoise actually comes from Iran. The Turkish turquoise that I saw was darker and greener.

I’ve just got them back from a woman who knotted them for me, and she did a good job, so that the whole thing articulates smoothly.

Necklace: Turquoise, silver, shakudo

Necklace: Turquoise, silver, shakudo

Necklace: Turquoise, silver

Necklace: Turquoise, silver

A client wanted a large flower ring with a blue stone. One of the problems is that the large petals must either be so thick as to be too heavy, or be vulnerable to bending. My solution was to support the petals with ribs underneath, giving a fairly pleasing underside to the bezel.

Flower Ring: Silver, kyanite

Flower Ring: Silver, kyanite

Flower Ring: Silver, kyanite

Flower Ring: Silver, kyanite

Flower Ring: Silver, kyanite: underside of bezel

Flower Ring: Silver, kyanite: underside of bezel