8 Oct 2015

A difficult question to answer

There's a question that I think most makers of art or craft get asked quite often, which is "How long did it take you to make?". I always find myself at a bit of a loss as how to answer, because it's not as straight-forward a question as some might think. For me, some pieces that I've been making for a while can be made in several hours. But that's not really the answer to the question. There are the hours, and sometimes months (or longer!), of turning over a design idea in my head, working out how it would work. That's usually the beginning of every design - lots of thinking about the details of making, what order the pieces would need to be soldered in, what thickness the wire/sheet/chain would need to be, what metals or plating would be involved, what tools would be needed, etc. I like to think it through before starting. Then for a piece that's being made for the first time, there are the mistakes - sheet too thin, sheet too thick, need more of some material that I don't have, problems with the order of soldering, etc. When the piece is finally made, then the small adjustments can continue for months or longer. They may not be visible on the end piece, but they will be small improvements that make it quicker or easier or less costly to make the piece. Then, after perfecting the process and the finish, only then can I say "now I can make this piece in X hours".

To illustrate, I made a series of oval pendants (now at Jam Eton) and I knew what I wanted them to look like and I also knew that I wanted them to work as a series. Not because they need to stay together, they don't and they are separate entities, but I wanted a certain cohesion between the pieces. I like to have an aesthetic continuity that makes it feel like a collection. Anyway, first I made this pendant:

Then I knew I wanted to make another one that also had a hole, but this time a hole with tapered edges. But I really wanted the hole to be the same diameter: 11mm. And I wanted the taper to be clear, not so shallow that it looked too similar to this pendant. So I worked my way through various techniques to try to get the exactly slope that I wanted with the exact diameter. It was a long slow process that had many failed attempts with lots of thinking about what to try next to get to the result I wanted. I made tools, borrowed tools, looked up techniques in books and searched the internet.

Here is a photo of just some of the attempts, including too thin, too thick, too big, too small, too hard (working out how many times and when to anneal) and so on.

Eventually, I did work it out and got exactly the result I was after, which concluded in the finished piece with a shiny tapered center:

That kind of process makes it so hard to answer the seemingly simple question of "How long does it take to make it?".

2 Oct 2015

Flavour of the Month at Jam Eton Gallery

I have been hard at work and now have 15 new pieces of jewellery over at Jam Eton this month - live on the Jam website as well (http://jam-eton.co.uk/makers/machi-de-waard.html). There is a new series of oval pendants with matching oval clasps, two other new necklaces (one flat, one concave), two new pairs of cufflinks, new brooches and new pairs of earrings. Below are some photos of the oval necklaces.You can see everything if you come visit Jam, or visit the Jam website. The fifteen new pieces are with fifteen pieces I already had at the gallery, so 30 lovely bits of jewellery to look at!!