Monday, February 16, 2009

Taher Chemirik

I think this is brilliant! I found this in Elle Magazine but can't find anything else about this particular design on the internet so I scanned part of the page.

Proposal for Senior Project

"The Beauty Slime Mold Can Hold"

The mind is a maker of analogies, a suppliers of metaphors. It is a distributor of associations with a brain full of symbols waiting to be shipped out. Some objects like apples or roses have strong and traditional emotional associations with temptation and love. Other objects like shoes have weaker, less obvious associations. Associations arise from colors too. Green is healthy. Red is aggressive. Associations ultimately depend on context. An apple on a teacher's desk means something entirely different to most of us that the proverbial apple offered by Eve to Adam. Associations can arouse strong emotions.

This whole subject of associations and the emotions attached to them came to the forefront of my attentions when I found myself strongly attracted to images of slime mold I discovered on the internet, in my search for natural objects as the basis for organic jewelry. I wondered why and how I could find these pictures so artistically striking when they were photographs of slimy mold. So I did some quick research on slime mold in an attempt to understand it more fully.

Slime mold may have an unattractive name, but it is unfairly demonized by it's name. These fungi-like amoeba organisms can appear gelatinous in some stages of their growth, hence their name. But they are not fungi. They are really oddballs or misfits in the biological hierarchy. They are close to being both plant and animal, but are neither. Slime mold has been the inspiration for many "B' grade monster movies. But ironically, slime mold for the most part, is a beneficial organism that decays dead plant material, returning nutrients to the soil.

So why does slime mold inspire me to formally reproduce its various forms as works of art? The answer is simple - it is hard not to be shocked by its stunning beauty of color, form and texture in all of its life cycle stages. It remains an unexplained contradiction to me. The images of decay and horror that slime mold is traditionally associated with versus the reality of slime mold actively enriching the earth while growing in gorgeous colors, textures and forms. Conceptually, my organic jewelry comes from a desire to embrace the impermanence of the natural world around me. Rather than mourning the transience of life, this jewelry will celebrate it, transforming decay into beauty, slime into the sublime. Practically, these slime mold designs are aesthetically pleasing. They alternately can resemble coral, leaves, branches, veins, pearls - a myriad of organic forms. It is almost as if the design is alive, showing growth and movement in its branching form.

As an artist, I realize that the association I make with an object may not be made my others. By lifting out a small segment of one piece of a specific slime mold and reproducing it in metal, I can refocus the viewpoint and hence the association. Not showing the whole subject shifts from the information and emotion associated with the whole, to something more abstract. Parts can be graphic. When designs are not literal, they invite many interpretations. By focusing on a part of the slime mold design and lifting it out of its usual decaying context, I hope to invite the viewer to appreciate the beauty of things previously overlooked, to revive a part of our world previously dead to our senses.

I propose to make a few pairs of earrings and a few necklaces, maybe a bracelet and a ring - all with the purpose of bringing natural forms to the human body for display, adornment and enjoyment.

Using the format of jewelry, I hope to reveal some unexpected and hidden beauty, buried in the contradictions of nature and design.

senior project ideas...

I decided I want to electroform hot glue forms based on slime mold for my senior project and then enamel them. I want to make a whole line of slime mold jewelry - necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, etc. Since it is fairly easy and fast to make the hot glue forms, I want to make a whole bunch of them to electroform, this way I'll have a lot of pieces in the end.

These pics are some of my hot glue forms that I made on a much smaller scale than my previous ones, and the chain is laid out so that the orientation of each pendant is clear.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sketches and Maquettes for Enameling

brainstorming and preliminary sketches:


mixture of cornstarch, salt and water that turned into playdo

elmer's glue


hot glue

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Photographs of my Jewelry

For my senior project, I was required to have some of my work professionally photographed, and then send the images of my work to 3 different exhibitions for the experience and in hope of getting my work entered in one.

I went to Joseph Hyde to get three of my pieces, all inspired by mold, photographed this past friday. He is an amazing photographer and very nice man. He emailed me these jpegs the very next day which was very cool, so here they are!

Joseph Hyde:

Websites I Like

Part of my senior project is to locate 5-10 artist's websites that I love, take screen captures of the sites and post them to my blog. The goal is to build an effective online presence - identify what we like in a website so that we can create our own. I chose all jewelers because those are the types of artists whose websites I frequent.

Anthony Nak
Jewelry designers Anthony Camargo and Nak Armstrong launched Anthony Nak. I love the black background, the simple font, the cropped photos of their jewelry, and the use of artsy photographs to showcase some of the jewelry. I think their site is very classy and easy to navigate.


Alexis Bittar
Inspired by bakelite and Lalique glass and stimulated by the beauty of precious and semiprecious stones, he mixes unusual colors into bold combinations, some of which have become collectible pieces. I like the white background here just as much as I like the black used by Anthony Nak. I don't like colorful backgrounds...I think they take away from what you're trying to showcase. I also like the modern looking font, where the name "Alexis Bittar" is in lowercase letters.


Suzanne Wilson Designs
I love Suzanne Wilson's website. It is very simple, yet beautiful. It is also very easy to navigate. I especially love the way her jewelry is displayed on objects found in nature. I think it enhances the organic quality of her work. I'm thinking this might be a good direction for me to head in with my website.


Lauren Wimmer BEADS
I like Lauren's website is it very very basic. I don't like complicated websites. In fact when a website is too busy I won't even bother looking at it. This has a nice plain white background, and the jewelry is photographed to that it looks like it's floating in space. I think that is a great way to show off jewelry because there is nothing distracting the viewer.


Jennifer Sarkilahti is an artist and designer who created her own collection of jewelry called Odette New York. Since she is inspired by nature, botanical forms, art, and modern design, it makes sense that her jewelry is displayed on rocks, slate, branches and the human form. I love the use of monotone colors - white, light grey and dark grey. It matches the jewelry and what it's photographed on.


Kyoko Honda
What I love about this website is the inclusion of hand drawn and graphic images on the homepage. I also obviously love the white background and the simple font. I also really like the way the thumbnail images of the jewelry before you click on the to blow them up larger are cropped so only part of the piece shows. I think it makes the viewer want to look closer to be able to see the whole piece.

friday the 13th was a good day!!!

This past friday I finally started my internship at Michael's Jewelry Studio, working behind the bench. I have never been so nervous waking up that morning getting prepared to go in for my first day because I feel like I know absolutely nothing about being a bench jeweler. Jan said in class the other day to start preparing for the real world outside of college. That being nervous about starting and/or encountering new things is always going to be nerve wracking, but that we should quickly learn to embrace that feeling because it is something that you can never escape, and unless you want to stay stagnant for the rest of your life, then you must push through the fear and continue moving forward.

As soon as I walked in, my heartbeat quickly slowed down. Everyone was just wonderful. Michael immediately put me to work. He had me roll some silver down from 18 gauge to 20 gauge then hammer out small discs. He then asked me to cut the discs in half and when he saw that I wasn't sawing correctly, he showed me the proper way which made things so much easier! Then he had me file the edges flat, then file 45 degree angles so the discs could be soldered together at those angles to ultimately make a pair of earrings. When he saw that my filing was wobbly and all over the place, he showed me the correct way to file which was very exciting. It was so nice to have one on one attention which is something that is very difficult to get at school when you're in a class with 20 people for only an 4 hours a week! I was so embarrassed that I wasn't doing things correctly and felt so out of place, but he reassured me that it is going to take hours and hours and hours of practice to get it right. Good thing I have 120 hours with him! :)

There are 4 bench jewelers (one kid, 2 older men and Michael) and a woman who watches the gallery and actually graduated from Towson in the jewelry and metals program with John Fix. Everyone is funny and warm and extremely talented. I felt right at home. At the end of the day I didn't even want to leave! I am just so happy and excited to have started this internship. I think it really going to help build my self confidence.

After working at the bench for a little while, I watched some of the bench jewelers and they talked me through what they were doing as they did it. It was so cool to watch. I learned a lot.

They day just kept getting better. That evening after work, I went to meet Joseph Hyde to have some of my jewelry photographed. He was absolutely wonderful, and extremely talented. I have never been proud of my work and was very embarrassed to show it to him, considering he's been photographing many great artists, for example jeweler Janet Huddie. It was so interesting to see the whole process and collaborate with him on ideas for the photographs. It was very cool that he actually wanted my input! The photographs, untouched, came out amazing. I am so happy about them. He helped me to look at my work in a new light and actually feel proud of it.

So all in all, it was a very very exciting and productive day!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Enameling II

This semester in Enameling II, we are starting off with electroforming. I have decided to go with my slime mold forms, surprise surprise. For our first project we are supposed to build our models using alternative materials - preferably something other than metal or wax, and then electroform them. I haven't decided exactly what I want to make, but I know I want it to be a wearable piece of jewelry that is based on slime mold. Most likely I will be making earrings or a pendant.

For my creative caffeine assignment, it was suggested in class that I choose a bunch of different materials that could be squeezed out of a pastry bag to create my form that would ultimately harden so it could be copper plated. I asked all of my friends on facebook which substances they recommended by asking the question on my profile page. I got a lot of great responses - hot glue, cake icing, caulk, tempered chocolate, easy cheese, cornstarch mixed with salt and water that creates playdo, elmers glue, and clay based face masks. I tried them all and only the hot glue gave me the effect I was looking for.

The playdo came close to what I was looking for, but became a little too crumbly as it dried. The icing was too thick and the chocolate was too thin. The cheese cracked when dried and the face mask was extremely messy. The elmers glue and caulk spread out and turned into big blobs after a couple of minutes. So I went with the hot glue because I was able to get clean precise veins and the glue dried very quickly so it was fast and easy to work with.

At first I tried drawing out my design in hot glue on a plastic page protector, but it stuck and wouldn't come off. Next I tried wax paper and plastic coated freezer paper, but the glue stuck to that as well. Then I tried putting a thin layer of crisco down on the 2 different types of paper and then tried a thin layer of pam after that. The glue tended to spread out and look a little messy, and still stuck a little bit to the paper. My last resort was tin foil and that did the trick. The glue peels off of it nice and easy. This wasn't the best option because at least with the wax paper it is somewhat translucent and I could put it over my sketch and trace the design with the glue gun. When using the tin foil I had to draw my design on it freehand with a sharpie and then trace that with the glue.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Houseware Jewelry?!

I was going through old magazines looking for design ideas for my senior project and enameling...color schemes, forms, textures, etc. In Lucky magazine I came across this fierce porcelain bowl. It's weird to describe a porcelain bowl as fierce because typically porcelain objects are thought of as beautiful and delicate, but this bowl totally is fierce with the spikes and draped chain.

Sarah Cihat and Michael Miller are the artists who make these beautiful porcelain bowls. They also make vases and chandeliers among other things that are also dripping with chain. To me this looks like jewelry for houseware...something to make these everyday objects more interesting and exciting. I love the idea of making jewelry for objects, as opposed to humans.