Magnetic Connections

Having realised some of my ideas narrating the provenance of sentimental jewellery, through using mild steel and moving onto a magnetic mode of connection, I am processing what has been successful and what aspects to develop.

Working with mild steel was unexpectedly enjoyable and really worked for me. If I continued to work with steel, it would also allow me to return to working with vitreous enamel and kiln fired decals.  Steel would also allow me to explore surface engraving with equipment such as the Gravograph, and of course laser welding opens up a huge range of possibilities.

In this phase, I have concentrated developing my forms based on recognisable outlines and iconic cartouche shapes. From my original ‘memory box’, I have also increased but varied the scale.

For ease and speed, I have reverted to using spray enamel paint and low temperature firing waterslide decal transfers. Both processes resulted in some happy accidents. Firstly, in sanding between the applications of paint, it gave a really nice aged effect, hinting at the possibility that it had already had a life. Again, this made me think of the vintage tins I have been hoarding and perhaps now is the right time to reintroduce these into my work. Secondly, before the paint fully dried, I was able to imprint the surface with fabric. I have been considering using a fabric element, trapping it between the steel layers, but the subtly this brought would force the viewer to look closely and played to the monochromatic colour palettes I have been considering. And lastly, by my inexperienced application of the the decals, the surface was wrinkled, like that of the hand in the photograph – It resulted in something quite sensitive and one which received a good response in my crit groups. The photography is also something I am evaluating – Is my own photography currently effective?

There were some real positives in the magnets I used – They were small, tiny in fact, strong and at only 0.5mm thick they didn’t cause an aesthetic problem. The ‘click’ and draw of the connection was really satisfying, as was the ‘snap’ noise as the pieces combined.  However, I’m currently using glue, and I do need to consider more sophisticated avenues of attachment. Magnets of course also cause a wider disturbance, for example, the potential to interfere with pacemakers and deactivate credit cards, all of which need to be considered.

In a number of my crit groups, I have been questioned on how flat my work is. I am drawn to the flatness, in turning a three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional image, and by doing this I feel as though I am cementing the story and its history. However, I do keep coming back to an idea of a family history dice. Each side of the dice would represent a sentimental piece of jewellery, object or memory – A capsule sentimental jewellery box. And again, using magnets the family history dice would be interchangeable. I have also considered simply chamfering the surface.



My outcomes at the moment, feel quite different, fundamentally as well as aesthetically. It’s probable that there are a number of avenues I could explore further. But most importantly, all need much more development in how the pieces are connecting. In playing with the idea of sentimentality, the symbolism of tenuous links will be key. But in representing and narrating sentimental jewellery, I could argue, that the connections should be deeply embedded and integral. I have begun to tackle this and started by drawing up some initial ideas of alternative connections.

OMI Jewels


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