So, 3rd year has begun. My first project is to research an artist and look critically at their work to learn more about the jewellery field as a whole, and more specifically where I might potentially fit into it. I will achieve this by studying my artist Lauren Tickle, to find out where she sources her inspiration, what materials and techniques she employs, and where she fits into the jewellery world. This will give me a better idea of what she is trying to achieve through her pieces, and what motivates her work.
My first instinct was to jump on a computer and use google. However after swift warnings from our tutors encouraging us to use varied sources of information, I decided the best place to start was the library. I came back somewhat disheartened though, as my friend instantly found a jewellery book written by her designer, and my searches turned up nothing. Turning to google for help I quickly found Tickles own website to be very useful. As you would expect it was an excellent source of information about Tickle and her work, but also listed lectures she had done. One in particular was at a design school she used to attend, and they had an online recording which was perfect!
link to lecture video
I still have a lot of research left to do, but I found Tickles starting statement very fitting to what I have found out so far.
“I’m a goldsmith by day and an artist by night”.
You don’t have to work in one set area and specialism, you should give yourself the freedom to work in whatever mix of media inspires and drives you!
As part of my current module ‘Boarder Crossings’, I was given a small one week interdisciplinary project. For this, I worked in a team consisting of me, two textile students, and an interiors student. We were asked to share our research on identity and culture with each other, we used this to find common ground, and draw inspiration to create a collaborative project.
As generations go on, families are growing further apart and have less quality “family time” because of it. Instead we connect with each other both in our homes and across the world using technology. We wanted to create an installation to signify how we are all connected without physically connecting face-to-face.
Our research began by mind mapping, creating Pinterest boards, and a trip to the recycling centre for some inspiration. We discussed some ideas together, and then each brainstormed our own independent interpretations, to allow each discipline to shine through in our designs. We combined strong elements from all of our ideas to form our project.
We decided to use a circular design, with each layer of the piece representing a new generation and each individual circle representing a family member. When viewed from the front, our piece forms the rings found in a tree trunk. While symbolizing the close relations of a family tree through this, our three dimensional piece, when viewed from other angles and points in the room distorts, reflecting the illusion of effective communication, caused by the replacement of face to face communication with modern technology.
We prototyped the design on a small scale, and used Sketch Up to experiment with perspective, and positioning to help us envision the final piece.
Throughout this project we have had a range of issues that we have overcome. We learnt how important communication is, not just within our group but with other groups as well (especially when trying to hang large installations). If we’d had both the time and budget, ideally we would have used alternative materials for the rings such as Silver, and each ring would have been unique. However to represent our instillation we used spray painted cardboard. We also envision our piece being displayed in an entirely white room with strong spotlights to exaggerate the shadows created by the rings.
Combining our disciplines played a vital role in helping us to solve problems more effectively and view the project with a wider perspective.
So this blog is somewhat late! I’m now more than half way through my project. So I will have to do a bit of backtracking, but hey, hopefully it will help me to better reflect on my project. I spent a long time trying to figure out what my identity as a jeweller was, and I finally realised that it didn’t matter, after all a main part of uni is figuring out who you are. I was looking at my identity as a jeweller in the wrong way. What did I actually know at this point? Well, even if I can’t pin point what makes it up, I still have an identity as a jeweller. Ok then, where did it come from? This new approach lead me to think about memories, in specific my first memory of being interested in jewellery.
I remember sitting on the middle of my mum and dad’s bed, rooting through mum’s jewellery boxes, fascinated by all the pieces. I decided to go and look at all of my mum’s jewellery and ‘revisit’ my memories. I found it fascinating, as over the years, the boxes have developed a beautiful natural composition, which has been made up from the layers of different tangled pieces overlapping and merging together.
Furthermore I noticed I was drawn to the same pieces that I had remembered from previously looking through the collection. The interest I had in some of the specific pieces encouraged me to find out a bit more about their backstories and origins. A lot of the jewellery had been handed down from other family members. This lended itself nicely to the theme of identity; it allowed me to begin incorporating elements of my family tree.
Blogging is great, it lets you express yourself and talk about whatever you want to anyone that wants to read it. Blogs can produce vast pools of knowledge, creative thinking, and fascinating opinions; yet, so far, the two of us haven’t gotten along. I told myself it was just because I hadn’t gotten into the swing of it. I kind of half hoped for a magical switch in my brain to suddenly make me enjoy blogging. Thus, I would be inclined to blog more frequently, but obviously I don’t hold high hopes for that happening. I have just started my first project for this semester. It’s called Border Crossings and it’s all about identity, who am I? Everyone has their own unique personality, life stories, and identity so it should be easy right? The only problem is, not only do I not like talking about myself, I have no idea how, or where to begin in trying to express what, in my opinion makes me, well, me! I guess to a degree, this links to my trouble with blogging. If I don’t really like talking about myself, then it’s not going to be easy writing what is, in a way, a bit like a personal diary entry, only for potentially the whole world to read if they so desire. I do of course realise how valuable these skills are to have, and I’m sure one blog at a time it will become easier and I will become better at it.
As well as looking at my identity in general I also need to look at my identity as a jeweller. Since I’m in my first year studying jewellery, there is lots of potential and exciting elements in my identity waiting to be discovered, however it’s currently a confusing jumble since I haven’t got a clue where my interest and passion in jewellery will take me.
So overall I think it’s going to be a bit of a slow start to get into this project, and it currently looks pretty intimidating, but I’m really looking forward to getting started. It’s going to be very fun and interesting to see what comes out of it.
Day two has come to a close and I am exhausted… We started the day with a talk from Mike Press which got us eager to get active and engaged with the general public. However we quickly realised we actually needed to hold back a bit, hone in on our designs, and clarify our concept before we could seek out other people’s opinions on our ideas. Our team worked fantastically together, and through research, we started to explore the idea of having a range of ‘buddies’. The ‘buddies’ would be designed for different trouble prone times of the day, for example bath and bed times. These would help in reducing stress and anxiety levels, to aid in mental wellbeing in both the child and the parent.
We spoke to Catherine, a mother of two young children. This was very beneficial as we don’t have any parents in our group, which meant we had been relying on research alone until that point. The key things that I feel the group took from Catherine, were that firstly, it was important not to overcomplicate our product; sometimes the simplest products are the best. Furthermore, when it comes to children feeling secure and calm they often have a tactile, sensory stimulus that they use. We found this related back to all of us individually whether it were the silk labels inside our clothes, a fuzzy blanket, or a squishy teddy we remembered having throughout our childhood.
At this point our team came across its first real hiccup. We all had fantastic ideas and our ideas started to drift more towards a calming box, full of tactile goodies and activities to use with kids. However all our ideas were flowing out too quickly and were bouncing off each other without really being able to settle. It was soon realised that we needed to actually stop and take a step back. We each explained the elements we felt were working and which weren't. Our ideas eventually blended and ended up settling on a mix of our ‘buddy’ idea, with an added personal sensory experience.
We ended the day on a high with our first basic prototype and a clear idea of where we are headed. So for now I'm going to go and get a good night’s sleep so I am refreshed and ready to start prototyping tomorrow morning which will hopefully be swiftly followed by taking our concept and prototypes out to the public to see what they think.
Yesterday saw the start of our new ‘Change By Design’ module. We were told the module was a ‘design sprint’, which translated as an extremely intense week of concept development, working in teams of designers. As you can imagine, it was a bit intimidating turning up on the Monday morning, having no clue as to what our brief would be, or how the week would pan out other than knowing it was going to be a fast paced, intensive week. However I am happy to report back that Monday was a huge success! The day started with an introduction to our brief; to design a product or service that helps to promote everyday mental wellbeing.
Caroline Adamson, Senior Counsellor/Clinical Lead at Dundee University, spoke to us about mental wellbeing. She emphasised how normal it is to feel anxiety and stress and that they can actually be quite positive and beneficial in the right circumstances. It was explained that these become an issue when they stop you from functioning normally in everyday life. Anxiety and stress can have physical symptoms like having sweaty palms, a racing heart, and a dry mouth. The physical symptoms can often worsen the issue as many people don’t realise these are normal causing their anxiety levels to increase.
After this we got split into teams and were given specific areas to focus on. My group has been told to look at education. The team kicked off with research to decide where our focus would be. We were all quick to decide that young children around the age of five would be the best group to target. At this age children are still happy to talk about their feelings openly and don’t have any preconceptions or stigma towards mental health issues. This would allow us to try and normalise the concept of mental health and mental wellbeing among children.
We managed to collect lots of relevant research throughout the day and will start day two by looking at some possible designs and hopefully develop a clear concept.
I'm a second year student at Duncan Of Jordanstone College Of Art And Design and I'm specialising in Jewellery and Metal Design. I am super excited for the next three years and can't wait to get started! :D