Sunday, 22 November 2009

Pecha Kucha!

I am speaking about Take a ball of thread... at Pecha Kucha on Thursday 26 November at Red Rattler Theatre 6 Faversham St Marrickville. There are a bunch of interesting people speaking and as always should be an interesting and inspiring night!

I spoke at a Pecha Kucha in early 2007 before I started Take a ball of thread... and can safely say that the experience was one of the catalysts for starting the project. Speaking about my practice for Pecha Kucha (and editing it all down to 20 slides with 20 seconds of words per slide) meant I needed to address where I had been with my work and in turn, it made me realise where I wanted to go with it - although it was some 6 months after this that the pink ball of thread came into my life...
I am excited to have the opportunity of a return appearance!  I hope that it will give me the much needed impetus to get the ball rolling again (with apologies for that terrible pun...)

Precious Pendants

One of my pieces is currently on show in the exhibition Precious Pendants at Object  gallery. It is a great privilege to be included in this exhibition alongside so many amazing makers including some of my jewellery heroes.

My work in the exhibition is not one of the pink works - I am still having a little break from this project, but it would never have happened without it! I am really enjoying pushing and exploring the concepts and work from Take a ball of thread...

Pulse, Polyester/cotton sewing thread, coral, oxidised 925 silver

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Hedges at home and abroad.

Home again after a fantastic 2 weeks in New Zealand. So greeeeeen, so many beautifully groomed hedges and lovely jewels!
Here are some images of Unnatural, naturally installed at Metalab with the Lauren and Mel version of a well groomed hedge. For a lovely, generous review of the exhibition by the wonderful Michele Morcos on her gorgeous blog Tiny Trappings click here. 
Tiny Trappings is where you can see Michele's exquisite paintings and read more of her wonderful writing about art and events and the things that inspire her. 

Friday, 2 October 2009

a little rest...

Unnatural, naturally opened last night at metalab. Lauren and I are so excited and proud of this exhibition! You can read some more about it on the metalab blog. I will post some pictures here soon, but until then it is time for the hardworking studio assistant and I to have a little rest... 

Saturday, 26 September 2009

unnatural, naturally

Unnatural, Naturally my exhibition with Lauren Simeoni opens this Thursday October 1 at metalab. I am getting pretty excited I have to say. Today my Dad and I installed the backdrop for some of the work - a multi-layered diorama-style hedge made of plywood... it looks fantastic! A big thank you to Lauren's cousin Adam for making our beautiful hedge for us and to Dad for helping out with the set up today.

Here's a peek at the hedge being installed:

Thursday, 17 September 2009

another sneak preview

I have been a little quiet on the blogging front recently for all manner of reasons that life throws our way. But I am re-surfacing to show you another new work that will be included in the exhibition Unnatural, Naturally that Lauren Simeoni and I are having at metalab. The exhibition opens on October 1...
Although the majority of the work in the exhibition uses 'new' materials, I have managed to sneak a few pink thread pieces as well!  Below is one of the other works from the exhibition...
Faded, Dyed Mother of Pearl, Jade, Coral, Artificial Plant Foliage, Marine Ply, 925 Silver, Acrylic Paint

Friday, 7 August 2009

michi love!

I was very excited to open my email on Wednesday and find that the fabulous Michi Girl has featured my Take a Ball of Thread workshops!
The workshop last Sunday was so much fun with a great group of inspiring participants who all made wonderful and inventive thready jewels. The second one is happening this Sunday at metalab from 1 - 4pm - can't wait!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sydney Design 09 - Exhibitions and events galore!

The Take a ball of thread... workshop I am holding at metalab is on in two weeks from today! Find out more on the Sydney Design 09 website

I am really looking forward to so many Sydney Design events this year including Cesar Cueva and Sabine Pagan's exhibition and Peta Kruger's exhibition both at metalab. Seeing the Knitted Convenience in all it's yellow glory at Taylor Square. Attending part of the Awkward Objects Symposium at Sydney College of the Arts and seeing the accompanying exhibitions at SCA and of course participating in the Alter Ego - the other I exhibition at gaffa gallery (we had an exhibition installation run through at the gallery yesterday and it is going to be such an excellent show! It is so exciting to see how everyone has worked with the brief). 

But before all of this there is the installation and opening of Le fil (the thread) to look forward to at gaffa gallery! This is going to be such a beautiful exhibition...

Some other pink things, naturally

I thought it would be fun to post a sneak preview of some of the pieces I am making for the exhibition I am in with Lauren Simeoni at metalab in October called Unnatural, naturally. We are both having a great time playing with some shared materials - namely artificial plants. These brooches are some of my favourites that I have made so far...
Cluster and Flutter Brooches, Freshwater Pearls, Artificial Plant Foliage, Marine Ply, 925 Silver, Acrylic Paint

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Inspiration - what is jewellery?

I was just reading Katherine Bowman's beautiful blog - she has posted a fantastic quote by just about my favourite jeweller EVER Warwick Freeman about what jewellery is. Read it here and enjoy! 
I am excited to be going to Melbourne for a day-long jewellery adventure this Tuesday with some fellow jewelling nerds. One of the many exhibitions we will see is Warwick's latest exhibition at Gallery Funaki. So excited... 

Spined Bloom

Spined Bloom Neckpiece, 2009, Coral, 925 Silver, Cotton Thread
I have been making neckpieces like this one in a range of different colours recently for a two lady exhibition: Unnatural, naturally with Lauren Simeoni. It opens on 1st October 2009 at  metalab
My work in this exhibition plays with the idea of a blurring between botany and the body, something which has come out of Take a ball of thread... it has been a good opportunity to make different work (not pink!) and explore some new materials, although I seem to have started a habit as the many of the materials I am using are ones that I have found already in my studio, Lauren and I are also sharing some found objects that we are both incorporating into our pieces. This exhibition has meant shopping for different coloured thread, I have had fun visiting rag trade wholesalers. It has also allowed me to finally chart approximately how much thread is in each neckpiece - around 500 metres, this means each of the larger rope brooches would have around 200 metres of thread. 


This brooch was inspired by a trip to the Maritime Museum in Sydney with my Dad. Shamefully I had never been to the Maritime Museum before... I can't believe I waited so long. The exhibitions were interesting, inspiring, fun and beautifully designed. True to form, Dad and I spent almost as much time examining the exhibition furniture as we did the exhibits! The brooch below is of course inspired by the exhibitions...

Navigator Brooch, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Shells, 925 Silver, Cotton Thread

This is the only piece I have made using plaiting. I have experimented with all kinds of thread work including plaiting and macrame during this project, but have found that they speak too loudly about the technique (or scream, in the case of macrame - although I may be tainted by a childhood spent doing macrame nearly every day, it will just never be neutral for me. They were very happy days spent doing macrame I should add!). The 'rope' technique common to most of the works since early 2008 speaks softly technically and loudly conceptually which is why it is so dominant. I deliberately used plaiting in this piece for it's resonance with the exhibition we saw about ancestral voyages across the Pacific at the Museum.

'Pink, you stink'

Rot Brooch, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Coral, Vintage Glass Imitation Gems, Freshwater Pearls, 925 Silver, Cotton Thread.

Rot felt like a good companion image to the second catalogue essay by Amber McCulloch... I have linked to this essay in a previous post, but here it is on the blog!

Pink… You Stink


My dad thinks he’s pretty funny, and in fact he is, in a slightly absurd way. And so I spent my childhood subjected to his abstract humour, one manifestation of which was his putting on a silly voice and saying “Pink. You stink” whenever the colour was mentioned. What the hell did this mean? Pink is the colour of roses and bubble gum. It’s a girl’s colour. How could it ever smell bad? As well as being annoying, my father’s catch phrase made no sense. How could something sweet and lovely be pungent and unpleasant? How could something be beautiful and ugly?


I had forgotten all about dad’s weird saying until I was introduced to Melinda Young’s collection of pink objects. Pulsing, visceral conglomerations, they are at once arresting in their beauty and just a little bit icky. Like strange sea creatures, or disembodied organs, Young’s creations are dangerously ‘alive’ - living, growing and feeding on themselves. Rubies and pearls are swallowed by globs of wax, crystals push out of the surface and delicate fringes sprout from the edges… and all of them pink, pink, pink.


The incongruity of these beautiful/ugly works is echoed in their materials and production. Precious gems are coupled with inexpensive casting wax; and while the pieces appear roughly clumped together, closer inspection reveals them to be meticulously constructed, the products of a long process of collection and collation. Dichotomous to the last, each piece doubles as both artwork and wearable – functioning as rather pretty sculptures and, at the same time, somewhat ‘out there’ pieces of jewellery.


The titles of Young’s pieces point to a longstanding fascination with notions of abjection, referencing artists such as Louise Bourgeois, who is famous for works that both seduce and repel. So too, Young’s blog reveals a more personal inspiration for her pink series - photographs of the artist’s insides, taken for medical tests. Entries entitled Innards and Gut Instinct further explain the bodily connotations, but it’s one image that says it best – an unidentified organ, bright pink and studded with droplets of blood. It’s luminous and gorgeous and horrible too. Suddenly, “Pink. You stink” makes perfect sense.


Amber McCulloch

Mounds and Text

Mounds Brooches, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Polystyrene Balls, Freshwater Pearls, Coral, 925 Silver, Cotton Thread
The results of attempts to make coil pots out of the thread and then remembering my 'wearable' rule... no vessels for me! I stuffed the little pots with some conveniently handy polystyrene balls to hold the shape. These brooches have secret gems embedded on their backs.

As I have been sitting here updating the images of work made this year it occurred to me that I have not posted much writing about the project apart from my comments here on the blog. I have done a bit of writing about the work and asked two marvelous writers to contribute pieces to my exhibition catalogue. As I am posting so many images just now it is hard to think of something snappy to add, so here is an image (a detail of the exhibition installation at Craft Victoria) and some text by Debbie Pryor... 

   And I looked

At my big ball of string,

And I said,

NOW I will find

A thing of some kind –

Some GOOD kind of thing

To do with my string!1


When Marion Holland wrote my favourite children’s book, A Big Ball of String, she created a character (not surprisingly) obsessed with making the biggest ball of string he possibly could. He began to do everything a child could do with an incredibly long piece of string- fly balloons into the sun, construct a machine out of a bike, a trike and a toy jeep- until he was bedridden. Then he discovered he could do even more- he could rig up the entire contents of his room and continue playing without needing to leave his bed at all, all with one ginormous piece of string. But if only he had some pink wax and a few pearls…


In her self-assigned project Take a ball of thread… Melinda Young has set herself three fundamental rules: Make from the one industrial spool of pink thread until completely used. Only materials already in her studio can be sourced. Every item made must be wearable. These simple rules are reminiscent of Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More 2 project, such simple beginnings for pieces that ultimately represent very intimate concepts and experiences.


The works themselves pose questions about our notions of wearability/function (through use of materials) to wearability/classification of beauty (through the creation of alluringly grotesque forms). The curious bubbling piles look like chewed candy, or a discarded sun-melted plastic Barbie accessory, somehow finding its way into a gallery (or onto a lapel). The pieces harbour uncomfortable yet familiar feelings- candy pinks at once seduce and sweetly sicken, reminding us of childhood toys. Simultaneously, the works have a visceral quality, mimicking the body’s interiors. Linking them with our exterior, we are prompted to contemplate cultural attitudes and ideas about the abject and the female body.


I’ll be your plastic toy. 3   



Debbie Pryor

Gallery Director, metalab



1. Marion Holland, A Big Ball of String, Random House Inc, 1958


3. Just Like Honey, Jim Reid (Jesus and Mary Chain), 1985

Sweet melt

Melt Brooch, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Plastic Drink Bottle Tops, Freshwater Seed Pearls, 925 Silver, Cotton Thread, Acrylic PaintThis brooch uses a sample I made during a workshop with Mark Vaarwerk . Again, a step in a different direction with the work. I made the brooch below at the same time. 

Sweet Brooch, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Carved Wood, 925 Silver, Cotton Thread, Acrylic Paint
This piece is another turning point - I enjoyed working with the wood and paint and after I had finished this went to my 'wood' box in my studio and found some beautiful huon pine that I have had since I was a student. I have made several pieces using the huon pine for the project - I had forgotten how much I love to work with wood! I have been making lots and lots of pieces with wood recently...


Lick Neckpiece, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Freshwater Seed Pearls, Cotton Thread


Dry Brooch, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Plastic Drink Stick, 925 silver, Cotton thread
This brooch is a nod in the direction of my cowboy 'thing'. It is also a nice linking piece between this project and other found object work I was making in 2006 - 2008 using vintage plastic drink stick mascots - I still have a huge collection to be used... (my favourites are the cowboys).


Mane Brooch, 2009
Another swarovski extravaganza!

Corps Brooch.

Corps Brooch, 2009, NYC Pink Wax, Coral, Cake Decorating Flower Stamens, 925 Silver, Cotton Thread, Acrylic Paint

Dew Neckpiece

Dew Neckpiece, 2009, Rose Quartz, Malaysian Jade, Cotton Thread

Ear tassels!

Tassel Earrings, 2009, NYC Pink Thread, Freshwater Pearls, 925 Silver, Cotton Thread
... another imaginative title!


Perhaps it was inevitable that I would end up making a piggy brooch working with pink... this brooch ended up looking like a pig quite by accident...

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

le fil blog

Exhibition curator Kath Fries has started a blog for le fil (the thread) it is so exciting and inspiring to read about and see the works by the other makers in the exhibition - can't wait to see it all up at gaffa at the end of next month! 

Sunday, 28 June 2009

More Sydney Design 09... alter ego

Also as part of Sydney Design 09 I have been invited to be a part of the exhibition alter ego - the other I curated by the fabulous Zoe Brand. It is such a fantastic premise for an exhibition and a real challenge for the makers involved. I am so excited about stepping out of my comfort zone for this exhibition... and to be exhibiting with some of my favourite designers. Read more about the exhibition here It will be held at gaffa gallery from 14-22 August. 
August is going to be busy!!!

Workshop at Sydney Design 09

metalab have invited me to run a Take a ball of thread... workshop as part of Sydney Design 09 on Saturday August 2nd from 1-4pm. It should be lots of fun! Click here for more details.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Home on the range... and on jubilee!

My work arrived home from Adelaide today. I was amazed by how many pieces there are! I am seriously behind in blogging them all, so as I am stuck at home recovering from some surgery at the moment (I have been promised more pictures), I will set to and try to catch up before some of the threadiest go off to be a part of the exhibition Le Fil (the thread) curated by Kath Fries at gaffa gallery next month.  

Here's a start: Coil Brooch... (not the most imaginative name perhaps!) 
This piece along with some of my other works can now be seen on the Japanese gallery website Jubilee.
I am so delighted to have been invited by Masako to be a part of this wonderful website, not the least because there are some amazing jewellers are represented there including one of my all time favourites: Mikiko Minewaki! Thank you Masako. 

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Installation at Zu Design

I have been such a bad blogger recently - so many projects on the go and time has flown by. The exhibition has been taken down at Zu Design, so here are the installation images I should have posted long ago... The pink work looked amazing on the blue walls of the gallery! 
Big thanks to the wonderful Jane and Roman for having the exhibition at Zu and to friends in Adelaide for their support and encouragement, especially to Lauren for looking after me so well as always. 

Saturday, 11 April 2009

the icky and the crappy

Click here for a link to the talk that Damian Skinner gave about the work of Lisa Walker and myself at Craft Victoria last month. The brooch that he refers to is this one:
It was a very great honour to have Damian write about my work and also to meet him - he has been one of my craft heroes for a long time. If you are interested in fantastic, thought provoking writing about jewellery - bookmark his website: it is always a great read.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Hot off the press!

Here is the invitation for Take a ball of thread... at Zu Design.
Hot off the press! I love the sexy, thready font.

Talking, naturally

Next week I am off to Adelaide for the last leg (for now) of the Take a ball of thread... exhibition tour at Zu Design. I am so excited. I love Adelaide and have many good friends there, including the sensational Lauren Simeoni. Inbetween installing the exhibition next week Lauren and I will be spending some time together plotting and planning for our two lady exhibition to be held at metalab in October. It is going to be called Unnnatural, naturally. We have been working on the idea for the exhibition for over a year now - Stay tuned for more as the exhibition develops!

While I am in Adelaide I will be giving a talk at the Jamfactory, come along if you are in town!

I also recently gave a talk at salon a talks evening run by metalab and ECC Lighting and Furniture. The talks are held at the ECC Lighting and Furniture showroom in Darlinghurst. It was a real honour to be invited to speak and such a fun thing to do - I got to install my work on some stunning tables, lit by beautiful chandeliers and other designer lights for one night only! I took lots of pictures and will post them soon. If I was more organised I would have posted this information before the talk! But it was a big rush putting it together after coming back from Melbourne and I actually LOST the whole first draft (the long one with all the words and images...) so had to do it again! The process of writing about my practice is one that I always find interesting (and challenging).

Here are some images of my work in situ at ECC:


While I was in Melbourne last month I gave two workshops at Craft Victoria in conjunction with Take a ball of thread... Participants were asked to bring along their own ball of sewing thread and I taught a few simple techniques that I have been using in my work including how to make a tassel, some string and a pom pom. The workshops were so much fun and participants made some super pieces. Like this neckpiece in progress by Craft Victoria's lovely Carmel:

It was also exciting to have a sneak peek into the contents of peoples sewing boxes!
To see more pictures of the workshops click here


As part of the Clog interview I was asked to provide some statistics about the project. I put on my thinking cap and this is an updated version of what I came up with:

800g of casting wax used
115 finger pricks
130+ objects produced (there were 78 pieces shown in the Craft Victoria version of the exhibition)
70 blog posts and counting
51 wax burns (approximately)
23 AA batteries
19 months and counting...
4 metres of 0.8mm diameter 925 silver wire
1 litre methylated spirits
1 drilled hand
and of course,
1 ball of thread (length unknown)


Well, I am pretty behind on all my posting here, blame a hectic making schedule and recovering from jet-set interstate travel with the exhibition!

I have missed so many exciting things to post about. The first one is a link to the Clog interview mentioned in the previous post - you can read it here

Thursday, 5 February 2009


One of my very favourite blogs is CLOG from the wonderful Craft Victoria. Not only does it keep me up to date with all of the exhibitions and other goings on at Craft Victoria - it also presents profiles on the makers who exhibit in the gallery, window space and store. CLOG is informative, beautifully written and always jam packed with wonderful images.

Imagine my delight then at having my work featured! There have been several lovely posts about Take a ball of thread... including the wonderful essays written for the exhibition catalogue by Amber McCulloch and Debbie Pryor and a lovely review by Emily Bentley-Singh. I was also even more chuffed to be interviewed for CLOG! The interview should appear soon - I found responding to Kim's insightful questions about my work quite the challenge and agonised over my answers for ages... it is an excellent process to have to write (or present a talk) about your work - particularly responding to what other people see in it - which may sometimes be something that you have not noticed yourself because you are so immersed...

Monday, 26 January 2009

some sketches.

Here are some preparatory sketches done for the work made for the exhibition at Craft Victoria. Ever the obsessive drawer, I have begun drawing the work as a way of both documenting and planning as well as staying focussed on the project - previously the pieces were made intuitively, however now I am so familiar with process and materials I have been having ideas thick and fast - faster than I can make, so drawing has helped. It has been interesting that many of the designs that worked on paper have not been at all successful in reality. The painted drawings use the left over paint from some of the new work I have been making, I found some blocks of huon pine in a review of the contents of my studio and have started to work with this as a new material - I have been painting the backs and in some cases the front of this work. (I have also been developing a rather strong curiosity for the interior of envelopes recently...)