For this project the jeweller I was given to research into was Jonathan Matthew Boyd and I think he was chosen for me because of my obvious affinity with words within the last project.
Jonathan is a Glasgow School of Art jewellery graduate and has recently completed an MA in jewellery and metal design at the RCA. Like me he is interested in words and language and his work reflects that. His main motivation is the desire to make things with his hands and he looks at connecting the written word with the body and does so by encompassing the tools and creations of wordsmiths into his work.
Here are a few examples of his jewellery work. The letters that you see are all cast into either random blobs to represent ink splatters like the ones on the left or into more uniform shapes like the one on the right that capture snippets of conversation.
A couple more examples of his work.
As he is just a recent university graduate, Jonathan doesn’t have a massive body of work, but from the stuff he does have I have managed to source a great deal of inspiration and I’ve focused in on these hidden message wedding bands and they have become the motivation for my own design.
As you can see the rings appear like normal wedding bands when closed, but when opened they reveal a message that is hidden from the rest of the world. I really love these rings, both their simple aesthetics and the concept, which is one I have chosen to emanate within my own work.
I liked the idea of capturing a special message, a little piece of text that meant something to someone and with that concealing it so it was very unique to the individual wearing the piece. So, I went on to research into hidden message jewellery, but kinda realised there was a lot of it out there already, but I was driven enough to conceive my own design.
It took a while for that spark to hit, and at first I just doodled away trying to come up with ideas, and it wasn’t until after a tutorial conversation and an influence creeping over from my other module Taking Time: Exploring Ephemeral Practices, I came up with my idea.
This is the first little sketch that I did of my design, at this point I was purely illustrating the mechanisms and I hadn’t really thought about the aesthetics. The basic structure is a locket, but with two hinged doors instead of one. Inside is a piece of paper written with a hidden message, when the doors are opened for the first time a little bag, that is attached to the hooks inside bursts and dispels the liquid revealer onto the paper uncovering the message written there. So, this piece of jewellery is not only conceptual as it features an ephemeral moment, it is also a piece of keepsake jewellery a reminder of that moment in time and it becomes an empty vessel for the wearer to fill with their own moments.
After our first presentation I received comments about how to alter my design visually, because I forgot to explain that the heart shape I had drawn was for illustrative purposes, and it came out that I should not do the obvious heart because it is too typical, and twee and has been done a million times before and I should be more original and unique and try and push myself towards that. At first those comments really annoyed me because in my head I was, well a little disheartened because my idea wasn’t initiallyas awesome as I had thought it was, but mostly because Ive come to accept the fact that just because the idea isnt original to the world doesn’t mean its not original to me or any less exciting. But then that would take away the point of this module, because we are supposed to be learning to look out into the world so we are aware of other designs and therefore are able to come up with something unique. But if anything this module has just confirmed my notion that original thought is not possible. Well, that’s not true, original thought is possible for the individual but not for the world… that may be a little naïve of me to say so… but generally there isnt many more totally unique thoughts out there. Everything is somebody elses take on something that exists beofre it. And my next part of my design process is my take on Victorian hidden message symbolism, I wanted to use more in my design than just the heart so looked back in time and found more symbols I could use.
Something that also came up in the previous presentation was my idea of using the image of an anatomical heart. Not only is that more unique, but it decreases the image of love and becomes more about health and loss and the human condition. The piece becomes less something that a lover would buy and more something that anyone could buy.
This image really struck me and as soon as I saw it I knew it was what I wanted to use. It is a human heart stripped of the fat and muscle, with just the angel veins exposed and it led me to draw up my final design.
This drawing. So my plan is similar to the drawing before, it is still the same mechanisms but the aesthetics are different and more unique.
Here are a couple of images of my process.
And now comes the annoying, frustrating bit. I took a good few days sitting making this piece and by the time I came to put it all together I realised that it didn’t work. Inside all I could think was oh no and I just wanted to run away home and cry! Which I did! But then came back the next day and etched into it and shined it up, with the thought that if it wasn’t going to work it was at least going to be pretty.
So, I am treating this piece as more of a maquette than a final piece. I know where I have gone wrong, the hinges need to be longer and straighter and the doors would need to be made larger in order for them to fit together when cut in half, also the little clasp would need to be made the other way round! So between now and Christmas I will make this again and make it work. Oddly ive learnt more about myself and about my design process with this failure than if I had made it perfectly first time round. Part of me hates myself for messing up but the other part is happy that I know where my problems lie and that this was a good learning expereince for me.
I have made a little video illustrating it kind of working.
Thanks for listening and any comments would be epically appreciated!
I got pretty good feedback on my work. Although it hadn’t actually worked, my tutors and fellow jewellers seemed quite interested in the actual ideas behind my piece and that has made me a lot happier. I’ve, for the past few days, been sitting in my failure hole of self-pity because my piece didn’t work. It wasn’t until today that i realized that that didn’t actually matter. Not everyone gets everything done right the first time around and in the end the learning process is all that matters. I know what i need to do to make it work and hopefully i will have the time to make it again (i am going to make it again! i just need to find some of that spare time that keeps alluding me!).
What do you think of my piece?