March 2012

Curator’s Choice

Kevin Coates,‘Labyrinthus Hic Habitat Minotaurus’, 2000, 20ct gold, picrolite, white gold. Stand: red stone, ebony All objects can tell stories to those prepared to listen; jewels, by their very nature, are perhaps able to relate the most personal. The story of the piece I have chosen from my own collection of jewelry is one of […]

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Metal Zero

In late 2001, lower Manhattan was the site of intense physical, psychological and emotional activity. Many thousands of people were working to clean, to clear and to understand the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Scurrying through the streets – beneath notice – was Xu Bing, busily collecting the dust that coated the city. In

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Anne Fischer, Juliane Scholss and Ja-kyung: Object / Jewellery

Collaborative Candleholders Susan Cummins: Can you tell me something about the history of your gallery and how you got interested in showing metalwork and jewelry?  Rosemarie Jaeger: The gallery was founded in 1989 in a baroque listed building in Hochheim near Frankfurt. For the first decade ceramics and sculptures were the main themes of the

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Collector’s Choice

Six Months Wasted by Keith Lewis part 6 This is the beginning of a series I am calling Collector’s Choice. I asked each collector ‘What is your favorite piece of jewelry in your collection? And how do the qualities reflected in that piece describe something about your whole collection?’ One of the first to answer

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Maker’s Tool

My favorite tool is without any doubt the ‘mouth-blowing torch’ or ‘blowpipe torch.’ I am always fascinated by our extraordinary capacity to turn stiff and solid metal into something fluid. It is somewhat reminiscent of the alchemical process. Sometimes when I solder, especially with the mouth-blowing torch, I feel that it is like a meditative

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Maker’s Tool

In a continuation of the series called Maker’s Tool I asked a group of jewelers to talk about their preferred tool. Mah Rana, my next choice has contributed to the AJF blog in the past and is an articulate and thoughtful maker from London whose transitional moment may have impacted her timeless choice.

What is my preferred tool? Well, perhaps not such an easy ask, trying to chose one from a collection that has grown over the years. I first thought about choosing the ‘safety back’ needle file, sometimes known as a barrette file. Why? Because that and the round tapered needle file seem to be the only needle files that I rely on when I am making jewelry, which I’m sure reflects some insight onto my working practice – but let’s leave the analysis of that revelation for another time.

At the moment I am without my own workshop and have been for two years now. Moving house and waiting to have the garage rebuilt into a new workshop has meant that the majority of my tools and equipment are stored away in boxes and will be for a while. A difficult adjustment to make at the beginning, but I bought a large tool box on wheels – the sort you buy from a hardware store – and made a careful selection of hand tools to go in it. So currently my workshop is on wheels and I am able to do whatever the jewelry term for ‘couch-surfing’ would be. (Perhaps it’s ‘bench-surfing.’)

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Maker’s Tool

Karl Fritsch’s bench Amongst all the tools that I love there are two that are my most favorite. I can’t work when either of them is missing. One is the little knife in the middle of the photograph, which I have used for placing stones ever since I learned stone setting. With the knife and

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Octavia Cook

Octavia CookThe National in Chistchurch, New Zealand, was founded in 2004 by Caroline Billing to raise the profile of New Zealand jewelers. She is currently showing work by a really imaginative jeweler named Octavia Cook. I love artists who make up myths or narratives about their work and Octavia is one who does. The jewelry itself doesn’t have to carry the full story but the story can be in addition and just go along with it. For me, it adds an another element that helps me to both understand the work and remember it.

Octavia Cook Susan Cummins: Octavia, you have made up a character for this show. What is Cocoa Vitako’s story?

Octavia Cook: Cocoa Vitako is the latest alter ego I invented to move my work in a new direction since killing off Cook & Co, my fictitious family jewelry company (which has been a vehicle for the ideas in my work since 2003).

The name is an anagram of my own name, so she really is a part of me. I wanted the name to sound exotic but unplaceable in terms of nationality. The ‘Cocoa’ part is a bit of a reference to the fashion world that crops up in some pieces of my work – I made a piece for a show last year where I borrowed one of Coco Chanel’s well known portraits and replaced her face with mine. I believe jewelry and fashion are closely linked. The ‘tako’ part in Vitako is meaningful to me as well. Tako is the Japanese word for octopus and both Japan and octopi have been twisted into the narrative of Cook & Co in the past.<--break->

Octavia CookIs she based on an historical figure?

 As mentioned above she isn’t based on any one person but represents a type of person or a part of my personality that I have chosen to indulge for this exhibition. I see her as a slightly shallow magpie prone to seduction by distinctive objects and clothing.

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