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Why I make jewellery #4 ( April 2014)

Yes indeed: A strange compulsion to attempt to balance items on suspended acrylic shapes that almost guarantee the jewellery sliding to the floor....Now really, name another occupation that would give me so much pleasure in this arena??

The first large scale manifestation of this that I can remember was doing the British Craft Trade Fair in 2005 with a stand which was so truly insane it’s a wonder I took orders. I had managed to put every piece of jewellery on a separate square of acrylic, each square being hung from an individual candy coloured acrylic rod, which in turn was hung from a system of cross bars I had tied to the overhead frame. I had hand drilled each central hole, attached each rod and so on. The upshot being that the whole thing swung precariously, scattering necklaces, as I hadn’t been too particular with boring old measurements. I also hadn’t had time to completely finish my samples, print my price lists or my business cards as caught up as I was in the floating stand delirium. It was however very beautiful and oddly satisfying as it swayed in the currents of air.

I had carried the candy coloured canes back from New York a few months previously, just knowing they would be useful. Visiting my old haunts for a short period that winter I had found myself, as always, drifting about my spiritual home: The industrial plastics shops that lined Canal Street in China Town. In my youth living in that city, way before the jewellery, I would spend afternoons wandering these stores lost in silent meditation among the plastic discs, rubber off cuts, cast sushi food displays and so on feeling complete and thinking that somehow this must be my work and be part of my life...

Borne out of Canal street afternoons the elusive ‘suspended stand that works’ quest would haunt me for years to come. Later in 2005 I attempted a stand that would ‘look like clouds’ at Top Drawer. Completely suspended, completely acrylic platforms. I set it up. It flipped upside down. And again. And again. It was terrible. I had to improvise with discarded furniture I found on vacant ground opposite Olympia. Truly awful. In 2006 I introduced the all white cult leader stand. Sensibly I had built special display boxes on legs that the acrylic sheets could lie on top of with all white ceramic objet and all white flowers beneath. People could actually see and purchase the jewellery. There were a few hanging platforms, but they took a back seat. I had to admit it was easier for everyone.

In 2007 however the obsession fought back as I designed and made the most spectacularly impractical suspended acrylic platform stand of all. This featured clear gigantic flower forms of petals leaves and stamen. Each flower consisted of about 30 bolt together components and swung on heavy chains from metal frames. Each piece of jewellery sat on a separate ‘petal’ on a larger flower. It took about 15 hours to assemble them and my fingers would bleed. Perfect for shows. If anyone came within a foot of them they would flip upside down and tip the jewellery all over the floor. Perfect for shows. I reluctantly retired them in 2009 and fought back any further impulse for the suspended stand.

A few weeks ago it was my turn to have the featured window at the Guild. It occurred to me that a few impractical acrylic platforms might be just the thing. I couldn’t help myself, the desire came out of nowhere. Setting it up, in a rush, I realized that the delicately balanced pieces were sliding everywhere. It felt good. True to form it has dismayed other members, tipping pieces into the plant pots, tilting precariously as soil subsides, being difficult to access for enquiries. Why do I do it? It’s beautiful. And somewhere I love it that it’s hard to reach and doesn’t quite work. I have a thing for frosted acrylic and flowers, for floating platforms and displays that make you look twice. I have a thing for cut sheet plastics and today, hallelujah, they’re a part of my life.

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