Being part of a special occasion

It’s a sunny summer day, we’re allowed to have (very limited) numbers of clients in the studio again, and graduation is hovering around the corner for a lot of people! I was reminded of a special commission that I took on awhile ago, and thought I’d share that with you this month.

Doing a PhD is a big thing. I’m not sure about other disciplines, but in biology, it’s 4-7 years of your life, hundreds of hours of lab experiments, successes, duds and, at times, frantic nail biting. Not to mention all the writing, reading, trying to network , coming up with new research ideas, wondering what you’re going to do with your future career…..well, you get the idea. So, when you successfully finish and defend your thesis, it’s definitely a milestone to be celebrated. I felt pretty honoured to be commissioned to make a special PhD completion/leaving gift.

Sterling silver, blue needled felt, and a fluorescence microscopy image that served as some inspiration.

You can read a little bit about it here. Basically, the brief was to make a stem cell pendant, as understanding some of the mechanisms and regulation of stem cells (self-replenishing cells that have the ability to differentiate into other cells types-see more here if you are interested!) was part of the research in question.

I wanted it to have some depth, I wanted to incorporate coloured felt, and I wanted it to have some texture. I specifically wanted to incorporate blue, you see, because when you image cells, you frequently use a fluorescent dye called DAPI which stains the nucleus (the repository of your DNA, among other things! :), and looks blue when you look at the cells down the fluorescent microscope.

I started with some small discs that I punched out to make space for the felt “nuclei”, textured with a subtle line texture to vaguely represent microstructure in the “cells”, and then domed them.

Next was the fun of trying to fit them all together and attach them. An actual ball was a bit too much, but I still wanted the impression of a ball of cells. This was what I ended up with!

Next, I attached a simple jump ring bail so it would go on a chain, and inserted the felt, to get the final piece!

Like I said, it was so nice to be involved in helping celebrate a woman’s achievement in STEM research! Looking for a special gift for that graduand in your life? Or for yourself? Visit or contact the studio, and see what we can do for you!

In the meantime, enjoy your sunny Saturday, and stay safe!

-Robin

House of Cassady

New art jewellery from House of Cassady

As an independent goldsmith, I make a fair number of pieces that are small batch productions, so, while they are all unique in their own way, they’re still of a similar design, and generally use similar methods.  Part of my practice, to keep exercising my creative muscles is to challenge myself to make larger pieces on a semi-regular basis.  Last year, I made this piece:

Oxidised sterling silver, 10k yellow gold, blue topaz and sapphire necklace with roller printed elements and two-tone blue needled felt. This necklace is very kinetic, and hangs about 19″ long.

If you’re familiar with some of my work, you’ll see that it incorporates a lot of different elements from other pieces that I’ve made, but puts them together in a new and more elaborate way, incorporating some gold and more precious gems than I might normally use.  (If you’re interested in more information about why I use these elements, you can read a bit more here.)

This year, I set myself a similar goal: to make a larger, statement piece, that incorporates a lot of elements that I normally use, in a larger format, and incorporating or extending my skills at the same time.  This piece presented some challenges for me, in terms of the physical construction, because I couldn’t use a lot of my normal techniques to create the individual pieces.  This made it a lot of fun (I like practical problem solving/troubleshooting), but also rather frustrating at times. 

This necklace is part of my sci/art collections, and is entitled Invaders/Defenders. Since it is more specifically an art jewellery piece, the design is associated with different symbolism for me.  The piece has two different finishes.  The oxidised/dark element represents the infectious invaders, with the mostly oval cabochon sapphires being reminiscent of a bacterial shape, and the random placement showing some of the disorder that happens in the infection process.  In contrast, the matte silver/light element represents the immune cells that defend against infection and disease, with the incorporation of texture and irregular cutouts. The more organic nature of the circular shape of the two larger elements reflect the cellular/tissue environment where these biological entities interact, and the two elements are united in a continuous loop with a steel cable, as the different sides of this process are irrevocably linked in biology.

I’m really pleased with the overall effect of the piece, what do you think?  Would you be interested in some smaller pieces in a similar style of one of the elements, perhaps as a brooch or a pendant?

You can contact me here to start a dialogue about this piece, and commission a new work.  I look forward to your comments.

Have a great Saturday!

-Robin

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