Sam and Octavia

About Sam / About Octavia  / About Rian

Bad (happy, busy) Jeweller…

So long since my last update. I feel at times that my enthusiasm for jewellery is waning- I want to be free to explore whatever medium takes my fancy. Then I have great experiences that pull me through. Handshake has been such a career-changing project to be a part of. Many, many things have been learnt, and best of all it has kept a momentum for all of us to continue making and showing our work. But I will say, I am looking forward to not having an exhibition in the pipeline for the first time in 5 and a half years.

C stand 6

Munich- Super to see all the girls, and Peter. Great to have our work on an international platform and we certainly got some great feedback- and some mixed reviews. It was really beneficial to talk to other jewellers, dealers and public about our work and where we’re heading. I wasn’t super happy with my install, but it is often hard to convey/display your work in a big setting such as this one when it has to be worked into a wider environment.

I also just finished a 7 week internship with Atelier Ted Noten. What an atmosphere to work in. Busy busy! Great experience working in an environment where there are so many diverse projects happening at the same time. Also gained new understanding of what it is to work under/as someone else’s name. Definitely gave cause for reflection as to different modes of practice and approach.

Objectspace show, June 2013…Octavia and I in our respective lives have not made much progress on our collaboration so far. Between my country moving and limited use arms and Octavia being the best Mum in the world, we haven’t found much space (head or bench) to get the ball rolling. We talked about  maybe just baking a cake ring instead. This way could fool everyone into forgetting  about looking at the work because they were in cakey-heaven-bliss. We also entertained the idea of employing someone from a completely different field to make our jewellery- kills all birds with one stone… Are we lazy or clever, I’m not sure haha. We did however have some progression last night regarding our correspondence over the last two years and how this is probably our best collaboration of them all. Will keep you posted….

Jewellery from a broken heart- quickly on the mend, Sept 2012

As I write this I have the enviable position of writing from lush beaches and truly delightful people of Indonesia. Octavia and I have taken a one month hiatus from our Handshake duties. Octavia is busy delivery a baby any day now and I am on a one month exploration in Indonesia. I’m hoping the time away from even banal daily duties will be enough to give my hands and arms the chance they truly need to heal. I’m also looking forward to giving my brain the chance to step back and get a further grasp on where my making practice is going- without purposefully thinking about making and design. I will start by going back over the last few months and then go into where this leaves me.

A huge part of the last 4-5 months has been my disability. I don’t like to talk about it too much because it gets incredibly tedious, but I now know that it is important to document what it has been like to deal with tendonitis as a jeweller. Before I had it, I didn’t really know what it was and its restrictions. It was as simple as waking up one morning with a bit of a sore arm and by the end of the week not being able to move my hand. I had no idea what I was in for until I asked a graphic designer friend how long it took her to get over it- 6 months she gingerly said, not wanting to break my heart but also knowing that it would help to know what I was dealing with.

The first two weeks were like a holiday- watching movies, trolling the internet etc. The next three, looking back, were a big cloud of grief and depression. All of a sudden, when my career was getting on with a roll, I was facing the unknown. Would I ever be able to make again? Or at least in the same capacity? I tried rage, a brief stint with getting drunk at midday (that lasted a week or two before it got boring), tears, denial etc etc. When I couldn’t even do the dishes without setting my recovery back a week, I didn’t know what lay ahead for me. I ended up going to a place where I couldn’t even think about jewellery because it would be too heartbreaking not being able to experiment and play. I realized the only way to get through was to really slow down to a lower frequency and solely focus on getting better. I am now at a point where I am so finely tuned to my arms’ needs that I know when to back off and stop what I am doing.

I felt terrible knowing I had so much time to prepare for the show at The National but ended up only being able to do it 3 weeks before as I had to wait for my incredibly supportive partner to finish working on the Hobbit so he could help me. I learnt that working with ones partner is a very  interesting experience! So, the work. Octavia and I had been talking about really stripping my work back and trying to explore a single material. I think I failed dismally in this respect, however, what did come out is interesting in its own right. I still feel queasy about the work that I showed at The National. I think this is a mix between not having the ability to follow through on some design aspects, handing over the making reigns and losing the ability to experiment and figure out faults and features. I do however look forward to viewing this work in a year or so and see what I was trying to get at. I know it isn’t clear to me at the moment! I feel somewhat like I made the works while sleepwalking and am having to deal with the waking reality of it.

One thing that has come out of it all, especially making work that challenges my gut instincts, is what I do and don’t want from my work. I have re-affirmed basic design principles that fit with my aesthetic. I don’t necessarily mean that it is ‘easy’ work, but general ideas that lead to making work that I like and want to carry  forward with, whilst also leaving room for new challenges. Really broad but generally definable, such as being quite graphic, sharp lines, bold and also simple, while also venturing to unknown grounds with materials and processes. Materials, oh materials! I didn’t realise how much of a materials, process and exploratory maker I was until I was only left with pen and paper and brain. I need to feel materials, to stretch, to pull, to make mistakes and have solutions pop up in my face that hit me like a train. I have made a promise to myself to really start challenging my mind and hands again once I get back to civilization in a month- really start nurturing that relationship and connection. I am already excited about it and the best thing is that I know my mind will start playing tricks on me and getting there before I intend it to.

Perhaps the best thing that has come out of it has been the invitation for internship at Atelier Ted Noten. I have also just found out that I have been blessed with funding from Creative New Zealand- very helpful as I haven’t been able to make an income for the last five months! I reckon there was some cosmic alignment sorting that one out for me. Oh the things I will learn! Even before all this hand stuff was going on, my interest was piqued after Jempsosium. I wanted to know how ATN worked as one brain. How they managed to bridge the gap so well between installation, jewellery, object conceptual art. I wanted to know how they bridged the gap between craft, art and design. How they bridged the gap between applied arts, conceptual arts and fine arts. How they bridged the gap between the mark of the hand and the mark of the machine (machines are looking very beneficial to me at the moment). How they bridged the gap between using modern technology and the age old discipline and craft of jewellery. How they bridge the gap of being a single maker to employing and sustaining relationships with industry. So many bridges to cross and build and design and I want to be a part of it! I will be serving my 6 week internship sometime between January and May next year. And I can’t freakin wait!!!

Below: Work from The National

Brooch: Sterling silver, acrylic mirror, resin, enamel paint, iron sand

Pendant: Sterling silver, acrylic mirror, resin, enamel paint, iron sand

Pendant: Sterling silver, acrylic mirror, resin, enamel paint, iron sand

Ideas and time- what a wonderful combo!

Octavia email:

“I made it in to see your pieces at Objectspace before it came down and it was great to see them in person- the bone work on that pendant is beautiful! You’re really onto something there. And I like it much better with the copper backing than the balsa. I’d like to see it simplified even more maybe in a piece which just has the scaley bone all over it? Fewer types of materials? In the mirrored brooch you’ve taken away the bone and I think it’s strong for that reason. So many possibilities though!!

Let me know when you’re ready for a Skype or a chat, I can’t wait to see where your mind is at now…

And yes, I’ve been thinking about the collaboration too- be good to have a chat about fun possibilities. I must say it’ll be my first collaboration with a jeweller so learning curves for us both!”

A while ago Octavia asked me if I did much research. I think this stemmed from the way/shapes I cut the mirror into and them not really having much reference, though a slight hint of art deco (cop-out but aesthetically pleasing). To be quite frank, I have an erratic mind. I have often tried to figure out my way of working so that I can use that formula for next time and hopefully make things a bit easier for myself. But there is no formula. Sometimes I do research and it helps. (though I am always looking at various disciplines and media, so obviously this would seep in). Sometimes I do research and it doesn’t help because my brain gets too full and I can’t make sense of it. Sometimes I work from ideas into material and other times materials into ideas. Sometimes I dream my jewellery and wake up happy. One thing I have noticed of late though is that my ideas generally take about a year to get resolved. They cycle round not working, end up on the shelf and I think I am wasting my time. I have figured out that I am always doing research and I don’t know it.

I had a fabulous year in the second year of my degree where I would come up with an area of research and next thing National Geographic would bring out an edition about it. This time I’ve done the opposite. I was watching this awesome science clip on the ipad about Plateaus Problem, a really complex mathematical and scientific theory. I personally just liked the bubble shapes that he was making. Will post link when ipad gets home. Plateaus problem is essentially about matter wanting to use the least surface area possible to save energy. The dude used 3d geometric shapes made of straws and dipped them into soapy water. I was mesmerised. Instead of coating the external walls, like a solid, they all found the very central point of the shape and spread out from there. A few weeks later and I clicked that this was a solution to protecting my mirror while still showing many different angles and distorted perceptions. It made me think back to when I was trying to make kaleidoscopes but having trouble resolving them.

So I started trying to work out how to make them out of paper. After quite a few (really good) errors, I figured out how to make the cube one and a slightly out of proportion pyramid one. The awesome thing along the way was making slightly distorted shapes and different arrangements. I will make my first foray into laser cutting for these as they need to be precisely cut to fit together.

I am also really enjoying having a workshop again after a 2 month hiatus. Bursting at the seems, but uh-oh… I have developed a pretty bad case of tendonitus. Crap shit bum! I have an appointment with a specialist and a really good looking splint to wear. It makes me think of ways to be less invasive and hands on and using machines as much as possible.

I have decided to revel in the time that I have before the next show at The National, Christchurch in September. I am going to play for a month with the mirror, then play for a month with bone. It feels such a relief to have so much time to play!

“Talente, One year on” show at Objectspace

Okay, so this is a slight aside from Handshake but the work for this show definitely stemmed from Handshake work and wonderful guidance of Octavia. We talked briefly at Jemposium and after about my pendants and my feeling of insecurity about making work that may not stand up to the Peter Deckers drop test. We also talked about how the balsa wood added a border but perhaps was not necessary and not a right for my work and the need for rigidity. I was scared about the acrylic mirror backing coming of  and was trying to find a solution as to something that could take a little pressure underneath the mirror but still retain shape and strength. It came to me one day as I looked around me and saw an abundance of polystyrene .With a partner in the film industry I was not in short supply for a play around. I started cutting shapes out of the  polystyrene and attaching the acrylic mirror. Yuss!!!  Below are the pieces that were shown at Objectspace, Auckland:

Jemposium/ Toi Poneke Handshake exhibition, Feb 2012

So, it’s been a while… lots to fill you in on.

Jemposium/ Handshake exhibition at Toi Poneke Gallery, February 2012- What a week that was! It was so good to have Jemposium happening in my home town so I could go home at night (albeit quite late sometimes) and get a good sleep. To hear the visiting international jewellers plus the superstars from NZ give their talks at the symposium was such a gift. I feel honoured for the information sharing, conversations and exhibitions that surrounded Jemposium and being a part of it. Still filing away information from that weekend which I’m sure will drip-feed back into my consciousness when it makes sense.

Toi Poneke show- It was great to have such an incredible audience viewing our exhibition. Allowed for some great critique and feedback as a good 50% of people that saw it were probably jewellers.

My work for this show was an extension on the work at Masterworks. To be completely honest, I feel the work could have been stronger and wasn’t much of a variation on the previous pieces. It was a treat having so much space at Toi Poneke and being able to install the work myself. Not included in exhibition were the brooches I made due slightly to a lack of room, but mainly cohesion with the pendants. It was however great fun walking around town wearing them and blinding people with sun/mirror reflections- good way to catch someones attention, or annoy them…

Images below of brooches and installation at Toi Poneke:

Acrylic mirror, Copper, Sterling silver, Balsa wood, Paint

Masterworks show

I can not even begin to explain how inhibiting it is to have a broken wrist as a jeweller. I used to have dreams of falling asleep whilst using the belt sander and landing on my  arm so I took the hint seriously.If only I’d had dreams about falling down rocks… This last two weeks has been pretty interesting! The first week I spent drugged up in bed and this last week has been made up for by putting in 10 hour days and lots of sore sleeps.

Thankfully I’ve had occasional assistance from my darling boyfriend. I did come to the conclusion in the first week though that I wouldn’t be able to complete what I was originally doing for the Masterworks show. Part of this was because I only had one functioning hand and the other part because I wasn’t willing to hand over the reins on certain things and lose my style in the making process.

So, the conclusion was to make some high-class mock-ups of pieces to come when I get my arm/hand out of fibreglass- 4 weeks and definitely counting!

I had to use balsa wood instead of a copper frame/bezel and will in the future use glass instead of mirrored acrylic as it is an absolute bitch when it comes to scratching it.

However, I will fill in a bit on the ideas behind it,

This series is called ‘Protect or Deflect’. I’m still very muchly working within the general concept of personas and personalities. Interested in the ideas surrounding ways we deal with certain situations and how people choose alternate methods depending on their personalities. This time around I decided to look into armour and deflection/reflection- defences that people use in some instances.

As always, I went to take some photos but after taking the first one my camera died so will charge her up and get her snapping in the morning. Do have this one on my phone though from the not so momentous moment 2 weeks ago in the emergency department…

Work in the Masterworks show:


For those of you who have noticed a change around here, I will fill you in. It was decided with regret, that due to various circumstances, I was to switch mentors. Rian has spent the last nine months living an enviable life sailing around on her yacht, making as she went, experiencing adventures I could only imagine. This however did lead to various technical difficulties in regards to skyping etc, not for lack of trying!. We came to the agreement that I was needing more contact of varying forms.

From this, I have had the kick-ass opportunity to have Octavia Cook as my new mentor for Handshake part 2. Octavia was my first thought when the option came up.(You can find Octavia’s bio on the ‘about Octavia’ page) I have had the opportunity of meeting her lovely self before at an intensive workshop week we had at Whitireia. I had my first Handshake skype meeting and oh what a difference it makes being able to show work, talk about it and analyse it. I realised it had been a long while since I had talked to anyone in such depth about my work. It is so necessary to do so! It helps the ideas flow and really makes you face your ideas and realise if they are a load of codswallop or not. Talking helps formulate ideas that have been stuck in your head only getting so far.

So, onto what we talked about:

I’ve been playing with the acrylic mirror and making internal polyhedra, much like the one inside the last piece. I was saying to Octavia that I see them as little precious things. I like to think that they’re like precious little things we keep inside of us. They give off all these different view of what’s around us, much like how we all see different angles of the same situation. I need to protect them, not just for structural reasons. I cover them in silicone to give them a spongy exterior, but also an exterior that deceives what is on the inside.

This lead me to thinking of how humans and animals use armour and protection. I have been trying to replicate this notion in bone. Octavia commented how the protected has become the protector. I like this thought.

Since then I HAVE BROKEN MY LEFT WRIST….Aaargghh. Every jewellers worst dream!

Not good news. Six weeks in a cast and no making for me in the near future.

One option for now though is to create photos through the kaleidoscopes and polyhedra that I have created, giving a sneak peak into what the viewer will eventually be seeing.

The other option is to find a spare left arm and keep making… here’s to hoping.

Anyway, will keep you posted and for now here is some photos of the pre-wrist-break progress.





S x


Well it has been a while since the last Update. I will start with the piece that was shown in the Sydney show at Studio 20/17 and again shown at The New Zealand Jewellery Showcase. (I was off galavanting around Australia visiting family and old friends, so didn’t have enough time upon my return to whip up something new)

Materials: Sterling silver, Copper, Acrylic, Acrylic mirror, silicone

after my return I developed a good dose of RSI. I had to lay off the tools for a few weeks. I couldn’t even lift a beer to my lips my arm was so wrecked. I turned it into a time for exploring other avenues. I started working on a ‘money-making line’. These being rings made out of wax then cast in sterling silver, with ball bearings and pearls in them. Peter asked me why I called them my money-makers and I said because they were made out of silver people would see them as valuable and therefore buy them..Have sold a few already so that logic obviously rings true. Anyway, back to the ideas on the table for Handshake.

I have realised that I need to throw the notion of jewellery out for a bit and just make what seems important to me at the time. I am starting with my general idea then it grows into itself, regardless of the media. Since discovering the acrylic mirror, it has stirred up in me my old questions about our persona’s, what we see in the mirror and what we would see through other peoples perceptions. I like the idea of kaleidoscopes and how they allow a distorted or glorified or repetitive image. I like that inside these cylinders are images bouncing continuously off each other. I also like how different lenses create different views and distortions of the real. I’m going to start playing around with making my own lenses and seeing what I can come up with. The notion of seeing the world through someone else’s or a distorted perception is appealing to me and could leave a lot of room for playing with stereotypes etc. I’ve been buying up a few cheap and not so cheap kaleidoscopes to do a bit of research. Am also lucky enough to have a mate who owns an optical lens workshop though not sure how it will go making in glass. A bit on the expensive side for me… In saying that though, the thought of making just lenses is quite alluring. Could get some good things going out o that!

I have also made my way back to bone after a hiatus from our relationship. Not sure if I will use it again for this project but can definitely remember why I started using in the first place. I have four massive middle sections of beef canon bone sitting in a bucket of napisan in my bathroom now. It’s a bit exciting…

25th July- School holidays

So it is school holidays and I have was asked to look after my 10 year old niece for a couple of days. Took her to my studio today and we made her a ring. Had expectations to get a bit of work done while that was happening but it all got a bit scary as she is like me when I was little and likes to touch stuff, drop it and break it. That all got a bit scary so we left after a couple of hours. Looking forward to tomorrow and a whole day in the workshop by myself!

Here is where I’m at now…just to finish the polyhedra, chain it in, oxidise the base and add a few finishing touches. Fingers crossed… Getting pretty amped now!

20 July- Sam. 

I have been hiding away in my workshop, excited by the new opportunities that relinquishing bone has given me.  I had a wee critique session with a few friends about a month ago. Through that I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t moving forward. The question was posed was, do I need to use bone to convey what I want. The answer was no. Was I purely using bone because I had become known as “the bone girl”? Yes and no. Was I still even enjoying working with bone? No. They put it to me that I had enough time to experiment, play, have fun and see what I came across. The results for me were very exciting.

I went back to the drawing board and thought about materials that I have used in the past that I had a connection to and processes that could allow me to make quick experiments. I have never really been good at doing this so I dusted out my glue gun, grabbed some paints, smashed up some mirror, cut some cardboard and started a gluing, experimenting frenzy. At first I found it quite hard as I’m used to doing something from start to finish. The perfectionist in me was cringing. However, this process allowed me to start forming ideas in front of me instead of in my head.

I decided that I did not need to stick to bone to convey the questions I have and thoughts I am trying to convey. The concept and material of mirror and its historical and social background has given me a new bridge to walk over. In response to your email Rian, I am still feeling very happy with what I’m doing. I will post more images of trials and experiments to show you the journey.

Once again, I apologise for the poor image quality. My studio is so full of light it is hard to get a decent image.

These mirror experiments started drawing me to the idea of kaleidoscopes of my childhood and how they made life look so extraordinarily different when you looked through them. You were still gaining the light from everyday life but seeing some tripped out, fragmented, glorified version of it. It was easy to get mesmerised by it. Trying to pull away from the deceptive beauty and look at real life instead can be a hard task.

I was starting to be drawn to the idea of an amulet/charm type wearable object. Something to remind you of the danger of such traps. Something beautiful but distorted. It reminds me of the wicked witch with her ‘mirror mirror on the wall…’ Life can be full of things that appear beautiful but if you caught a reflection of it from the other side, who knows what we will see.

This is the exterior casing I have started to make for it. The bottom is now oxidised giving it a leather quality, reminding me of an old book or such, holding important information. The top is carved resin, faceted to again reference the many different sides of a personality. These two sections will be sealed together and cut down the middle from top to bottom. Inside will be the mirror polyhedra, held in place by chains that will suspend it when opened in two halves.

I am at the finishing stages of completing this now. My gas torch has a leak in it so not being able to solder has put a stall on things. Hopefully by Friday I will have more to show you on a technical level so more understanding can be reached.

I will also photograph more experiments to show you my journey to my solution. I know that that this is the beginning of a new course for me. This piece is no where near the end. This process for me has been about finding my feet and new exhilarating paths to venture down. For me right now I feel that this is the start of a very exciting adventure. I apologise if I’m not doing a very good job at explaining myself. It is all very new to me also and I’m still trying to get my head around where it is all coming from and where it is going to. All I know is that I feel I’m stepping on new territory and it feels good.

Rian’s response

Hello Sam,

I see on the 5th of July when you put new work on your blog you are 
happy with the mirror shape!
Are you still happy?
Is there a follow up?
When you showed it while trying to skype I could not place it, maybe 
something from your apartment or something you made earlier, I didn't 
know how to look at it, but now I see it is a new piece.
What I miss very much is the process how you come to this piece, what 
are the steps, and what do you want with it, or what does it tell me.
I am sorry but for me it seems that you are in need to make something 
quick to have a product? Am I right or am I wrong, when I am wrong show 
me why.

Do you know the ring of Otto Kunzli with the mirror It is good to look 
at this one, it is in fact very simple. Instead of a stone, he placed a 
mirror in a oval shape, when you look in it your eye forms the stone. 
This very simple work is not work just easily made, it takes time, it 
takes throwing away several tries. It is asking to you "Is this what I 
There is a big world in between a fantastic piece or a gadget, we try to 
make fantastic things. Use the word concept if you like. But coming to a 
concept takes time and you should never be satisfied until that moment 
you get sparkles in your eye and look in a mirror and see a satisfied face.

Bringing layers in the work is the challenge.

That is probably what I am missing. Show me! Forget about your time 
pressure. If you are not ready, you aren't but never fall in the trap of 

Hope you can show more,


5 July

So, I have finally figured out that I need to take a break from bone. It’s been a beautiful relationship but we’ve been going nowhere. You know when you have a great love but it turns a bit stale and sometimes a bit of flirting or a fling is enough to maybe remind you of what you’ve got. This is what’s happening with the bone. I love it but we’re not going anywhere at the moment, we’re starting to turn ourselves into sour old ladies. Maybe one day we’ll get back together but for now I cant see a future.

I realised that my interest at the moment is really in reflective materials, mostly mirror. The question of looking at oneself and how deeply we do it is an intriguing one. How do we distort the pictures of ourselves? What lies does the mirror tell us that we need to hear each morning? What kind of person does it take to truly look into the depths of ourselves and recognise what they’re seeing?

So I made this wee puppy. It is going to be kind of like a looking glass crossed with a kaleidoscope.

It will be a centre piece inside of a spherical container which will open to show the mirror. It will be worn as a pendant around the neck.

I am feeling good and happy with my new fling and can’t wait to get it finished!

Rians comments/feedback

14 juni
Looked up your blog, I didn't see this one earlier, only looked on your 
web site blog!
I really enjoy to think about the work and see all the energy!
You wrote very nice about my work and I am curious where you got the 
pictures from, because I have others on my web site of this series.

Do you have a general idea (work title for yourself) you working with 
for this series?

When you take the next picture of a necklace, which you wear don't cut 
your face half I would like to see you! Mine is on the home page of my 
web site.

To comment from top to down:
The necklace you wearing is in a try out stadia I suppose, could grow 
to a piece but I think as it is now it need some more thinking, what do 
you think?
All the other try outs can help with the thinking and doing

The white cuts of bone shown in the black piece: It reminds me on the 
shape of gletchers with jagged peaks or the icebergs I have seen in 
Greenland white as clouds on a black surface of water. What is your 
association when you look at it without thinking of jewellery, from 
there you might come to a solution different from connecting it to the 

The 4 pictures in front of the window. I think you took them this way to 
let the light shine on them in a special way, but it is difficult to see 
what is happening really on the surface. I enlarged the photo's, but 
still it is not very well visible. Therefore I can't say something about 
the burned surface, maybe a close up?.
The orange inside you find to plastic looking, when it is painted the 
colour is to hard I think, did you try to make it softer, or put the 
colour on through different material as you have done with the dust or 
pigments, where it instead of hard it is intense.
Do you know the sculptures with pigments of Anish Kapoor, when you look 
at his sculptures first you see a rug on the floor you have to look 
longer to see it is a hollow form into the floor, your eyes first have 
to accumulate (is this the right word?), I saw it in Kassel "The 
Documenta"somewhere in the nineties and I was flabbergasted .
The resin is interesting, are there holes in the piece or is the white 
and the black through more or less resin? The line work is interesting 
also might be worked out more or combined with other try outs? Did you 
try to sand the resin with pigment as well and look what is happening then.
The potential new method for joins looks not bad at all, if it is really 
working for keeping them together I am not sure because it is a small 
piece, but for sure it helps. A dentist use a sort of cement to join 
things together if you consider a tooth as a bone it might be useful to 
try it out.
What is important for you to show the joins or to show the engraving? 
Are you thinking of the tattoo of the Maori's while working on the line 
work? Or is it more the scrimshaw? What is the difference?
Scrimshaw I had never heart of, looked it up on Internet and saw one 
beautiful piece of a horn with a drawing in perspective and in colour, 
perfectly worked with the shape of the horn.
I used to cover joins of black coral with electroforming from there I 
worked on with electroforming and came up with the piece on your web 
site, drawing with the conducting paint on the bone china porcelain and 
electroform it.

What a beautiful studio you have!

Having fun while working will do the piece good!
Not push the boundaries, but kick them out, as an artist you should not 
feel boundaries, of course there are some but for now just play and 
don't care.
Discover don't be to quick to address a try out to a piece but just go 
on with try outs when you are in the mood always when you are not 
thinking anymore the right things are happening and you will recognise them.

Where do you think of when you say you want to pay homage to where you 
come from?

Our work really has a lot in common, but is still very different as well 
don't worry to much about that. And you observed my work quit well!
I send you an other mail with an article about my work in Metalsmith 2010

Well for now enough questions!

The boat is doing well and behaving!
All the best,


June 14

I am bored…

Being home and sick I have had time to ponder on my Handshake work so far. I thought today would be a write-off but it has turned out to be quite the opposite.

I have realised I am a little bored with my work. I have now realised this is because I of using the same concept and putting a new dress on it each time to pretend it’s something new. Mutton dressed as lamb. Maybe that’s a little too harsh but I’m going to exaggerate for myself to drive the point home. I need to remind myself that I have been given the opportunity to kick some ass on an international platform and truly push my boundaries. I think I’ve been playing it safe so I don’t get my confidence knocked when I’m just getting started.

I realised I’m a bit sick of the bone in its cylindrical form. I’m stuck and being lazy. I’ve just been making different shapes out of it and using different colours or treatments and calling it new. Boring.

So, today I mustered the little energy I have and walked to my studio and picked up some old bone fragments, a hammer and my belt sander. I will admit I caught a taxi home. I got home and smashed up the bone, sanded little flat bits and super-glued them together. Most satisfying work I’ve done in ages! Then I had some fun. I found myself in a 3D world of sharp edges where I had not been before. I think I was sick of soft and round but was too scared to notice.

I also realised I hadn’t been thinking too deeply about my concept. What is it in my life that I am curious about at the moment. What am I questioning that I need answers to that I can never get? This is what drives me. My work is a means to understand questions I have about life and people. I don’t want answers and I don’t want to give them to others. Its pretty hard to get a true/theoretical answer to anything non-scientific anyway. I need to make to put myself at ease about the arguments surrounding questions. This makes me happy.

I’ve recently become interested in good and evil and sometimes the very fine line that is put between these (again subject to personal views).  Something that seems so good can be so deceptively evil, or so very close to it anyway. Anything from tim-tams to stealing money to feed your family to self-defence. Crimes of every sort, from the trivial and daily, to the most heinous thing you can imagine are at the end of the day only as bad as the person judging deems them to be. Same goes for good deeds.

Anyways… below are some images of my playaround today.

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June 13


I’ll be keeping the writing brief for now as I have a cold and my brain has turned to mush. I know it doesn’t look like too much at the moment but my way of making is generally to make the framework and apply/change/takeaway layers or treatments until I find the one that works with the form. I found it really hard to sacrifice even these four bones below as they’re hard to get me hands on and I’m already running low.

So this is the basic form I have made to start with. It has a cut in the back where there will be a swivel joint to get it over the head.

The reason why I put cuts in the necklace above. Though I’m not sure if I’ll insert the smashed fragments in the necklace as might be a bit uncomfortable on the skin.

Left: burnt bone. Not sure about the orange interior though. Too plastic looking and cheap contrast though like the texture of inside. On right, experimenting with pen line-work on the bone

Left: Burnt bone and wax

Right: Burred text filled with different coloured paints and covered with resin

-The potential new method for super-securing the joins.

To top it all off, here is a wee nosey at my sun-filled, cluttered with stuff that I can’t bring myself to get rid of, super workshop

June 5 – Thinking Progress 

I will be the first to admit that my Handshake exhibition work is only just beginning now. Being overseas and not having a workshop for 4 months can stall making processes. However, I’ve now got a studio again! I’ve had the last month in my new studio and learning how you’re supposed to manage being a full-time maker and part-timeslave for someone else’s money. For most of you, you’ll know that equation does not add up. The first two weeks were a frenzy of making, trying to expel all the ideas that were pent up in 
my overwhelmed brain from the trip to Talente in Munich. What I started making was supposed to be the beginnings of Handshake work, but then another exhibition came up quick fast which I wanted to put new work in. Below are the images. I started exploring joining methods and burring holes right through the bone. Especially when coated with black paint, this bought out some really great contrasts and definition.

I’m glad in a way that these went out of my studio. I have a penchant for going with the first option in my head and getting stuck on it. I will make discoveries along the way and add these in but essentially not vary too much. My objective of this project is to find out what my strengths are and to push them, explore them and really learn what I can do. I need to stop playing it so safe. I need to stop being so anal about a streamlined aesthetic.

I have started smashing bone into little fragments and shards, cutting holes in the bone and gluing them in. They look wickedly dangerous but oh so pure and white.

I have experimented pouring pigmented resin over the bone (which I swore I would never do) and falling in love.

I am again lingering over the thought of writing on the bone and colouring it in a-la scrimshaw but rough house style. I’m having trouble with what text though. I feel a slightly macabre look coming out in my experimentations of late. The books I’ve been reading have been very critical in a philosophical way of the nature of the human character, so I’m having trouble trying to find something succinct that doesn’t give the impression of me being seriously unhappy with life. (By the way, the book is called “The elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery. Best book in a while)

Mirrors- I cant keep my head away from mirrors.

I’m starting to feel like I need to make a necklace consisting of shit-loads of components, all as a reminder to myself that I can experiment. That all of my experiments are worthwhile even if I don’t always think they’re ‘pretty’ or in line with my ‘aesthetic’.  One thing I got out of my trip to Munich was that it’s ok for me to have a bit of fun. Break free! Push the boundaries!

O.K. Now that I have that off my chest, I’m going to start making, see what I come up with and see how the feedback goes.

Make a piece that addresses all of my fears and creates new opportunities for the future. I want to make a piece that confronts me.

I want to make something that pays hommage to where I have come from but also gives a nod to where I am heading. A piece that signifies a meeting point between the two worlds. Which is where I feel I am now. My journey as the apprentice, guided by the knowledge of the prodigy.

Sam Sam but different

It has been a slow process getting to know Rian de Jong’s work. Like a book that you read that is so good you linger over it for weeks instead of devouring it in a day. I stumbled across an image of one of Rian’s pieces at the beginning of my degree. Once I reached third and final year at polytech I revisited this piece and saw something I couldn’t see before. It was one of her circular porcelain pieces with formed copper, wrapping around it like ivy does on an old chimney. Rian doesn’t know it but this opened my world up. This simple yet effective application started to influence my work in a very subtle and personal way. I started drawing/sketching designs for the first time ever and enjoying it. I started to cut out metal and apply it over bone-making voids inside of it. This simple shift lead to a new direction and also added cohesion for my work. Like the word that you’re searching for to describe something and it comes to you just at the right moment.

There are parallels aplenty between Rian’s work and my own. I don’t know if it’s just me and I want to see them or if it’s real. There are similarities between my use of bone and Rian’s use of ceramics, especially porcelain. We both work in our own ways from observations of life and people, using found and excess materials and often applying layers as response and incorporating voids, cavities or spaces (I don’t know if Rian would use this term but for my work I do).

But I don’t want to be Rian de Jong. I want to be me. I think Rian can help in some way define and refine what it is that makes my work mine.

Brooch: Bone china, copper

Rian de Jong 2007

Brooch: Bone china, copper

Rian de Jong

Neckpiece: Porcelain, copper, gold luster

Rian de Jong

Brooch: Wood, pearls, silver

Sam Kelly 2010

Necklace: Bone, sterling silver, copper, paint, mirrors, gauze, electrical wire, clay

Sam Kelly 2010

Necklace: Bone, sterling silver, L.E.D, electrical components, lemel, velvet

Brooches:Mixed media

Sam Kelly 2010

Brooches: Mixed media


1 Response to Sam and Octavia

  1. Pingback: Juggling - HANDSHAKE project

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