Contemporary Jewelry Exchange 2014

A look at my process for the Contemporary Jewelry Exchange 2014

A year ago I took part in the Contemporary Jewelry Exchange created by Olga Raben. It is a unique process in which two jewellers are paired together and each send a piece of jewellery to the other. Last year I was paired with Miriam Arentz of Germany.

I sent Miriam a brooch which was made based on shapes I pulled from sketches and watercolour paintings I was doing of imaginary landscapes. The rectangles were plains, the semi circles mountains and hills. I started working with a very defined pasel palette last year with this project, and continued through my commercial work.

Contemporary Jewelry Exchange process, paper models


After the sketches I started with testing shapes, their juxtaposition as well as different sewing techniques that I could use to attach the pieces together. I was exploring cold connections that would allow me to powdercoat each piece individually and connect them after.

Contemporary Jewelry Exchang 2014 process, pastel pieces


I made a a bunch of pieces in the forms I decided to use and powdercoated them in four different colours. The pastel colours are all mixed powders, colours I created. That gives them a textured look, powdercoat powders don’t mix together in a homogenous way, they sit beside each other.

pastel pieces testing sewing beads for contemporary jewelry exchange


I tested the sewing on pieces of powdercoated copper and a powdercoated piece of a tin can. I wanted to incorporate pearls nd beads so I started to see how I could sew them onto the pieces.

pastel pieces for contemporary jewelry exchange, sewing

I placed the pieces together in ways that I found pleasing. The goal was to make a small series of three pieces. At first the pieces were supposed to be very simple, and I was going to send all three, but as I worked the pieces grew and became more and more complex. In the end I sent one of the brooches and kept two.

geometric pastel pieces sewn for contemporary jewelry exchange

I pierced the holes in the powdercoated copper pieces and sewed them together using cotton thread. The thread holds everything together well.

contemporary jewelry exchange brooch backs in matte black

To cover the thread in the back and to add the brooch mechanism I made back plates for the pieces. I sketched shapes around the individual pieces once they were sewn together so the forms of the back plates fit specifically with the pieces.

contemporary jewelry exchange brooches backs and fronts


I added beads to the coloured pieces. They are black pearls, garnet, obsidian and glass.

contemporary jewelry exchange brooches, backs with hanging pieces


I kept adding to the pieces, at some point realising that I had probably crossed the line of too much. I had fun, and was letting them grow organically so I just went with it, and added a colourful fringe to the black plates made with more hand cut copper pieces that had been powdercoated.

contemporary jewelry exchange, imaginary landscape brooches


I finally attached the backplates to the coloured pieces using small machine screws. I used nuts between the two layers to add some space.

These are the finished pieces. The last in the above picture is the brooch that I sent to Miriam. I was happy with how they turned out, even if they are visually very busy. The finished pieces are about 10 cm x 10 cm.

I am starting a new piece for the 2015 exchange. I have been paired with Ruth Hollywood from the UK who makes fantastic work with silver and resin. I have started brainstorming what I would like to do and will be working with new materials and forms.

To see the final results of the exchange check out the website here.

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