A plain, cream necklace was an ideal object to explore ideas about transformation using an easy printing process to change the appearance of the necklace. The printed jewellery was then combined with other beads and materials to make a small, standing sculpture.
The first step was to decorate the oval jewellery pieces with different patterns. I cut the necklace into separate units and chose a selection of textured wallpaper offcuts with small scale marks, that would complement the size of the jewellery pieces. The jewellery had a soft sheen to it and I wanted to enhance this effect, so I chose an oil-based printing ink, which would have a gleam to it once it was dry. The Caligo Safe Wash Inks are oil-based and waterproof but are washable so they don’t need to be cleaned up with solvents, you can just use soap and water, which is much easier to manage. (I used the Caligo etching ink but the relief printing ink would do just as well).
To print, squeeze a small amount of ink onto a clean, flat, surface. I used a piece of perspex but any smooth surface will do, (a laminated sheet of paper works well). Roll out the ink until it makes a sticky, tacky sound and is quite thinly spread. Then roll a layer of ink over the wallpaper. You might need a couple of layers of ink to coat the wallpaper, but it’s better to build up the layers on the paper rather than applying it too thickly, as you might lose the definition of the pattern.
Once the wallpaper is inked up, lay it ink side down onto the jewellery and press firmly with your fingers to make a print. You don’t have to print the whole surface, you might choose to leave some of the area plain.
To continue the idea of transformation and to provide a contrast of material, I photocopied the printed jewellery onto acetate, laying the jewellery printed side down onto the photocopier, covering it with sheets of plain white paper and closing the lid as much as possible before copying. If the lid isn’t closed sufficiently, take care not to look directly into the light of the photocopier when copying. Choose a sheet of acetate designed for the type of photocopier that you are using, (laser or ink-jet), otherwise you might find that the ink doesn’t adhere to the surface, or worse, the acetate might melt inside the photocopier!
The copied shapes were then cut out of the acetate and a hole pierced at one end.
I chose a selection of beads from my collection and also cut up some fine rubber tubing into small segments. The tubing adds a decorative element but it also holds all the different components in place along the wire, so it needs to be a similar diameter as the wire and fit the wire quite snugly.
When wire is coiled like this, it has a tendency to spring all over the place, so I keep a piece of masking tape on the end of the wire, which I replace each time I have cut what I want from the bundle. The masking tape means that I am always aware of the end of the wire when it’s waving about and hopefully avoid any eye injuries. (Having a number of small strips of masking tape on the edge of the table helps me remember to tape the end).
For the sculpture, I cut three pieces of wire and then made a loop at one end of each of the three strands by holding the wire in a pair of chain nose pliers and wrapping it around the end of the pliers to shape it into a loop. The loop was to stop the jewellery sliding off the end of the wire.
All the decorative bits and pieces were threaded onto the wire in a sequence I made up as I went along. Once they were decorated, the three wire strands were drawn together by threading the tops through more tubing. To make sure of a tight fit, I added a piece of strimmer cable so the wire wouldn’t slide out of the tubing with the weight of the beads. To stabilise the structure, I made a small belt out of a section of chain taken from another necklace with a fastening on the end and attached matching beads to it. I clipped this fairly tightly around the middle of the structure to help keep everything together and stop the sculpture collapsing outwards. The structure then stood by balancing on its three wire points.