the exhibition homework as installed at workshhop bilk october 2009

brooches. the body of the brooch is first cut from expanded polystyrene ("styrofoam"), collected as used food cool storage boxes. this is then transformed by exposing it to acetone. the result is a harder, denser form about half or one third the original size. There is also an element of chance, as while the material is shrinking there is some twisting warping and deformation of the original shape.

the coloured coating is sourced from various other plastic items, and applied as a liquid. Or in some cases ink from pens, pencils etc is combined with a clear plastic coating. Or applied directly (eg pencil) to the styrene before shrinking. a silver and stainless pin is attached to the back for wearability.

a necklace and pendant

the strings are hand spun from plastic shopping bags. the original shapes are prepared from bean bag beans with an acrylic coating to stick them in the organic shapes. this plastic master is then cast directly into silver - giving a finely detailed, one off sterling silver form. the apertures in the partly open structure allow the string to pass through without drilled holes or attached bails.

more brooches

this white one at the top is probably my favourite brooch. it is polystyrene from the expanded polystyrene food boxes, with a coating of white styrene from the body of an old tv set picked up off the curbside. click on the link or visit the gallery page if you would like more info on the materials used in specific pieces. more >

little cups

used disposable expanded polystyrene cups were collected from the lunchroom. they were then shrunk, in the same way as the brooches (and the boxes below) but in their entire, original form. the result - cute, fragile minature cups, curiously warped. And a little grubby.

more brooches

"the banana one" - bottom left - is probably the one that was favourited the most. even without my revealing that it is made from the usual styrene, but with a cellulose acetate coating. the source - used cigarette filters. (how many of us realise that cigarette filters are plastic??)

shrunk boxes

the red one is (was?) a broccolini box (with a red coating made from broken shards of brake light covers picked up from the streets of brisbane) while the green is an oyster tray courtesy of a japanese sushi restaurant on queens street mall in brisbane city. the green coating is made from two souvenir pens (the outer plastic body, not the ink) from the pearoom . (the pearoom was a craft centre in heckington, lincolnshire, UK. i was artist in residence there for three months in 2003). the pens recently ran out.


from styrene boxes. the black one was coloured with permanent marker, and the red one, with ordinary red colouring pencil, before shrinking. the white one is uncoloured. while the styrofoam is undergoing its shrinking/transformation, it becomes fairly soft and pliable, which allows some manipulation of the plastic. for example, the red one has been twisted partially inside out (the original flat outside face of the box is now on the inner and outer curved surfaces) and the white one shaped into a circle (originally it was cut out as a rectangle with rounded corners, to allow a sufficiently large bracelet to be cut from an otherwise insufficiently large rectangle of styrofoam).

more pendants, and some studs.

sterling silver, hand spun plastic shopping bags.

more brooches


these are some of the very few pieces of 100% plastic jewellery i have ever made. i have in the past made virtually all (maybe 97%?) of my jewellery with a combination of precious metals (usually silver) and throwaway plastics. this was a conscious choice - the idea was that the contrast of the two materials would make a more interesting item, and the density of the metal would give a more weighty and therefore more precious feel (rather than a plasticky one). however i have more recently realised that it is possible that the reverse is also the case - a more light and fragile feeling item can also, purely because of its weightlessness, feel precious. vulnerable. naive. So, these pendants are a very open structure, accentuating the lightness of the plastic, and the plastic bag string was spun very very finely - the most fine string, and my best spinning efforts, ever! the ends of the string were left bare - without a clasp - again to achieve a very weightless item and to evoke a childish simplicity when attaching the pendant by use of a simple knot or bow.

more brooches

the shapes of the brooches in the exhibition are broadly inspired by simple shapes seen in fruit and vegetables, or possibly in other common items. for example a peeled mandarin - round but with regularly spaced indentations, the asterisk shape seen in the core of an apple or pear, the hollow interior of a lotus root, etc

bigger shrunk boxes