Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Cheerio Wullymorph!

Today's the day! Later on tonight all of Dundee's colourful Oor Wullie sculptures will be auctioned off to raise money to build a new operating theatre in Tayside Children's Hospital.

Back in June I spent five days in Tayberry Gallery live drawing all over a 5 foot tall fibreglass Wullie to create Wullymorph!  Artists, local and international, were asked to submit designs for the Wullies and then the chosen designs were sponsored by local businesses and brought to life for the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail.

The proposal drawing for Wullymorph
Progress being made....

If you live in Dundee or have visited over the past couple of months then you will be familiar with the cheeky chappy who's been popping up all over the city, some have been on tour to other cities, and over the weekend there they were all brought together in Slesslor Gardens for a spectacular send off!

I was so excited to find out my Wullie was to be displayed in Broughty Ferry, my home town! Thank you everyone for looking after him so well! And here he is in Slessor Gardens with the rest of my family :)

A visit to the P2s at Grange Primary School, we had fun playing with jewellery and making shape pictures together!  

It has been amazing seeing how these sculptures have affected people in the city, I think many will be sad to see them go, but glad it's all for a good cause and has made, and will continue to make, so many people happy and well. Huge thanks to all the organisers who have done a fantastic job making things run smoothly and making sure all the Oor Wullies have been well looked after, it's been a privilege to be involved, fingers crossed for the auction tonight!! Good luck Wullymorph and all the rest!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Spotlight On Meeeee!

This month I am showcasing my work at Tayberry Gallery in Perth as part of their 'Spotlight On' exhibition series.

I designed three Perthshire Kilt Pins specially for the event. The Perth Skyline design features an abstracted version of the famous skyline including St Matthew's Church and Smeaton's Bridge as seen when crossing the Queen’s bridge. As big fans of all things design and architecture, we are donating 10% of every sale of this Kilt Pin to the St Matthew's Church Refurbishment Fund. The Auld Brig is a stylised representation on Smeaton's Bridge and the River Tay Kilt Pin features an ariel view of the river.

My talented sister Shona spent a couple of days in the workshop with me while I made the Auld Brig Kilt Pin and filmed some of the process. She has produced this brilliant video with sounds from local lad Architeq.

Making the Perth Bridge Kiltpin from Shona Spalding on Vimeo.

There's also three special Biomorphs being exhibited, each pendant strung on different beads complimenting the colour of the resin. The first one, strung on the green chrysoprase, was made specially for the Dundee Design Festival earlier this year and was exhibited in the Scottish Jewellery Week Exhibition 'These Hands'.

The exhibition is on for another couple of weeks so head along to the gallery to see more! Here's some sneaky peeks to tempt you :) and if you are too far away to visit but see something you like then please contact the gallery for enquiries.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Selected Commissions

Oh dear! I have let the blog slip a bit! :/ So to warm things up again here's some commissioned Kilt Pins and other jewellery from the past year.....

Loch Lomond Kilt Pins
designed for a groom and his groomsmen with their names on the back

Brodie Kilt Pin
reworking of the Brodie Clan crest

Whisky Cask Oak Kilt Pin and Cufflinks
made for Dave and Claire's wedding day, a C shape in the the hole in the wood and a long D shape in silver on the right of the Kilt Pin, date notches representing their wedding day on the kilt pin and the day they met on the cufflinks

Edinburgh Skyline and Rugby Ball Kilt Pin
with date notches

Loch Lomond Kilt Pin
the view over Loch Lomond, notched date stick, music score

Oban and Mull Kilt Pin and Belt Buckle
the view from McCaig's Folly over Kerera and Mull, pipe score to 'I See Mull'

Yorkshire Rose Tie Clip
mountains of Montana, turquoise stone and initials

Swimming Salmon Kilt Pin
little salmon move up and down a cut out of the River Dee

Kilt Pin for a Dundee Piper
bass drone with views of the Law, date stick and stag's head

Anchor and Claymore Kilt Pin

The Bang Club Pendant
a present from husband to wife using the logo of the club where they met, the holes round the edge signify the 25 years they've been together with markers for the years when their children were born, the snake represents their first dance - The Snake by Al Wilson

Maple Leaf and Thistle Claymore

Kilt Pin for a Glasgow Pianist
with date stick, keyboard and views of Glasgow

Initial Thistle Kilt Pins
with date notches and birthstones

Biomorph Cufflinks
colours to match the wearers kilt

Flute Brooch

Snowboard Pendants

Husky Kilt Pin
design from the clients illustration with a topaz for the husky's eye

I've been lucky enough to have a couple of awesome friends commission me to make their engagement rings which allowed to experiment with some new ideas and the Cairngorm! My new favourite stone! The Cairngorm is a type of smokey quartz found in the Cairngorm mountain range, it's very rare and these ones in particular are very pretty, a sparkly champagne colour with a hint of grey/purple mist, so very Scottish!

I'm going to leave it there just now....silly of me not to have blogged earlier, so much has happened over the past year.....I'll quickly list some things so I don't forget! My sister's wedding and hen do adventure on Skye, making cap badges for Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, Dundee's Big Wedding Exhibition in the Caird Hall, taking part in Tea Green markets and pop up shops and started 'Colour In Jewellery' with Joanne MacFadyen, a Christmas visit from my Brazilian sister Kira, skiing in the Alps, photographing Man Pins on Skye, pipe band trips to Germany and France, Scottish Jewellery Week and the Jewellery Trail around Dundee, Jeweller in Residence for the Dundee Design Festival and painting a giant Oor Wullie! 

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Behind the Scenes - Acid Etching

With the help of my intern, Katie Watt, I've put together a post explaining a couple of the different ways I use the process of etching to add pattern and texture to my work.


Photo-etching is a process that uses light and acid to cut the design I’ve drawn into the silver.

By scanning my drawings and doing a little editing and tidying on Photoshop I can print my image on to acetate. The print quality will effect the final outcome so it’s always worth checking the black is super black and there are no marks on the acetate that shouldn’t be there.

Transferring the image from the acetate to the silver is made possible with light sensitive film. This film is attached to the silver - but beware - it’s got to be in a dark room under a “safe” red light otherwise the magic happens before we’re ready. The freshly prepared silver/film combination now has to be left to dry somewhere TOTALLY dark overnight - which means it’s onwards and upwards with some other project, time for a beer, or if I’m doing this at 2am (which is not uncommon) it’s time for bed!

How my workspace is set up for photo-etching.

In the morning I’m ready for stage two. The acetate goes on top of the silver/film and then that goes upside down on a light box where it’s blasted with the UV light. The film hardens when it is exposed to light but - and here is the key - the black ink protects the film from hardening. Therefore where the image was on the acetate the film will be soft and everywhere else will have hardened. Putting it in a soapy solution and giving it a little scrub with a toothbrush brushes off the unhardened film, exposing the silver so it’s ready for the acid.

The hardened film will now protect the silver from the acid so that only where the film has been washed away will the acid cut the silver. Read further on to find out a bit about how the acid works with the silver. For now I’ll just say the silver is submerged in the acid for the right amount of time and then the silver is left in caustic soda and water until the remaining film disintegrates.

The silver is ready to be etched as the blue film has hardened. 2. Going into the acid. 3. After it has been in the acid it goes into caustic soda and water which disintegrates the film.

Then I need to cut of the shape, maybe do some soldering, polish it up and what-not ….. And voila!! What was recently an idea in my head and a drawing in my sketchbook is now etched into the silver, creating a beautiful piece of handmade bespoke jewellery.

The finished Hare Pendant with a diamond set in the eye.

Traditional Etching

Kenmore and Niseach Kilt Pins - both traditionally etched.

Photo-etching gives you the opportunity to create designs digitally or by scanning drawings which can be edited with Photoshop if required. Another method that gives a more organic, hand drawn design is a more traditional method of etching. After coming up with a design I get the silver and completely cover it in black furniture polish. Once it is dry I use a scribe (a pointy metal tool) to scratch away the black polish as I freehand draw the design. The areas where I have scratched away the black polish are now unprotected and when I put the silver in the acid it will be these areas that will be cut into.

Oxidisation is a good way to really show off the etching as it gives a stark contrast in colour which reveals the interesting textures and helps them to stand out.

Acid Antics 

The acid reacts differently for many reasons. Of course the length of time the piece is in the acid is going to have a big effect. Temperature, the age of the acid, the position of the silver in acid and different types of acid all effect the way the acid behaves and need to be monitored to ensure the desired result is achieved.

The text on this Kilt Pin stands out as the area around it has been bitten away by acid. This was done using the traditional method of etching. The textured effect comes from the organic freehand scratching away of the black polish combined with the acid cutting unevenly due to the angle at which it sat in the acid pot.

Examples of each method :

The Oak Leaf Kilt Pin is a good example of how photo-etching can be really efficient. The pattern can be drawn by hand and then digitally expanded. Using digital software means that the pattern can be edited and perfected before being printed and etched. Someone else's handwriting can be replicated using photo-etching too. The music written on this Kilt Pin was hand written by the client’s bagpipe teacher - photo etching allows me to transfer this directly to the Kilt Pin making it even more special.

Photo-etching was used for the Hare as you can see here with the hand drawing transferred to a digital drawing. The Kenmore design was more suited to traditional etching as a rougher more textured organic pattern was desired.

So which way is best? It is important to choose the right method for each individual project which is usually based to the aesthetic of the finished product. There are loads of things to experiment with when etching - I’m always up for testing different things and seeing what works and I’m sure I’ll still be discovering new tips and tricks long into the future.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Birthday Blog

It's Islay Spalding Contemporary Jewellery Design's 6th birthday today! (and the actual me's 31st birthday tomorrow...eeek!) So I thought I'd better give you all a wee update of what's been going on.

First of all, big one ups and thanks to jewellery student Kendal Dewar and textile designer Jen Heilbronn for helping out in the workshop this summer. Kendal has been working with me on the Oddgon and Angular Collection, cutting, filing, wet&drying and helping form a collection of pieces which are now available to buy in the Tayberry Gallery. Whilst Jen has taken the Thritty Pings to a new level, turning 12 of my original drawings into 97 different colours and styles of brooches and over 200 different earrings......stay tuned for where to buy (the next task!)

Thritty Pings and Oddgons & Angulars

Another ongoing joint project has been with my workshop buddy Louise Forbes - the Man Pin! These are pins for men, designed to be worn on a lapel, or a kilt...but equally good on a bag or hat, or indeed a woman :) The first series is made from different combinations of four tropical hardwoods: Kambala, Padauk, Ovangkol and Bubinga, and blue, turquoise and lilac resins.  We're working on the rest of our first collection now and sorting some sexy looking backing boards for the pins to be displayed on.

Man Pins

We previewed all the above pieces at the recent Dundee Jewellery Trail, part of Scottish Jewellery Week, an event started this year and driven by the fantastic Kate Pickering. In two months the idea was conceived, planned and carried out, culminating in the Vanilla Ink End of Year Exhibition, '15 Years' an exhibition of 29 Scottish graduate jewellers works, a one day symposium hosted in collaboration with The Incorporation of Goldsmiths of presentations, panel talks, ‘Meet and Make’ networking lunch and, the Jewellery Trail! - a two day open studio event.  I'm looking forward to seeing and being part of making this week grow year by year...go Kate! And the rest of the Dundee Jewellery Massive!

The Workshop

I decided to do something special to mark the occasion so I spent the two days designing and making a kilt pin inspired by my friend Jamie Craig's photo of Dundee.  He takes brilliant photo's around Dundee along with a couple of his friends, you can find their work here - Bonnie Dundee Photography

I just need to get it hallmarked now though.....hallmarking's great and all but it sure is annoying that you can't just finish a piece properly in a weekend! Once hallmarked (waiting for my next batch of commissions to be ready for the same package) it will be available to buy in my online shop....that's right, my ONLINE SHOP! Whoop! There's finally some products in it...kinda the classics just now, some Biomorphs and a wee range of Ready to Wear Kilt Pins.  Got my friend Jody Mitchell, aka PixiJo, to help me out with some photo's of my jewellery on actual people, something I've not quite got round to doing before......thanks once again to the fabulous Jen and Kendal, thrust into my clothes and jewellery and made to stand around garages and doorways for a sunny and fun day!  Used some to make these promo images for the shop - otherwise known as From The Workshop - look out for them and give them a like and share on Facebook later today, would be mighty helpful :)

visit FROM THE WORKSHOP here >>>>

There's been some interesting commissions this summer too -

Silver Kilt Belt Buckle

Columbine Kilt Pin and Cufflinks

Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspired Kilt Pin with Initials

Edinburgh Skyline and Cat Tail Kilt Pin and Cufflinks with Date Notches

Hare Pendant with Diamond Eye

Bowls Bracelet

Granulated Platinum Engagement Ring with Diamonds and Pearl

Rod of Asclepius Lapel Pin with Ebony

Arran and Dundee Shooting Kilt Pin

Skull and Drumsticks Kilt Pin with Ruby and Diamond Eyes, Initials and Date Notches

The Four Friends

Got sucked into hills, islands, rocks, beaches, scenery and the beautiful beautiful stillness, wildness and emptiness of North Uist in July visiting friends. Just saw kilt pins and jewellery everywhere.....and the colours! An inspiring time.

Also been having a bit of fun over on Society6 recently, playing about turning Oddgon & Angular drawings into t-shirts, i-phone covers and all manner of things! 

The other exciting thing this summer has been playing with the Mackenzie Caledonian Pipe Band, we've had our best results in a long time this year getting 2nd in the Europeans and 5th in the Worlds and are now gearing up for a recording in November (don't worry, I'll tell you all where you can buy the CD ;) ) and a concert in the Gardyne Theatre in Dundee on February 27th next year.  Check us oot wi' all oor trophies :)

That's all for now, sorry about the massive blog, should really remember the little and often trick.... ah well.... to the workshop!