Portfolio

This is a selected range of my work.

My mediums include feather, wood, metals, sequins, ceramic, and Styrofoam.

Cochlea, 2018

Materials: brass, steel, sterling silver, cocobolo, shagreen.

Selected as a finalist for the inaugural Burke Prize, Cochlea was shown at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York as part of an exhibition on craft.

The mechanism that conjures the movement of Cochlea is made entirely of brass and steel. It is a spring driven watch-based mechanism with hand cut plates, cams, and gearing. The sterling silver façade was generated using the lost wax casting method where wax is carved and metal is cast from a mold. The base was turned on a rose engine using the geometry of sine waves to generate patterns observable in the natural world. 

Cochlea is a representation of three philosophical ideas: the evolution of God as a Geometer in the time of the Greeks, to God as a Turner in the eyes of Philosopher Kings, and God as a Mechanic in the age of Isaac Newton. The pairing of the snail with the rabbit is a manifestation of 13th century Bestiary illustrations, where the snail was often depicted with the head of another animal. Here the rabbit and snail represent the duality of mankind – the snail a symbol of divinity in nature with its spiraling shell of perfect geometry, yet cowardly and the rabbit a symbol of ever-lasting life, yet filthy and lustful.

Video by Teresa Wingert & Finch Izatt

God Save the King, 2012

Materials: Sterling silver, gold, brass, steel, shagreen, wood, isinglass, acrylic

I received a broken musical mechanism with a ship. It was silent, the comb producing a muted melody. I made a new pinned barrel for the gear train to test the comb and found that the shape of the pins on the original barrel were incorrect, rendering the piece silent. With the new barrel and restoration to the mechanism, the piece was again functional. I re-gilded the ship and made wire rigging for the masts. I created a case for it from sterling silver and covered it in Shagreen. It is a battle of Trafalgar memorial and plays God Save the King from 1810.

Portal, 2018

Materials: Brass, steel, sterling silver

This is a modern rendition of a miniature medieval table clock. The eight-sided bezel and base were milled from brass. A blackened silver sheath sits inside the brass frame, housing a 20th century watch movement. The dial is a guilloché moiré pattern turned on sterling silver. A single iron hand reads the hand engraved hours around the bezel. This pays homage to the first portable spring driven clock, invented in the 15th century.

Celestial Orientation, 2019

Materials: High fire porcelain, brass, steel, engine turned brass, African black wood

By maintaining a constant angular relationship to a bright celestial light, such as the moon, moths can fly in a straight line.

Celestial objects are so far away that, even after travelling great distances, the change in angle between the moth and the light source is negligible; further, the moon will always be in the upper part of the visual field, or on the horizon.

When a moth encounters a much closer artificial light and uses it for navigation, the angle changes noticeably after only a short distance, in addition to being often below the horizon. The moth instinctively attempts to correct by turning toward the light, thereby causing airborne moths to come plummeting downward, and resulting in a spiral flight path that gets closer and closer to the light source and often their demise.

Mineral Stands, 2016

Materials: Brass, steel, hardwoods, minerals, lacquer

These stands were designed in the style of the scientific instruments of the 17th century and made to hold mineral specimens. Each component was made on a Schaublin 70 lathe, has knurled screws, and is coated with scientific instrument lacquer to prevent tarnish. The lacquer will change color as it ages. The bases are made from different hard woods with a recessed engine turned disc.

Nest, 2019

Materials: Found bird’s nest, sequin, styrofoam, steel pins

This is a series in progress and reflects on childhood loss and trauma.

There were so many bottles. Those old brown plastic ones with the white tops that are supposed to be all too hard to open with white labels. Hand written notes and information highlighted in yellow. Some with text in the only font printers could muster those years ago and some with their labels taped on. 

“Renee Cox
Effexor, ….” 1990.

The original contents of these bottles consumed long ago by illness. Now filled with sequins, beads, and small white plastic doves. Here they sat dormant for over 20 years waiting to be rediscovered.

As an adult I have returned to the be-sequined balls of styrofoam. I spend hours laying out rather intricate designs, now incorporating color gradation and geometric forms. These I do at night when I am fighting sleeplessness. Often I awake to find sequins in my hair and stuck to my face. Telling indentations if one knew what to look for. The usual marks of pillow creases obscured by dots.

This memory from my childhood of spending hours with my mother at a table working on a myriad of crafts, but mostly sequin ornaments is one of my favorites. Somehow we managed to cover an 8 person dining room table in fabric scraps, bowls of beads, bottles of sequins, trays of push pins, plastic jewels, and styrofoam eggs. It was a royal buffet for any craft enthusiast. Here she was present and our tasks were simple. Though she was struggling with her illness and my father was struggling too, there was something cathartic about the manufacture of something so basic. At the time I didn’t grasp that this was the beginning of the end.

She stored our supplies in the ready and abundant containers that housed the keys to her affliction. Rediscovering them as an adult, these rather innocuous looking bottles filled with glittering jewels, beads, and doves, adorned with labels containing words like, depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, and pain, dislodged something in me. I began the process of making these ornaments as an adult as a sort of reckoning for the loss I have experienced resulting from her illness.

Tellers, 2016

Materials: Nickel silver, brass, graphite, color saturated charcoal, found materials, rubber

This is a simple spinning top, one of the oldest toys in the world. I wanted to make something that could easily be enjoyed by anyone utilising the technology of the rose engine. I took a guilloché turned disc and drilled a hole through the center, inserting a pencil. This is the first one I made. The design has since been refined to hold any pencil. It creates unpredictable patterns and the trajectory of the top can be changed, based on how sharp or dull the pencil is. The improved design was later released in a limited edition set of 15.

Urn, 2015

Materials: Mopani

This wooden box was ornamentally turned on a rose engine using a universal cutting frame and live tool, utilizing the techniques of Victorian rose engine lathes. The shape of a rosette can be seen internally and a basket-weave pattern is turned on the outside. The underside of the lid is also decorated with a different rosette. It took over 4 hours to turn at a very slow speed, taking very small passes and indexing between cuts. Walnut oil was applied to the piece after it was finished.

The Fox & The Sea, 2011

Materials: Brass, steel, box wood, leather, holly, canvas, twine, oil

This simple automaton toy utilizes the same wave system found in early theatre stage machinery. Theatrical machinery has been in use since the 5th century BC, but reached new heights in the 17th century when more complex systems were developed. When the handle is cranked, the waves move up and down as the ship carries a fox to an unknown shore.