Hon Shirabe [2002]

Hard drive platter spacer, roller bearings, spring, hematite

This was the first piece I made after moving to Sydney in 2002.  Its always been a favourite, and has aged nicely through wear.  The hematite bead has some lovely pitting, providing a bit texture.  The roller bearings - from an old car gearbox - have gone from a shiny chrome-like finish to something more like a dull grey, especially on the reverse side.  This is something ive noticed in other pieces that use steel bearings as parts.  It must be some property of the kinds of alloys that they use in bearings that means they corrode like this when exposed to the skin's natural acids.

The platter spacer was shaped by hand on a bench grinder, rather than using a lathe - a technique I used to use a lot, but not so much any more - you tend to end up with mild burns on your fingers from the metal as it heats up...

I've been drawn back to the simplicity of this piece again recently, and might make a few in a similar style in the coming year.

Amorous Soul [Sept 2009]

camera lens, camera lens barrel, brass plate, brass rod, text on paper

This piece was commissioned by a friend, Justin, as an engagement present for his partner Colleen.  Having not yet met Colleen, I started by asking him about her. He responded, including some photos of some jewellery she already had.  From this, it seemed to me that she wouldn't be afraid of a larger piece, which allowed me a bit more scope in what parts I could use.  He also mentioned that she has a passion for literature, and I asked if she had any favourite works or quotes.  It's been a while since ive done a text based piece, and the idea of this appealed.

The quote I ended up using is from Jack Kerouac's famous book "On the Road", and Colleen was including part of it in her email signature. I did some experimenting, and made a study to show Justin to see if I was on the right track. Initially the piece was quite starkly black and white.

While I think this could still have worked well, I decided to remove the black coating from the edge of the lens, and polish the blackened brass bezel up a little. This looked good, but left the stark white paper looking out of place. The solution (literally) was found by dunking the printed text into my cup of tea. The tea stained paper worked much better with the brass bezel and added some nice texture. Below is a more advanced study.

I spent a lot of time playing with the text in photoshop, not only cropping it, but playing with fonts and highlighting.  I wanted something old-typewriterish, and found a couple of free fonts online that suited.  The finished result uses a combination of these different typefaces (though this might not be immediately obvious) with some words having every single letter either from different typefaces, or altered in colour, size, spacing, baseline, or a combination of all of these.  Certain words are also subtly emphasised.  I experimented with lots of different ways of printing it, and different papers.

The above photo shows some of the different papers (photocopy, blank pages torn from old books, photo paper) and different print styles.  The final version is photo quality inkjet on matte photo paper, pre-stained with tea - Wagh-Bakri "Tiger-Goat" tea (so called because it is reputedly so good that a tiger and a goat would rather sit and enjoy a cup of it together, rather than the more usual outcome of their meeting...).  This tea was brought back from India for me by a friend of the friend who introduced me to it (thanks AB & C!).  The final text is the one visible bottom right of the above photo - not yet cut out.

The bezel is cut from a section of the zoom tube of a zoom lens. Machining it was extremely difficult, owing to the thinness required (between 0.5 and 1mm), and relatively large diameter (about 40mm).  The back is a piece of old brass plate I inherited.  Justin had his own ideas for a chain, so I machined a small brass pin and loop that he could attach to.  Normally I would include a chain of some sort - I often use plastic coated stainless steel wire and a custom made clasp - so instead of this, I made up a small presentation box for it out of a round metal tin I got while in Japan, padded with black felt.

I really enjoyed making this piece.  And congratulations - Justin and Colleen!

Works in Progress...

Study for "Flux Capacitor"

Here are two pieces I've been working on.  Flux Capacitor is at the stage of an idea that has found something close to its final internal form, but the details of its construction and assembly are yet to be worked out.  It is literally just a pile of parts.


Overclocked, by contrast, is very close to completed.  Most of the construction is well sorted, and I am just fiddling with a way of making the CPU rotatable - so you can wear it as a square, or a diamond.  Cutting an actual computer CPU into a circle was an interesting exercise.  Bonus points to anyone who can work out what exact processor I used.

There is quite a bit of fluff and grot visible in these images - the pieces have not yet had their final clean and assembly.

There are more pieces taking shape as well, and another commission piece that I finished that I can't put up until it has been given to its intended. More to come soon.

Time Machine [July 2009]

Watch parts, ball bearings, record player tonearm pivot, glass lenses, hematite, camera part

Recently my partner Rachel bought me a wonderful book, filled with full page pictures of the mechanisms inside very high end wristwatches. Absolutely stunning, complex and beautiful. not to mention inspirational.

So I got hold of a bunch of old wind-up watch mechanisms and have been playing around with them in my work. both sides of this mechanism were nice, so I decided to put glass on both faces of the piece.

The outer aluminium case is the tonearm pivot from an old record player - it turned up by chance at exactly the right time and was a perfect fit. The most difficult and time consuming part of this piece was the hanger - I ended up cutting a slot in one of the grub screws from the pivot, inserting the camera part, cross drilling a hole through both, and machining up a tiny brass rivet to go through the hole and hold it all together. This assembly was then screwed into the original threaded hole in the pivot.

Gaze [Jan 2006]

sewing machine tension disc, hematite, brass, spring, video recorder part

This very simple piece came about as a result of finding an old sewing machine by the side of the road.  It came together very quickly.  The striations in the inner part of the tension disc immediately suggested an iris, so all I needed to do was add a pupil.

Nothing Lasts, but Nothing is Lost [July 2005]

mother of pearl, lens, aluminium ring, text on paper, found bottlecap

My mother has this piece.

Things that might be considered ugly bits of mass produced consumer waste such as bottletops are transformed into things that can be considered beautiful, by nothing more than being present in a dynamic environment.

In this case - by being run over by thousands of cars - squashed flat, worn and polished by the endless stream of car tyres.

Everything is always changing, but what something is now affects what it will be. Its past as a bottletop is still visible.

Two Landscapes [July 2005]

camera lenses, camera parts, rusted painted metal disc, hematite, aluminium
given to Rie Yoshihara, 29th Oct 2006.

Another old favourite, this piece came together out of camera parts, and a rusty painted metal disc I found on the road. The amazing rusty bubbling paint on it has so much detail and texture, and I found it very evocative. It looked like a landscape to me, hence the name of the piece.

I like that it can be worn with either face showing.

I took this piece to Japan with me during my 2006 visit. While there, I went to a wonderful gig put together to showcase visiting musicians from one of my favourite labels, 12k. The event was held at Ryodenji temple, in the outskirts of Tokyo.

One of the unexpected highlights of the evening for me was seeing a group called "Trico!" play.

At the time, I wrote this in my travel blog:

"For me, the big surprise of the evening were "Trico!" (pronounced Toh-Ree-Coh) - A duo of guy on double bass, and a woman who played accordion, toy piano, harmonium and also sang. Their whimsical warmth and brilliant musicianship gently knocked me off my feet. Very deeply moved."

The woman was Rie Yoshihara.  I was wearing Two Landscapes that evening, and it immediately felt right to offer it to her as a way thanking her for the wonderful performance.

I went backstage, and eventually found myself talking to her, and gave it to her.  Some confusion at first, but I got across the language/culture difference and she was very happy to receive the gift.  Even without that difference, having someone offer you something, no strings attached like that must seem odd - but a gift in return for a gift - my work as thanks for the gift of her performance, seemed completely right and natural to me at the time, and has gone on to become quite a significant idea to me.

The Path [July 2009]

madake bamboo, lens, aluminium, hard drive case, 18ct gold
for Richard Chenhall

This piece was commissioned by Richard, a fellow shakuhachi player and friend.  He wanted something with bamboo, So i started by selecting the bamboo (a piece actually cut from a section of a damaged shakuhachi flute) and a lens that was the right size, and then shaping the bamboo ring and fitting the lens.

Once this was done, I could 'mock up' various possible internals. I showed a couple to Richard, and he liked the way it was going. I settled on an interesting detail cut from the stainless steel case of a certain model old computer hard drive - a labyrinthine pressure relief system. Stainless is pretty tough, and I broke a good half dozen fine sawblades cutting it down.

An aluminium hard drive platter spacer ring was cut down to provide something i could tap a hole into for the attachment bolt, and also as a binding to prevent the bamboo from splitting due to changes in humidity. The ball that I fitted into the hole in the labyrinth started off as a brass ball bearing, but I wanted this piece to be a bit special, so I tried to find a gold stud earring that fit in the hole. No luck, but a local jeweller was happy to make me up an 18ct gold ball the right size.

It was tricky machining the outer ring so thin - the lazy way would have been to leave it thicker, but I wanted to expose a ring of the bamboo between it and the inner part - a nice detail for the back of the piece.

n+1 [June 2009]

clock gears, ball bearing, brass ring, lens, garlic press, aluminium, camera part, text

This piece floated around my desk half finished for a long time, wating for just the right part to come along to use as the attachment point.  I could have used any old thing and had it finished ages ago, but I like this piece a lot, and didn't want to compromise.  So it waited a long time, and eventually the right piece turned up.

The brass ring was originally from a 35mm SLR camera lens, part of the focus mechanism.  The lens likewise.  The gears came from an old clock, and the back (not visible) is black anodised aluminium, cut from the case of a computer hard drive.  The attachment piece came out of another old camera, held in place by a tiny screw.  My favourite part has got to be the internal aluminium plate with holes in it.  Scratched and beaten up, it came out of an old garlic press!  The text peeking through the bottom three holes came from an old mathematics textbook on recursion sequences.

Boid [June 2005]

camera gear, mother of pearl, aluminium, lens, printed text on paper, copper washer, titanium

Boid came out of finding a small gear in a camera mechanism that was clearly a bird.
A nice fat concave lens with a chamfered edge required an aluminium ring to be machined to fit it. A copper washer became a wire to perch on, and a piece of mother of pearl became the sky. Below is a picture of boid in an early form.

The text visible is from an old mathematics textbook. I was trying out different things before I decided to print up my own text and use it. The text that I eventually settled on is a quote from a text called the Genjōkōan, written by Eihei Dōgen, a 13th century Japanese zen teacher of considerable note (founder of the Sōtō school of zen), and whose writings I'm a big fan of.

Here is what the final version looked like half assembled:

the mother of pearl has been polished up and attached to the bottom of two aluminium rings, which has had three grooves cut in it to take the three clips I made from titanium that hold the front half of the piece together. The copper washer has been cut and attached, and the text printed and cut to fit the chamfer on the lens. (calculating the radius of the circle the text is printed on was fun, games and a bit of trial and error!)

The mother of pearl backing is semi-transparent, which is lovely, when you hold the piece up to the light. This piece has always been a favourite of mine, but I let a friend talk me into selling it. An appropriately Zen lesson in non-attachment ;)

Bamboo Joint [July 2009]

30mm x 9mm. Bamboo, lens, camera parts, rubber, metal mesh, aluminum

Bamboo Joint is so called, because it is made from a section of bamboo cut from the joint part of the lower half of a Shakuhachi flute. No actual flutes were harmed during the making of this piece. My friend Tom Deaver, a Shakuhachi flute maker from Nagano prefecture in Japan, gave me some 'reject' half finished flutes last time I was there.

The joint of the flute is made by reaming out the bore of the bottom section of the flute, and gluing in a piece of smaller diameter bamboo that has been precisely turned down to fit. the insert sticks out by a few centimetres, and fits into a matching reamed out section in the top part of the flute when the flute is assembled.

The double-ring of bamboo visible in this piece is because it was cut from the section of flute where the insert is glued in place.

It uses parts from two identical watches, including the synthetic ruby watch jewels, along with a salvaged camera lens, rubber from a bike tyre inner tube (the black visible behind the camera parts), fine wire mesh (similar to what you find in a coffee press), and a machined out computer hard disk drive platter spacer ring.

The platter spacer serves to hold the back on, and also prevents the bamboo from splitting from changes in humidity.

the attachment point is a tiny cross drilled stainless steel socket-head screw. The piece is a similar size to most of my pieces - about the size of an australia 20c piece.


I'm not sure whether the way I work is unusual, or common amongst artists - I'd love to see some comments about other's creative processes to see what is similar and what different.

I've been collecting interesting odds and ends for a long time, and pulling apart things to see whats inside and how they work since i was old enough to pick up a screwdriver.  LEGO was always my favourite toy, and I've spent hours building all kinds of things that were often very different from the picture shown on the box. I was also not afraid of taking a piece and modifying it to suit a purpose, or painting it a different colour or changing its shape. My LEGO box is full of chopped up, odd bits of lego, painted with model paints or nail polish, or bits glued to other bits in ways that break out of the inherent rectilinearity of standard LEGO.

My work now has its roots in all these things, combined with a love of the beauty all around me, but particularly in found objects, whether a rusting bottle cap, a found button, a piece of twisted wire, or a precisely manufactured machine part made to tolerances that boggle the mind.

I think it a very worthwhile exercise to take these objects that many people dont even notice, or if they do they see only rubbish, and show them in a form in which that beauty is undeniable. I take a great delight in seeing someone examine a piece I've made, and then observing their own surprise and unexpected delight when the details of the parts used is revealed. As such, the story of the parts - what they are, where they were found, how they were fitted together into the piece - is an important part of each piece. Every piece has a story, and the two combined is a much more interesting and powerful work than just the piece alone.

Works can come together very quickly, or float around my studio in various forms for years. I keep a lot of parts in transparent boxes with many compartments, but an almost equally large number of parts float around loose on desks and benches - my 'working pile' of interesting bits, which is constantly turning over, reforming and moving, from which many new pieces spontaneously seem to arise.

Another aspect of my process that has become more and more important is the idea of a gift. When people think of gifts and presents, the things that readily come to mind are toys, household goods, money, that kind of thing. But the gift of surprise, of wonder, of story and history - these are the potentials of gifts that I like, and the aspects I hope that my pieces, when given, evoke. The best thing about these aspects is that they never run out or are used up. When someone notices an interesting piece being worn, the wearer gets to pass on the gifts again.

I love commission work. It gives me the chance to work with someone to create something special, and specific to them. If you bring someone into the creative process with you, the piece means all the more to them, and becomes a more integrated part of their own self-expression. Not to mention the fun. I love it when people come and play.

Most of all though, I love being inspired or challenged by someone. As such, I tend to swap a lot of my work with other artists (of all kinds) for pieces of their own work - whether it be jewellery, sculpture, drawing or painting, music, or something else entirely. Some of my best work has come about in this way. Pieces like ma that I traded Richard Chartier for some unreleased music. Or Trust, that was born from a desire to payback and multiply the trust shown by Martina Oelinger when she gave me a piece of her own beautiful work on nothing more than the promise of something worthwhile in return. And rarest of all is when someone does something extraordinary that inspires me to spontaneously hand over a piece like Two Landscapes, or create a piece like Courage.

First Post

This is the start of what I hope will develop into a fairly comprehensive record of my jewellery work, both old works, new pieces, and maybe even a few sketches of future pieces and works in progress. The images in the title bar randomly change each time youb reload this page. you can click on them to be taken to a larger version of the pic.

The intent is to have a showcase that I can point people at if they are interested in my work, whether just to keep up with what I've been making, to enquire about pieces for sale, or to commission a specific work.

Initially, I will be putting up both old and new works. Once ive got all the old works up, I might reorder the blog by the date of the work, but for now, i'll the old and the new will be mixed together.

I'm on a bit of a creative roll at the moment, so I'm aiming for a new piece every week. Ive got a few outstanding commissions on the go and coming up, and am really enjoying working on them, and the other spontaneous pieces. I'm also finding myself liking a lot of the new pieces, which makes them hard to give up, but is overall a good sign :)