Ethics in our Hands

Ethics in Jewellery


I recently went to a 2-day ethics symposium held at Dundee University and hosted by DJCAD. Fairtrade only became a thing in the Jewellery industry around 2011, Greg Valerio had been campaigning and investigating much earlier than that. However, it took the industry a while to catch up, no-one really wanted change. And no-one wanted to admit the horrors involved in the mining industry.



However, here we are in 2017 and what has really changed? Fairtrade gold is now available but very little Fairtrade Silver, No Fairtrade base metals (copper, bronze, zinc, iron, etc.)

As a student, I don’t think I can afford to work in Fairtrade, but I don’t think I can afford not to. Does this mean not working in metal?


At the moment I use only recycled silver but this is not good enough. Most silver out there is ‘recycled’ i.e. comes from scrap, but this does nothing to slow down the mining industry. Most silver comes out of the ground as a by-product on the back of base metal mining.

How do we change people’s attitude to jewellery? How do we change people’s attitude to disposable jewellery/fashion?

Ute Decker was one of the other speakers at the symposium and she made a very good point. She makes Fairtrade because she couldn’t not. However, she freely admits that most of her customers don’t care about Fairtrade.


I would bet most people don’t give a second thought to where their jewellery comes from, or where it goes.


If you get the chance, go listen to them talk.


Time for a change.

The 3d printing just wasnt working for me so i started to look at other ways to create organic shapes with recycled materials.

My friend Gillian Ryan gifted me a box of pink wax sheets, i started experimenting with the shapes i had created in rhino.

This along with a foldformed shape seemed to work well.


Sprued up and ready to cast.

Dead things

Today, while walking back from physio,  i found a dead bird on the pavement.


It is a great tit i believe, i think it might have been hit by a car.

I brought it home and made a small shroud for it,  i plan to bury it in the garden for a year and retreive its tiny skeleton.  I read that wrapping the body in muslin will keep all the wee bones together.

I have kind of made a small envelope…DSC_0652

GetAttachment (1) This will keep the bones safe from scavengers but will still allow the bird to decompose, giving food and nutrients to the soil and to small insects.

I have an internal debate with myself about doing things like this, I feel I am showing love, compassion and care for the remains of a wee creature that would have been chucked in a bin otherwise. But at the same time, I am selfish, I don’t ‘need’ the skeleton, it is something I want to have. If I can use the remains in my work then I feel justified in doing what I do.

As I said it is a debate, one I don’t believe I will ever settle, but I do intend to continue trying to put to rest any creatures I find.




I really struggled with this aspect of the brief,

What was my ritual?

What did it have to do with Endometriosis?

Was my piece a talisman?

I finally realised that ritual is anything I want it to be. I was sitting at my desk doing finishing touches and after looking around saw my ritual right in front of me. I work in, what other people would call chaos or mess,but to me it has a flow.

I work on several projects at once, jumping between them. They are not all the same discipline. I might be working on a tattoo, a painting and a piece of jewellery at the same time. All completely different styles. This can be like a cold shower to the brain. Cleansing. washes away the clutter of one project with another.

I shot a quick video while sitting at my desk. Everything in this film is of use (to me).


Finished pieces

As I near the end of my project I find my pieces fall out of favour (with me), I know I am not the only one who thinks this way and it might be a symptom of the creative mind.

I dont hate them, but I like them less and less. I can be happy with them one day and then, I am over it! I guess this is a good thing in a way as there is no room for growth if I went about loving everything I made.

I feel good about the project though, I have covered a subject close to home and difficult to talk about. I missed a bit of time due to the illness of my mum, but I still managed to create. Skethbook work is another story for another time.



I decided to try and focus on designing a piece for myself based on my Endometriosis. I was diagnosed 18 years ago when I was rushed in for emergency surgery. At the time, the surgeon thought my appendix had ruptured but it turn out to be a large orange-sized cyst on my right ovary. I don’t want to turn anyone stomach so I will leave the details there.

This condition has plagued me in every aspect of my life. I am constantly tired, I have pain nearly every day and I have to go for 6 monthly check up and scans. For the past 6 years, I have managed my condition quite well and avoided any unnecessary surgery . My consultant would prefer to operate as I have 2 large cysts which total over 10cm in diameter.

I always attempt to look at a positive angle, so I took a negative (my scars) and turn it around to a beautiful piece of jewellery.12670352_10153405727951367_2188390266168859929_n

3D Printing

Working with the 3D printer can be fun and frustrating! I am so glad we got taught CAD (all be it kicking and screaming!) Using Rhino and T-splines to create the shapes I see in my head takes hours, but I really don’t think I could have used regular jewellery skills for my ideas.


the triangle shape originated from my own scars, I however, did not want to design something 2D, a lot of my jewellery ideas tend to be flat which is odd since I work in a 3D discipline.

The shape isn’t symmetrical and that is deliberate, I want the pieces to look a little off. Endometriosis tends not to show externally but if you look closely at a sufferer you might see they are more bent over at certain times or the tire easily. I want the pieces I make to look off to start with but when examined closer they are unbalanced.

As a concept, it makes my brain itch. I like symmetry, I like balance. Having Endo means having to fight for balance every day. Some days I can work for hours others I tire quickly and lose focus.

I like to work in a chaotic mess, with many projects on the go. this way I always have something to be getting on with to keep my head busy.

Talismans and Belief

Our new project is on superstition and belief in things that can’t be proven. I believe in Talismans, I KNOW they don’t work, but I believe in them.

I bought my dad a skull carved from a precious stone,it was meant to help with  breathing and issues of the lungs. I think because I gave it to him, he kept it by his bed. He didn’t believe in it but he believed I did.

I want to design something for Endometriosis, I have suffered from this for 18 years, it is horrible and uncomfortable. And people just don’t understand. It has no cure, causes crippling pain, numerous operations and invasive scans on a regular basis. It is, however, just seen as ‘women’s problems’, even by other women.

A talisman that can transmit the wearer’s pain to someone else, A talisman which can reduce pain or just a lovely wearable object which can be stroked or rotated or moved in some way.



Vegan in Art School

Do you know how hard it is to avoid animal products while studying design? pretty bloody hard. Today we had a leather workshop, no alternative was sourced for me or my fellow veggie students.

I supplied some rubber and sourced the vegan fake leather used in shoes, unfortunately, it was too expensive for me to buy just for sample work. The company were amazingly helpful, but at 32.50 for .5 of a metre I just couldnt justify it.



lack of blogging

With everything that has been going on lately blogging has not been a high priority, so this will be a catch-up/highlights of the past few weeks.

Pecha Kucha night.

Mr touchy was up first and to be far, as good as everyone else was, how can you top a man with a camera for a head?

The other speakers who stood out for me where the Dr who managed to make cancer funny, the one-bit computer guy (here for the NEON festival) and Donna who spoke about horror films.

It really was a great night, there was cake (not vegan though) and beer so not a bad shout for a rainy Tuesday in Dundee.


I went along to the workshop to build a one-bit computer while it was fun, it was way over my head. I got my little light to come on but no idea how I managed it.

Tomorrow was a montage @ the Cooper gallery

Very eerie big boxes with films and some amazing poster art. I wanted to go to the talk happening tonight (19thNov), but sick dog prevents that.