Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cuttlefish Flotsam

Cuttlefish bones are strange things- like little riderless surfboards they beach themselves obligingly for passing budgie fanciers. The growth layers of calcium in the bone are also useful for jewellers as moulds for casting molten metal into. The result is a wavy texture and a stinking pong as the bone smoulders and burns. The effect is well worth the stench though as it is serendipitously reminiscent of ripples or low tide patterns in sand or mud. I use this technique my range of Longshore Drifter pebble jewellery. Longshore drift is the ocean current that moves sand, flotsam and jetsam generally northwards up the east coast of Australia but also swirling around in big eddies that double back. We end up getting us all sorts of treats on the waves from near and far including sea beans from far north QLD and plastics from asia I like to think or at least passing ships! I 've heard of one beach up north that has only left footed thongs/flip flopsam and another around the headland that has all the right footed thongs. The ocean is an amazing sorter of flotsam.

One of my all time favorite plastic beaches - Sunken Reef Bay on Hinchinbrook Is- has entire television sets washed up on it as well as all manner of plastic domestic items. You can create a virtual lounge room with all mod cons for your campsite that is better than the real thing. It gave me a taste of the coming apocalypse, tonnes of broken and non functional consumer waste lying around while we inexpertly tried to catch fish for dinner. It was quite difficult to leave this place but I knew I'd come to blows with the prissy clean up australia mob if I stayed.

When I cannot get to the beach, as it is hardly on my doorstep, I find solace in Presley's scans documenting all the flotsam he finds in San Francisco's Bay area. These studies are a constant source of inspiration as he transforms the detritus he finds and others would ignore into astonishingly beautiful compositions.


Mr shango said...

Dear Wrecker,

This tells me that the Accordion is wrong - i think that a trip to the streets of the old seat of the British Empire would be entirley your calling, heaps and heaps of flotsam there, i once took a pikky of some flotsam there, somehow artfully arranged on the streetpath, like a bouquet.

As for Cuttle fish bones, when i was in Newcastle upon Hunter, i chanced upon along the Great long beach, just that wrecker delite, and i remember: "wrecker needs this", but for what i couldnt recall, i just knew that heat had to be applied to it somehow. its there somewhere -the cuttle fish.

Maybe this blog was a holler to all wrecker antennae out there to dig out the flotsam...??

Florence said...

Presley's scans and pictures are amazing. Thanks for the link!

very beautiful photos and jewellery again!

I too often thought of the cuttle fish bone as a type of mini surf board. very interesting reading of your very inventive way of using them in jewellery making.


Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

thanks flo
tho i have to admit that i did not invent cuttlefish casting - it has been used since ancient times- us humans are so resourceful really- shame this has meant that we are poised to wipe ourselves out! but i hear there are plans to mine water from the polar caps on the moon. maybe we can organse some transport with your boomers.

ta for the tip shango- i really should make it to the more densley populated areas on te planet but i fear i may lose my romantic notions of trash!

and good to know that newcastle beach just down the road has more than coal and steel scrap..

Prof. Shango said...

How about Coal jewellery?

Isnt it quite sacred to our way of life?

Uschi said...

Hey Rebecca,

one of the first things we learned during my apprenticeship at a technical college for goldsmiths was to cast jewellery in a cuttle-fish mould. I remember the "fragrance" of burning horn/bone(?)and the organic surface of the casted piece. It's like a kind of alchemy to me...
Great, what you created using the fish and these incredibly coloured pebbles.
And I'm totally jealous of your BEACHES!!!!!
Thanks a lot for linking to me!!

Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

hi shango yes some kinds of really hard coal are used in jewellery to imitate jet so has been done.
thanks uschi- i enjoy your blog too

Shell said...

This is such a wonderfully creative concept - and to use the cuttlefish as moulds is genious. They are really beautiful pieces.

I love beaches with stuff washed up too - like the little cove at Straddy with the coloured bits of plastic. I also love beaches without washed up stuff. I wish there was more seaglass around here - I find very little, except for a bit at Burleigh.

Oh my, now you have me thinking of the beach, which is marvellous as we are off to the sunny coast for the weekend. Mmmm, I can't wait to smell the sea!

chiefbiscuit said...

I find this all fascinating and I've learned so much. Thanks for the info written in such an accessible and interesting way. And the photos. :) I shall be looking around a little harder on my beach walks now.

Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

Thanks shell
hope you had a loverly w'end and smashed a few bottles for me at the beach and released some plastic waste onto the outgoing tide!
And thanks CB- I love reading about your beach walks around Dunedin and southland - i know there is lots of intersting stuff to find on those beaches. Dunedin is such a great spot with those unspoilt beaches right next to the city.

Joanne said...

I love how you take common items that most of us overlook and use them as an inspiration to create stunning pieces of jewellery. Amazing concept!