Necklace, 'Bicycle chain', borosilicate glass / heat treated titanium, Blanche Tilden, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1998
This necklace is a fine example of Blanche Tilden's range of jewellery based on mechanical movements found in everyday objects. While appearing mechanical, and being well-researched according to their function, they are light, flexible and meticulously made. They complement the 'real thing' in holdings of tools and machines elsewhere in the collection.
Blanche Tilden (b.1968) did undergraduate studies in glass and jewellery at Sydney College of the Arts (1988/89) and graduated BA (Visual Art), Glass (1992) and Grad. Dip, Gold and Silversmithing at the Canberra School of Art 1995, followed by a year (1996) as a trainee with Susan Cohn at Workshop 3000 in Melbourne. She set up her own workshop in Sydney in 1997 and moved in 1999 to Melbourne.
Tilden was selected for inclusion in the Contemporary Australian Craft exhibition, organised by the Powerhouse Museum/Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, in 1999, and two of these works (Scissor, Pulley) were in that exhibition (see catalogue entries). Tilden is also included in the book, provisionally titled 'Accessories and adornment' in the Costume series, co-published between the Powerhouse Museum and Macmillan, April 2000.
She says of her work (written statement 2/10/1998): 'My jewellery explores the relations between the individual and the machine, consumption and obsolescence, the machine made and the hand made. When designing my work I look at mechanical movements found in everyday objects. Stemming from a desire to understand how things work, I use shapes inspired by bicycle chains, conveyor belts, pulleys, cranks and scissors, and I make my work with industrial materials such as titanium and borosilicate glass. My necklaces stimulate associations and memories that differ for each wearer. They remind us of the physical yet impersonal relationship that exists between the body and the machine. These are intimate objects of jewellery, built to human scale, hand made and machine inspired. They travel with the body.'
Made by Blanche Tilden in Sydney in 1998 (see Designed entry). With 'Bicycle Chain' the titanium elements are hand cut, the holes are drilled and the pieces heat-coloured to 600 degrees in a kiln. This provides the greyish-purple colour as well as protecting the metal when the glass rivets are heated. The rivets are borosilicate glass rods, cut with a diamond saw; one end is put through the double links and heated by lampworking (over a flame), then squashed in a small hand-made jig to widen and flatten the end. Then the other end of that link is completed in the same way. The whole necklace is then placed in a kiln to anneal the glass, to a temperature of 560 degrees.
Tilden has made a number of small jigs to hold the elements together while they are fixed in place.