Jamming Good Time

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

This entry is a little retrospective, but I’ve been meaning to do a post about my time at the JamFactory. So here it is…

About a year and a half ago, I was appointed the position of Production Manager in the Metal Design Studio at the JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design in Adelaide. JamFactory is a not-for-profit organisation that consists of 2 galleries, a retail space and various artists studios in the West-end of Adelaide’s CBD. First established in 1973, “The Jam”, as it’s affectionately referred to offers a 2 year post-tertiary Associate program designed to nurture the careers of talented artists, craftspeople and designers. There are 4 major studios within the facility including Glass, Furniture, Metal and Ceramic. Under the guidance of Creative Directors within each studios, the Associates gain various skills and knowledge by working collaboratively on projects. These projects include private and public commissions and “JamFactory Products”, being commercial products designed and produced within the organisation, then marketed through various national outlets. They also receive one-on-one mentorship with the Creative Directors to deveope their own artistic creation. These are submitted for review by the Creative Directors, the managers and peers to test their viability within the market place.

I was lucky enough to be appointed a position within the Metal Design Studio to facilitate the Associates in day-to-day activities, as well as having hands-on involvement in the jobs that came through the studio. Working 3 days a week for Jam, I was also given a workbench space to make my own work with full-time 24hour/7days a week access to the tools and equipment within the studio. Having been working in isolation of a private home studio for almost a decade, the range of machinery that I had access to, as well as the collaborative environment at the Jam was such an invigorating change for me.

Highlights…? There are so many. Apart from the awesome company I was thrown into the midst of, one of the biggest projects I got to work on was to redesign a donation box for the South Australian Museum. The design brief was to take notable elements from the museum’s extensive collection to come up with an exciting, new and interactive donation box that would be centrally situated in the museum’s foyer. The entire project took over 6 months, and here are some images of the Associates working on the design / prototype for the new donation box.

We developed several paper prototypes before constructing the final design in stainless steel. Various elements of the product was cut by both hand and laser and then welded together by hand. The drawings on the triangular tiles were hand drawn by Courtney Jackson, who took elements of various fossil found throughout the museum. These included the Ediacaran fossil that was discovered in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia and is considered to be one of the very first life forms on earth. Courtney translated these fossils into elegant dotted drawings which were chemically etched onto the mirrored stainless steel.

SAMUSEUM1_1000The etched triangles were chemically cleaned before carefully being bonded onto a rubber matting using a specialized adhesive. The mechanism underneath the triangles pushed the matting up and down, creating an undulating surface referencing the underwater sea bed (much of South Australia was underwater about 650 million years ago). The star of the donation box was the creation of a Plesiosaur out of metal parts, based on the Addyman Plesiosaur, an opalised fossil of an underwater dinosaur discovered in South Australia in 1968. One thing that’s cooler than a dinosaur fossil, is a fossil that’s almost entirely encrusted in natural opal!

The visitors were invited to turn the wheel on the side of the box. Watch it here in action. IMG_5564


So if you ever visit Adelaide, go check out the South Australian Museum and the Opalised plesiosaur. And while you’re there, head to the West-end and check out the JamFactory. The building is open to public 6 days a week, and you can do a self-guided tour through the various studios. It’s truly a unique organisation that supports both local and international artists and designers, and I’m all for that.

Photo credit: Tom Roschi (3 images above)

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