I sorted my bag of loot according to materiality, which only partially helped my decision-making process. The other big factor (excuse the pun) is size. I’m planning my usual connection method and in order to do that I need a reasonable area of material as well as intrinsic strength. I like steel for that purpose, but having run a magnet over this batch of jewels, I see that I don’t have much of it. I’m going to have to venture into some different metals.

I’ve selected the pieces that I think I can work with, with the first pieces to jump out at me being the big badge. I have begun researching what this ‘Mining Reform’ is all about. So, that guy is a past president!? Knowing more about it now (and I’ll admit, knowing its relation to the RJM core concerns) I like the idea of reanimating it in some way, rather than negating its role as a protest piece. Given the paper covering on the piece, it had crossed my mind that (depending on the meaning of the message) it might be better to recycle that part and work with the naked steel. But working with this message will be interesting. I’ll have to do some drawings and more research and see what happens.

Looking at the ‘precious’ pile, there is one big looking object in silver, but it is enameled. Looks like the clasp for a bolo tie? The cloisons are twisted silver wire, and I’m not partial to the enamel surface – I wonder if I could sandblast it off without losing the silver pattern? On further thinking, it might be chemically set rather than kiln-fired enamel. Going to research removal techniques.

Trying to remove the stone from the copper piece – it doesn’t look properly set by the way the bezel gapes at the sides, so I’m assuming it’s using a chemical fixing (adhesive). Turns out it’s a good one though, two baths in boiled water and the stone isn’t budging.

This one is surprisingly heavy. A friend tells me that this piece might be ‘pot metal’. That’s a new one on me, so Wikipedia to the rescue again. Ah-hah, so it’s pretty similar to white metal which I am familiar with (as in the generic version, not the code word for silver that my British friends use.) Hmm. The constituent ingredients of either are not really to my tastes; I’m going to have to test it to see if this grey is a coating or the actual stuff. Not looking good at this stage. If it is, it will be too soft for what I have planned. It would a good candidate for melting down though – I wonder if any of my fellow-artists are planning on casting?

Born in Perth where she again lives, Melissa Cameron received a degree in interior architecture and a postgraduate diploma (jewellery production) from Curtin University. Her MFA is from Monash University, Melbourne. She moved Melbourne to Seattle in 2012, returning to Perth in 2018.

She has had solo exhibitions in Australia, Japan and the US, and her works are held in many public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the University of Iowa Museum of Art and the Cheongju Collection, South Korea.

She has had residencies in Europe and the US, received grants in the US and Australia, and she is the former chair of Metalsmith Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Committee.