Julia Middleton and Terhi Tolvanen

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About Julia    About Terhi

December 8th

Well it has been a labour of love, but I have completed my last works for the HS2 project, I have tinkering away on it between life projects on and off for many months. There has been a lot of refining to the design since its inception. I think images will speak volumes in this case. See below…

I began this neckpiece with so many elements, slowly but surely whittling them down as time went. Finally deciding on four main elements. Towards the end I was enjoying turning the piece upside down and liked it more than the front. Terhi also found it to be more interesting back to front… see below…

I shaped the wire to suit the body shape, so wearing upside down meant the non- gravity like qualities were more pronounced.

My intention from the beginning was to hang the piece suspended in the air from wire in front of a black wall, it would spin around naturally so the viewer could see the detailing front, side and back. Orbiting in black space so to speak. For its installation at Pah Homestead however the option to install like this was not possible. It will be on a cream topped table, framed with sides and seen from only the one angle, the front.  I am pleased with how it sits on this however I will aim to have the piece installed as I intended in Munich Feb 2016. Terhi and I agree that the silver wire, the elements are soldered too, needed more attention, and so I will look at tweaking the piece before its journey to Germany. I missed our Skype before going ahead and soldering it together. Terhi enlightened me after the fact, that the wires could have been more intertwined. More of a feature working in with the elements, as opposed to something the elements sat upon. We live and we learn. As soon as she said it, I thought of course! Why didn’t I think of that! Oh the joys of feedback sessions with Terhi.  I was lucky enough to have time in a proper photographic studio and my friend Hannah took loads of pics for me of the neckpiece. I will post these after the Pah exhibition….. Till then 🙂


August 11th

The Avid Gallery HS2 exhibition is looming! As I have yet to resolve my neckpiece technicalities I have been simultaneously working on a series of rings for the exhibition. They are near completion wohoo 🙂 Of course there were some rejects…


A sad moment when you realise they just are not good enough for a dealer gallery. BUT great to bulk up my own collection! The wax work was a bit rushed and so there were too many bumps and cracks to bother fussing over. So I bought all my wax working tools and things indoors in front of the fire so any spare minute I had I could tinker away on a new and improved set. So glad I did as the next batch of rings came back almost perfect!


Now I am in the process of airbrushing, coating, filing etc… Always an interesting experiment that often requires multiple trials to get the right feel for the concept. I am opting for aluminium powder, enamel paint and good old fashioned, if not a little traditional, highly polished elements. Next step is to formulate a smashing concept write up. Never an easy task for me. Hopefully I do the pieces justice! More images to come….

July 1st

Space Debris Neckpiece

Today I am working on this design in the studio. I am happy with the mock up version and am starting to construct (not cast) the base elements, the double wire necklace and the claws to hold the elements in place. Terhi uses a mannequin to help with her neck pieces layout and structure. I am adopting this idea so I can form my wire necklace to fit on the body. It is also helping me layout the elements to see how high off the body I can and cannot go.

June 16th

I have been using the Shukov Radio tower structure images to invent a way to give my elements added height from the bases. Thanks to Karren Dale for mentioning this piece of architecture to me at the jewel camp in Wellington and also for donating a black glass element I am working with 🙂


I tried making them from wax wire to begin with as a mock up. If they work I would then cast…


The first mock ups seemed flimsy and I am not happy with the way the elements are sitting on bases. A new design is needed.

.Have been toying with the idea to make faceted hollow plinths for the main elements. I would add of course the claws to keep the element in place. I felt this would work more solidily/technically than the cage frame structure mock ups.

DSC_0269 Wax sheet bases trial.


After seeing the new bases with the elements I am not convinced it works with my concept, I think the bases need to be less visible, and use less metal so the piece as a whole is not too heavy. Back to the drawing board.

The next instalment of trials was using aluminium wire to get a feel for the less visible material under the elements, still giving varying heights and in keeping with the space junk flying off the body idea.

DSC_0315 The wire is coiled at the base where the wire meets the body, so it is springy and adds movement.

DSC_0325 This is starting to look right to me. 🙂

13th May 2015

Life has been somewhat crazy since my last post. My husband and I went through hell and back (I almost lost him!!), and we are now back on track and rearing to get back in to our respective projects! So apologies for the long break in jewellers speak but life threw a curve ball, to say the least.

Onwards and upwards.

Terhi and I have been in email contact in the last few months and she is all up to date with the happenings and we had our second skype of the year last night. It was really great to hear her voice again. She too has had similar tough times over in France to us back here in Riverton so we could certainly understand what each other had been through. As usual Terhi is working hard for upcoming fairs and shows and I too am back on board with the Handshake2 project after some time off. Unfortunately due to the timing of the Sydney show and my lack of time and headspace for jewellery creation I am not part of the upcoming show. After discussions I decided to focus all energies on the exhibitions later in the year at Avid Gallery and The Pah Homestead.

I have schemes in mind! Although these do tend to morph and change with the wind, but I have a clear concept for the remaining HS2 year and elements to work with. I intend to make one heck of a showpiece for Avid, a large, mainly black neckpiece. It requires a lot of thought for the engineering side of it and a fair bit of trial and error with the bases/framing/attachments and composition.

Here is a pic of the elements I intend to work with…


Terhi wrote to me after seeing the elements and seeing the inspiration images of the Russian Shukov Radio Tower, early inventions, recent relic sculpture, space junk etc…

“To In space everything is in constant movement, maybe nice to see if you can make your necklace “flying”…..!?

As the pieces are lying now it looks very flat. The connections obviously will be important. To get to some 3D movement……..You can find a theme for the connections too, for example in this case something like aircraft/space industry/mechanics/…….”
More to come…. 🙂

24th Feb 2015

‘A sense of perspective’  from Riverton Southland. Highlight of the year so far, Masterclass with Ben Lignel. Wow what an intense week of thinking. Great to be back in Wellington with all the Handshakers, the stimulating feedback sessions, presentations, works, and discussions really made the mind warp and fizz. Ben was a fantastic catalyst for me, making my thoughts dart off to new and exciting places. He seemed to contain an infinite filing cabinet in his head, spouting obscure and relevant research avenues with ease. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for making the week in Wellington happen.

I do relish the opportunity to talk to other contemporary jewellers, as you know living at the Southern end of the planet can be isolating, so any banter about jewellery is welcome! What a clever bunch of ladies, intelligent, supportive, hardworking and inspiring to be around. I was most astounded with how every single one of us took Ben’s masterclass brief in different ways with varied outcomes for the powerpoint presentations and completed homework. Also the daily exercises such as paring up with a jeweller buddy and coming up with your own show in an hour or two branched out in to seven very different examples of exhibitions from exhibiting with coffee, muffins and discussions with close friends and public to slick duo exhibitions in ‘white cube’ spaces. The marketing/promotional exercise stretched the imagination and all seven pairs came up with completely different posters/postcards/invites. Once again a very clever and inspiring group!

More to come soon 🙂

15th Oct 2014

Has it really been that long since my last post?? Sorry peeps its been four crazy busy months. I am now going to attempt to go back in time and fill in the gaps…

Brooch perspex on wax paper BroochJuly1 July20th workings2 July Brooch rubber on brass Brooch July10These five photos depict the events from my studio fiddlings in July. Terhi and I had two decent yarns in that month. I had been spending the bulk of my studio time making combinations with readymade and worked materials. I was looking back at what worked in my more successful series and decided after a good long skype with Terhi that the light, magnification, distortion etc had played out well. I was also adamant I didnt want to buy in new materials for the project. Use what I had stashed in the studio so that I am tied in closely to the recycle, reuse, reinvent philosophy. It gave me a restriction of materials challenge. I was donated a bunch of cool things from the shed clean out of a neighbour that seemed to work in well with my ideas. Stained glass shards, jars of old ham radio bits n bobs, sheet metal etc.  Combo after combo, reworking tweaking and photographing for Terhi to see.

Aug brooch combo3 Aug Brooch combo12 Aug brooch combos7

These images were created in August, Terhi thought  these were playful, architectural, lego like. She liked the optical play of light.Terhi suggested creating more contrast through smooth and rough pieces, see through and unclear, rounded lines and straight lines to create tension. I was still unsure at this stage as I felt the combos were too busy. I had created very few bases thus far and was concentrating more on the top elements. Terhi pushed for more bases to work on. So I built some metal brooch backs for the pieces to sit on. Glue was mentioned as being  another element and not to be frightened of glue! She also liked the addition of coloured glass she felt it really lifted the work. I on the other hand are not accustomed to much colour and it freaked me right out. But I must listen to my Master! GLUE AND COLOURED ELEMENTS??? Crickey. On a more personal note Terhi mentioned she is a stone collecting maniac!


Our local Art Centre was torn down and is now a gravelled carpark. RIP Sallies Army Booth Memorial Hall. I cried.

Julia Middleton Image Brooch Sep 2014 HS2 brooch silver5My first Brooch for the series completed, minus brooch pin. I feel happy to have completed a brooch finally after so many studio days spent moving blocks around and photographing. I locked myself in studio until I had fixed the elements to their metal base. Terhi and I both agreed now I have a sturdy process/system for this series and to carrying on the theme piece by piece. Pieces are coming together much quicker now. I decided to make some rings using the same process/theme. I just cant help myself.

Ring Sep2My initial crack at it confused Terhi a bit. She referred to my glass element as the “sausage bit”. Not good. So I reworked it.

silverring8The “sausage” is no longer, now it is neatly jammed between the silver tube! The aim was to create 6 solid works, 3 brooches and 3 rings that match with one of the brooches. Terhi felt groups of 3 always work well in a display. We are now talking about options of display for the upcoming Toi Poneke Show in November and both agree lighting of the pieces is key to obtain glow, reflection and transparency etc. We are scheduled to speak again next week. I must come back to her with an installation plan of attack. There was also talk of me sending her a piece so she can hold and touch it and see up close what I have done. She finds it hard with only still images. Should I rely on the postal system hmmmmmmm…?

A comment that has stuck in my head from our last yarn was “Dont worry if it is wearable or not”. Oh yeah, I love the woman! Till next time…. 🙂

May 28th 2014 6pm

Another 2 hour conversation with Terhi tonight. I had sent via email many images of my inspiration:

Marc Monzo

Marc Monzo

Karl Fritsch Aluminium

Karl Fritsch

Sofia Bjorkman

Sofia Bjorkman

Flora Vagi

Flora Vagi

I also sent through images of older works and some of the material combinations I have currently on the boil in the studio. Each image was critiqued by Terhi, which gave me an initial heads up on what could potentially work and what is weak and needs tweaking. In Terhi’s opinion here are some of the stronger materials combinations:


Huon Pine, Amber, Glass


Pohutakawa, Bronze,

matai wood,bronze, opal

matai wood,bronze, opal

My most successful older piece in Terhi’s eyes:



Why? The shape is defined, there are elements of light and dark, matt and shiny, simple lines yet there is a small amount of complexity with the wires. The shape is clear and interesting. The work is expressive.

We discussed my most recent piece which went to Gallery SO in London for The Otherside Exhibition:

The connection to Terhi didnt make sense, the chain and links to pendant takes away from the pendant which should be the hightlight. The name of the piece is Pipe Dream, a pipe is round so why wouldnt I connect it using these ideas. To Terhi, the chain, connection and pendant are all equally as important.

'Pipe Dream'

‘Pipe Dream’

Terhi suggests to me to give the cast flattened pipe shape by bending, shape and volume. 3d.

Words from Terhi to mull over for next time that the elements should not all be on the same level, one element needs your touch, one needs to create tension and one element is to be important. Analyse the piece, what do you like about it? Find an element that says Julia. Continue combining colour, textures and shapes. High end fashion is interesting to follow for inspiration. I seem to have a dot and stripe theme to my new material combinations. Take it apart, add new element or take away. Till next time…

May7th 2014

Our breaking the ice skype conversation after a few back n fourth emails was 2 hours long! I had many questions for Terhi about how we wanted to work our part of the project. Definite decisions were made and a plan of attack was configured. To begin with we would swap images of home/studio life, as it turns out we are both very much isolated from the big cities, rural living!

DSC_0632I have now seen Terhi’s studio and her home including pets! We can now imagine each other in our respective jeweller spaces as we talk on skype. Unfortunately we are limited to voices only as the connection is too weak for the video option. Another plan is to send her many images of close ups of my previous successful pieces. Terhi has now seen a number of my works and is going to give them all a run through of her critique system. Brutal honesty is the key. Fortunately Terhi likes some of my work after giving it a once over. She found aspects of the pieces to be very expressive, enjoying the many contrasts. I think I know what Terhi is getting at and was an eye opener for me to hear her views. Terhi liked all my favourite works, so it seems we may enjoy a similar aesthetic.

Terhi mentioned a few of her own inspirational jewellers and we have made a deal to send each other images and lists of our own inspiration, I wonder if many will align. I believe there will be a cross pollination of influences from this exercise. Here are some of Terhi’s favorite artists:

Tarja Tuupanen

Tarja Tuupanen

Evert Nijland

Evert Nijland

Iris Bodemer

Iris Bodemer

Phillip Sajet

Phillip Sajet

Terhi told me of the level of work in France, Holland and Finland and I talked up New Zealand and have promised to send her gallery installation links.
Unfortunately Terhi wasn’t so impressed with how I connected my neckpieces for The Other Side Gallery SO in London show, and had some strong ideas with alternatives to such problems. So great to have such a smart neckpieces creator on my side. I plan to improve on neckpieces while still creating my more favoured jewellery items, rings and brooches.

A light bulb moment after our first skype session. Thanks Terhi.


And so it begins…
May 7th 2014 6pm
“Nobody else can be Julia”

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