Friday, 23 January 2009

Sarah O'Hana Lasered Titanium

Sarah O’Hana came to do a lecture at DoJ a week or two before the Christmas break, a lecture I missed because of snow (the day I was also in a complete panic about the submission of my research poster) but I really wish I’d gotten to go.

O’Hana is a jewellery designer whose work is based on using laser to heat titanium and because of the way it oxidises the metal creates a myriad of colours in incredible detail. Now in third year a lecturer visited the jewellery department of DoJ and gave us a class in how to create anodised titanium effects using a electrolyte solution and also a micro torch (image 2). My most profound memory of this day was the nib of the micro torch exploding more than once and making us all jump a foot in the air. For future reference when using a micro torch don’t forget to make sure it has enough gas and that you don’t burn yourself with it...the flame’s so hot it’ll burn to the bone pretty swiftly. That’s one of the reason’s it’s so good for colouring titanium, the hotter or cooler the temperature and the longer the contact the difference in colour, the same in solution, the stronger or weaker the electric current running through the electrolytes the different the colour effect.

Titanium however is also a really hard metal, which is one of the properties that make it popular, my test pieces never really turned into anything, but the idea of the day was just to learn a new technique. O’Hana’s approach of using a laser cutter should theoretically remove the problem of gaining the right heat to produce the right colours. Because the laser can be set to a specific strength for each colour you’re able to plot exact patterns in the metal and know that when you hit ‘print’ it’ll be reproduced as long as you’ve got them written down correctly.

I’ve never really got much colour into my jewellery, I don’t use a lot of stone, the resins I use most are black and white and I don’t use enamel that often, however it’s something I love. When I used to paint at college my figures were Technicolor, I painted all the colours I saw...not particularly naturalistic, but I just loved using every colour available. However, since becoming a jeweller, the colour’s kind of faded out of my art, I want a bit more colour this year so I’d like to look into this a bit further and maybe experiment a little without blowing up the laser cutter!

(O'Hana, S. (2007) Walking with Scientists: a dialogue in jewellery. Manchester: Ars Ornata Europeana
BBC (2007) BBC News: Engineering Beauty [online] [Accessed: Dec 16 2008])

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