Lesions EVERYWHERE!!

Hello!

So, I really don’t know where the time goes!!
If you didn’t see the little film I made for the Vanilla Ink Social Media Fortnight, a few weeks ago. I announced the date of my Capsule Collection Launch which will be on the 28th of May, World MS Day!!

As that is just round the corner, I have been designing like crazy and loving it even although I am slightly fearing for my life…..but I am sure it will all come together, eventually…..right?!!!

Here is a sneaky peek of what I have been experimenting with!

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MRI FEB070027

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This is getting real & I can’t wait to see what happens next!!

Stay tuned!
x

Stick MS

Hey everyone!

So much for blogging once a week! I have been super busy but fear not I will tell all…eventually!

Lets start with what I got up to last month! I journeyed down to London for my annual neurology appointment with Dr Raj Kapoor at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

Some how I managed to stretch what would only need to be a two day trip into a whole week! I am so glad I did as I had time to meet up with some great creative people and see some amazing things.

So where to start?!
Well apart from meeting up with some of my best friends, eating out A LOT, and having my Neurology appointment,which went very well! I also had a great meeting with Freddie Yauner, a marvellous Designer and more importantly the Creative Director of ShiftMS.
I have known Freddie for years, as I interviewed him while researching my degree show project in 2010. Since then we have kept in touch, which has been great and I am also a regular user of ShiftMS, it is a great source to find out what is going on with MS  in the medical world but also on a social aspect as the only person that can truly understand an MSer is another MSer!
Anyway, I was really excited to meet Freddie this time and to tell him all about my current work and new business plan as it has developed so much since my degree show work. While we both stuffed our faces with amazing Japanese cuisine, I explained how I was now using MS in a totally different way to inspire my work and what I planned to do next. He had an extremely positive reaction to it, so much so that when talking about ShiftMS projects that are in the pipeline, we decided to collaborate on a 3D  project.

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In a way we will be ‘Growing MS’ with the help of 3D printing. We aim to develop beautiful, wearable 3D pieces for a future project. This excites me greatly as I have never seen MS and more specifically MS lesions, looked at in this creative way before.

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MS will become something tactile we can all hold, wear and take ownership of, which is a long time in coming.
For a change we all can be in control of Multiple Sclerosis and I can’t wait.
Exciting updates coming soon! xx

Screen Printing my Brain

Hello and a Happy New Year to y’all, too late to say that now?!

Anyway, the holidays are well and truly over, so that is me back in the Vanilla Ink Studio and loving it, its time to get making!

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While designing my Lesion inspired prints, I decided I didn’t just want to use my printer at home to print them. No, I wanted to screen print them.

This was because I felt that as the design originated from the condition Multiple Sclerosis, that could have been with me for years, they needed to be produced with a little bit more care and attention.

So, the other day my very talented friend and Creative Director of YOKE, Mark McConnell showed me how to screen print at the print studio in Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA).

We had a great afternoon, it was so much fun! Screen printing is such an interesting process and coming from a jewellery back ground it reminded me of how you would photo etch a piece of metal but this was done in a far larger scale.
I was so excited to see the whole process, as all I was told to bring was a black print of my chosen design. Unsure whether or not I could use a delicate pattern or not, I took quite a few options with me.

This was the chosen design.

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I am so glad I went for this intricate pattern, instead of one of the more solid pieces I had with me as it showed me just what is possible with the technique.

Here are some photos I took over the afternoon, and this is the revised selection…I got a bit snap happy!

DCA Print Studio

DCA Print Studio

 

Print Screens

Print Screens

 

The Dark Room

The Dark Room

 

Preparing the Screen

Preparing the Screen

 

Image printed on tracing paper the attached to the screen ready for baking!

Image printed on tracing paper then attached to the screen ready for baking!

 

Final rinse before it is ready to Print!!

Final rinse before it is ready.

 

All set up and ready to Print!

All set up and ready to Print!

 

But first to mix the colour....

But first to mix the colour….

 

Colour chosen after many mixes, thanks Mark! All set up and ready to go!!

Colour chosen after many mixes, thanks Mark!

 

Tester print, DONE!

Tester print, DONE!

 

Tadaaaa!

Tadaaaa!

 

Prints on different papers.

Prints on different papers.

 

The final print on a beautiful Fabriano paper.

The final print on a beautiful Fabriano paper.

So that is how you screen print!

Thanks again to Mark, you were a brilliant teacher!

I can’t wait to get back to the print studio to experiment with new materials, colours, textures that will add more depth and excitement to my work.
Stay tuned! xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glass Microbiology

Apart from developing my own work, I have also been researching other art that has been inspired by disease and chronic conditions, sounds delightful doesn’t it?!

Well, as dark as it sounds I have found beautiful work by the artist Luke Jerram.

From 2004 he has created a body of work  named, ‘Glass Microbiology’. Looking at serious diseases, he successfully transforms them in to stunning glass sculptures.

They are made solely from glass to create impact and to take them away from the artificially coloured images used by the media, when really they have no colour as they are smaller than the wavelength of light.

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Here is an example of HIV imagery that has been coloured for either scientific purposes or for an aesthetic reason, when in fact it would most likely resemble this,

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HIV

Following are some of the most detrimental virus cells, but shown in this medium I can’t help but admire them. They look so delicate and fragile, not like the angry, brightly coloured images we are used to seeing.

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Swine Flu

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Small Pox

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E.coli

Sars

Sars

Papilloma

Human Papilloma

Ebola detail

Ebola detail

Malaria

Malaria

Avian Flu

Avian Flu

Salmonella

Salmonella

These are not only stunning pieces of art work, they have also been vastly used for medical  literature as they are so accurate to the real life cells.

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I find this fascinating as I never thought there would be such a significant crossover of between art and science.

This work has inspired me to look even deeper into what MS is, not only what it does, but how it looks and I love it!

MS back in the day…

Well, what can I say?!

Thank you so much for the great response to my first blog post, I was not expecting that at all! I am still overwhelmed, but it has spurred me on to make my work even bigger and better, so thank you!

This week I thought I should go back to my Degree Show work and tell you a little bit about that.

After having to take a year out of Uni, thanks to MS, I was struggling to get back into the creative side of things. So much had changed in that year, I actually remember I had started to doubt myself and my creative abilities. Plus as it was my final year, I  had free reign to design and make what ever I wanted, which sounded great but was actually quite daunting. I knew I wanted to do something that had meaning or meant something to me, but was also fashion based, a couple of ideas were tried out but were not quite working.

While looking up future fashion trends for 2011, one trend really stood out to me, which was based on Science and Technology, it was the neutral colours that really appealed to me, greys, dark blues and black. This got me thinking about using a medical theme. At that time there was a lot of press about stem cell research, which interested me greatly but I also found the images  of them extremely inspiring, I loved the linear qualities they had and also the muted colours that were produced.

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Stem Cells

It was then I realised I had my very own medical images to work from, my MRI scans!

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MRI May070030

My first idea was to simply draw from them, to create intricate pieces of jewellery. That was fun, but I felt there wasn’t enough meaning or thought behind it. So, I carried on playing with ideas to see what I could come up with. I thought back to when I was first diagnosed, I did’t really have a clue what MS was or what it was all about, which made me realise I wanted to make pieces based on my experiences with MS to hopefully help people understand it a little bit more.

As my work was fashion led and needed to be noticed, I decided to make a collection of oversized, ostentatious pieces for the catwalk. This excited me so much, as it opened up what materials I could use, it didn’t just have to be the usual precious metals found in jewellery. I wanted to try and find something that represented an aspect of MS. After thinking about MS and the relationship I have with it, I decided to have a Natural VS Toxic theme shown by the materials chosen. As MS is a natural condition I chose to use Corrugated Cardboard and because the medication I use to reduce the effects of MS is so toxic, I used Acrylic sheet. These materials both worked well together and great effects were produced through laser cutting and etching.

Optic Neuritis

Optic Neuritis

This laser cut, acrylic piece represents my first relapse I ever had, which was Optic Neuritis. It was quite a scary experience as my eyesight went from great, to slightly painful to look around and fuzzy, to pretty much complete darkness in that one eye. I remember being so upset and thinking that my life as a jeweller was already over. I may have overreacted a little bit, but I  didn’t have a clue what was going on!

Kirsty Stevens DegreeShow-Gait

Gait

As if being pretty much blind in one eye wasn’t enough, my balance was completely off as-well. I thought I was covering it up so well, trying to walk straight was so hard but I thought I had nailed it, until my GP asked me to walk in a straight line….I failed miserably! But thankfully this is what brought it to everyones attention that there was more to it than just optic neuritis. I created a large shoulder piece to show how MS was pulling and pushing me down.

Brain Inflamation

Brain Inflamation

After that visit to the GP and many more visits to the optometrist and other doctors, I was admitted to hospital, not that I can really remember as I was away with it, couldn’t even recognise my best friends (sorry guys!!). It turns out it was all down to the lining of my brain being inflamed that made me extremely disorientated, which I am actually thankful for as apparently I had a Lumbar Puncture, which I hear are pretty painful…PHEW! Anyway to represent this i made a delicate head piece using the outline of enlarged MRI scans.

Here are some other pieces from the collection….

C.N.S

C.N.S

Abdo Injection Site

Abdo Injection Site

Thigh Injection Site

Thigh Injection Site

These brilliant photos where taken at Ninewells Hospital by the great Photographer Ross Fraser Mclean (@RoFraserMcLean) and stared the beautiful Holly Scanlan. It still amazes me how much depth they have even though they were shot in this bright artificially lit box!

While writing this I was asked by a friend if it was hard to look back over what had happened, my response, no. It reminds me how bad things had been at first, but that I got through it and that if I can do that, other people that are going through similar definitely can do the same. Plus if it wasn’t for MS, god knows what I would be designing!

Me, myself and MS

This is my first post in my Blog that is going to be all about me, my MS, what I am doing with it to empower myself by being creative and hopefully change the way people see the degenerative disease!

So, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 6 to 7 years ago and when that news came, I was devastated.

I wasn’t quite sure, exactly what it was apart from that it was a chronic, degenerative, life long, incurable condition which obviously made me fear the worst!

Look it up if you don’t know what MS is all about! The MS Society and ShiftMS are both great resources, check them out!

Once I had got my head straight, and realised that fearing the worst wasn’t making anything easier or that it would not stop anything bad that might or might not happen to me, I decided to use my diagnosis in a positive way.

I first used MS in this way when I was in my final year of University at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, while studying  Jewellery and Metal Design. Each piece was inspired by what I had experienced since diagnosis and even what I had to deal with day to day.

Kirsty Stevens Degree Show-Haunch injection site Brooch

‘Haunch Injection Site’ Brooch

Kirsty Stevens DegreeShow-Gait

‘Gait’ Shoulder Piece

This work got a great response, not only from fellow MSers and MS charities but also from the general public as it brought MS to peoples attention. This also made it easy to talk about and people could ask questions without feeling awkward, which at times it can be.

Since this work, I knew I had to continue using MS as my inspiration as I felt there was too much to gain from it, for MS awareness, for fellow MSers, to hopefully inspire them and for me, to help me take control of my MS for a change!

This summer I applied to Vanilla Ink, to be an Inker in 2014. Vanilla Ink is an amazing incubator for jewellery designers to hone their craft and set up their own business, with great one on one mentorship and business advice in a warm collaborative environment.

To hopefully make it as an Inker’14, I played with ideas on how to move my work forward and I decided to take an in-depth look at the outcomes of MS. This led me to looking closely at the visible lesions on my MRI scans, the scaring left on the brain and central nervous system as a result of MS. I decided I wanted to make these ugly scars into something beautiful and unrecognisable.

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While playing with these interesting shapes, I noticed an occurring theme that reminded me of victorian decor, which I love. So with this in mind I began to have a play designing my own prints using the damaging lesion as the main focus.

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1st attempt at a print (work in progress)

I was getting quite excited at where I could take my work, using my new approach, I was seeing sofas, cushions, walls, just covered in my brain!! I was also thinking I could use sections of the designs to develop quite theatrical pieces of jewellery, which did excite me, but something was missing.

Anyway, I finally heard back from Vanilla Ink and if you don’t already know…I got in in! I was so excited to be part of this amazing creative bunch, with a great collaborative space and awesome business mentorship to boot! It is definitely going to be an exciting and testing year, but I am sure it will all be worth it.

Inkers'14, that's me on the end -->

Inkers’14, that’s me on the end –>

So far Vanilla Ink has been a great experience, it feels so good to be back in an inspirational environment with fellow creatives.

I have learned so much already, from our professional development days about the business side of things but what I have valued most about being part of Vanilla Ink is being encouraged to take my work even further than just making jewellery! As my work has such an intense story behind it, it needs to have impact and make a bold statement. That is what was missing, I knew I needed to take my work bigger and bolder, but just wasn’t sure if it would work, but now I know I just need to go for it!

I am currently in the process of thinking BIG, thinking about crazy ways of how to best show my work that will get MS out there for everyone to see and I couldn’t be more excited, so stay tuned to see what I come up with!