Aviation theme for jewellery students
Erika Watson with her medal.
Based in Kingsland, Auckland, the Peter Minturn Goldsmith School’s principle aim is to educate and train students to a professional standard in the arts, crafts and design of the Jeweller and Goldsmith. All graduates of the three year course are capable of entering the jewellery trade with the skills to make any form of the jeweller’s art in a commercially acceptable time.
The School’s qualification content allows the student 1600 hours per year, 85% of which is at the bench practicing the very skills required of a commercial jeweller.
The School has created the only NZQA recognised trade related qualifications that focus on training students at the bench to be skilled in diamond mounting and ring making, thus providing a solid base for employment in the Trade.
Graduates leave with a three dimensional portfolio of their work. The portfolio is an excellent tool, demonstrating to prospective employers their ability, and is a visual display of what has been learnt at the school. This portfolio must stay intact for the duration of the qualification being studied as it will be displayed in exhibitions to promote the skills and abilities of the students.
During the second year of training each student is given a subject from which they must research, design and then produce a medal for their individual portfolio. The school’s tutors have over recent years based the portfolios on New Zealanders who have made their mark in a range of activities. The medals can be created from brass, copper and/or silver and the students must purchase the materials at their cost. The shape is personal choice but overall dimensions must not exceed 60mm. The medal must include the raised lettering for the name, date and event it records. The base of the medial must not be greater than 2mm. One face must have a raised portrait of the person; the obverse must have a design that depicts the equipment, geography, vessels, or the event in some way. For the five current second year students the choice was New Zealanders who have excelled in aviation.
As her subject, Erika Watson chose Sir Keith Park, based on visits to MOTAT where she saw exhibits of his achievements as an outstanding aviator and leader. Choosing silver for the material, the basic design came from the shape of Sir Keith’s war medals on display at MOTAT. The medal is hexagonal in shape with an attached mount of “Wings” shape with “Sir Keith Park” in raised letters on the face of the wings. The main body of the medal has his face taken from a famous photo of him posing by his Hurricane during the Battle of Britain, a three bladed propeller, and the motto “Seek and Destroy”. The obverse carries stamped wording representing the style seen on military identification discs, and the raised work HERO to reflect his standing as an aviator. The project took nine weeks at two days per week. When finished the medals are examined and marked by the tutors, and the student then retains the medal and all the research material as a marketable portfolio of their achievement. Erika wants to gain full time employment with a manufacturing jeweller when she graduates.
Jacob Taranaki based his work on the famous New Zealand pilot Jean Batten. Impressed by her long international flights, especially the one from the UK to New Zealand in the 1930s, and the fact that she was a woman excelling in what was a generally male domain, made his choice straightforward. Jacob’s choice of material was brass, and as a nice touch his mount is capable of swivelling. Raised lettering on the front of his mount spells “Whakamiki” which he said reflects the New Zealand connection and means congratulations in Maori. A traditionally round design, the obverse has a three bladed propeller and the raised letters GADPR being the registration of her Percival Gull Six in which she completed her epic flight in 1936. Jacob wishes to remain in the manufacturing jewelry business on graduation.
Jonathan Maher from Palmerston North, also chose Jean Batten as his subject. He worked with silver and his design is a semi-round triangle with a relief of Jean Batten’s head and shoulders and her name on the front. The obverse has a map of the east coast of Australia and the two main islands of New Zealand with a connecting dashed line and arrow joining the two, representing her flight. Added to this is a stylised shape of her aircraft.
Natalie Cao is a Chinese national who came to New Zealand several years ago to study English at AUT. Interested in becoming a professional jeweller, Natalie preferred to return to New Zealand to learn the profession, as our methods of teaching are in her words “better than what I could find in China.” Again Jean Batten proved to be a popular choice, working in silver. The design is based on a medal formed with triangle shapes and facets as background to a central circular relief of Jean Batten’s head and shoulders, and the words “Jean Batten” as the surround. The obverse is a little different with the words “FAI 1938” being the international recognition given by that body to Jean Batten, and a ribbon trail leading to a relief of her aircraft, representing the long distance flown. Natalie has not yet decided where her future jewelry manufacturing career will take her.
A resident Aucklander, Alexandra Weaver, made Cobber Kain her subject. Using copper, her hexagonal design features a relief of Cobber Kain, based on a famous PR photo taken in France of him standing in his Hurricane’s cockpit, with his name and “RAF” on the front. The obverse carries the words “France 1940,” his decoration ‘DFC’ and a stylised Hurricane. Having completed the course, Alexandra indicated she may go on her OE taking her new found professional skills and all important portfolios with her.
“We have been very impressed by the depth of research on their respective choices of aviator, selection of materials, and the finished products from the five second year students.” Course tutor Laurie Kearns told Aviation News.
- Report and photographs by Paul Harrison.
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