RAKING OVER THE DETAILS
Initially, the combs were treated much as 'samplers', to work out the technique of colouring the titanium only in the insets. The rest of the titanium is left the natural grey colour. The recesses in the comb above are predominantly one colour only, in order to simplify mastering the process. As this was acheived, the range of colours was broadened, as in the pieces below.
The 'Star Combs', above, were also the testing ground for setting two stones into the titanium, table to table, in such a way that an 'upset' stone presented on each side of the piece; hence there is no 'back' to the works, which have the same appearance in colour and stone either side.
Eventually, the combs evolved into brooches, with a larger diversity of set stones than just citrines representing the sun. Moonstones, garnets, etc., were used in conjunction with suitably shaped and coloured insets, to represent saturns, comets, and so forth.
Ultimately, the combination of technique and material were incorporated into the greater body of Phill's work in a more normalised manner. The brooch above, 'Squaring Space', part of the solo exhibition 'Squaring the Circle', which Phill had at Makers Mark Gallery, Melbourne, in 199 , shows a more spare and restrained execution, with the catseye chysoberyl and the star diopside perfectly matched by the forms they are inset into.