Demystifying the commissioning process

Selling direct to the public and via my online shop at Folksy Shop I generally make stock pieces which are one offs or limited edition designs. Quite often a client will want something a little different from the item on sale. It might be that they’d like a different gemstone, a different style of ring or pendant with the same gemstone or something completely different all together.

Artists and Makers are very accustomed to working with their customers or clients to create bespoke pieces of art work. It is something that is done a lot.

The process by which these bespoke pieces are created is called commissioning. Many well know artists only work to commission. Others would never take a commission as it adds an additional pressure to their job.

The process can often be a lengthy one. If you were to commission a painting or sculpture that is going to cost thousands of pounds, you may wish to be involved at every step of the process. This could involve offering a source of inspiration, viewing initial sketches which must then be signed off on and then being involved with choosing the media, mounts, frames, scale and so on. This can all take place over many months, and in some cases years.

When I’m working with a client its a lot less convoluted.

I’m always open to receiving commissions, but will only work with my own remit and artistic style. I will never work from another jewellers design, but I’m happy to work from a customers original design.

In the images below go through the process using a recent client who has ordered a ring as an example. She was very lucky to receive a gift voucher for her birthday at the beginning of the month, her appointment lasted approximately 45minutes. She had seen my work on my Website  and at several open house exhibitions.

1.

My Client knew she wanted a ring. We looked at several examples that I had in stock, and she tried them all on. The first decision was which finger to wear the ring on! Then we narrowed down the design. And then looked at stones. Sometimes a client might choose a gem stone first.

2.

My client whittled down the choice of gem stone between a sugar loaf cut pink tourmaline, and an oval tanzanite.

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a stone for a ring. If the ring is for every day wear the stone must be hard wearing. The design and fit is down to personal preference.

3.

During our conversation I write down notes for myself. These will always include taking the ring size and giving the client an estimate of time, i.e. how long will it take me to fulfil the order. Also an idea of the price. In this case that is top secret!

I can work to all budgets. This may, however, preclude some gemstones or metals.

 

If you’d like to commission me to create you a piece of jewellery please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

 

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The Society of Botanical Artists

The Society was founded by a group of Botanical artists over 30 years ago, and now comprises of over 120 members. As a Society we hold one large exhibition every year, and members are currently working on an pieces for an exhibition which will be held at the Palmengarten in Frankfurt, Germany. We hold an exhibition biennially in Central London too. This calendar is interwoven with regional and themed exhibitions all over the country and abroad.

https://www.soc-botanical-artists.org/about/about-the-society/

Applying to be a member of the SBA was something I had never even considered until I had a conversation with my neighbour, Alice Harman SBA. Being a jeweller I assumed that an artist’s society was no place for me.

My plant inspired work has always been botanically inspired, and often very correct as quite often I use the botanical specimen to create the imprint on my silver. I use a technique called roller texturing which I learnt at college, as every jewellery student does. Once I left college this technique became the main focus for my work, I usually concentrated on leaves and flowers.

I offered my work for selection for the Open Exhibition and a few years down the line, my work having been selected every year, I was very pleased to be offered Associate and then Full membership. Over time I have seen the Societies’ exhibitions as a focus to create slightly more challenging and sculptural pieces. These have been very well received both by the Society, and my customers.

I was very honoured to be asked to design and make Sandra Wall-Armitage our President’s leaving present earlier this year. Which was presented to her at the Society’s AGM.

I am constantly looking for new inspiration in my surroundings, a walk in the countryside, around the garden or at the beach is always an excuse for a photo shoot to seek out the next piece of inspiration.

Tools of the trade

Over the years jewellers have invented new tools to ‘do the job’. Many items remain the same as they simply can’t be improved upon, and are still similar in design to those that were used in mediaeval times. Some are redesigned and just don’t work as well as the original. Other redesigns were a huge success.

medieval jewellery workshop

I have a mixture of second hand and ‘new to me’ tools. My Father’s studio was left fully stocked when he immigrated to America, so I was very lucky to inherit several wonderful bits of kit.

ring pliers

These are my favourite pliers designed for bending rings; I assume were second hand when my dad bought them as I believe they were manufactured in the 1940/50s. I also like using a big chunky pair of Maun parallels. (www.maunindustries.com)

maun pliers

I have two rolling mills, one is a Durston (www.durston.co.uk) and the other older set is probably as old as my pliers, not sure of the manufacturer. I assume they are both made in the UK. They made things to last back then. I use the bigger one for doing all my roller texturing work. Its survived being miss treated by students, and having sweets crushed in the cogs by me kids when they were small. The kids are now older enough to know better, but they were banned from entering for a few years.

I have several saw frames, but my two favourites are:

saw

One which I bought new when I was at college, can you believe that’s over twenty years ago? And the other lovely rose wood handled frame which is great for slightly bigger work, which I bought at a car boot sale.

My polishing machine has seen better days, but is still going strong. This was purchased new from Hatton Garden back in the 1070s when my mum was pregnant with me. I’d love to update it, but there’s really no need whilst it hangs in there.

My newest piece of equipment was a birthday gift from my dad. It’s an amazing all singing and dancing setting clamp. Which makes setting a lot easier. It comes off the bench and then is replaced by my peg when not in use so is multifunctional too. (www.grs.com)

Lastly, but not least, is my ‘can never be replaced’ setting tool. Made from a jewellery tool handle and a screw! I can’t use anything else, as it just doesn’t work. This little mushroom sits in the palm of my hand and is just right.

setting tool

Tools are like old friends, you pick up from where you left off, and they support you no matter what!

If you fancy learning how to use some of these wonderful tools or just come to visit my studio and showroom over the summer all my details are available on my website:

Jewellery Workshops or simply message me via Contact

 

How us it ‘that time if year’ again already?

Wow, it’s December 2017 on Friday. I simply don’t know where this year has vanished. My life seems to be steered by work and life, and trying to keep both on an even keel. 

  
Thankfully, the boys are very good at looking after themselves, and Big G, aka Granny keeps an eye out and helps with lifts when I simply can’t be in two places at once. 

Chaos reins at this time of year in my studio, it’s never orderly, but it really does get in to one big mess as I try to keep on top of all the orders and commissions.

  
This time of year the exhibitions and sales seem to be all or nothing, next week I’m taking part in three different events, all helping to celebrate buying local, supporting small businesses, and opting to buy hand made unique gifts for Christmas. 

   
    
   
We don’t need to buy oodles of plastic, electronic or designer gear. Why not give your loved one a gift that no one else in the whole wide world has. All the while know that you are supporting a local business. That business is probably run buy someone who loves what they do, they love to create, it’s what they do best. However, the only way they can make that lifestyle choice work is if they actually sell their work. Artists and makers are very privileged to be able to earn a crust creating, but it’s tough. You have to be a Jack of all trades, and on a steep learning curve. Being a sales person, a business manager, a procurement officer and a creator all at once.

Just think though you are purchasing a one off gift, quite often for a very small price. You are saving resources, buying original designs and getting something really special.

  
  
  
I do hope to see you at one of my last events of this year. 

On reflection it’s been great for me, with so many new designs and potential new clients. I’m really looking forward to next year, and seeing where it takes me!

www.klawriejewellery.co.uk
https://folksy.com/shops/katherinelawriejewellery

Happy New Year!

Well, what a year 2016 was. High impacting stories all over, from the start to the finish of the year. It’s easy to remain in a bubble and just put your head down. However, something’s just can’t be ignored. When anything happens which creates unrest in the world it actually has a financial impact on creators of jewellery. Precious metal prices fluctuate with the ‘markets’ and this changes the price of the metal I buy. The exchange rate affects the cost of the stones and beads I buy too. All the while I keep an eye on it and try to maintain my prices for my customers!

This Christmas Season was great. It’s so lovely to know that people appreciate my work enough to spend their hard earned money on it!

   
    
   
I’m hoping like the rest of the world that 2017 will be a more straight forward year, but who am I kidding?

I’m going to create a whole new range of jewellery, I’ve been promising myself for over a year now. Things just keep getting in the way. The kids go back to school tomorrow so no excuses not to put things into action.

Tools of the trade  

Inspiration comes from so many avenues. Here are some of mine.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
 I’m always trying to think of the best way to replicate these stunning forms in metal.
Watch this space for new pieces coming soon!

www.klawriejewellery.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/katherineLawrieJewellery/

It’s that Open House time of year!

       
May is the start of the Open House season.

I have been taking part in Open houses for around 15years. I been lucky to take part in several venues within the Artists Open House group in Fiveways. Fiveways Artist group was were it all started over 30 years ago.

 
This year I also took part in an exhibition called ‘Breaking the Rules’ which was at the Jointure Studio in Ditchling. An historically artist community!

 
It is the ninth year that an art trail has taken place in Steyning. I organised the Art Trail as part of the Steyning Festival. As the festival went to a biannual event, I stepped down from this role. Steyning Arts was formed. Several years ago I joined the organising committee. I am now current Chair, and along side a committee of eight other we organise various community arts events. Our role as a society is a combination of supporting fellow artists providing them with facilities to exhibit and hopefully sell their work. Also enabling the public to gain easy access to the visual arts 

  
   

www.steyningarts.co.uk
I always views these events as potential selling times, but more importantly a time to meet your public, and spread the word about your work. Display standards must be maintained. 

  
         

June heralds the start of open garden season. I will be taking part in Henfield Garden and Arts, West Sussex.

http://www.henfieldhub.com/festival-of-gardens-and-arts/gardens-arts-is-gearing-up-for-june

Also in July I will be at Parham House and Gardens, near Storrington, West Sussex, for their Garden weekend.

See you somewhere soon!

http://www.parhaminsussex.co.uk/events-and-courses/events.html

Spring is here!

Easter Holidays and I’m taking a break. Next holidays will not be until August. Brighton Open Houses, Steyning Arts ‘Just Off the High Street’ and Henfield Garden & Arts plus the Society of Botanical Artists means that I’ll have a busy summer.

I’ve been busy recently getting orders and stock ready. I have recently purchased lots of lovely pearls.

  Beautiful pearls.

            

Already to thread!

        

Lace imprinted bead close up of texture.

      

The Society of Botanical Artists annual exhibition in London.