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