Commission: woven cufflinks

4 12 2013

A friend (who has previously commissioned me for a pendant and earrings) asked me to make some cufflinks for him. He’s a most stylish man, so this pleased me.

He selected a charcoal and a hot pink; he wasn’t sure which one he wanted, so I agreed to make both. Excellent indeed.

I secretly would love to see these two colours together, but he’s more conservative than that.

hot pink and anthracite woven cufflinks; image not to be reproduced without permission

hot pink and anthracite woven cufflinks; image not to be reproduced without permission

After making these, he decided to chose the charcoal ones.

The hot pink ones therefore will be off to Lord Coconut in the next few days. I do hope someone thinks they’ll be a magnificent festive-season gift!

An important note: I sell my woven cufflinks exclusively through Lord Coconut, and as I want to maintain a good relationship there I checked in with the gallery owner if this commission was okay with him before I started making. And as this is a dear friend, of course it’s okay – naturally makers want to make for friends!

Commission: turquoise earrings

13 06 2013

For Christmas last year a friend asked me to make a turquoise pendant for his mum. With her birthday coming up he wanted a matching pair of earrings.

Never fear, I’m really very sure his mum doesn’t read this blog – so her surprise won’t be spoiled.

image not to be reproduced without permission

image not to be reproduced without permission

My instructions were for a stud earring. As the stones are approximately 13mm in diameter, they were a little too large for the post to be central, so it is slightly above the centre line to make it sit slightly lower on the lobe.

image not to be reproduced without permission

image not to be reproduced without permission

I am always nervous making for this particular friend (you know how some friends will totally absolutely love whatever you make them; but some aren’t so forthright with whether they like something or not; complicated!) … so I hope he likes them, and I do hope ever-so-much his mum does too.

Commission: platinum weave

22 04 2013

It’s been some time now since I was commissioned through Lord Coconut to make these items, but I’ve waited to post about them because they were a gift. While it’s not likely the recipient even knows of my blog, I didn’t want to risk spoiling the surprise.

This was the first time I’ve been commissioned by someone I didn’t personally know, through a representative gallery (well, they’re my only stockist to date).

Platinum Commission; image not to be reproduced without permission

Platinum Commission; image not to be reproduced without permission

Initially the client wanted a gift for her partner for their 20th anniversary, and as such platinum was to be a significant component. I understand she liked a number of the cufflinks in the gallery, and after a few iterations of ideas she asked if I could do my round weave cufflinks in platinum (with the settings in sterling silver). After investigating that A&E Metals could make me the platinum cloisonné wire I needed, I agreed.

It was then a bit exciting that she also asked for a matching pendant for herself (with the bezel in sterling silver; if you’re wondering, the bezels are deliberately file-textured).

In sending Lord Coconut the quote for the work, I had to make very accurate calculations for the pure platinum cloisonné wire requirements – as it was approximately $345 per meter (and the minimum order was one meter). So each little row of a 20mm weave (including the turns) was around $10 or so.

By way of comparison, at the time (from memory) one meter of fine silver cloisonné (0.8 * 0.15mm) was $2.20 and one meter of fine gold cloisonné (which I think was 0.20mm) was $240 … the difference to platinum being in part due to the metal being more expensive, but I think mostly due to the special manufacture.

Platinum commission; image not to be reproduced without permission

Platinum commission; image not to be reproduced without permission

I hadn’t worked with fine platinum cloisonné before, and was uncertain it would behave the same way that fine silver did. I probably should have expected it would, given the thinness of the flat wire sheet; though I did fear it may split and not be as malleable.

I swear I didn’t breathe the whole time I was weaving the panel … one mistake, one split in the metal, one break in the paper (which would mean attempting to unwind the weave and again risking breaking the metal) … the thought of making a mistake and having to buy more metal (and at a minimum of a meter per order, not to mention the week for manufacture and postage) was terrifying!

The fact it was platinum may seem extravagant at first viewing – with the exceptional cost of the metal compared to silver – but I do understand the desire for integrity and symbolism for such a special gift.

You can actually tell the difference to silver when they’re side-by-side: the platinum is less shiny, a slightly more matt grey. I like the platinum a lot, in fact I think I prefer it to silver … though cannot see myself playing around with platinum any time soon (except for commissions)!

My thanks to Mark at Lord Coconut for this opportunity.

Commissioning jewellery, my experience

19 04 2013

I recently wrote a post with some tips on commissioning jewellery.

I’ve taken a number of approaches myself and thought I’d share:
[note: no images in this post to be reproduced without permission]

  • My first was a ring made by my jewellery teacher – obviously direct contact; I knew exactly what I wanted and gave him a technical drawing (as such, not allowing much individual maker creativity!).
    my collection; not to be reproduced without permission

    my collection

  • My second was a pendant for my mum’s 50th birthday – again I made a technical drawing and cannot exactly remember how I found the jeweller but I’m pretty sure it was via internet search. A ‘technical drawing’ is very detailed with measurement, kind of like an architectural plan – it needs to be accurate enough for the jeweller to make from it without any other information or need for interpretation (see my example below).
  • My third was a ring by Jessica Morrison – through Studio Ingot. I’d been loving her work for ages and on a regular visit to the gallery decided to go ahead with getting a piece. There was a similar ring in the cabinet, though it’s size wasn’t right for me. I asked Sarah, owner of the gallery, to commission a ring – the only boundaries were that I’d like something similar to the ring in the gallery, same colours, I loved the gold addition, and just the size. So this is an example of trusting the maker, with an exemplar for the maker to go by.
    Jessica Morrison; amended copyright notice as above

    Jessica Morrison

  • My fourth was a brooch by Claire O’Halloran – being a friend, this was directly with the maker. I saw a piece of hers at the RMIT auction and wanted one! We talked about size and colouring, and apart from that I trusted I’d love what she made me.
    Claire O'Halloran brooch; amended copyright notice as above

    Claire O’Halloran

  • My fifth was my magnificent ring by Katherine Bowman. I’d been a long-time admirer of Katherine’s work through reading her blog, and that’s how we’d made contact and connected through our love for making. I knew I wanted a ring, and that I wanted a large stone; Katherine showed me some of the rings she’d made for herself and I immediately fell for this shape. From there I described the kind of stone I wanted and it took a little time (naturally) to source some – again, I knew immediately which one was for me. From there it was trusting the maker.
    published with artist permission; image not to be reproduced without permission

    Katherine Bowman

  • My sixth was another Katherine Bowman ring. Again by personal contact, but using an exemplar that I saw at the NMIT auction. It was kind of like saying ‘I want one like that, to fit this finger here’ … simple!
    Katherine Bowman ring; image not to be reproduced without permission

    Katherine Bowman

  • My seventh was a pendant by David Neale. Again, David is a maker I’ve been admiring for many years through his blog. I’d been in love with his Aster earrings for years, though I don’t wear earrings. So I emailed David and asked politely if he’d consider making a pendant. We talked about size and materials, and again it was a matter of knowing I’d love the outcome.
    David Neale; image not to be reproduced without permission

    David Neale

  • My eighth was the pendant for my Mum’s birthday. I made a technical drawing and knew exactly what I wanted made; and I also already owned the stone. So it was then a matter of what I wanted from the maker – this time it was technical expertise and time capacity (I think first contact was made two months ahead of her birthday). All jewellers have their own preferred aesthetic, and as one gallery staffer once said to me: ‘not all jewellers are okay with making conservative pieces’. I knew this design was the very definition of conservative; and so the more organic and more alternative jewellers wouldn’t have matched it. I know Anna Davern through her blog and work at NC4 (and just generally in the community I think!)… and I thought she’d be perfect. By no means do I mean this to belittle Anna’s expertise, it is fair to say this was less about creativity on the jeweller’s behalf (I did have a technical drawing after all!), and more about making.
    By way of example of a technical drawing, this is the one I made for Mum’s gift (you can see we changed the bail after this drawing):
    image not to be reproduced

    my technical drawing; image not to be reproduced

Not everyone is going to be inclined to make a technical drawing! Most jewellers are happy to just chat about your (even vague) ideas and distill them and perhaps sketch some ideas for you. It can also be helpful if you have pictures of jewellery with features or aspects you like.

As an example, I once just had a feeling I wanted a ring for my middle finger and I wanted it to be ‘statement’ and a dark coloured feature (pretty vague right). Through chatting with a gallery staff member within a few minutes that was refined to something more square or rectangular, a flat top, a white metal, less organic and more geometric, perhaps carved onyx. I didn’t go through with making that piece however, as at the time I was distracted by Jessica’s ring.

I’ve also been commissioned a few times by others to make pieces for them – you can read more about them on my 2012 page. Jewellers honestly LOVE being commissioned – there’s something so very special about making for an involved client who wants your artwork.

There is so much to love about commissioning jewellery – go ahead, I’d love to hear about your stories of commissioning.