A few pieces made for friends

End of the year and very aware I have been remiss in keeping the posts going.

With the new Jewellery Making Cornwall studio it is hoped that much more content can be added in 2016. Working the 2015 season in my friends shop, enabling others to realise their designs has been a fantastic experience. One I would heartily recommend to anyone who wishes to explore the limits of their knowledge. Expanding the possibilities and taking you’re learning to a level, most likely not achievable working on your own.

Just for the want of giving you something that I made, as opposed to working for others. These are a few commissions from friends.

Looking forward to the new year, bound to say, a bit apprehensive and nervous. The amount to work, money and responsibility needed to start a studio is surprising to me. Fair to say, been caught out a little along the way, more to come for sure.

A very happy Christmas and a magical making new year to everyone who continues to read my ramblings.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

 

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The logo for the earth station. Google it, amazing place. Made these cufflinks for a very good friend as a present for her son.

 

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Traced the logo onto a sterling sheet. Fretted it out then sweat soldered it to the backplate. My small repousse chasing planishing punch made the background texture. The thinking was, along with the patination, make it look more ‘lunar’ like.

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DSCF3672 Smashing lady this was for. A great make it up as you go along job this was. This shape was chosen, bonus is it also could pass for a kennel, framing the dog paw.

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Monster heavy necklace, I had to persuade the chap to go this ‘light’. He wanted thicker gauge!!!! Dates of children’s birthdays was done at Goldsmiths by laser engraving. The links were all forged to fit his pattern, well, almost but not quite nearly eh

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New direction

Thursday 12th November 2015 is the start of a new direction. Just signed a lease on a new workshop on the main Truro to Falmouth road In Perranarworthal. excited to have the key today. I will shortly be posting pictures showing it transforming from a clear space into a workshop offering short day and evening courses. Additionally I will be offering one off experiences, making each others wedding rings for instance. Alongside will be offered a selection of jewellery for sale. The aim is to have it all completed for the new year, perhaps a little before January, providing all goes smoothly.
After working a season in Porthleven I have found I absolutely love assisting others to make beautiful pieces that they never thought they could make. Long story short, with the blessing of my previous employers, Clair and Paul Pennington. I have decided to strike out on my own. Buoyed up in no small part by the huge success of the Jewellery Workshop courses in Porthleven.
I wish to take the opportunity to thank them for the experience. Also to wish all the very best of luck and the sincere wish that my replacements at Porthleven, Rachael and Zoe, get the same sense of satisfaction and fun that has been such a joy to experience.
Please do share any thoughts or comments, as they would be gratefully received.

Circle or disc cutter for making blanks for hand raising or sinking silver, copper, tinsmithing bowls.

http://youtu.be/WtyAoITMHFA

Wato wato all. Very long time no communication eh!

Lots of water has passed under my bridge, as for sure yours also, since the last posting on silversmithblog. My new job at the Jewellery workshop in Porthleven has been a mixed and varied bag of delights, horrors, failures and victories that will no doubt continue to crop up in the coming posts. Looking forward to sharing the experiences that will help you to realise its only you in the way of making what you envisage in your head. Remember, all I know is technique that can be learned with ease if the application of the craft is exercised in the correct manor.

Its appropriate for me to now state that, at this time, looking to the types of work needed to service commissions. Also items bought in for repairs and adjustments has rendered me a bona fide Goldsmith. Never in my earlier wildest fantasies did this enter into my mind. The challenges have been both frustrating and rewarding to say the least. Enough of that for now, lets get on with the real passion, silversmithing. Well copper for now anyway.

A long while ago a promise was made to video the circle cutter that I am very fortunate enough to be the custodian of. The link at the start of this post will take you, (with luck I have done all the right things for this to happen) to YouTube to see said video. Had no idea you couldn’t upload a video here, you live and learn eh.

For those who watched the clip, sincerely hope it was enlightening, perhaps even entertaining. Please do give some feedback as if you wish, more clips can be added if you so wish. I know YouTube is awash with really great content, though bound to say haven’t trawled through it for some time myself. I will not add to the numbers if it’s not relevant, up to you. Better still, encourage me to post something you may wish to have better explained that will help with more visual content.

I showed the model that has been an experiment, now it will go further with the four copper bowls that are, finally, on the way.

Reen makes wonderful quilts, probably mentioned this before. Pictured here are two of her creations that led to the idea of the designs to follow.

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As you see, they convey wonderful movement, along with wonderful patterns. The model in the video, if you look closer, uses these lay out patterns, or at least like them, to start. I wondered how the raising process would effect the geometric, straight lined patterns. The distortions are very pleasing to my eye, wishing you may agree. They lend themselves very well to chasing and repousse decorative techniques, don’t you think.

Missing the larger scale work, working on small scale jewellery at this time, most of the time. Bound to say, I have been pining for more hammer work and less soldering/constructional work. Looking forward to seeing where this goes. As those of you know who have followed this blog from the start, major influences remain Hiroshi Suzuki and his hammer chased vessels. At least one of the bowls will employ hammer chasing, if you return to looking at his exquisite creations, the patterns I will use will be of a similar flavour to his signature natural forms. Not forgetting the awesome and wonderful human being that is David Huang, have I mentioned him before🙂 I intent to give these bowls a rim, with my own ‘twist’ as a nod to his massive, incalculably huge continuing influence on my approach. This blog was in large part influenced by his generosity, for those of you who have not, please do look him up, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

I do not want to go on too much as I know this is a continuing personal failing. Suffice to say, its good to be back on the blogasphere. Please do get in touch.

I will be telling you more of my adventures as a jobbing jeweller in a busy shop, as well as my wonderful times as a tutor for the workshop. In two weeks I was fortunate enough to enable 60 people, including my now weekly 8 week beginners course that is rolling out continuously for the foreseeable future.

Until then, all my very best wishes.

Stu

Engineering workshop

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As you see, not a lot of room in here. Compact and bijou my friends, compact and bijou🙂 Finally had a new door fitted, lathe on the left. Next to the toolbox on the right the milling machine. Next to that opposite from the lathe the shaping machine.

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A swivel headed milling machine. The milling cutter can be seen centre of picture approximately between the two hand wheels. If you wish to be bored, explanation following.

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The shaping machine, compare the next picture showing the drive side. You will see the difference in the stroke of the ram. This is the control side. The levers to the rear are the clutch and two speed gearbox.

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The electors motor lives under the cabinet that supports the machine, the drive belt can be seen. The little hatch contains the eccentric adjustment to alter the length of stroke.

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This is a tool holder that fits into the clapper box. Don’t laugh, thats what its called. As the tool cuts into the workpiece on the forward stroke, on the return the tool can swing out of the way.

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This is the tailstock end of my beautiful South Bend 9 1/2 inch bench lathe. I mounted it on an old worktop on top of a stainless steel table that was scrapped from a commercial kitchen.

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To the left is the chuck that holds the spinning workpiece that is presented to the tool resting on the X Y carriage in the centre. You can imagine the tailstock holding a drill, thats not all it can do. You can see lead screw midway between the hand wheel under the tailstock, above the lever pointing down, see next picture.

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Behind this cover exposes the change wheels. These can be changed to allow the carriage to advance at a pre determined rate to facilitate the cutting of threads. You can also set the carriage to go very fast, for roughing out work needing large amounts of material to be removed. Alternately you can set it very slowly to give a beautiful even finish that is near impossible to achieve by hand alone. The next model on from this, as well as more modern and advanced lathes have a gearbox that means you can adjust more quickly using leavers only, rather than removing and swapping gear wheels over.

Wato wato all

Hope alls tickety boo with you and yours, Christmas round the corner and all that, nice to have a celebration eh🙂

I have promised this set of pictures for a long time. This is the ‘dirty’ workshop. Used surprisingly a lot for silversmithing work. Well, not for the work itself necessarily, more likely to make jigs, special tools and fabrication bits and bobbs. I will give examples in upcoming posts, providing you feel this is a distraction from purely silversmithing and jewellery that you may wish to experience.

This post is a bit of a fishing expedition for me, being as I know, through experience, many of you have little, in some cases no knowledge, about engineering tools and processes. I feel sure it may appear upon first acquaintance irrelevant, boring even, nothing to do with making jewelery or silversmithing work in general. You may be surprised.

I will not dwell on each machine too much here so as to give a gentle introduction. Too much too soon is probably not the way to go as these machines are limited only by your imagination. The salty bit though is you do need a basic grounding in the dos and do nots to save on wasted time, ruined projects, not forgetting personal safety. All these machines are capable of inflicting severe damage on our bodies, even a simple thing as not wearing safety glasses/goggles can lead to catastrophic damage to your eyes from hot, sometimes razor sharp shards of metal flying away from the surface being machined. I leave it to you to research the safety, a great place to start is from a fantastic resource here in the U/K

http://www.lathes.co.uk/

This is a place to learn about all the various machines, old and new. Go on, try it, you may like it.

Of the three machines I highlight in my garage workshop the broad brush differences are as follows; A lathe presents a sharpened tool to the spinning workpiece, a milling machine has the work stationary, held down whilst a spinning tool cuts into it. The shaper has more in common with the milling machine inasmuch as the work is secured in a vice or clamped to the table. The difference being the tool is pushed linearly backwards and forward, effectively scraping the sharpened tool over the workpiece.

I have chosen to give a little more detail of the shaper for two reasons; firstly, I feel it is the least known about of the machine tools, being largely superseded by the milling machine and has some real benefits to a small scale metalworker. It is also available as a hand operated mini machine that would be of real practical benefit to jewellery and silversmithing, also copper smithing and other sheet metal disciplines.

Studying the pictures of the shaper, imagine if you will a box scraper. This is a hand tool that cuts grooves into marked out channels to facilitate bending flat sheet into box type shapes. For instance a square box would require a 45 degree angle, cut almost through before bending up the sides into shape, then soldering. No matter how good, or practiced you are. You will have a natural bias, or slight wobble with a hand tool. The machine can do nothing else than cut perfectly strait lines, the only room for error is by marking out incorrectly, or allowing the tool to go too deep, through to the other side.

The picture with my hand in it shows one of many different types of tool holder. Using a grinder you can make a tool to the desired profile and angle on a grinder, transfer it to a holder, if a large enough piece of tool steel is used then directly into the machine itself. This is in effect the, for those of you who know about them, scraper that silversmiths traditionally made from an old file, bent to shape, filed and then sharpened.

I hope you’re not glazing over, to reiterate, I will continue to explain some of the uses for this, and the other machines, in a future posts if you feel it is something you may like me to share with you. The shaper is probably the most under appreciated machine of the modern times. Can you picture old woodworking moulding planes? You know, the ones that make patterns in wood strips, the sort of shapes that are used around windows, better still, decorative picture frames. A shaping machine can be set up to produce your own unique shapes in wire with inexpensive pieces of tool steel, a dremel/flex shaft, grinding wheels, files and the like. Wonderful stuff eh.

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On a more personal note. Thank you so very much to Lottie. Pictured above is the wonderful guinea pig, lovingly hand crafted in felt I purchased for Reen for Christmas. I can highly recommend her wonderful work. For those of you who are sensitive to letters such as I shared with you all. Bear in mind, if the beautiful, unique and one off creations, such as this don’t make the NOTHS cut. Fair to say we are in good company. Please don’t give up, onwards and upwards. What business people say and mean are not necessarily anywhere near the advertising hype. If this work does not meet the criteria, fair to say its probably too fickle to explain anyway.

http://www.lottiescottage.co.uk/

Lottie is one of the people kind enough to comment on the NOTHS rejection letter. It really has been the most commented upon post I have written. I want to try to explain a little more my reasons for it.

http://en.gravatar.com/happyhavenforge#pic-1

Vince from the happy forge makes a fantastic point, please go back and read it. My reply I will not repeat here, also the lessons from Vince are for all to take something away from as he kindly shares.

An argument I have made in the past to be illustrative of a point is as follows and I hope you understand the link I attempt to make.

If you or I were to cut an animal in half and pickle it, pre Damien Hurst, in all probability we would be branded lunatics, perhaps even sick. Damien Hurst does it and he’s a visionary.

My attempts in that post, also the point I try to explore as a metalsmith attempting to be represented in outlets. I feel my work, and in all likelihood yours also, is not the challenge. If the work of Mr Hurst is valued, fair to assume most anything will sell in the right setting don’t you think? My question is always, what is it that separates the ‘visionaries’ from the also rans.

http://www.camalidesign.com/

Another fantastic contributor to the debate, awesome work with a website to swoon over. I absolutely get why this wonderfully creative maker is represented. Thank you for your contribution, I feel sure others will have learned something from your thoughts.

Nina Parker at;

http://www.workingglassjewellery.co.uk/

Rejected, why? Again fantastic site, great presentation. On the face of it, ticks all the apparent boxes. Thank you Nina for sharing. This is the sort of, to my eye, disparity of the selection process.

Perhaps I have answered my own questions. On a given day, with a given selector, perhaps its all in the lap of the gods, nothing to learn, just experience.

I’m very keen to give voice to stories and opinions such as these. Fair to say rejection smarts for all of us. I have just been rejected by another gallery that would have given me an enormous boost if it had all gone to script. I was asked by the manager to show the co-owner, that person gave me huge encouragement. I was sent away and asked to present a body of work. Spent more than I had on supplies, spent over two weeks making a body of work to present only to fail by the other person having the casting vote. No feedback “we have enough jewellery at this time thank you”

Again this is not about how good, two out of three ain’t all bad, I take that much from the experience. What I find myself perplexed by, and unable to let go, is the inability to understand the criteria many of us need to be attractive to the gatekeepers.

Ending on a good note. I had a huge success at a jewellery party thrown by Reens sewing group. I now also have five commissions from a person I work with at the hospital, so not all bad by any stretch of the imagination. So I have no problem in believing my work will sell, it does sell. I just wish I had a better understanding of the when, where and how to of approaching the right places.

Keep on door knocking my friends. Well those of you who, like me, have a challenge in that department. For those of you more savvy to the ways, please do continue to share.

If I don’t post before. A very happy Christmas to you all, heres to being better represented in the new year for all of us eh. Thank you all for your continued input and support.

All my very best wishes.

Stu😉

Jewellery instruction site, awesome!!

Wato all

I feel sure I will loose quite a few of you when you realise the wealth of information that can be learned here. Very very slick site, he even has a podcast for you to listen to!!

http://jewelrymonk.com/

I hope you find it informative and helpful. I hope to be able to share some good news with you in the next post.

until then, very best wishes.

Stu😉

Annealing and some modified ‘special’ tools

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Wato wato one and all.

I trust all is tickety boo with you and yours, back to the making part of the journey, my favourite. Who thinks the business and marketing side is favourite for them? I need to party with you if you are that person🙂 For the rest of us, lets talk tools.

I had a question regarding the set up I use for annealing. The first picture shows my trusty Sievert set up. This is a very old set I purchased second hand on Ebay. Beware if you do similarly, this one leaked like a basket. On closer inspection the handle cracked and I had to modify/make new parts to make it gas tight. As far as I’m aware, Sievert no longer make this kit. However if you wish to have a set up like it for a fraction of the price, Machine Mart in the U/K have a comparable system, not Seivert, that looks very interesting and equally, if not more versatile than mine.

The first picture highlights the three nozzles I use most. The smallest one (part number 3937) is great for small work, think jump rings and the like. For general soldering and annealing of larger jewellery pieces, cuffs, large wire bangles ect, the one in the middle laying on the handle is great (part number 3941). For annealing vessels, quite large ones at that, in a shielded (firebrick) enclosure I have annealed a ten inch sheet with the nozzle shown attached to the handle in the first picture (part number 2943). The third and fourth picture show the smallest, with the needed small neck, and the largest in the kit. The largest nozzle I have (part number 3944) is shown lit on a very low setting. I show it here for you to see a soft flame is possible with this massive nozzle. I like that the flame given off is huge, it sounds just like a jet engine in the workshop, roaring away and bathing a very large surface area in a moderate to high heat. I find this creates an enveloping environment that is less likely to produce hot spots that more fierce and directed flames used by some twin pack set ups, like Oxy Acetylene for example. MAPP gas is hugely expensive. For large sheets I shudder to think of the cost. To my mind its overkill as the temperatures these systems are capable of are never needed if you stick to silver, copper and the like. The twin pack gasses are really best suited to precious metals where very much higher temperatures are required to anneal and solder. I appreciate this is my opinion derived through my experience. Please do comment if you have anything to add.

I use common garden Propane. The second picture shows my additional step down regulator. If you choose to have a, do everything set up, like mine, best you invest in one of these. Great for toning down when using the smaller nozzles with a simple tap, as you can see. I can’t speak for countries other than the U/K. The Propane I use comes in a red bottle of various sizes. Its very reasonably priced, if you do a lot of annealing then you have the option of a 47KG bottle that will last along time. I have the smallest bottle in the workshop, and a couple of larger ones for annealing larger work under my carport, I have another handle and hose, just needing to swap the nozzles, you can see the spanner in the 3rd picture.

I understand that Butane is calorifically higher, hotter, more bang for your buck. I have not felt the need to try it, besides I would need to purchase a new regulator if I did. If you must mix. Sievert, and other handles are available that will allow you to add air if you wish. This will make a very much hotter flame, I guess you could hook it up to a compressor if you wished to keep cost to a minimum. If anyone uses such a set up, I, we indeed, would be very interested to learn of your experiences with it. Butane is sold in blue containers with similar sizes, though I don’t think you can get the giant 47KG ones as you can with Propane. Again I am ready to stand corrected should anyone enlighten.

I have been asked to make a necklace with forged to undulating round/ovalish shapes. The rub is, the chap wants it to be really weighty and asked for 5mm wire to start!!! I managed to talk him out of 6mm which was what he contemplated. These links are to be forged once turned into rings, soldered and shaped. Have you tried to make small rings with 5mm sterling silver wire! Man alive, it is tough to work into bends that small, getting the ends to meet for soldering is also a nightmare as it is soooo hard. The other conspiring difficulty is, the 83mm lengths to start with are a bugger to hold whilst you try to form them around a mandrel. The vibration is enough to rattle a chaps fillings, also keeping it still, trying not to hammer fingers, preventing it taking an aerial journey across the workshop was also challenging.

After fighting with the first one, bruised fingers and all, I decided to try something else, I share it with you here in the hope you may find the following tips helpful as they can be used on all sizes of wire if you wish.

I bent each end approximately 45 degrees and then put them in the contraption you see in picture 4. I only thought to photograph it afterwards, so the link you see is complete.

These ‘pliers’ were purchased on Ebay a while ago after I came across them in one of my second hand tool hunts. They are old pig ringing pliers. Used to attach nose rings into pigs. As you see, you have the option of two sizes. I was not strong enough to form them with my hands, resting one handle on a rubber block and tapping the other closed with a leather mallet. Fantastic and painless result, as shown. Ring forming pliers are nothing new, look on any jewellery supply site. However these are quite a bit larger than the ‘proper’ jobs. Also, who wants pig pliers, cost conscious farmers thats who. Not ‘oh its for working precious metal therefore its and arm and a leg please’ of the tool suppliers. Look up a set for yourself. These are aluminium, thats a bonus as they will be far less likely to mark your material, a danger with steel ones. Also, should you so wish, you could mirror polish them and use them for making production runs of perfect, unmarked larger jump rings ready for soldering.

Soldering is where the next challenge presented. The spring in heavy gauge wire is considerable. After getting the ends as close as possible it was still a gnats doo dah too large for soldering. Anneal the link to give some softness after getting it almost to meet then onto the next beauty I managed to think of. I tried to use binding wire. No way could I get enough tension, after trying I was also worried that if I could, this would bite into the link, scarring the silver.

When people know you make things, the best of intentions come out, though sometimes misguided. My mum found these e.p.n.s. sugar tongs at a boot sale. ‘thought of you Stuie, any good to you’?  You don’t like to say no when the thought was so nice and well intended do you. Off they popped into my dead, damaged and what the hell is this for, tool graveyard.

As you see in the final two pictures; brilliant for this job, the spoon end ‘cups’ of the tongs cradle the link and stop it skidding about. Wrapping binding wire around the handles, exploiting the natural spring in the tongs gave just the right amount of pressure required to close the gap, whilst giving the smallest of footprint to prevent too much heat loss through the heat sinking effect of having another metal object in contact. Also as the tongs are very much thinner than the link, this really helped to get the heat where it was needed.

I hope you come away from this post refreshed from the horrid last couple of navel gazing business oriented ones. If you get something from this post, please do let me know. I will share other tools I have made or modified in future posts. Until then, as always thank you very much for sharing the journey.

Very best wishes.

Stu.

Master metalsmiths David Huang and Hallam Ford – double treat

Wato all

No more navel gazing for a while, marketing and selling topics will be returned to in future posts. At this time work is continuing on simpler, faster to produce, therefore cheaper work to offer the market to allow me to go forward.

Back to the more interesting and far more rewarding topics of making eh🙂

Today in my in box these two gems were delivered. Bound to say the urge to share has made me want to fire up this site right after I listened and saw each one.

Ford Hallam is a traditionally trained, in Japan, metalsmith. I urge you to take the time to see this exquisite craftsman in a beautiful short film. The soundtrack is wonderful also. Hammer engraving and inlay work are just a couple of things that will engage you. Please take the time to navigate his site. He is working on a book series that will be a priceless resource for those among us who aspire to the highest levels of technical excellence.

I’m bound to say. When presented with this rare opportunity to see a master craftsperson at work. The chasm that is the gap between ambition and aspiration appears almost insurmountable. Daunting even when presented with a mirror showing personal limited ability, knowledge and direction to achieve it. I know you will love this short film. The link to his website follows the film link

http://bradshawschaffer.com/Bradshaw_Schaffer___Filmmaker___Yugen.htmlhttp://

http://www.fordhallam.com/

David Huang needs no introduction for those of you who have followed this blog from the start. Fair to say, somewhat of a hero of mine for more reasons than just his fantastic skill set and awe inspiring design aesthetic. I have corresponded with him in the past. A total gentleman and a very honest individual who gives you the complement of being blunt, telling you how he sees it, rather than thinking and relaying what you may wish to hear.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whaleystudios/2014/09/11/metalsmith-benchtalk-with-david-huang-creator-of-luminous-metal-vessels

This is a blog talk radio broadcast. The start is a bit scrappy. Stay with it it gets going at about 1min 45seconds on, 2mins and all is tickety boo.

I hope you enjoy these two treats. A huge thank you to all who commented on the previous posts. Again, it was not about looking for praise for the work, rather a cry for help as to where to go to sell it.

Until next time. Very best wishes.

Stu😉

Rejection reasons, thoughts and directions

Wato wato all

What a truly fantastic response to my rejection letter, thank you so much for all the kindness and support. In the darkest of times, its quite a comfort. However, the point isn’t to dwell on the negative, rather to look at possible reasons and fresh approaches that help to move an aspiring maker forward, regarding finding a platform;

An explanation as to why I chose to approach NOTHS to represent my work. I’m really very bemused as to what will sell, looking at the comments gratefully received, it is clear that the bulk of my work so far is not, on the face of it, very suitable. To get the whinging out of the way, I’m not selling near enough pieces to either give me confidence enough to make more. The other more earthy reason is, I’m running out of money to ‘waste’ on designs that are not popular enough to sell ‘where they are now’. Where they are now is something I will re visit to later in this post.

The new wave wire forged bangles proved to be a bit of a hit at the Jewellery Workshop in Porthleven. I have sold most all of the first batch in a few weeks. This gave me the confidence to make another run, having them photographed for the purpose of trying to be attractive to NOTHS. Why them? Two reasons, the first is purely financial; at this time, even if I was fortunate enough to be offered a place in another gallery/outlet, the cost of supplying them, sale and return, is highly prohibitive. I’m in enough dept, and parasitic enough to my hard working and long suffering spouse. The selling platform gives the opportunity to be exposed to a vast audience, NOTHS advertises on commercial T.V. Without the need for large amounts of stock, just a photograph of your work and a commitment, if the piece is sold out (if only), to providing the customer the option of waiting for a new one to be made for them. The other is a very clever piece of software that continues to work on my browser.

I feel sure we all look at other work; O/K I look at it all the time in an attempt to fathom desirable traits that people wish to see in a piece before committing to purchase. As written, NOTHS advertises on T.V. I looked them up on line, punched into the search ‘wire bangles’ and compared what was on offer, with my own. Tickety boo, thinks I, my forged bangles will not look too out of place here. Fair to say, I pretty much forgot about it for a while. Then when looking at a totally unrelated site, the bangles I had looked at were flashing on the page with a click to return to NOTHS. Very very slick and clever, it appears that if you look at an item on the website, somehow an add will present itself when you least expect it, to bring your mind back to the piece you last looked at whilst on the site. This was a large part of why I approached them.

Unfortunately, unlike the people who very kindly took the trouble to comment, this should have been the start of a better closer look at the site and a closer investigation to find out if my work was best suited to be there. I paid the price didn’t I.

To be eager to get somewhere is not good enough. The forged wire bangles perhaps could have ticked the box for them. One of the issues could have been, just these having a degree of mass appeal. Making me, at best, a one trick pony with little else to offer them, or anyone else.

I have to put my hand up to another, far more personal and embarrassing reason why I wanted to be apart of this site. I’m hideously useless and very apprehensive when it comes to meeting people over a table presenting my work. I used to have, my parents may say at one stage too much confidence and assuredness. Alas, as I have grown older, the scars have hindered me to the point where I’m almost paralysed by the thought of having a stall. For those of you thinking of selling your work I would respectively suggest you need to address this serious character flaw if you too are similarly minded.

Of the people I know of, both personally and by watching from afar, the thing that appears to bind them in success, is the confidence to stand up with their work and present it to the world. I do not suffer from envy, however if I’m minded to think of an emotion that resembles it in my field of experience, this is it. Not only that but valuable feedback if there for the person meeting and greeting people from their stall. This is pure gold for finding ideas and fresh approaches to make successful designs.

Long story short, after a string of failures in my work record, all I wanted to do was work alone. Having to, through necessity and choice, work with my hands since a child, I was drawn to this craft. Another word of caution to others who may be in a similar place, don’t forget marketing and presentation, I did, look where its led me.

My romantic vision of this type of creative work had me imagining, being alone, making in my workshop, whilst galleries and outlets email d me invoices and repeat orders. Not happening now, nor in any future I can see at this time. Highly unlikely, has anybody any idea of the path that needs to be trod to get to this, for me, end point. As you see, this is actually a third point why on line retailing appealed to me as an individual.

Being weak in this way is, I know, severely holding my progress back. Everything I now look to make is tainted with the ‘need’ to be popular, to obtain a foothold. This was never a consideration from the start, as such it is alien to me and a real source of anguish that was not planned for.

I believed at the start of my making journey, I still do, that a market exists for everyone who makes personal items. I had absolutely no concept of the difficulty facing, me at the very least, a maker in a quest for recognition by the outlets that are needed to realise a personal potential. Worse than that, who to approach and where to look to find them? I have no idea at this time, only the desire to continue on this path has prevented me from throwing in the towel.

Those of you who read all of my posts may recall a reference to an old silversmithing book; potted version, if your not in the right mindset, you will make awful work.

This could very well be at the heart of my current situation. I share it here with you to give some comfort to others who may be similarly self ham strung as it were. Rest assured, a very intensive inner battle is being waged at this time. Being absolutely desperate to get out of my own way, it will happen someday soon. I will let you know when the epiphany happens!

Back to the selling conundrum, again i will ask for any and all advice that you may be kind enough to share. To be clear, and this is almost worst as a result of my position at this time; I am very happy with the work I produce. I love the process the finishing and the modification of tools and learning new techniques to realise them. I don’t take it personally when outlets reject me. I know I that as an individual, also my pieces, are Marmite – love or loathe me/it. Marmite still has a solid fan base though perhaps not mass appeal. I ‘just’ have to find my base.

Too hokey, though I will share my thoughts out loud to see if it resonates with anyone. Does a persons inner demons reflect in their attitude, and work, making them perhaps unconsciously undesirable to the majority of decent people. I appreciate this is a hideous self centred concept. I only mention it here as most other avenues have been explored by me. Again this could well be at the root of much that is presented to me at this time. Perhaps inadvertently deserved. If so, then a person must stay positive to the thoughts that change is not only possible, but essential and inevitable when presented with better examples and avenues. This is where I still hope to glean something form others who may be kind enough to ‘tell it how it is’ far rather than just be a fair weather friend.

This is where the rejection letter is, to my opinion, very weak, contradictory and wishy washy. By the act of applying, the message is clear, the person wants to join. By not giving a reason, how is this helpful? Imaging sending your CV to a company, going through their selection process, only to be told; we appreciate you wish to join, your CV has gaps in it, though we will not tell you what they are. Keep on trying and find out for yourself what you think we may want and by all means re apply. Is it me?

The same goes for not wanting to influence, why not, its up to the maker if they wish to act upon advice given. Again, by applying, the goal is to join, any and all help is surly implied should one not be successful in meeting standards that are not made clear when applying.

I have, to be sure to be written too much. Whats more worrying is that this post could have been over twice as long!!!

In conclusion, please do comment as this is, to my mind, the most important topic regarding the future success and long-livedness of a future maker. There is a justification in saying, all that I am good at can be tought. It is all mechanics, techniques and applied reasoned practice. Anyone can do it. You cannot help but improve with the right practice. The tip of an iceberg just touched upon here, is a far more difficult circle to square. 

If my work is to continue to be as one off piece, great, very happy with that. However if it has to become more mainstream, at the very least have a degree of it to help fund the more quirky designs. I wish that greater insights will be forthcoming in the near future.

Thank you all again for such a fantastic response. Please do comment, your interest in the topics I raise is a great honour to me, as previously said, its also a great comfort. What else can we explore and write about😉

All my very best wishes.

Stu

 

Rejection letter

Wato all

As promised, warts and all, here is a copy of my rejection email. Fair to say not a great feeling. Message to self, keep on trying🙂

I share it here to give others a chance to both comment, please do as you see nothing to concrete indicate why, not helpful to be able to look for possible improvements, new directions. Also to give some solidarity to those with similar experiences.

WE HATE HAVING TO SAY ‘NO’
Thanks so much for getting in touch with us. While we can see that there’s real potential in your products, we don’t feel they’re right for notonthehighstreet.com at this time.
We’re huge advocates of creative businesses, and wish we could say yes to all of the talented people – like you – who approach us. But after eight years of learning what our customers like (and have a longing for), 
This can be hard to define, which is why we don’t have hard-and-fast criteria (or are able to offer you any concrete feedback). Nor would we dream of making suggestions that could see you change products which are – more often than not – a creative labour of love. What we can do, though, is wish you and your business every success for the future.
Thanks once more for your interest in notonthehighstreet.com.
Kind regards
notonthehighstreet.com

As you see, not signed so no one you can talk to discuss. Work it out for yourself is the hidden message, whilst keeping the door open in case you get good in future.

It is a real frustration to me that, as so many things in life, the apparent need to be ‘nice’ rather than kind and constructive by telling a truth. A truth that, in the long run is so much easier to reconcile, than the tantalising glimpses; ‘we’re only able to usher in new products that we know for certain have that crucial appeal.’ That certain critical appeal???? Give us a clue as to; ‘While we can see that there’s real potential in your products, we don’t feel they’re right for notonthehighstreet.com at this time’.

Back to the doldrums of navel gazing as to the next direction to take. As always, please do comment, looking for possible reasons, lets have an open debate. I have broad shoulders, figuratively speaking, give me both barrels, please do. I am not  truth adverse I just have a challenge finding and being presented with it. How many of us are fortunate enough to get by to the best of our potential without the thoughtfulness, kindness and directed effort of constructive criticism. I very much welcome yours, ‘warts and all’😉

Very many thanks in advance.

Stu