Jewellery and silversmithing photography

Wato wato all,

A lesson learned far too long to realise, presentation is sooooo important if you wish to appeal to the people who will allow your work to be presented to the purchasing public.

do not underestimate the value of professional images of your work. They will pay you back the cost many times over. It’s my experience,

an image taken on a phone just will not cut it next to studio images, such as these.

 

Until next time. Very best wishes.

Stuart G.

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What a dramatic result. Energy and movement with a juxtaposition of the pebbles on a stream theme

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Water and silver, smashing movement in this image. Attractive and interesting.

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Wonderful example of a clean group shot. Websites love this sort of image.

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Opal ring commission

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Dark, still detailed. You try it!

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What a dramatic result. Energy and movement with a juxtaposition of the pebbles on a stream theme

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Royston turquoise 

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Another Royston Turquoise, not many left.

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Experimenting with textures on this Amethyst dome ring.

Jewellery Making Cornwall Students, stones and smashing work

Wato everyone,

Eight months of starting Jewellery Making Cornwall, here are just a few of the successes. The following are pictures of participants in the six week beginners course held here in the beautiful surroundings at Perranarworthal, between Truro and Falmouth in sunny Cornwall.

I will post more of the activities here in future posts. For now, like me, for sure you are all impressed with this fine snapshot of the work completed by people, most of who have never made a thing before. The more intricate are from some who have continued to be a part of this creative hub, joining the weekly three hour sessions for improvers.

I will post more pictures of the site and exciting opals and other stones shortly through my friend Stuart Wheeler who is joined next door.

Jewellery Supply South West is on Facebook if you wish to look beforehand

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A week three beginner!!!!! As you see, a real talent for sawing. As you can imagine, this lady was super proud of her achievements. This is the ladies name in Arabic cut out and sweat soldered to the pierced pendant.

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A first attempt for a lady to make a chunky signet ring for her sweetheart.

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Clay casting with my specially made half’s specifically for making rings easier to cast, rather than the more usual round rings.

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The downside is not as accurate as ‘proper’ casting. However, its only a bit of elbow grease to clean up.

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img_0217 A pretty nice result, for sure you will agree. The chap never takes it off. Awwww.

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The level of creativity some people come up with is astonishing.

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Wonderfully simple with unique one off fitting.

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A smashing lady made this tie clip for her fathers birthday.

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He was in tears upon receiving it. Amazing the effect our handiwork can have. giving work so much more meaning that its utilitarian face value.

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A Disney princess had this idea for a bracelet. What a result don’t you think. Everything made from scratch, down to the individual ball ends.

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Some of the abstract forms are truly wonderful.

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A lady made this for her daughters birthday. Turquoise being a favourite stone.

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Lady came in with an idea. Can we make this. Yes, you can, and she did.

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Another request made real by the person who thought it here in the workshop.

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Another birthday present for a daughter. Ruby flower designed by Mum.

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Contemporary clean and very sophisticated and exacting. Zara is now promoting her own brand, starting out on her jewellery making adventures after completing the beginners six week workshops.

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The final project for Zara. Pretty awesome you will agree.

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Check this out. The killer clown. A very creative lady who is a photography whizz. As you can see, a massive undertaking for a first personalised project. Bloody brilliant bracelet eh.

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Another final project, flower ring, designed and made here by a young lady with a strong will and the determination to back it up. Wonderful achievement.

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A 15 year old young man came with his grandmother who is already an improver. This is what he made never having touched a tool before. As you can imagine, his Mum was over the moon.

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Loving the layers and three dimensions.

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Whats to add!!!!

I will post more pictures of students work from time to time.

Until the next time, not eight months.

All my very best wishes.

Stu.

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

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 😉

Sterling silver forged bangles and a brooch that doubles as a pendant

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Wato wato all

Opportunity is a double edged sword isn’t it, my friend, also a survivor of ‘education’ from the previous year, Nicola Bottono http://nicolabottono.co.uk.websitebuilder.prositehosting.co.uk/

asked if I would drive her to see Paul Mountsey, the photographer who now takes all of Cornwall Crafts association pictures, as well as my previous professional pictures

http://www.paulmounsey.co.uk/

http://www.cornwallcrafts.co.uk/view-craftsmaker/221

You will love her work, dedicated as she is to her vessel pendents, go have a look and read about her inspiration, the pictures taken of her work are fantastic to see.

I have had a bit of a run on these forged bangles, the Jewellery Workshop has sold quite a few. I was in the fantastic position, for the first time, of having to pull my finger out and make some more to cope with demand, great stuff eh. The summer here in Cornwall is good at this time, the children have broken up from school and the tourists are flocking to Porthleven, and buying my work.

Never a great time, I wanted to spend more time on this batch to go to be photographed, Nicola, alas, had time constraints and had to be there on a day that suited her busy schedule. I had to complete my sample, just back from Assay, completed on the evening before. I am not 100% happy with the results. Proof positive that rushing is never a great idea in our chosen field. However they do convey something of the wave like appearance they present as they are twirled around ones wrist.

I also found another hammer at a second hand stall, modified it and had a play. The two finishes offered, one just lightly planished, great for refracting light. The other, with the aid of two hammers, are given a directional finnish to accentuate the curves as they spread out in the wider parts, compressing in the transitional parts of the forged design.

I also like the way, when looked at the opening, the directional way the four opposing waves present each side, give the impression the bangle is square. I’m bound to say I’m over the moon with these, all sizes have a subtle difference that is best seen up close as the pictures have a job conveying the way they are over the three widths. I started with 3mm, 4mm and 5mm sterling silver round wire, soldered into a round. I made a stake especially for these that gives me a consistent angle as the ‘waves’ are forged, four one side, then flipped over to do the other side. The smallest (narrow gauges) are able to be completed in one, sometimes two annealing stages. The 5mm ones are quite a grunt to get them to move and require more work than their appearance would at first suggest.

I received the pictures, then put in my application to sell through a web based retailer, I will tell you all about it when I get some feedback, don’t worry, warts and all 🙂

As many of you know, it has been a struggle for me to come up with more commercially viable work. I will continue to chase and repousse some work, however I intend to concentrate more the forged line as fewer people appear to be doing such work. Now I’m very aware, this is also the case with repousse, the difference here is the cost of completed work. This is very much more affordable due to my being able to make forged work very much more quickly.

Some may remember me mentioning, I started my working life as an assistant to a farrier, a blacksmith specialising in making and fitting horse shoes. When I attended College, silver prices were very much higher, I wanted to go back to forged work then, a mixture of ridicule and price made me re consider. This is not an issue now, bound to say I feel like, a little tongue in cheek, an adolescence is being re lived a little, great stuff.

I have had steady sales priced at £69.00 3mm, £129.00 4mm and the monster 5mm is £189.00. I will put these on my website ASAP to go with the other directions written about above.

Now to the pendant and brooch combination. I felt that it would be nice to give added value to some repousse work by making a pendant that can also, if chosen, be pressed into service as a brooch. This has been very well received and ameliorates some of the cost considerstion. A bit like buy one get one free if you like.

I have posted pictures I took alongside the professional ones to give you some idea of how I did it. The pin is made from dental grade 1mm stainless steel wire, I made the silver tube for the pin to pivot in. The catch incorporating the pendant loop was made from a single piece of Sterling silver wire, forging the pin retainers, bending them into loops before soldering. If you would like more information, please let me know, I’ll post more detail if you’re not clear.

I have a huge favour to ask of you all. I know most all of you are fellow makers, not buyers. When you see fit, please pass on my details to others who may be interested in purchasing, or selling on my work. Needless to say, I would be overwhelmingly grateful for any leads you are kind enough to share.

I havent forgotten the ‘dirty’ workshop piece that is to be shown, still later than planned. Bit of an embarrassment to share; being a lumbering, clumsy oaf of a chap. The door to the shop was sticking, I bumped my hip against it to secure its closure due to the swelling of the door, damp here you see. The resulting crash of broken glass and splintering of broken door meant I had to tarpaulin over the hole, sheltering my beloved lathe behind it. The resulting furniture needed to keep it waterproof whilst a replacement is made means the shop doesn’t look much like it should right now.

Now I have some funds, a replacement door should not be too long coming, then I will post pictures and explanations of the various bits and pieces I use.

Until next time, thank you again for keeping in touch.

Kindest regards and very best wishes.

Stu 🙂

No better way to start repousse and chasing

A great place to start if you wish to learn about chasing and repousse.

Victoria has a first time sale. I highly recommend you consider her fantastic instructional DVDs.

If you like my work, it’s unlikely I would have made it this far without her instructional work. Also a very kind lady who will respond to your questions.

I will add, I do not receive anything by writing his. I would just like to share the experience, as I found it invaluable.

Best wishes.

Stu Art.

 

http://www.victorialansford.com/dvd.html

 

Sterling silver moon ring how to with home made tools. Part 1

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The completed, hallmarked sterling silver rings.

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The first, spiky example was my first attempt at a ring at my first year of College. I am drawn to this type of construction, though I wouldn’t recommend this ring. It was a good exercise on many levels, not least, how to make something totally unappealing 🙂 it taught me a lot about soldering though. The second was my first attempt to make a ring with repousse and chasing techniques to take advantage of the ‘skinned’ or two part hollow nature of these rings. The third is where this project takes off.

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To give you a flavour of the process, some experiments, drawn, paper mock ups and copper blanks ready for the next stage.

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This is not the final patter, though pretty close. If you do something similar I would recommend using graph paper, I did in the end. The reason is, when cut out you notice, especially in the following processes, that your pattern isn’t quite symmetrical. Graph paper makes this far more preventable.

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Some of the directions from the comfort of my drafting table,. Told you I couldn’t draw 🙂

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I can’t remember where I picked up this tip. Fabulous stuff this rubber cement for sticking paper patterns to metal. Cover the metal and the paper with the glue. Blow on the metal until it goes matt, slide the paper pattern and leave for a min or two. Saw up to the pattern, great stuff.

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Blank in copper domed in the block with a 15mm doming punch. Starting in a larger depression, moving down a size, four or five times. If you try too small too fast, it created nicks in the corners of the piece where it is trying to compress too quickly. Anneal if you feel the need.

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From a previous post. remember my, made from copper, filled with lead pitch bowl. This parcel tape fits the bill as a great stand for it. Some grippy cloth in-between keeps thins nice and stable.

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2mm and 3mm doming punches for repousse stage.

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Same again for the chasing part.

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Using a suitable sized doming punch, to fit the ring shank you need. Mark the overlap, cut through both layers (each side) to create a perfect soldering joint.

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Some of my miniature metalwork forming tools. See text.

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Showing how to round off the shank. Use a soft hammer, not metal as this will stretch the metal. Remember this if your outer is too tight to fit the shank. You can use a metal hammer to the stake to stretch it to fit.

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You can just see the air gap. I will go into more detain in the next post.

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The silver blanks ready.

 

Wato wato one and all.

This ‘moon ring’ was a request, I have no idea if it will sell, made a couple just in case.

This journey is in two parts, this one shows you a little background. Also the refinement of the design and the tools needed to realise it.

The references to looking to the text will be covered in detail in the next post. Hope you enjoy reading about it. Also I hope it inspires you to look at the things around you in a different way. You never know where the next tool is lurking, just keep looking.

Until next time. Very best wishes.

Stu Art.

Chasing and repousse´bowl, new German red pitch used for completing sterling silver ‘Lawrence cuff’

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See text for explanation of hot air/paint stripper gun.

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Because of the hight required for the ‘runes’, also the definition/separation from the background I wanted to achieve; you can clearly see the material ‘gathered’ from the surrounding ares of each stone to push more silver where thinning will inevitably occur.

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German red pitch, I now have experienced, is very much more supportive. To get this flatness with my normal green would have meant transferring from the pitch to a flat plate, using planishing punches to push back surrounding areas.

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To cover up the marks made whilst gathering material, starting to use different curved liners to give the impression of flowing water.

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Not shown, look at the slightly raised areas made by turning the piece over in the pitch to repousse´ small water eddie type effect.

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Close up of the water eddie effect I was shooting for

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After all the water flowing decoration was applied I planished each rune as best as possible with planishing punches. From the pictures of runes I have seen, many appear to be smooth and shining. Not my normal approach, I much prefer the planishing marks, however for the effect I was looking to create, polishing was next.

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After polishing came the application of the name Lawrence in the rune alphabet.

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All done 🙂

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From a previous post, remember the copper ‘sketch’?

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Another bonus with the German red pitch. Look at the impressions left after removing. It releases much easier, is a lot less messy and so much easier to clean up.

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Fingers crossed Lawrence likes it

Wato wato one and all.

The German red pitch is brilliant, I’m a convert. The green pine based pitch will still have a place in my workshop, I wont be throwing it out anytime soon, horses for courses as the saying goes. For rapid ‘puffing’ or the repousse´ stage, it still has a lot to offer, being as it is far softer than the red. At this time I feel confident in stating I will in all probability not use green pitch ever again for chasing. After using the red, it just isn’t supportive enough. When I made the copper model, yes I know its softer to start with, however I had to, after each course, return to a steel flat plate and return the surrounding areas to flat with mallets and punches. Not once did I have to using the red.

You will perhaps remember when I attempted to put in ‘Lawrence’ into the copper runes, they pretty much all collapsed. I feel very confident that would not have been the case if I had used the red, rather than the green pitch. Yes, the silver is stronger, remember though the amount of raising required to get the hight will have thinned the silver quite a bit, so perhaps not as strong as we may be lead to assume.

In conclusion, green for rapid and less precise repousse´ stages. Red for chasing and more refined lines, less planishing and more support. I hope this is helpful to some of you who, like me, wanted to know the difference. I still haven’t found anywhere on the web where comparisons are made, probably not looking hard enough, please let me know if you find such a site.

A very nice lady, check out her blog  http://patriciacarlson.wordpress.com/  told me of a workshop she attended with a master craftsman, David Bigazzi:-  http://www.dbcollection.net/

She very kindly passed on a tip she picked up whilst there. I show, in the first picture, a heat gun that I have always used for softening my pitch. I find the thought of playing a flame over it and all the associated soot, not good. My Dad is a heating engineer and he has a supper dooper programmable digital heat gun used to check out thermostats. I couldn’t afford one of those, but I got the idea this one. Its great for the job and has a variable heat setting that I find very controllable. Patricia also says DB uses such a gun for annealing!! How cool is that. I must confess I haven’t tried it yet, I will though. Could it be a better way, less risk of overheating and firestain. I will let you know, Thank you again Partricia.

Thank you all again for looking at this blog. Remember if you wish to see something, don’t hesitate to let me know, I love a challenge. I hope to show you next time some ring projects I have in the pipeline. A lady likes my moon series, but wants a ring made. I have done a copper model (no really 🙂 this will be a hollow design needing stakes that I made out of old bolts to create, I’ll show you how. Reen had been asking for me to do a moonstone ring, aaarrrrhhh stones, colour, get behind me Satan. I pays to get out of your comfort zone once in a whilr – right ;\

Until next time all my very best wishes.

Stu Art 🙂

Silversmithing one off pieces, how do we make our work sellable when pitched against mass market goods?

 

Wato wato happy new year.

I have been compelled to re print a section from my final dissertation regarding some of the challenges of selling completed work. The following is a bit of a heavy read, I do hope you take the time to plough through it, let me know if it chimes with you. Better still, have you anything to say, add or repudiate? It would be fantastic to hear from you.

It is my hope that we can start a discussion to help to square the circle that is getting a craftspersons work ‘out there’ as it were.

Challenging perceptions of value Some considerations and experiences for selling

At this time of plenty, people in this country have abundant choice, vast quantities of consumable goods in many and varied marketplaces both real and virtual exist. The relative low cost of buying very complicated, beautiful machines and objects presents challenges for the aspiring small scale producer. The public perception of higher cost, time consuming, low volume, or one off pieces gives incentives to obtain greater understandings. These will help to better understand potential mind sets, working towards formulating more effective sales approaches. The following quote gives an insight into what is a commercial reality for many well connected businesses. A new maker will not enjoy the same economies of scale, nor can they afford to be so dismissive of their customers, dealing as they will, to start at the very least, on a face to face standing.

http://www.newstalk.ie/2012/programmes/all-programmes/down-to-business/on-

this-weeks-show-33/ (2) Gerald Ratner, businessperson famous for his quotes about Ratner Jewellery “People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.”

This famous quote makes it fair to suppose that the great majority of the buying public are not very aware, nor particularly concerned as to the Providence, or quality of the jewellery they buy from his shops. As Mr Ratner was,and still is, with his new company, a very successful jewellery retailer. Without going into the whys and wherefores of Mr Ratners fall and rise, it is presented here as illustrative of a point regarding cost and value.

Reference was given previously to a blog written for the on line retailer

http://www.tworedtrees. In this blog one question was asked; Who would you most like to wear your jewellery? The following was the authors response;

A thoughtful person who considers my work and appreciates the time taken to make it. I was drawn to make jewellery for individuals, I have no desire to make jewellery for everyone. I feel that many people just wear some items because they were gifts or they were bargains, the wearer having little or no connection to the piece. A little like the feeling of having to have, say a diamond solitaire, because ‘thats what you do’, the wearer having no idea, interest or appreciation of the design, workmanship and trouble taken to realise it, seeing it only as a generic object to be ticked off of a wish list rather than an individuals potential masterpiece that they are the custodian of.

I want people to really desire one of my pieces and cherish it, continually exploring the service both visually and physically, someone who stands out from the crowd and ploughs their own path seeing the hidden beauty that is all around for everyone to see if they take the time to look. Someone who knows the

difference between cost and value as they will need to if they desire to own one of my larger pieces.

This would not be on Mr. Rattners mind, merely maximizing of profits, much else being of little consideration. To many a re seller with no connection, or intreats in obtaining a connection to the things sold in their outlets, economies of scale make this a commercially sound practice.

A maker, living in a very different reality, will have a huge amount of themselves invested in the work they produce. It may become very easy to loose confidence when faced with selling work in a marketplace that is predominately highly cost conscious.

This nation has been evolved from much suffering, enduring great hardship and exploitation to get to this moment. As the workshop of the world, the hub of the industrial revolution, we have progressed to the relatively privileged positions most here enjoy. We are all enjoying the fruits of our ancestors toil, the sacrifices they made, the continuing struggle with the owners of capital for the realisation of a life for living, rather than a working life for little living. All have benefited from the security of a childhood free from exploitation from unscrupulous business interests and all benefited by state provided schools and healthcare systems.

If a company were to set up in this country and employ children and people the way they are recruited in developing countries, as conditions were once here. Justifiable public outrage would result, these business owners would be likely be jailed, held up as an example to all of unacceptable, greedy and unscrupulous persons. These are the realities many people are not aware of, like the air breathed, cheap goods just happen. Would buying attitudes change if consumers were more aware?

As a nation we blindly buy ʻcrapʼ like Mr Ratner provided, safe in our ignorance of the sacrifices made by unseen people who have to suffer so we can have cheap goods. This is justified by the business community in the name of giving them the opportunity to grow as we did. How many of us would watch blindly as a person suffered a debilitating fall that we may have made, smug in the knowledge that they have to learn and experience it for themselves rather than speak up and guide them around the avoidable obstacle.

By thoughtful It was meant to imply a person who is aware and cares about their fellow citizen, having an awareness of the truth behind many businesses. Many consumers may not care, value always being associated with cost in their paradigm, possibly nothing could, or would change that. Others may take a different, more considered stance if presented with the realities highlighted previously. Many people may not be aware, some perhaps may change their perception as this perspective is better understood. A maker may find it productive, appealing to potential customers, perhaps, higher reasoning. The points raised are to give food for thought, this is to enable a reasoned debate with people, less a defense of ʻhigherʼ prices having to be realised to thrive rather than merely survive.

Goods perhaps have become a right if you will. Little thought as to need, rather want driven by avarice or entitlement rather than a true desire or appreciation of an item. The mass production of things that were once the domain of the craftsperson has distorted the equation of cost verses value. As a maker it is very important to make your offerings something other than a thoughtless product. Far more rewarding to elevate your work, making it special, helping to add value, perhaps even exclusivity to your brand. Be mindful that no one can produce high volume repousse work, that is special, customers may have to be better informed of this for enable improved sales success.

From the authors firsthand experience of selling a high ticket price piece to a woman accompanied by her husband, a new understanding that some peoples perception of value is altered when a fuller understanding was appreciated when discovered. The woman in question, at first, dismissed the bracelet saying she would buy the item if it were half the ticket price. After the woman and her husband came to understand the design process, experimentation, prototype model leading to the finished article, they were both genuinely astonished. So much so that they bought the item for the full asking price, both shaking their heads, saying that they would not put in so much effort for so little financial reward. The spouse congratulated the maker and now called it a piece of art, quite a turn around, the piece was the same, only the perception in the buyers mind had changed. It is mentioned in the context of a challenge highlighting this issue, one a maker is often presented with when handmade U/K work is compared with mass produced overseas offerings. In this instance the

ʻexpensiveʼ item the people were viewing was completely turned around after a full understanding of the process was realised.

Just as the point make about the diamond solitaire being little more than a tick box item for many people, perhaps an equal but opposite way of looking at the perception of value could be that a relatively low cost diamond can be viewed as highly desirable as it ʻlooksʼ expensive. Is this what many consumers may want, to look expensive whilst spending as little as is possible? In many instances it would appear so. It would be perhaps be less realistic attempting to appeal to sell such a person a piece such as this, it would not necessary look as though it required as much of an investment when casually looked at.

The ʻexpensiveʼ item was now viewed as cheap as the people framed the cost against the time taken to create it in their own point of reference. As working people in this country they, as we all do, face financial challenges that mean, metaphorically speaking, people in this country canʼt live on a bowl of rice a day, or less than a dollar as others have to enabling them basic survival in less fortunate countries.

Thankfully they connected, realised that the piece was unique, special and a one off that may be re made, but will still be unique as no two will be the same. This presented them with another reason for desiring this piece.

I could be suggested that, due to their being able to discuss the process with the maker, they will always view this item as special and it will likely be something to be cherished for years to come, one of the authors goals.

On a slight tangent, mentioned here in the context of giving hope to the new maker, wishing for a better informed, more understanding consumer. At this time an awakening in the conciseness of a great swathe of the public is taking place. The realisation, for example, that prices paid to farmers verses the profits made by supermarkets is unacceptable. Large faceless corporations are increasingly sourcing our produce from abroad where welfare for animals is largely ignored for the sake of higher profitability, this is being made more aware to the public. Large companies and super farms have been pushing out the smaller farmers by unfair subsides or tactical business strategies. Many have been farming for generations leading to less home grown choice in the high street due to cost being the overriding factor in production rather than the multifaceted value that diversity the smaller concerns present. Many consumers are starting to voice concerns, some no longer blindly buying food without first looking for assurances. Businesses are starting to cater, increasingly for a growing minority of more conscientious, discerning people.

As a maker, it is hoped to hitch a ride on this new awareness. As was written previously no plans exist to make jewellery for everyone. A hope is fostered that a way can be found to better communicate value against the overwhelming weight of hidden cost low price products carry.

These costs, when made apparent to some people, may make a difference to how homegrown handmade work is perceived, perhaps leading to more appreciative customers who now, hopefully make positive connections towards work offered.

Watching the internet grow from its start, seeing how it has transformed peoples attitudes to shopping some observations are worth being mindful of if the maker wishes to peruse this avenue. Engaging with, or overhearing conversations with consumers, when talking of an internet purchase they inevitably insert a phrase something like; and it was cheeper. This is a challenge for unbranded higher ticket items on two fronts. First the choice that this presents to the potential purchaser of products is truly mind numbing. It is very hard to make a piece stand out when many sites have price filters and people will inevitably compare a higher price ʻpictureʼ with a cheap one. This leaves the maker at a distinct disadvantage, a person, ideally, has to wear the item, the full effect being hard to imagine from an image on screen. If a makers reputation is good then this will not present as much of a challenge, providing the potential purchaser is familiar with the makers wares. An extreme example could be perhaps a Rolex watch, the same bought on the internet form Penzance or Paris. Not being in this instantly

recognisable category puts the new maker at a disadvantage that leads onto the challenge of finding the person who will invest in an unknown makers offerings in this environment.

An advantage of the internet not to be overlooked is the ability to use it as a means to show, or promote work. This can be useful as a kind of on line catalogue of the artists achievements, giving pictorial examples of the kind of work produced. Working towards perhaps engaging a persons interest enough for them to contact the maker to purchase or make enquiries for a personal commission.

Social media is also an effective means of promoting work, unpredictable it can also aid creativity by the visiting of others sites and gaining new perspectives. Other people can engage with the maker, perhaps not buying work, but leading the maker to discover many more things than would unlikely on a solitary journey looking to find information. Used as a new type of business card it is also great to be able to send your on line address to perspective outlets or clients, letting them browse at their leisure. The creation of a website is now becoming ever easier, cost effective and normal to expect from outlets that the newcomer may approach to represent them by displaying work produced.

Good representation is perhaps the most productive and the main approach that is invaluable to the new maker of low volume work looking to establish themselves in this diverse marketplace. One of the places to seek this is a gallery of some description. Consumers who visit such establishments are already

primed to expect prices that reflect the exclusivity of bespoke or low volume produced work. Upon entering a gallery many are more accepting of higher asking prices for often unique works. This being perhaps a reason for them to visit to be able to find one off special pieces, rather than a cheeper items available most anywhere from a branded high street retailer. Careful selection of the gallery is important as the makers work must be able to be seen in a like context with competing makers. Not much good selecting a gallery that are specialists in unrelated disciplines, or very much lower price point work that may make yours look expensive by association.

Going back briefly to the woman mentioned previously who bought a costly bracelet after speaking to the author. That piece was in a shop that predominately sells low priced items. This set the context for the person before they started as the pieces leading up to this piece were many times cheeper. One can only imagine the shock when the price is realised after browsing the items next to it. Perhaps this set the mindset that led to the comment by her ʻhalf price.ʼ

This would have been, in the shop owners opinion, most unlikely to have been the result had the maker not been there. The customer, perhaps, would not have been able to re think their first opinion that it was one hundred percent too expensive. In the context of that shop, perhaps she was right, It was very fortunate for the author to be able to connect with their values face to face on that day. This is presented to illustrate that even surrounded by less expensive work,

some people will understand and still buy. However it would not be wise to rely upon these chance occurrences for future success in selling work. Actively seeking out outlets that will support and promote you as a maker is invaluable. With this in mind Galleries were looked at to discover what they had to offer.

It pays to be very mindful of the effect that a strong personality can have upon the buying decisions of a potential purchaser. It is a fine line between informing and bulling that is a real skill few posses. Watching with fascination as a woman at a gallery selling various types of work engaged with potential purchasers. Her whole persona was professional yet warm, friendly and approachable. A middle aged woman of immaculate dress and a warm smile she was able to seamlessly guide conversation from the mundane polite chit chat towards finding out a little about people who entered the gallery. Asking questions that were never probing, although giving her an insight into the taste of the strangers before her. Her ability to engage eye contact and gently lead people to specific works was inspiring. The way she talked about the artists she represented was warm and very informed leaving the person in no doubt that this person could answer any question they may have about an individual artist, or would be untroubled to find out if she did not. The reason this is mention here is the obvious effect this has upon potential customers. A person representing a particular artists work of this caliber and dedication is priceless, they attempt to convey their enthusiasm for that persons work every bit as well as the creators of the pieces themselves.

 

 

I hope you managed to stay awake to read this, as always please do share your thoughts.

Very best wishes.

Stu Art 🙂

Repousse´ and chased flame patinated copper sunk leaf bowl

Wato wato all,

Hope you’re all looking forward to the festive season.

I have mentioned before, Reen is the membership secretary for the Cornwall association of wood turners. I have relented to her request to join, but not for turning, one turner is enough for any household I think. I have had a go at carving quite some time ago and so I enrolled on the woodcarving beginners class to see how I would get on. As you are aware silver requires quite a hefty investment before you can start something larger, as a result I go back to my trusty copper.

I have struggled since leaving College to establish myself so I am soon to be back on the hamster wheel of regular employment, helping to fund my further attempts at making objects that people may wish to purchase. I think this also pushed me to try the carving, a welcome distraction from my failures, perhaps it would give me a different view, some inspiration as to a new, hopefully more commercial aesthetic that other people may better relate to.

The leaf you see here is a direct copy of the template given to us by Johnny, our tutor. It was great to be involved in another craft, meeting up with others with a passion for what they do, comparable to mine in my craft. For what its worth, I would recommend that this is an approach that may help others, as it has helped me, it is very easy to become insular, seeing things from a singular perspective. Great if you are bang on target with the market you wish to attract, pretty poor if, like me, you are so far short that a shot of outside inspiration can be like a refreshing cold shower.

Once a month the woodturning club has a social evening, inviting a guest speaker to present to the group. Reen put me forward to give a talk! What do you talk about to people who work in wood? How do I engage an audience that is wedded to colour and grain patterns? Make a leaf to compliment the carving thought I, so this is the result. The main body was first repousse´ then filled with pitch to chase before finally sinking the rest away from the veins. The copper lent itself to being more colourful and random, a little like grain or blotchy colours in wood. All good eh, well almost but not quite!

I am terrible at remembering dates and times, Reen told me the date, no worries thinks I. The Wednesday morning before the Friday talk Reen asks me how things are coming along. No worries I will have it completed by next Friday no problem, picture the scene, cheesy grin and self satisfied, smug expression. Now imaging the ensuing unraveling of this confident exterior as she informed me, this Friday you wally. Oh sh-1-2, why me :

I hope this goes some way to explain, though not excuse of course, the damage you see on the completed piece. I finished this leaf at approximately 3:30pm on the Friday of the talk, I had to be there to set up at 06:00pm.

The good news is that the nice bunch at the club enjoyed the talk and even offered excuses for my poor finishing, and ham fisted ness by saying it gave the piece character. Nice to have a sympathetic audience eh.

The pictures are not a complete time line, fair to say you will all have an idea of how this sort of project progresses along. As always, please do ask any questions if I have not been clear.

Reen is also a member of a quilting group, though I will not be attempting that anytime soon, the patterns and geometry employed have my very much more engaged. Who knows what I may come up with. Now I’m off to read this months edition of Magic Patch for quilters 😉

I hope you will be encouraged by my experience to give other crafts a look to see if you can become better inspired.

Happy Christmas to you all, just in case this is the last post this year, a very happy and creative 2014.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art