It’s not all #HookerRing and #StarTrek here at Gilly Towers you know.
I receive quite a few commission enquiries. Some I have to turn down because they involve a skill set beyond my abilities some because I know I’m not going to be able to create the piece within the budget or the deadline.
It’s always helpful when the person contacting me has an idea of what they want, a budget for me to work within and a sensible time scale. Sharing the available budget helps the designer to tailor the design appropriately; for most designs the most costly part is my time, so it’s important that expectations are met or exceeded rather than falling short.
Here’s one of the recent commissions I was asked to make.
My client contacted me in good time and had a good idea of what she wanted – to involve significant things that her Aunt would love, related to her birth month (March).
She wanted a statement necklace, designed around a daffodil bloom and involving an aquamarine. Knowing the budget meant I didn’t raise expectations by involving any gold in the ideas I shared with her, and I kept the piece modest in weight to try and keep the materials to a minimum.
Involving some premade elements was also useful for this, but I included a handmade clasp and extender element to the delicate chain, so that it would be easy to adjust depending on neckline and – crucially once one gets past 50 😉 – no fiddly fittings
As it happens, daffodils are one of my least favourite flowers – I don’t like the way they smell, nor how their sap seeps over everything when they are picked, so this was an occasion to visit the books and internet to check that I was getting the petals and trumpet correct. And also, how to keep the piece so it would be recognisable yet wearable – and …. trumpet! How to make that effectively yet stay in budget? Keep reading to see how I overcame that issue!
Firstly, I mocked one up in paper, and created templates for the petals.
Glued the templates onto the silver sheet,
Sawed them out using my finest sawblade
Filed the edges, sanded the edges and the front and back
Annealed them and textured them lightly with my riveting hammer
Here you can see the sawn and textured elements on the soldering brick, before and after soldering.
With items like this I like to break with convention and use soldering paste – the advantage I find is that paste will hold the pieces together a little before the soldering actually occurs.
I made the trumpets from pre-prepared tube. Tube is used for all sorts of things; stone setting, hinges and in this case trumpets. It’s quite possibly the most expensive way to buy silver, but it’s made in one piece without any joints and is definitely worth having.
I’ve shared the magic mitre vise with you before – here I’m using it to hold the tube securely and without risk of damage.
I tightened it, and used a knife file to file the serrations / frills into the top of the trumpets, before then sawing a small length of tube off.
I then used a dapping punch to flare the top of the trumpet out a little
I soldered these to the two smaller daffodils
The central daffodil was to have the faceted aquamarine so the next task was to solder the three blooms to the textured ‘stem’ I’d created and the setting for the stone. So far all the elements had been soldered using ‘hard’ solder. At this stage I used ‘medium’ which has a slightly lower working temperature, which enables the next stage to be soldered without too much risk of melting the earlier solder joins.
After clean up, the elements went for pickle bath and I made the extender chain, hammering the links to echo the texture on the ‘stem’
Finally all the pieces went for a tumble and I gave the trumpets a golden patination before setting the aquamarine and adding some small, micro faceted aquamarines to make a feature of the joins for the chain
As usual, I sent regular updates and WiP pics; I’m terrible at sketching, so like to take photos and send those over via what ever social media my customer prefers.