Bated Breath Excitement.............
I’m elated. I’ve just booked my first event in well over a year – it’s The Usk Show on the 11th September. Of course. I know there’s a possibility it could be cancelled but just the chance of a day out there with other professional makers……..well, it’s given me such a lift.
And, talking about professional makers, I want to take this time to talk (write) about what it means to be a maker.
I’m a professional jeweller. All of my jewellery is handmade in my workshop. I also make tasty Fairy Cakes (it had to be fairy cakes!) but I don’t view them the same way, as I don’t make and sell these for a living. However, many people do have a perception of ‘handmade’ as being something less than professional. The amount of times I’ve been approached to make a commission that is incredible similar to something you could buy on the high street and for the client to be astonished at the quote – the response is almost invariably – but I thought it would be cheaper as it’s handmade.
I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that.
Let me take you through one of my processes.
I may decide that I want – for example – to make a Green Man Pendant – a small one and a statement one, naturally, as I think he’s fab.
Using him as an example, after sketching over and over until I was happy, it then took literally days to carve these, back & front, developing the detail I wanted. I had to go slowly – it is easier to get it right first time than to mis-step and have to correct or start again.
This is a pic of the small one - with a vid below of the statement pendant.
If I then sold either of these pieces, at this stage, they would have had to pay for all the time and skill invested. In fact, the cost would probably have been prohibitive for silver – and I would most like have made in gold only.
Instead, I had the piece ‘cast’. It went off to Malcolm in the Jewellery Quarter and he made special moulds for each piece.
This is what happens with most of my jewellery, (although some do require prototypes being made in base metals). This then allows me to have replicas made. When you see ‘Back in Stock’ on the website, it will be that I’ve had more cast of an item that had all been sold and Out of Stock.
When pricing, I don’t incorporate any amount for the pre-casting work. The price is based on all materials, time to finish the post cast piece – which varies greatly per item – packaging and margin. This is what makes the piece affordable.
However, when working on commissions I don’t cast them for sale, they are individual to the client. This means that all of the design work, any proto-typing and the creation of the piece, as well as the materials, has to be factored into the price. Otherwise, I would end up making the piece at a loss.
The blunt truth is, if you see a little ie., heart in a high street shop window – they will have cast that piece for mass production and if part of a chain, it will be in the window of their shop in every town. If you love it, buy it. If I’m approached to make something exactly the same, I won’t be able to do it for the same price.
BUT, for that unique design you have in your head that is not to be found in shops – that is when you can work with a jeweller to design and create the piece you love and want.
Now, back to the Fairy Cakes……………..yum!!