Having disembarked the Twirly Woo ship and reunited with the mojo - it is great to be working on bespoke again.
I love working one on one, it is the fondest area of my jewellery business. I love hearing your ideas - our meet ups, emails back and fourth and at the end of our journey - presenting you with a very special piece. Over the years, under the guise of my previous alto ego, Bug, I created some fantastically eccentric pieces.
The Gent's Yorkshire Pudding Wedding Ring - of course filled with peas and topped with gravy.
The Up House. The Marmite Jar. The Boiled Eggs Sat On A Simpsons Sofa.
All weirdly wonderful and so much fun to make.
The first bespoke request since my return to making and relaunch of my jewellery business is the 'Mila' pendant.
This name necklace was request from a customer as gift for his partner, in anticipation of the birth of their little girl. Babies do not care for our schedules, but thankfully Mila arrived in August. Else it would have been back to the stone setter to swap out August's Peridot for July's Ruby.
Partly down to sharing the sofa with a graphic designer, and some genetics, I have a fondness for font. I am also rather old fashioned and favour the pencil. My Dad and Grandad both worked in advertising, specifically print graphics. My Grandad set out lettering for newspapers. Every single letter placed out by hand for a spread. Imagine spotting a spelling mistake - after print.
After typing several 'Mila's' out in various fonts on screen, I became restless and resorted to paper. For the initial design phase it's the medium I always return to. Thank you Amber for the dot-to-dot backed A4. I am still yet to make sense of the dining room table/home office clutter.
Type is so satisfying to work out.
It's certainly more fun than punching buttons and rejigging existing artwork.
The swirls - the curls. The challenge of flowing two forms into one another. Mila is made up of a good set of letters.
I sketched out four options, writing the letters out quickly, like practicing your signature, then took time afterwards to accentuate lines and taper others. The underline option was a favourite and it was reassuring to have encouragement from the customer to design a piece that I felt excited to create.
My recent collections have explored the combo of silver with delicate gold details. This was an element that I wanted to bring in to the pendant, also with my recent dabble in stone setting - the 'I' was too tempting. My suggestion was to add a 9ct section of tube for the dot, to be set with a round Peridot.
To highlight the underline and pair with the dot - we went for a 9ct yellow bar.
The pendant was created via CAD from my reference sketch. This is a process carried out by possibly the kindest, friendliest and loveliest person I have ever met - Pete - you are fab. He is a CAD master. A lot of my jewellery is hand crafted, but often designs call for CAD. Namely engagement rings, designs that need absolute precision. Pete takes my sketch and creates it in 3D. The 3D drawing is then 3D printed into a resin suitable for lost wax casting.
The main 'Mila' section was cast in silver - the underline and dot were not 3D printed and cast as they were to be a different metal. Once the lettering had been buffed and polished, I then added a length of square wire for the yellow gold underline and a piece of tube for the 'I'.
We went for a spiga chain, which is a chain that features in my jewellery collections for the larger statement necklaces. It has become my favourite chain.
It has three interlinking loops instead of the usual two, so it is strong. It's seamless and flows beautifully.
The only downside is that because of the three interlinking loops, it looks off if a jump ring simply attaches to the end, as the jump ring can only feed through one loop. Thus making a point of weakness.
Aiming to squash laziness and push myself in all areas of my craft, I diverted from the easy route and handmade end loops to encase the chain instead of looping through. I feel this is becoming my signature. But wondering how else I could decorate the surface of the connection. Perhaps a texture or pattern, engraved by the new but dusty tools, barely touched since my stone setting lesson back in Spring.
Thank you for reading about the first custom piece of jewellery to kickstart my return to bespoke, I hope you have found it interesting. I plan to document every bespoke piece, here on this blog, dedicated to bespoke work only. I will do my best to keep it up. I seem to have a phobia of self promotion, but I enjoy writing, so perhaps this is the best way to trick myself into talking about my craft.
If you have a bespoke jewellery idea in mind, please do get in touch. I love working on custom pieces and welcome all projects - big, small, silver, gold, sensible, ridiculous.