What NOT to ask a handmade jeweller
Let me tell you, there are many questions I get asked, and I love to answer most of them! But there are some that make me want to hake my head as they come out of the questioners mouth… here are the top 5.
1. What machinery to you use to make your jewellery?
The clue is in the title - I’m a Handmade Jeweller. Handmade. No machinery. Honestly. Tools - lots of them. I can talk about them for hours, even the history of them and when they were invented, or even where they are made. But machinery - no. None.
2. What glue do you use?
Glue?! When I was at college we euphemistically called it Chemical Bonding. It’s a BIG no-no. Nor do I weld. I solder. Not with a soldering iron like your dad used to use either. I use a torch with a proper HOT flame!
3. Where do you get your ideas from?
If I only I knew the answer. Just like any craftsperson or artist, ideas come from all over the place, and appear out of the ether at unexpected moments. During my pilates class recently I looked up into the light and the brightness burnt a little triangle into my retinas and low and behold, I started working on teeny tiny solid triangles. I’m obsessed with them now, but telling a customer that’s where the idea came from? Nutter is what they would probably think.
4. How long does it take to make that?
If I told you, you’d wonder what you’re paying all that money for! Because what I can’t tell you about, because you haven’t got an hour or two to spare, is the boring self-employed costs and overheads, the rising cost of silver, the years of studying (even the 20 years as a graphic designer) the experimenting and redesigning, refining the product. And the hours of head scratching and throwing things into the scrap pot to be recycled.
5. Is it wonderful earning money from making something you love to make?
Er… well, how do you answer this? Are you really jealous of the 50-60 hour week I work to earn an average wage with no sick or holiday pay? Of course there are some nice aspects - I work in my garden workshop, I’m able go and do workshops and classes whenever I can fit it in, and I do LOVE making things. But turning your hobby into a business? Think about it long and hard before taking the plunge, that’s my advice!
about the author
After almost 20 years as a designer in children's publishing a short silversmithing course in 2006 prompted a change of direction.
The following year I enrolled on a part-time jewellery course, and found a local studio where I could make and sell my work.
In 2009, together with five other crafts people we found a shop space to rent on our busy local high street, the gloucester road, called Fig. We are open tuesday - saturday, 9.30am - 5pm (except August).