This month I had to make a big decision; I was working three paid jobs to raise money to buy equipment, as well as trying to develop my own silversmithing practice and after a summer of doing this it became impossible. I realised I had been unable to spend any time on my own practice so something had to give. I had to think about things logically and it was obvious which job I needed to quit. The three options I had to choose between were, a writing job, which is only a few hours a month so that doesn’t get in the way of anything on a daily or weekly basis; working for a silversmith one or two days a week, and my temporary office job, which was very rewarding financially but it wasn’t related in any way to my goals (other than helping to fund them) so it became clear this was the job which needed to go.
I left there two weeks ago and the change has been amazing, I have actually had time to create new designs and get back to planning and working towards my progression. The day after I handed my notice in a local gallery in Norfolk contacted me to say they would be interested in stocking some of my work, which I took to be an omen that I have made the right decision.
A selection of earrings designed to go with the ring show below in Silver and brass (although for the more wealthy buyer the brass can be substituted for gold).
The gallery is called Rushlight Gallery, www.rushlightgallery.com and it’s in a very pretty Norfolk village called Reepham which has a few other art places in it too. I had a meeting with the owner who was particularly interested in stocking some of my large copper sculptures as well as some jewellery, so I mentioned that at present I can’t make any more larger items but was hoping to be in a position to do so soon, although I could make some jewellery collections. She really liked the rings I was wearing, so I have made a collection to go with those. The plan is to sell jewellery in order to help build up my money so I can finally start creating new larger pieces again, I’ve got a few designs I cannot wait to get started with.
The ‘Planets’ ring, which the gallery owner saw me wearing and said she would like to stock. I have to admit it does always get compliments whenever I wear it – which is more often now I have made earrings to match.
Once the pieces were finished I sent them off to be hallmarked, I purposely oxidised (blackened) the back of the earrings so my makers mark and hallmark would show up really well against the dark background.
The back of one of the earrings, pen for scale. The marks are SEED, which is my makers mark, a lion which stands for silver, 925 which indicates its sterling silver, a leopards head which is the London assay office mark which guarantees the quality of the metal stamped, and R, which is 2016. As I have used a brass disc on this design to the hallmark has + METAL too. If it was gold, it would have a gold hallmark alongside the silver one rather than + METAL.
I also sent off this golf ball marker to be hallmarked, which I made for my pa. I’ll be honest, I still have no idea what a golf ball marker does, but he told me what it needed to consist of so I worked around that criteria and this is what I came up with. He’s very pleased with it, and I’m still none the wiser – even though he has explained it (I can’t help but switch off when it comes to golf) – as to what it’s purpose is. So we are both happy.
From initial sketches to final piece, the golf ball marker.
The photos I have taken are awful, which brings me to another point. If you are working for yourself then just making your work isn’t enough, there are so many other things you need to consider to help you along the way. Not least is investing in good photographs, especially with something as reflective as silver and you no longer have the university photography studio and technician on hand. I have found a photographer who is brilliant, she took this of my silver Browl and I will definitely be sending her more of my work to photograph in future (once I’ve earned enough money to pay for them!)
I’m so happy with these professional photographs, you can see the difference it makes when a good photo isn’t good enough, you need a great photo to show off your work to its best. Photo credit Claire Cleaver.