Last year I designed and made some really beautiful landscape pendants that held a lot of significance to the customers. The pendants, which I wrote about in my last blog, were designed to incorporate both the moon and the sea, since both customers are keen outdoor swimmers.
The pendants were very well received and the customers were an absolute pleasure to work with, so I was very pleased when I received an email a few months later asking me to make a silver landscape ring, incorporating mountains, the moon and the sea.
In this blog post I will show you the steps involved in commissioning a piece like this, and some work in progress shots.
Designing the Silver Landscape Ring
First I received a sketch of the customer's design ideas. This is a useful way of seeing what their thoughts are, but if you’re thinking of commissioning a piece don’t worry if you don’t think you can get your ideas across on paper. More often than not I will have a chat with the customer about what ideas they want to be incorporated and then do some preliminary sketches to see if I’m on the right track. At this point it’s a good idea to discuss what sort of price the piece might be and how much you want to spend, that way I can design to your budget.
After the ideas have been agreed I’ll do a more precise drawing to give a better idea of how the piece might look. For this ring I thought the best way to make it would be to build up layers of silver with different elements shown on different layers, so I started by making a paper model to demonstrate how the piece would be made.
Building Up The Layers
Then the fun can begin! At this point I’ll ask for a deposit that will cover design and material costs. The rest can be paid when the piece is received, or in instalments over the making process: whichever is easiest.
I began by measuring out the size and shape of the ring and then drew the different layers on the different sheets of silver, then I had some fiddly piercing saw work to do! This tiny detailed work is some of my favourite to work on, I really enjoy taking the time to make sure each small detail is perfect.
Then comes the tricky part - soldering the layers together. This part always makes me hold my breath because I need to get the layers hot enough to solder together without getting them so hot that the fine details melt away! But once the layers have been soldered together I can make the piece in the same way that I would normally make a ring; measure it to the correct length, bend until I get the edges neatly touching, then solder and clean in a pickle solution (a mild acid).
Perfecting the Landscape Ring
The next few stages are about making sure the ring is the correct size and is comfortable to wear. There’s usually a fair bit of filing involved, to get rid of any sharp edges and clean up any details. Then when I’m happy that all those things are correct I can start polishing it to make it lovely and shiny.
The last stage of this piece was to paint it with oxidising fluid, which patinates the silver to black. The black patina will then stay in all the detailed sections of the ring to make them really stand out.
“Hi Ellen, I’m sitting staring at this ring in awe! Just can’t take my eyes off it or stop turning it round and round. You’ve taken my scruffy rough poorly drawn thoughts and created something utterly magical. Way beyond what I’d hoped for. I’m so very pleased with it, it will be treasured always.”
I really love working with customers so closely to create something that is completely unique and precious, a one of a kind piece just for them.
It’s also wonderful to be able to make pieces that are inspired by the things I love: North Wales, the sea, the mountains.
I hope this has answered any questions you might have about commissioning a unique piece of jewellery, but if there’s anything else you would like to know please get in touch here.
Or if you’re interested in seeing some of the other unique pieces of jewellery that I have created, see my commissions page.