Custom work can be a fantastic way to test your skills and broaden your portfolio. It also allows you to strengthen your communication and rapport with customers. But at the same time it can be very stressful!
I just had the pleasure to work with a new client, Steve Skinner, who happens to be a professional fighter. His appearance was quite intimidating to me despite his calm and polite nature and this was only emphasized for me when my brother emailed me a Youtube video of one of this fights. It is probably an occupational hazard for fighters so it is a good thing Steve has a calm and persistent way of expressing himself even when not 100% pleased.
I have to say this was a difficult order. I was presented with an image of a “Jason” mask from the internet and asked if I could make it in white and yellow gold. We spoke for about 10min and I was confident I could recreate the look in a pendant. So I went ahead and made the piece that would hang from his heavy white gold chain.
Above is the first attempt. This mask was not exactly how Steve had imagined the final piece. He felt it was too thin and did not contour to the face as it should, to be realistic. I pride myself on technical skill and the ability to make what my customers want. Based on the original weight of gold I could not produce the mask exactly as desired. We agreed on a new and heavier piece and I went back to work.
This time I went about it differently and carved a wax first. Again this wax was not exactly as the imagined piece should be. Steve articulated how he wanted the mask to look and what was both good and bad with the wax carving and I set out to carve it again.
Well third time was a charm! I carved the wax and it was perfect! Steve approved it and I cast it in 10K palladium white gold and added 10K yellow gold rivets and spikes to the mask after. I did take some artistic liberty with the size of the rivets and spikes to increase the contrast between the white and yellow gold. Good thing he liked that!
You can see how this mask is heavier and better proportioned to the scale. I was thrilled with the final piece and relieved that Steve liked it. This custom job was stressful but a valuable learning experience that reinforced the importance of communication with new customers.
If you would like to see Steve kick butt check out this video Youtube-Steve Skinner and then you will see why this happy smiling face still intimidates the petite jeweller that I am.
Check back again soon as I will continue to chronicle my work and share the highlights of what I am up to.