Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Journal of a Commissioned Piece of Jewellery

   I decided to create a journal type blog demonstrating the process of creating a jewellery commission as a means to offer insight into how SBJ might undertake such a task. I selected Judith for my journal, not only did I like her non traditional approach to her impending marriage but what was truly a blessing was that she knew exactly what she wanted and together we created a wonderful heirloom piece for her to wear on her wedding day.
This was Judith's second wedding and as such she steered away from traditional colours and gowns. Judith's wedding gown of choice was the most beautiful peacock teal blue slim fitting floor length dress, plunging neckline with a feature twisted knot, such a simple and elegant choice. I suggested one of my Bermuda Blue, Swarovski Article 4127, size 30X22mm with a gunn metal foiled backed stone as a start.
Judith loved the different flashes of colour, she and I both felt that this would be the focal for the simple necklace design. I fiddled with a few Swarovski bicone colours, matching and thinking out loud, we finally agreed that the Swarovski Metallic Blue AB 2x was the perfect match for this magnificent focal stone along with Miyuki Delicas DBR 42 and gold seed beads. I sketched up an idea so that Judith was able to see visually what I had in mind.

The original idea was to have the focal stone surrounded by graduated Swarovski rounds in sizes 4mm through to 8mm. The design had to be redesigned and requoted due to nil availability of Swarovski rounds in Metallic Blue AB 2x. Due to my inability to source these particular beads we opted to use Swarovski, Metallic Blue AB 2x in 3mm bicones. I ordered a full factory pack of these bicones and had to wait a fortnight or so before the beads arrived as they were a special order from Austria. The lovely Heidi from Harmony Beads in Balwyn, Melbourne orders beads on my behalf, love her for that! Whilst I was scouring the internet for further bead options for Judith I happened to come across some lovely Swarovski stones Article 4610, 14mmx10mm in Bermuda Blue and Article 4470, 12mm in Metallic Blue, these were acquired from the States.
I met with Judith again to discuss the bead finds and drew up another sketch, placing the beads on the sketch book over the sketched design so that Judith could decide which beads she wanted, Judith choose the rectangles ie Article 4610 in Bermuda Blue in a 'portrait' orientation.
The design was to be a bead woven focal, embellished with bicones, the two rectangle stones were also to be bead woven and all strung together with bicones and Delicas as the necklace strap. A simple button clasp was agreed upon, this was to be netting stitch using Delicas and gold, hammered Charlottes. The button was to be a most beautiful vintage & discontinued Swarovski Article, 16mm, Bead in Bermuda Blue (also from the States).

I wanted to include Judith as much as possible with the creation process so as each component was beaded I sent her an email with photographs. When you are commissioned to create something special for a wedding. You are essentially being included in a significant and emtional personal event. I put an incredible amount of time, effort and energy to ensure that the piece created is exactly what the client wants. It is not only important to produce your best work but also to produce it on time.

I ended up beading two large focal stones, with two embellished options. I understood that Judith did not want anyting 'frilly or over the top', she is just not that sort of gal. I knew as soon as had completed Option 1, that she would not like it so I beaded Option 2 which was bicones beaded horizontal to the focal stone, then further beaded with a size 15/0 Czech Charlotte. This particular batch of Czech 15/0's need a special mention in themselves as they were just awful to work with, the plating kept peeling off, revealing an ugly black bead. I had to bead the focal stone for the necklace at least 4 times before I was happy with the result, examining every bead under the magnifyer before sewing it on. A new order of Czech 15/0's arrived in time through the Post and I was able to finish the commission with the new batch.

As expected Judith chose Option 2, so work continued. The next hurdle was to see what option Judith would like for the beaded rectangle stones... to embellish or not to embellish, again as expected she choose the embellished version. The photograph below demonstrates the two versions.

Judith collected her necklace yesterday and was thrilled with the result. Judith had been earlier that day and despite my measurements the necklace was not quite long enough, so a quick rebead with the addition of more beads and it was a perfect fit. Judith arrived, tried on the necklace and announced... I love it! Music to my ears... another happy customer.
Technical beading information: I used Beadsmith's new product 'Ultracast Invis-Braid in translucent 6lb for most of the design and Fireline, Crystal 6lb for parts of the design such as the points between the focal stone and the rectangle stones. Fireline was no good for the necklace strand part of the necklace as the 'drape' of straps was too stiff and rigid, the Invisi-Braid offered such a wonderful fluid like drape that proved a perfect choice. Peyote stitch was used to bead the focal stones I beaded those with Delicas DBR 42 size 11/0, Metallic 24k gold plate Charolottes size 15/0, Czech Charlottes size 15/0. The Metallic 24k gold plate Charlottes had a single hammered facet which added further sparkle, dimension and interest to the piece. I used a combination of peyote and netting stitch to form the clasp.
I have been including a makers mark on most of my work for sometime now... probably a little hard to see, but it is an oval shaped tag with 'Social Butterfly' engraved. Lower left on the large stone.
Private commissions for your individual jewellery desires are most welcome. Commissions can be achieved regardless of your location.

Recently Judith kindly sent me these photographs of her special day and with Judith's and her photographer Colyn Huber, Lovegreen Photography's permission.  I was able to share these photographs with you as well.  Congratulations to you and your new husband Judith!

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