Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do You Do Custom Orders?

This month’s Blog Carnival* question is: Do you take custom orders? What kind of custom work do you do or not do? What has been your favorite custom piece?

The short answer is, yes. We do a lot of custom orders, typically utilizing things that people bring us that they would like to have incorporated into something they can wear.

This is very satisfying work because the resulting piece usually has deep meaning and personal value for the recipient. It can also be nerve wracking, as we are painfully aware that the material we are working with is irreplaceable – and often unstable, unsuited, and unintended for jewelry use. But, that is also the great creative challenge, to make it so.

Because we are fairly well known within the jewelry field for our ability to work with just about any material, no matter how odd, other jewelers and museums often refer work to us. These projects have included no end of mineral and rock specimens, antiquities and artifacts, old machine parts and mechanical devices, found objects of every conceivable type, food, other jewelry, glasses and lens, computer and electronic parts, weapons, fabrics, liquids, human teeth and taxidermied animals.

Its impossible to identify a “favorite” piece, because each one is a unique part of someone’s life and touches us in different ways. One gentleman brought us his great-grandfather’s watch that had been worn by successive generations of his family through four wars. That watch was beat to shit and looked like it had been through four wars, but you knew that every scratch, nick and dent had a story behind it.

Another client casually dropped by the studio one afternoon and dropped off a bag of artifacts that she had collected over 40 years of world travel. There was stuff in that bag that predated the time of Christ from a wide variety of cultures. And now it was all sitting on our bench. Stuff like this blows our mind when we think of the journey through time and space that these objects have taken.

Yet another project was working with reclaimed parts from a Soyuz space capsule.

That seemed like a souvenir worth having, but terribly difficult material to work with. Who knows what specialized alloy of god-knows-what this stuff was made from. One thing’s for certain, it didn’t work like any metal we have ever encountered before or since.

So, by now, most of you are thinking, “ shut up and show me”. OK. This is a piece we did for one of our long-time collectors. It started as a couple of coins from antiquity, a couple of artifacts, and a request to “make something”.

* Blog Carnival is a project of EtsyMetal, where member artists share their thoughts on a monthly theme.

Read the other blogs to get a broader view of how different artists approach this topic.