I am regularly asked to make a special piece for a client. I would expect most of these requests to come in September or October as Christmas gifts but strangely this is not the case. The most popular time for people to commission something appears to be in the first few months of the year. As this is my quietest time as far as other sales go, this is a welcome trend. However, I also like to focus on developing new designs, building up stock for the busier season and dedicating some time to my other passion – writing. Invariably I fall behind on making new work so that as the first selling events approach I begin to panic as I realise that I may not have enough stock.
I enjoy the challenge of making a unique one-off piece to the customer’s requirements and also coming up with a design that they are happy with. Nevertheless I often worry that the customer may not like the finished product. In most cases the recipient is extremely pleased with their jewellery and I have been sent many lovely and moving messages of thanks, such as this:
“As I opened the box and peeked in – not knowing really what to expect – I stand in awe of the animal within. I cannot find the written words to express the beauty of the hare – all I can say is the outpouring of tears, emotions and vibrations within my being on lifting my hare from his box.You are blessed and graced with such a special creative talent.Thank you and may the Divine Spirit bless you.”
There has only been one occasion in the thirteen years I have been doing this that a client was unhappy with what I had done. It was a snow leopard bangle carved in maple and although I had sent scaled drawings, when the piece arrived it was considered too chunky and returned to me unwanted. I believe this was due to a communication problem so I now do all I can to make sure everything is clear. I tried and failed to sell the bangle so in the end I offered it as a prize in a competition on my Facebook page. The winner was extremely pleased.
It was after this that I began asking for a non-returnable deposit to confirm each commission. I had already been thinking of it after having spent two days designing some intricately carved knife handles only to have the client change his mind after receiving my drawings. I never knew if he just didn’t like my designs or if he took them to another maker…
Mostly, it is a pleasurable experience and I get to carve some wonderful pieces. My most frequent requests come from the “dragon lady” who has now ordered eight different dragon designs, including my favourite commission so far this year, a pendant in bog oak set with an opal she sent to me.
My favourite commission last year was a large badger pendant of seven different woods. I can’t post a photo though because the client has asked me not to, as it is a very personal piece. Instead I will show you my favourite commission from 2014, two love spoon pendants carved in bog oak.