Silver, Wood, and Sail. The name I’ve given to the business that is bringing me back to my jewellers bench. After a ten year change of profession, working for a local architectural lighting manufacturer and retiring three years ago, I felt a strong urge to get back to doing what I enjoy, and what I have spent over four decades learning and practising.
I wish to create totally unique sculptures and wearable art that reflect what I love, the ocean, and what sails us across it.
I am excited to revisit pieces that have sat in drawers for many years, while I had to make a steady income for my wife and I. Now, with retirement, and pensions helping with our living expenses, I’m free to turn my ideas into reality.
This short video above ☝️ gives some idea of the torchwork involved to slowly add Sterling Silver ( recycled ) piece by piece…… Melting, or fusing it to create a seacape base for the carved wooden sailboat.
The project above is once again on hold while I concentrate on new designs. I am starting a new series of wearable mini yachts in Sterling Silver. I am trying to get several pieces ready to deliver by Christmas 2019. Please follow for updates.
Christmas ornament projects from last month.⬇️⬇️⬇️
I have just watched the most beautiful short film on creating jewellery I have ever seen. Although an English translation would be nice, the camera work and lighting are so beautifully done, it doesn’t really need any dialog.
The pieces created in this video are nothing short of amazing. It is truly inspiring that there are people in the world willing to spend the money to have these couture jewellery objects crafted. In this case it is the luxury design house Louis Vuitton, with enough capitol behind them to let their designers and jewellers create an extravagant fashion piece to show that they have some of the greatest craftsmen in the world behind their Logo.
I have spent countless hours over the last three decades setting diamonds, using much the same techniques and hand tools that are used in the video, but could never imagine getting a commission for a piece of that size and complexity.
Wealthy clients with a passion for good design and the finest quality are one of the reasons beautiful things get built. They are the ones employing the greatest craftsmen on the planet. The finest cabinet makers and furniture makers for the mega yachts and mansions. Without them, the really incredible displays of craftsmanship might not be here. Even though we may never get to see the results, except, perhaps from photos in Architectural Digest or Yacht Design magazines, at least the skills of these craftsmen & women are utilized and old world crafts are not lost.
Another fine example of wealth being put to good use is a yacht restoration made possible by Dennis Conner, the famous yachtsman and Americas Cup winner. The project is described in a website compilation by Douglas Cole, who skippered and owned the yacht during the 1970s.
Here are a few photos from the website, the outcome is breathtaking if you are a lover of wooden boats.
To me, what Dennis Conner did with this project was an important preservation of a well deserving old gal. He has given new life to a beautiful work of art, and employed the genius of incredibly talented craftsmen. Once again, a tremendous amount of money well spent.
I am hearing from a lot of people who are afraid of getting their diamond jewellery repaired for fear of having the diamonds switched to a lower quality. I can assure you this just doesn’t make economic sense considering the time and labour involved in removing, replacing, and refinishing the piece.
I suggest one thing you should do when you drop jewellery off is make sure no stones are missing. Ask the jeweller to closely examine the item before he puts it in the repair envelope. This is for his benefit as well. I have done it myself when I’m in a hurry and take a clients ring for repair, only to find out after they’ve left that a tiny stone is missing. If they have time,a jeweller should give the piece a quick cleaning so they can better see if there is any problems like cracks or cracked stones that need replacing or additional repairs.
Don’t be afraid to take your jewellery in for repair, but be smart when you do it, and let the jeweller know you are aware of exactly what you are dropping off. Ask others of their experiences with local jewellers in your area.
These days are great for companies buying your old jewellery. They are making a lot of money from people. Everyone is being bombarded with advertising urging you to sell the old gold jewellery you’ve put away in drawers or jewellery boxes that haven’t been worn in years.
Unless you are selling fine gold, 24 Karat, even 22kt, or gold coins. I would like to suggest that you use your old karat gold, 10kt,14kt, or 18kt to update and redesign your gold into something that you will be proud to wear. If gold continues its upward rise in price, in the future after you have sold all your old gold you will have to spend a lot more money if you want to wear a piece of gold jewellery.
One thing about gold is it doesn’t disappear when it’s melted. It can be reused forever. It almost never ends up in a landfill,unless by accident ( my wife can confirm that, but that’s another story). My policy is to buy re refined 24kt gold and alloy it myself. It saves me money, and I don’t have to worry about where or how it was mined. I would like to show you examples of how I work with clients old gold……………….
This is how wire is made….by pulling square wire through a round drawplate in decreasing sized holes……
After plate & wire are made it can be fabricated………
And turned into this…….
When a client, whom I had done work for previously, asked to have an heirloom ring repaired, I suggested it was going to be very expensive, and that, for a few hundred dollars more, using her old gold I would duplicate it. It had to be an identical piece in every way, but I advised her it should be thicker and more substantial, to last for her family and continue to be handed down over the years.
The process was the same as above, only I had to do a lot more work carving the design from a solid white gold ingot. I photographed the original ring with the new one in order to show the difference in thickness, so you can imagine how much longer this one will last. Please consider this when buying jewellery….
When something like this is handmade, you may see minor imperfections, especially when blown up in a photo. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it is noticeable or obviously poor craftsmanship, it adds character and uniqueness to the object. In today’s world of computer generated and machined jewellery, handmade should be even more appreciated. Handmade perfection may be attainable, but the extra time it takes makes it that much more expensive.
So… if you can find yourself an honest, skilled craftsman… Sorry! ….make that skilled Crafts person, go ahead and recycle your old gold into something beautiful. Enjoy it, along with the compliments you will receive from others.
My sailing days began when we lived in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood in the ’70s. We lived a block from the beach and I always felt a need of being off the beach and on the waters of English Bay. We started small with a Zodiac inflatable, and a 6 horse Chrysler outboard. It got us out there and we were immediately hooked on boating. We spent many afternoons enjoying the waters of English Bay . A friend had just bought a laser sailing dinghy and suggested I try sailing lessons at Jericho Sailing Club, which I did.
I remember the feeling when I first left the beach and the wind powered the boat forward in silence, no deafening roar of the Chrysler behind me. I knew I had found a new passion.
The laser sailing was short lived however, when we found a beautiful little 23′ Gaff rigged cutter, with a lapstrake hull… … We sailed her all through the Gulf and San Juan islands, up to Desolation Sound for several years. Then we went from wood to Fiberglass with a C&C 27, and later a brand new 1982 C&C 32, which we lived aboard for four years…..
We left the sailing world for too many years after selling “NW Wind” and moving to Ontario for a while, but sailing and boats are in my thoughts almost every day of my life. I get out occasionally with friends and have crewed on a few races, which we hadn’t done when we owned our boats. I’ve downsized to a 20′ twin keeled sailboat that I am slowly (very slowly) going to get ready for my retirement from the factory, when we can hopefully enjoy cruising at our own pace.
Bringing home the retirement project.
The connection with jewellery………..
I am focusing on sailing related designs as well as what my clients are asking for. Years ago, when I worked for a retail store, I made a limited edition series of six different sailboats in Sterling Silver. They were on silver stands, and one of a kind miniatures. I wish I had pictures of all six ( my favorite was the schooner, which sold quickly), but these are 3 of them.
I apologize for the quality of some of these photos, but my old scanner isn’t compatible with Vista so I’m having to photograph prints to upload here.
This is an assortment of Sterling Silver Sailboat pendants I also produced……
I am now combining woodcarving with silver seascapes, more sculptural, but still using precious metals……..
An example below is a cocobolo/maple box with a seascape/sailboat top.
……I made this as an entry for a gallery showing called ” Vessels “. When it sold it inspired me to begin thinking of creating more pieces along these lines.
A work in progress is the Silver and 14kt. gold Sailboat with a Cocobolo wood hull.
Another View ………
…..The funny thing about this piece is when my wife and I took it to the Vancouver Wooden boat show a few years ago, and had it displayed in a friends outside booth. It was a hot sunny day and I kept it in an acrylic display box. I had used shellac as a finish, and it quickly blistered and I had to completely refinish it. Live & learn.
Having removed the finish I decided to do a Silver seascape under the hull. I will post photos when it’s finished.
Hello, this is my first blog attempt, and I hope you will find it of some interest. One of the purposes of the precious metal blog is to advise people what to look for when buying jewellery, and avoiding mistakes that may lead to future costly repairs.
Let me begin by giving you a brief history of my career as a Goldsmith. I began learning my craft in the 1970s and am still learning every day that I work at my bench. I was taught by some very talented jewellers, and diamond setters, the rest was up to me putting in the hours, practicing and learning by mistakes. You don’t want to make mistakes on a clients expensive, sometimes irreplaceable piece of jewellery. It takes years to gain the confidence, and knowledge to look at a piece and judge if it is going to be a nightmare to work on, or a challenge that you are capable of handling properly.
Over the years I have worked for large manufacturing jewellers, ( ie., more than a dozen employees) as well as smaller shops and retail jewellers. It has given me experience with all aspects of the trade.
During the 1990s I owned a studio in downtown Vancouver for several years. I made custom jewellery for the retailers, as well as my own clients. It really became my whole life, sometimes sleeping overnight at the studio to make a deadline for a client, and working seven days a week. When we moved to Langley the commute became too much so I moved the Studio closer to home.
I no longer do work for the trade. I work at my own pace, so I can’t really do rush jobs with 1 or 2 week deadlines, but I still enjoy interacting with private clientele . I have actually taken a steady job in a factory down the street from where I live ( a seven minute walk ). No relation to the jewellery trade, but an architectural lighting company.
Working at the factory has given me a new freedom to pursue my creative interests. At present I am not taking on new clientele but spending my bench time creating new designs.
I will include photos of my work as I continue writing, but most of my work over the many years was not photographed. At least with digital cameras today, it makes it easy to keep a portfolio of work done.
………This ring was hand forged from 18KT gold sheet, which I alloy and make to my specs.
This is a recent cocktail ring that the client wanted large and flashy.
Some of my work is carved and produced using the lost wax casting method, but this was totally hand fabricated.
Below is an example of carved and cast work. Roses had deep meaning for this client and his fiance.
……The Diamond engagement ring nestles with the rosebud Wedding band.
…….. This is the Gents Rose Wedding band for the groom, comfort fit with a .05 diamond.
These rings will never be recreated by me, as a promise to the client. I did make molds of them for the client in case they have to be replaced.
SOME THOUGHTS ON BUYING JEWELLERY……..
I would like to strongly urge that you search out independent local jewellery artists when making your jewellery purchases. Do as much research as possible to find someone whose product reflects your own tastes in design. Word of mouth is one the best methods of finding a competent goldsmith that you can trust. That is where I get almost all of my clients from.
Please try to stay away from big box stores when buying jewellery. I can not imagine someone admitting to their fiance that they bought the Engagement ring at Wal Mart. They are the biggest sellers of jewellery in the world, perhaps due in part to paying the lowest prices to the factories who make it for them. Pay a little more for quality, it is worth it in the long run.
The next time you are flipping channels on TV, stop at the home shopping network if they are selling rings. When you see a ring displayed on a moving stand, so you can view the inside of the shank underneath, notice that it is probably hollowed out to save a bit of material (gold, and even silver). This always amazes me, especially with silver, a saving of pennies, but over hundreds of items, it makes cost saving sense for them. Myself, or any knowledgeable Goldsmith, will not touch these rings to size or otherwise work on them. They may collapse, or dent, becoming a major headache for us. Pay a little more for quality.
…………This 19kt white gold engagement ring has a nice thick shank. I only left underneath the diamonds open for cleaning purposes.
If you are looking for a high karat white gold, 19kt is a nicer white than 18kt, which may yellow slightly over time.
On Buying Diamonds ……….
When it comes to buying Diamonds, the internet is full of information to educate consumers. The link I have provided appears to cover what you should know about Diamonds before you go shopping.
Keep in mind that Diamond grading is a tricky business. Professionals argue over grading all the time, seeing the stones higher or lower grade than the other person. Diamonds are not an investment. You will likely never be able to sell them for more than you paid for them, or even what you paid for them at retail. They are definitely not a rare stone in smaller sizes below a few carats.
However, natural, untreated colored diamonds of exceptional color and quality are indeed rare and in larger weights certainly will hold and increase in value. Diamonds should be bought because of their fire and beauty and amazing response to different lighting situations. When you buy a piece with very low quality diamonds, such as a tennis bracelet with 1.50 carats total weight of diamonds for $299.00, for example, once you leave the lights in the store it will lose its life, only the shiny gold will sparkle, at least while it’s clean. Once again, I can’t stress enough, you get what you pay for.