Earlier this year I signed up to join Peterborough Artists Open Studios. This is a group of people who, every summer throw open the doors of their little hideaway workshops and studios and allow the public to wander around, have a chat and something to drink in a really informal setting. It was a fabulous time with many people heading over to Whittlesey especially to see my work and that of fellow artist Pauline Wheatley and sculptor Jeni Cairns. At the same time, the organisation had negotiated space at the city gallery in Peterborough where I proudly exhibited half a dozen of my best pieces.
Although I’ve exhibited before, the City gallery was a big thing for me. I felt like a small fish in a big pond teeming with established artists and craftspeople. I had secret hopes of selling all six pieces of work but alas it was not to be. However, little did I know that a wonderful couple had seen my work and loved the style of it so much that they also popped in to see more of my things at the open studio.
A day or two later I had a very short and to the point email “My partner and I would like to ask if you would be interested in a little bit of a commission to make a couple of be-spoke rings?”. So it began, a quick meeting to ‘check each other out’ quickly established that we were all on the same wavelength. Scribbles were made on paper, materials and finishes were finalised.
After some head scratching to work out the best manufacturing techniques the materials were ordered and then the making began.
Firstly the ladies ring – made up of 3 main silver sections all soldered together. The challenge with this ring was to inlay an 18ct yellow gold stripe around the middle. Some very careful engraving and filing gave me the groove I required and I gently soldered the gold into place. A little work to flatten the gold and smooth it off and it was all ready for hallmarking – phew, that was the ‘easy’ one done!
The gentleman’s ring was made up in the same way, with three separate sections only this time the monetary stakes were much higher with white and yellow gold being the materials used. Everything had to be just perfect. All 3 rings had to be exactly the same size and then they had to be lined up perfectly when I soldered them together. The soldering didn’t go entirely according to plan as it took me at least 3 attempts to flow the solder all round.
A couple of weeks later the rings returned from the assay office with their hallmarks proudly displayed and I set about the final finishing. Both rings were finished in the same way with the whole thing being given a high polish and then the central band rubbed with an abrasive sponge to give a matt surface. This helped to highlight the different metals against each other.
I watched the recipients faces intently as they opened their boxes. Smiles appeared as they gazed inside and quickly they both put them on – perfect!
Technically, this wasn’t the first time that I had made wedding rings but this was my first fully commissioned pair of wedding rings and I couldn’t have been more proud.
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