Monday, 30 August 2010

Handmade Custom Orders - Website Tips

Have you ever seen the phrase 'Commissions welcome' or 'Bespoke service available' on a crafts website or blog? I have many a time and have even used a similar phrase myself on several occasions. It is used all over the crafting fraternity to welcome custom made orders from potential customers, and is usually followed by a 'please contact us/me' type of statement.

But it probably raises lots of unanswered questions such as how long does it take?, what materials can be used?, price? and probably doesn't really entice somebody to actually click on the link. So I thought I would share with you a possible solution to attracting more requests for custom-made orders. This was suggested to me by a member of a Business Forum that I frequent; at the time I was enquiring about solutions for displaying customer testimonials.

Although this method refers to the making of jewellery, it could be adopted for all custom made goods and services and is certainly something on my 'to do' list.

The idea evolves around telling the potential customer a story. Lets say that a previous customer wanted a piece of jewellery. He/she gave you a specification , you created the jewellery and in the process you took some pictures of the item. Upon receiving the item of jewellery the customer wrote a lovely letter to you saying how nice it is.

Custom Jewellery Design
So, on your website you create a page with a description of the project, including the customers brief, the materials you used, pictures of you making the jewellery, pictures of the finished item and the customer's testimonial. You then repeat this process for other custom orders all linked through to your website home page.

This is a great way to describe and present your custom made process, display your customer testimonials and to entice future orders.

If you would like to see some of my custom made jewellery previously commissioned for people please visit my Custom Jewellery website.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A Montage of keepsake Jewellery

Since getting back from holiday a couple of weeks ago, I have been really busy making my keepsake jewellery for people; and the majority of that has involved the use of hair and fur.

So I thought I would show you a little medley of some of the jewellery that I have made over the last couple of weeks. At one point I had ten jewellery orders on the go, all containing hair so you can imagine it took quite a lot of organisation.

These keepsake jewellery items contain everything from horse and pony hair, dog fur and locks of hair from loved ones. One of the most unusual pieces is the horse hair key-ring (top-left) where the lady wanted some yellow and orange seed beads and glitter incorporated into the design.

Hair Keepsake Jewellery
I am having a change from the use of hair in my jewellery this week as I am currently working on a custom order for several pairs of cufflinks. A lady who is getting married in a couple of weeks wants some of her wedding dress material embedded within the cufflinks to give to her hubby-to-be and other guests. I am using sterling silver cufflink blanks and resin and will blog about them at a later date!

I really want to get started on my new ranges of jewellery but every time I get started, I receive another request. I am not complaining though because I really enjoy making these for people and the satisfaction it gives knowing that I am helping somebody, sometimes through a difficult time.

Please visit my website for other examples of my keepsake jewellery.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Soldier Boy's Pendant

As I write this one of my pendants is making its way to the other side of the world, proudly adorned by a soldier.

I was contacted this last week by a young man who had been told he was going off to serve his country. Being away from his family he wanted a pendant that contained both his son and daughters hair. Something that he could wear under his uniform and body armour that allows him to carry something of his family close to his heart. So I made this; a sterling silver pendant, containing the locks of hair from his son and daughter sealed with resin on a leather thong style necklace.

Lock of hair pendant
This pendant was so important to him and also because of the short notice that I was given, that he was prepared to travel for several hours to receive it in person. I really liked that; its not often I get to meet the recipient of my jewellery and it was good to see his reaction when he opened the case containing his pendant.

I am not altogether in favour of conflict, being an old hippie at heart, I wish differences in opinion could be settled differently. But I am proud that one of my keepsake pendants is helping a person in that situation.

I wish him well, to stay safe and bring the pendant home along with all of its stories to pass on to his children and his children's children.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Perkins' Pendant

I won't write very much in this blog post, but I will leave it to Sharon and her Perkins below. Sharon gave me this message this week after receiving her horse hair pendant that I recently made for her. It brought tears to my eyes and makes me realise how special the keepsake jewellery I make for people is. Enjoy...

"I had my Perkins for over 16 years. I bought him as a scruffy, thin, green little thing just shipped in from Ireland when he was 6 years old. I only meant to keep him a year as I'd lost my confidence off my previous horse!

Perkins Horse
But somehow he grew on me and out-stayed his 12 month contract!!! We had many many happy years of hacking and competing. He was perfect! When he was 13 we found out he had a growth in his foot which had to be removed via a large, very expensive operation. I nearly lost him. I remember the night before the operation; I actually slept in his box with him, terrified of what the morning would bring.

The op was a success and he recovered slowly, but we never competed again and settled into a life of happy hacking. I semi-retired him in 2007 when my son was born and in 2009 he was joined by a yearling New Forest called Echo - my "future pony" for when Perkins fully retired to a well-earned life of leisure.

Perkins the Horse
Sadly in June of this year in the field, while haring around with the Echo, Perkins chipped a bone in his leg. Being an old man and already arthritic it soon became apparent that the injury wasn't healing, that the pain killers weren't working and that my beloved old friend was suffering. On the 12th July 2010 I made the heartbreaking decision to have him put to sleep - the last service I could do for a horse that had given me a lifetime of pleasure and loyalty.

The day before he went I took a lock of hair from his tail - I smiled as I did it because his tail was always a wild tangle of course hair, I could never really comb it all the way through and the white streak in the middle of the black was never truly white, no matter how many times I scrubbed at it! I took it home, washed it one last time and put it away in a drawer, determined only to look at it again when I felt ready.

I was keen to have some reminder of him - I had decided not to have him cremated and returned to me as having a wooden box stuck in the house somewhere was not how I wanted to remember my horse. I started googling for horse hair jewellery and found Mick and Shpangle.

The products were so unusual I immediately dug out the hair, emailed Mick and got it in the post as soon as I could. Mick was wonderful, emailed me back immediately, firstly stating his condolences, then letting me know he was going on holiday so not to worry he'd start my pendant as soon as he got back, then letting me know he'd received Perkin's precious hair and was starting work that day.

Horse hair jewellery
The pendant arrived this morning - along with a lovely surprise gift from Mick of a keyring, both with Perkins' hair preserved forever. I've worn the pendant all day today and lots of people have asked me about it.

It makes me sad when I explain the story of the pendant, but happy too that I can keep talking about my horse as people admire Mick's handiwork so Perkins' will always be close to my heart on a silver chain, and his name never far from my lips!"

Monday, 2 August 2010

Buckets and Spades of Inspiration

I have been a little quiet recently with my blog and that's because I have just got back from a fantastic two week holiday in Cornwall! We went to the same place that we visit just about every year for the last ten years and I can't think of a nicer place in the world that I would like to be at. The beatiful scenery, coastal walks and beaches are breathtaking and I am already arranging to book our holiday there for next year!

Polly Joke Cornwall
We stop at a place called West Pentire, near Crantock on the west coast. The coastline in this area is thankfully protected by The National Trust and the whole area is beautiful...oooh I just want to go back now. I find Cornwall so inspirational and can see why so many artists and crafters base themselves there.

Mick Cluley - Shpangle Jewellery
Having cleared my mind with the Atlantic sea breeze and taken in the inspiration of the area, I have had a good think about what I want to achieve with my crafting. I don't really want to be known just for my resin based jewellery and have decided to have a good long break from it. Of course I will continue with custom jewellery orders (which I have got home to find stacks of them waiting on my door mat), but I want to start making jewellery using more natural objects, so watch this space!

I hope you all have an equally good holiday!

Mick