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Thread: OMG - escalating expectations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Default OMG - escalating expectations

    My husband's brothers wife asked me if I would do something with an old silver bangle. She said it was about 18mm wide by 1mm thick, only gently curved, hinged with one side patterned and the other plain. (I hadn't seen it). Initially she just said if I could make a couple of pendants using the patterned side, whatever I thought I could do, that would be great - one for her and one for her best and life long friend, they would both be 50 this year, and she thought it would be nice. She said the clasp was broken, but it wasn't something she would wear anyway, but would like to use it in another guise. So I said I would need to see it before I could say whether I could do anything or not.

    The bangle has now arrived, with a note, telling me that it was her mothers (who died when she was a teenager)....so, no pressure there then! Also, the note tells me that she wants a pendant incorporating a hare and the moon, and her friend wants one incorporating a bird and the sun - with the patterned part used for the hare and the bird. Is it just me, or is this starting to smack of way too high expectations? She DOES know that I am a beginner hobbyist - not a professional, or even a hobbyist with a good deal of experience. Also, I'm not certain the bangle can be flattened out without loosing the pattern. When I sat down to have a think about it, it occurred to me that if I made a mistake with the plain part, I could just use a new piece of silver and she wouldn't be any the wiser, but if I went wrong with the patterned side...well, that would be a disaster and she would be really upset.

    If it had been my old bangle, I would have no qualms about giving it a go, with nothing to lose. But it's not mine, and it could be loaded with emotion!

    Am I being a wimp, or should I tell her she needs to go to a professional for what she wants?

    I do go to a class once a week (on a Friday), and can talk to my tutor then, but I'd really like to know what you guys think about it.

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    Sue

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Cornwall
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    Default

    I think I would get back to her and say that you're happy to make something from the plain side but not the patterned.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Is she saying she wants a moon and a hare plus a sun and bird pierced out of the patterned side? If so, wouldn't that be a bit tricky even if you were great at piercing? Plus it would look kind of fussy I would think.

    She originally asked you to do what you could, so look at it and come up with a design that YOU can do, without getting hugely stressed. If she doesn't like it, then gently suggest she asks a professional jeweller to do it.

    If it were me, looking at the design of the pattern, I'd cut to that shape (looks like you should be able to get a couple of teardrop shapes out of it) and maybe add some bezel set cabs.
    I'm constantly being asked by my mum to do 'little jobs' which end up being nightmares. I'll re-make stuff over and over for her because she's my mum, but I wouldn't do it for anyone else.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Cardiff
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    run while you can! No seriously, all the 'mate' requests I've had like this (well most of them) end up being nightmares. Half my life is me face palming at agreeing to do something for almost nothing, that turns out to be a major headache. Simple rule - if you're not comfortable with it - don't do it. Totally agree with above - explain how you feel, am sure it'll work out x

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    668

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    Whilst I agree that you should do some serious expectation management, I'm just trying to approach this from a slightly different angle or two ...

    If you feel that your generous offer is being taken for a ride, provide a realistic hourly rate quote for the work.

    The 'brief' - such as it is - could be discussed with the client. The term 'incorporate' is very loose indeed. If, further to more discussion, you were to identify that incorporating a hare / bird etc could include the manufacture and fixing of these outline shapes to one or the other side of a section of the bangle then this would reduce the risk massively. Sketch up a few designs that you feel are within your capabilities. Present these and have the customer choose. This way they will feel in control, whilst you maintain your creative control, whilst really managing their expectations.

    You could make these animal / bird pieces from new silver without risking the bangle; use trial and error as needs until the animal outlines are agreed with the client. You should also agree the shape of the bangle 'pendant' background. Once agreed - only then - proceed with affixing them.

    As above, as others suggested, if you feel it is outside your abilities, then either refuse or, more ideally, put them in touch with someone who can help.

    Hope this helps

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Cheshire
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    Thanks for all your responses, you have really helped to clarify my thoughts: I think my issues with this are these:

    A. The area of patterned silver is quite small, I'm not sure my saw piercing is up to making the shape of a hare and a bird on that small of a scale, especially with the consideration of 'B' and 'C'.
    B. I am concerned that the straightening out of the curve may cause some damage to the pattern, thereby shrinking the available area to use still further. Plus perhaps in uncurving, it may distort/squash the decoration to some degree too.
    C. The decoration is quite deep engraving, is this called bright cut? Anyway, a further concern is that as it is quite deeply cut, the saw blade may jump and catch on it quite badly, thereby causing a less than satisfactory result.

    So all of the above together reduces the margin for error quite a bit.

    D. It is surprising how quickly a brief of 'do what you can to get 2 pendants out of the patterned side. I'm sure I'll love whatever you do', can turn into, without warning, 'I want a hare and a bird cut out of the patterned side and a moon and sun cut from the plain', which makes me uneasy about what may be coming next, and also about just how likely it is she will be happy with the end result.

    Despite all of this, if the bangle had been a junk shop find I may have felt there was nothing to loose, but the fact that it belonged to her mother who died when the 'client' was just a teenager, and she has had it ever since, just ups the anti still further.

    Also, I feel that as this is a freebie, the chances are that m sister in law 'the client' may struggle to appreciate whatever I may do, and as it won't add to what is a non existent cost, has carte blanche to be more and more demanding.(I should have realised this, as my husband used to run (on a voluntary basis) youth sports teams, and the 'little darlings' were not a problem, but the parents never appreciated all the time and effort involved and were incredibly demanding, with unrealistically high expectations - leaving a feeling that if they were charged they may have been more appreciative.

    I think this is beginning to feel like a poisoned challis, and although I was initially quite excited at the prospect of a first request - I don't think this is the right one for me to start with. I'm a bit reluctant to turn it down but I don't think any other answer would be the right one. It's a shame, because so far I have only done my own thing with no brief at all, which is fun and great for experimenting, but to have a request did seem quite exciting. However, I think this is probably the wrong one for me at this stage. If the original brief had stood - I would have done it. So I'm going with Lydia's advice to run while I can!

    Bye the way, at risk of offering a poison challis to someone else, the client lives in Corwen, Conwy...Any of you live near her and interested in doing this, if she wants to go ahead with someone else?

    Thanks for all the good advice.
    Sue.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Rural Somerset, between Yeovil and Shepton Mallet
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    Reminds me of the old saying "If something has no cost it has no value"


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    Barry the Flying Silversmith👍

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    dear old Blighty - (in deepest Wiltshire)
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    1,639

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    sounds like an honest discussion to share your concerns is the only answer. Skills aside, it is not what the original request was and this is something new, will need a new quote and resolution to the brief.


    go back and explain what you have told us and offer that, as you pointed out initially, this is probably best done by someone else - if you feel that is the only solution.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    FWIW I never make things for free unless Im doing it as a gift ( i.e.: not requested and my own designs).
    I do give friends and family a good discounted rate but never work to somebody else's requests/designs for free.

    OTOH Im not sure how much that would help you in this circumstance as there would be even more pressure :/

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