Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Brass uniform button bracelet - a very personal custom order

Early last year Lisa set me a challenge.  She had inherited a beautiful set of brass buttons from her late father, which had come from the uniform he'd worn when he was Commissionaire at Wakefield Town Hall.  The buttons feature the crest of the City of Wakefield. 

Lisa entrusted these precious family heirlooms to me and asked me to convert the buttons into a bracelet.  We discussed what style she wanted and how it might be put together.  Then I got to work.

My first challenge was finding suitable bases onto which to fix the buttons, so they would sit flat against the wrist.  As I've mentioned before, I'm not a jeweller, so making something myself was out of the question.  Eventually I managed to source some cameo mounts in approximately the correct sizes for the buttons.  Unfortunately they were totally the wrong finish; the small bases were silver and the large ones were antique bronze.  This presented me with my next challenge.

Initially I tried covering the bases with gold leaf.  The first attempt was disastrous, as I was unable to get a smooth finish.  My second attempt with the gold leaf was better but still not up to scratch.  The finish was just too rough and patchy.  Fortunately, Lisa was a very patient client.  In the end I covered the bases in Liquid Leaf and the results were stunning.

I thought it would be plain sailing from here, but this project was determined to test my skills (and patience.)  Once coated in two layers of the gold and two layers of protective sealant, I realised that the small buttons no longer fitted properly inside the small bases.  I had no choice but to drill the bases out to enlarge the bezel.

Finally it was a simple process of fixing the buttons into position and linking them together.  I finished it off with a gold-plated clasp and the bracelet had finally together.

It was an enormous privilege to work on this deeply personal project of Lisa's.  Knowing how proud her father was of his Commissionare's uniform and of Wakefield's history, I was acutely aware of how precious his buttons are to Lisa and her family.  I must again thank Lisa for her faith in me and patience with how long it took me to get this piece right.

Lisa's lovely feedback was the perfect end to my year:
"I opened my box on Christmas Eve and I was blown away. I cried. You have done the most amazing job & I cannot thank you enough (...... ) everyone loves it, thank you."