Vases

One of the most versatile items in the JA Campbell range.

A vase is an ideal present for so many occasions, a birthday, a wedding, an anniversary or as a presentation piece. (Especially if engraved with a suitable message to remind the recipient of the sentiments expressed by family, friends or colleagues).

So many of the items we now sell are requested to be engraved.

A vase can be used in EVERY room in the house or at the office.

It can be used EVERYDAY of the year with either fresh, silk or dried arrangements to suit each season. Or even just look in your garden for inspiration.

On the JA Campbell website we change the pictures of both the silver and the silver & crystal vases to reflect the changing seasons.

Look out for Autumn ones any day now!

20 Medium Autumn med res

We offer two styles of vase, three with crystal bodies and a detachable silver base and three made entirely of sterling silver.

The choice is yours. Browse our website and order online or give us a call at anytime. We like to talk!!!

Al fresco is coming

An essential piece of the al fresco summer table is the stylish sterling silver and crystal salad bowl. The sterling silver salad servers seen in action during one of my recent evening meals complement the bowl perfectly. Still in the dining room at the moment- but I have high hopes for some warm summer weather to come soon!!

Salad bowl

You may wish to add other important items such as the sterling silver oil and vinegar set and the sterling silver salt and pepper mills not forgetting a sterling silver and crystal decanter for your chilled Chablis.

Enjoy the summer soon to come!

Loving Silver

Whilst I personally love silver I can see why others do not. Silver has been a large part of my life since I was a teenager ( I am now 73).

It is my hobby and my job. I enjoy making it, using it, reading about it and learning about it. I love most of the design periods, especially Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts and Art Deco.

The problem with new silver, just out of the polishing shop, is that it looks too precious, too shiny. So good you do not want to touch it, let alone use it.

I took in some scrap recently and amongst it was a 70’s style man’s silver articulated bracelet. I took a fancy to it. It looked too nice to melt down so I put it on my wrist. It had light surface scratches and a little tarnish. I thought it looked good on my wrist which was tanned from cycling. I sought some opinions “shall I re-polish it back up to new?” “No” was the answer, it looks better as it is.

bracelet

The moral of this story is that silver looks better when it has acquired its natural patina. When you see examples of silver and gold in museums it always looks great. One thing they all share is that they never look pristine.

Use and enjoy your silver.

 

Do not argue with your Dentist!

It has been an unusual week. A large corporate order for bespoke claret jugs has been disrupted by at least three events. A visit to my dentist, a repair/re-plating a large batch of salvers from a super yacht and a couple of old battered trophy cups.

Firstly the dentist, Stephan asked “did I make silver cufflinks?” No I replied. “Why not” says he? Well I have done in the past, I said, but only for friends and family. “What is it you require?” I questioned. “Two pairs of identical cufflinks – one set engraved with the initial “S “and one set engraved with the initial “A”.  When do you need them for I asked? “For the 27th just before I go to Dallas” replied Stephan. This gave me just one week to make them, have them hallmarked and hand engraved.

Well I guess you know the outcome? I delivered them yesterday on the 26th

Second distraction – 2 battered trophies, one quite a nice silver one a bearing the hallmark of jewellers Fattorini once quite an important jeweller in the North of England. This needed a good chemical clean, dents removed and a plinth supplied followed by a good polish. Not finished yet but looking good so far.

The second trophy cup and cover was silver plated and rather cheaply made and looked like it had been left out in a leaky barn for years. It was quite corroded. Now de- dented it is with the plater having a new coat of silver applied.

Third disruption – the salvers from the yacht, these are now also at the plater’s having a new coat of silver applied. Colin has made a super job of pre polishing them taking out all the scratches and dents – the Purser is sure to be delighted when they are returned in time for the summer season.

All this disruption while trying to get on with the important claret jug order, making sure the components and the materials are delivered on time and on quality. But I am certain the customer would not be best pleased if they had no trophies to give out on the days the tournament was being held so back to the grindstone for me.

Life is never dull!

Confessions of a Silversmith

I have made literally thousands of items of silverware during my career as a Silversmith from the humble Napkin ring to the impressive Epergne. Thousands is quite a lot bearing in mind that I am a “handmade” Silversmith as opposed to a “machine made” one.

The “machine made” Silversmith would specialize in one category of production, he would probably be a Stamper, a Solderer, a Filer or a Piercer.  The “machine made” Silversmith would be responsible for making tens of thousands of components.

As a “handmade” Silversmith I have tended to make every item from start to finish (with the exception of polishing which I have not done much of).

One of the items in my current contemporary range is our Silver & Crystal Sugar Sifter. Not one of our best sellers, we have only produced several hundreds of these since the range was first launched. Now the confession!!!!

Apart from the early tests when the product first went into production I have never until this morning used this product for real!!!!!!!

A new box of cornflakes, a jug of fresh milk, a freshly squeezed orange from the skin and a stainless steel spoon poised ready to dispense the sugar. “No” I think out loud “let’s use the sugar dredger” It is ready to use filled with fresh caster sugar. What a joy! Evenly distributed with just a light shake, hardly any effort.

Why has it taken me 20 years to get around to using it? It must be the cobbler’s son senario.

Savvy Cycling Silversmith

Recently a neighbour on our business park asked my advise on buying a new bike. This is a skilled instrument maker and what I thought would be a discerning buyer. I told him that paying less than £1000 at retail was risking landfill.

Yesterday he showed me his new bike bought on line for £350, he had an unhappy look on his face. After a quick inspection I shared his opinion. He said that (with hindsight) what should I expect for £350?

The savvy cyclist shops at Condor Cycles in Grays Inn Road, London. There you will get the best advice (essential if you are new to cycling) but no landfill bikes. The excellent service and advice does not end with the purchase, it goes on and has done for 60 years, back when Monty Young first established the business. His philosophy was ‘always find time to chat to the cyclist, they may become customers one day.

Monty was joined by his son Grant who moved the business into a league using the same philosophy and increasing the racing element. They were then joined by the third generation sons, Josh and Sebastian. The business continues to move up into a higher league yet. The racing had helped add valuable and quality publicity to the marketing effort with recent wins for Team Rapha Condor Sharp in the King of the Mountains competition for Jon Tiernan Locke last year and Christian House this year in the Tour of Britain.

It is the little things that count at Condor and make the difference in their customer service. Some months ago I broke the rails on my saddle and went to Condors for a replacement. They asked if I would like it fitted there and then, I said yes, and sat down to wait while they fitted it. 10 minutes later Greg the staff trainer came back with the bad news that my seat post was broken. The owner Grant overheard this conversation and instructed Greg to look for a used spare part in their scrap box. He came back with a secondhand seat post free of charge and free fitting. Cyclists in the south listen!!!! Money can’t buy service this good. It is the thinking cyclist’s duty to patronise Condor Cycles for the good of cycling.

Now why is this in a silversmiths‘s blog? Well everyone needs to relax sometimes and cycling is my way of unwinding

John Campbell

Silver in the Garden

 June, July and August are the months when traditionally thoughts turn to eating outdoors, enjoying a leisurely glass of wine or two, chatting with friends and neighbours and enjoying the garden. Will this be the summer for good weather?

So many items from my collection look so good in the garden, the cocktail jug, silver based tumblers, champagne flutes, silver wine goblets, decanters, claret jug – and that is just the drinks side of entertaining! Silver footed salad bowls and servers, sugar sifters, small athena bowls overflowing with ripe strawberries…… the list is endless

If you see how good they look on a simple garden table imagine how they could look on a dining table set with linen, silver and crystal and you will appreciate how versatile my silver collections are.

I am interested to know what you think of my newly designed website. Is it as easy to use as I think? Is the search facility quick and accurate?

Please have a browse through and let me know

John Campbell

Designer and Master Silversmith

Silver Finish – Too Bright??

I feel I am getting a bit long in the tooth (66 next birthday) for coming up with “new” ideas but they still keep coming thick and fast and sometimes I could kick myself for not thing of them earlier. It dawned on me last week when my son, Colin, brought a batch of silver pepper mills out from the polishing shop for final assembly that I really liked the finish they had on them. This was one stage short of the final “mirror” finish which all of our production, and that of many other manufacturers, is normally taken up to. These mills were bright, but not too bright.

I believe that this “mirror ” finish is a major turn off to prospective consumers. In the workshop we handle finished work with soft cloths or soft gloves , and in the retail shop they frequently do the same.

What message does this send to the prospective consumer? This piece is too good to touch? It may spoil if you touch it? Its a solid silver candle stick!!  meant for using, enjoying, and showing to your friends. This isn’t going happen if they are put off from buying it in the first place.

Most owners of nice things like to give them a little caress from time to time, feel the shape, admire the style. I have just finished making a batch of silver cocktail shakers, (they are not hall marked or polished yet)  I had to give each one a little caress before putting them into the safe. They did feel like a quality product. I am proud of them.

What I propose to do is from March 2009 is to finish all our products with the Campbell Finish. Subsequent cleaning and polishing by consumers over the years will maintain this finish till time immemorial. 

N.B. Most J.A.Campbell products are now produced using a Tarnish resistant silver alloy needing much less polishing.

I would be interested to hear your comments on my proposals and how you handle your silver

John Campbell

Designer and Master Silversmith