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!!!

Improvised Egg Cup

If you think that the egg cup in the picture below is a bit unusual, you are correct.

Egg cup

It is not actually an egg cup (although it works very well as one). It is in fact a Silver Claret Jug component.

It is bad isn’t it when a silversmith has not got a proper egg cup and has to make do! It is a bit like the shoemaker’s children – usually poorly shod.

The good news is I am busy actually making a batch of Silver Claret Jugs – the real thing in which to serve your favourite wine.

 

 

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!

Mahogany Hogget – Customer service!

Today – an unusual job! A regular Australian customer asked if the wooden base on one of our hogget decanters could be made from Mahogany. This one is usually made in Maple wood and is easy to “turn” and is light and modern in colour.

I tried to dissuade him by saying that mahogany is unavailable in the thickness that this base required and that the block would have to be made by laminating several thickness of mahogany together and hence an extra cost. He was not put off and ordered and paid for it there and then.

I glued several layers of mahogany together a few days ago and today did the turning and polishing. I have to admit it does look quite good. Not my taste – but I am not the customer and also I do not have a monopoly on good taste!!!

Hogget Mahog

The moral of this story is all about giving the best customer service possible.

A Different 21st Birthday Present

21st February 2016

A woman phoned yesterday saying that she was on the JA Campbell website and wanted to know the difference between our 2 Claret Jugs – the Chalice JC/137/F and the Grape and Vine JC/137/G

I explained that they were basically the same but with a different handle and different price points. She went on to say that it was her son’s 21st birthday present and asked about the delivery time of the chalice which was the one she preferred and also how to order on the website or over the phone. I said the latter method was the quickest and easiest.

At this stage of the conversation I said that I thought her choice of a Claret Jug was rather nice but unusual as a 21st. She agreed but said that her husband had been given one on his 21st and had enjoyed using it over the years and wanted the same for his son.

I went on  to tell her some of the details of this Claret Jug such as the option to replace the crystal body should anything untoward happen. The addition of a set of cleaning balls with each decanter and so on. Just a few extra touches that JA Campbell provide as a service to customers.

 

Ice Bucket or Claret Jug?????

The week after the Christmas break I decided to replace the ice bucket we had sold in December. Not having made one of these for a couple of years I had to stop and think how? The main difficulty with the making of this piece is the very long solder seam in the body which is about 10″ long and if it is to be perfect in every way including strong and invisible it will surely test the skills of any silversmith.One thing if you are doing this regularly, but another matter if not!

This ice bucket was no exception in that the solder seam failed miserably. It was weak (broke at every attempt to move it) and highly visable. After several attempts to repair it I decided not to proceed and to scrap it.

All was not lost however as most of the area was good it was only the seam area which was bad, mainly due to the thinness from subsequent repair attempts. After cutting out the seam area the ice bucket was returned once more to a flat sheet and 4 x 4″ diameter discs were cut from it. These discs became claret jug neck components therefore saving 80% of the ice bucket material.

Such a malleable metal silver, especially if purchased from a reliable source, in this case Cookson Precious metals.

What to make next?

I am sure I have probably written about this before – forgive me if I have but it seems to happen every year. There comes a stage where I am up to date with the current order schedule and I have time to make some items for stock. The question always is what to make this time?

I do wish I had a crystal ball and could predict what customers are going to buy. I have tried many ways before to look at sales trends from previous years, to look at what seems to be popular out in the shops, what are other websites putting forward as special offers or even can I look at the weather forecast!!!!

Well here goes again. Nothing has seemed to work 100% in the past but I seem to be doing reasonably well and will go for the ever popular Salt & Pepper Mills from the JA Campbell “Appetite” range. These silver mills are part of the matching collection that I designed about 25 years ago now.How time flies.

It is a contemporary range  and sits well against the more traditional items in the “Classic” range.

They are quite time consuming to make which is why I tend to always ensure that I have some in stock as they would be difficult items to make in a rush. However complicated things are to produce, as long as I have the time, I enjoy creating beautiful silver tableware.

That is one of the reasons I became a Silversmith and I still enjoy my work today.

Summer Produce

It is at this time of year when the garden calls. Unfortunately not always just to sit and enjoy. The weeds grow, the grass needs cutting, but if like me you enjoying growing your own produce then this is when things really start to happen.

Picking the first tomatoes ripening in the greenhouse, runner bean plants at the top of the poles and the first boiling so tender and succulent. Digging up potatoes, picking fruits and that is a task that leads on to yet another.

Loganberry jam from our garden, blackcurrant jam and cherry jam courtesy of our next door neighbours plants and tree.

Still to come our own grapes from the vine in the greenhouse.

Of course you may be thinking what has all this to do with a blog from a Silversmith?

Well I am sure I am not alone in gathering all the produce above and to take the care and have the attention to detail to do that sort of thing I am sure you too will want to display all your produce in the best possible way.

When friends and family come to dinner the talking point will be your gardening endeavours and what better way to show off your jam, for instance, than in a Silver & Crystal Preserve Dish.

How about your homegrown potatoes and runner beans in a Silver Vegetable Tureen with lid.

If your tomatoes form part of a salad then the Silver & Crystal Salad Bowl and a set of Silver Salad Servers will be just perfect.

Whilst the grapes may not be ready yet (and then they will be for eating) but in the meantime a glass of wine or two served from one of our Silver & Crystal Decanters is the ideal accompaniment.

At JA Campbell we have everything you need to set the perfect table to impress!

Have a look now

John Campbell.

Nothing to do with Silver!

A few of the silversmiths I have worked with are extremely versatile possibly due to the many materials we encounter. The hand eye skills we possess seem to transcend many activities although I personally have to confess to being a lousy billiard/snooker player. This came as a great suprise to me as I thought I was pretty good at angles and details.

Once such multi skilled silversmith I worked with as an apprentice was Harry Birkitt. Not only an excellent silversmith he also made miniature steel armour and miniature working guns in his spare time. He would forge from steel all the tiny parts including the flintlock hammers. All the armour joints to move the visors lifted just like the full size ones.

Another such craftsman Lew Marlow is very good with ornamental plaster work. He replaced some of the intricate ceiling cornice in his town house in Kentish town.

Me, well I am quite versatile too, I re-made the run cornice in the master bedroom of our house in Dalston. The house (being corballed brickwork on to clay) was suffering from a little natural subsidence which had broken the cornice in many places. It would have been impossible to repair successfully.

The old ceiling and cornice basically had to come down and be replaced with new. An old plasterer I had met told me he could do the job. When I asked him to start the job he said he could not do it because of his neck. I did not fully understand. This was in the days before google so I set about making umpteen phone calls to plaster cornice makers in yellow pages. Non of whom could do the job. I then realised I had no option but to learn the technique and do it myself. I bought a book in Foyles which had 2 pages of how to make a run cornice. The straight lengths were all quite easy to do but the corners, internal and external were missing and had to be done free hand – not easy! Each corner took me a day! At the end of the job my neck had seized up completely because of being fixed in the same looking up position for so long. I then realised what the plasterer had meany about his neck.

The latest skill I need to learn is how to re-bristle a brush. Our Meile vacuum cleaner (Revolution 500) has an electrically driven carpet cleaning head containing a cylindrical brush within. Meile tell me they no longer supply this part. Image if the top motor manufacturer told you that they could not supply you with a new gear box for your 12 year old car.

There is nothing wrong with the brush other than that the bristles are worn down and no longer touch the carpet. All I need to do is find a source of new bristles, drill out the old ones and glue back the new longer  ones into the cylinder. Should be easy .

Anyone got the same problem? Contact john@jacampbell.co.uk

Just going outside to repair the lawnmower carburettor. What next?

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!