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.

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.


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.


Made up to a standard and not down to a price

The above statement while not unique has been coined by myself John Campbell to describe the principles applied when making our products. The intention of this statement is to try to appeal to the more discerning people in society, for these are our target market.

JA Campbell’s only retail outlet is its website and the studio workshop in Brentwood, England. With almost no other high street presence this makes it difficult for potential buyers to “touch and feel” Because of this we have to try and get our message across using the written word, photography and word of mouth backed up by the real comments on both the home page and individual product pages of our website.

We also get numerous phone calls (about one per sale) from people asking questions about the product and/or delivery. These calls I suspect are also being used to ascertain more about JA Campbell, such as do they actually answer the phone?, do they sound as if they know their subject?, can they answer technical questions?, can it be engraved on time and where is the best position?, could it be a bit taller/decorated?, could 50 be delivered in 3 weeks?. How well these questions are answered gives the questioner confidence – or not.

We all get caught occasionally buying something which turns out to be poor quality, often using the internet. Even me. A few weeks ago I thought I did not have time to go shopping for a new colander for the kitchen so I ordered one on the internet. Before even opening the packet I realised by the weight, or lack of it, that the article inside must be thinly made. Exactly right. It was so cheap it went straight to the charity shop. I did not want it in our kitchen.

Back to the JA Campbell case: my general business principal is to make an article as good as I can, one which will not break in use but last a lifetime or even many lifetimes. A product that will not cause me personally or my company any embarrassment. We then try to make a profit out of it.

The same cannot be said however for many other manufacturers. Modern house builders are a prime example. Most new houses and apartments today are made as cheaply as possible to maximise profit using the smart bathroom and kitchen to woo the potential buyer. Many are built on a flood plane or in a poor part of town or near a busy main road or railway. These builders or developers, as they prefer to be called, should use the moto “built poor in quality and high in price”

When making a batch of square decanters last week I realised they were taking far too long to make for several reasons and that profitability was probably suffering. So be it I thought! They had been made up to a standard. I am proud to have the name JA Campbell stamped on this item. It will not just please but will delight any recipient. A word of warning though, if you have a bad head the morning after it is probably the contents to blame – not my decanter!

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.