One of the problems with working in a goldsmith shop as opposed to some fancy-ass retail store is that the bigger picture becomes obscured by the job at hand. I have an uncanny ability to focus on the small picture (Whoever said “Don’t sweat the small stuff” wasn’t a goldsmith) leaves me somewhat unprepared for the world around me.
As I work away in a building with an air conditioning system that is unpredictable, at best, and currently completely non-functional, I don’t really worry about the fact that perspiration is making it difficult to hold onto my tools. I just grip more tightly. It has always been a characteristic of the places I’ve worked (or owned) that the most important thing is the quality of the piece being made at that moment, and my surroundings shouldn’t make any difference. Suck it up.
I begin to recognize the true extent of the discomfort when a civilian shows up. My customers seem to accept the heat without complaint, although after climbing several flights of stairs, they could be forgiven for kvetching some. Not only is my shop on the actual third floor of the building rather than the second, as would be understood from the address, but each flight of stairs is ungodly high, given the fourteen-foot ceilings we are blessed with. I’ve considered obtaining one of those emergency kits with the cardiac paddles, just in case.
So, to my customers, thank you for your patience and forbearance. The cooling system is, so they claim, up and running again and the building should be comfortable by the time the weather cools down. You’ll be able to hang beef in here. Bring a sweater.
It’s the time of year when things start to get busy around here, what with all the people that appear to find it impossible to get married without my help, so it’s a damn poor time to be doing spec work. But that’s just what contest entries are all about. The CanadaMark people are, once again, running an international competition to highlight the Canadian diamond industry, and I’m here to play. They are awful quiet on the subject, running no public campaign at all, so I figure I may as well wave the flag for myself.
The competition is for pendants this year and, while I’ve done a jeezly lot of pendants in my time, the numbers pale in comparison to the rings that I’ve spit out. This, combined with a reduced retail value on the piece will, I’m sure bring out the best in the designers in Canada and around the world. Well, Canada, the US, and Britain, anyway. Pendants are much simpler to design, in some ways, thanks to their two-dimensionality. You can draw the design on a flat piece of paper (or digital screen, or what have you) and pretty much have an idea of what the finished product will look like. There’s none of the necessity for a CAD/CAM system in your head or on your desk to help view the many aspects of a three-dimensional ring.
That doesn’t mean that designing pendants is easy, it’s actually quite difficult to rein in the imagination and not get things too cluttered, or at least that’s my experience. I’m an idea editor and like to keep the picture simple. Problem is, a two dimensional design says it all on first sight, and if it ain’t love, it won’t work.
I’m just rambling now, so I’ll get back to y’all later and show you what I’m up to…
There will be pictures.
Here’s the contest page: http://www.canadamark.com/contest
And here’s some of what it took to get there: http://kmpltd.ca/polaris-pendant/
What, you may ask, is with the squared off shanks?
If you’ve perused the works of KMPLTD sufficiently, you will for sure have noticed the odd bumpy bits at the back of our rings. We still call them bumps, bumpy bits, whatever, so let’s not get too involved in the nomenclature. Suffice it to say that they are not simply a stylistic affectation, they actually do work.
I spent the first few years of my marriage trying to ensure that the diamond in my wedding band stayed on the top of my finger, where it would do the most good. I can fix this, I figured, so I reconfigured the shank with these nifty little bumps. It worked, so I started putting them on all the rings I make. People liked them, so a tradition was created.
Practicalities aside, there is also a subtle status boost contained in the bumps. A ring made this way is somewhat problematic to size up or down extensively. It was made for a specific person, sometimes a specific hand and changing the size can quickly throw off the proportions. I liken it to having cuffs on the pants of a bespoke suit. Real cuffs, as opposed to simply folding the too-long pants up like ‘fifties blue jeans, make it more or less impossible to lengthen or shorten the pants. They were made for you, made perfectly, and require no adjustment. Granted, your legs may get shorter as you age, but by then it’s probably time for a new suit.
Surgeon cuffs are another subtle sign of a custom-made suit. Apparently, back in the day, before infection was seen as any sort of hazard, a surgeon would show up at the hospital, roll up his sleeves, and get to work. In order to keep the gore off his jacket, which he refused to remove for decorum’s sake, the cuff-buttons needed to be functional. This rendered the jacket un-alterable, as with the pants example. If you look closely at a fellow’s sleeves, you can determine whether the suit is off-the-rack or custom-made. If he opted for the Surgeon cuffs, that is. And why wouldn’t he?
How do I know this shit and why should we care? Good question.
That is all.
So here it is. A modern new website avec le blog space, at right about the time that I heard on a podcast that blogs are passé. Sounds about right, considering my usual late-adopter habits. If you’ve been visiting the old website and are concerned that the crusty old bugger is gone, well, rest assured that it still exists here. It may suffer some neglect, due to the demands of the new baby, but I have always been kind of lax as far as content awareness.I’m not 100% sure what sort of blather I’m going to insert here, but perhaps I’ll do a sot of frequently asked questions format, or some teccnical stuff that people may be curious about.
First, though, I should try posting this thing to see that it actually works.
To quote D. Wayne Love, “ Meanwhile, I’d like you to just sit on back, relax, and dig your heels in, ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride, brother.”