Sunday, August 5, 2012

getting something custom made

This story is a summary of how one of our custom pieces came into fruition for a gentleman in Florida. Hopefully, it helps those of you who might decide to work with an artisan to get something custom made, or it works out questions for those interested in selling their own custom works over long distances.  

1) First, a potential client, let's call him "Sam", sent us an email to our website:

subject = Lantern
comments = Could you make some forged iron lanterns for me?  I'll gladly send you pictures.

2) The same day, I responded to Sam's inquiry. 

Hi Sam,
Feel free to send me pictures re: your inquiry to:

& feel free to give us a call, Mon - Friday 9 am - 5 pm.
Matthew & Karine Maynard
Maynard Studios 

3) Sometimes I'm usually pretty generic on my first responses, but that's only because I never know if there's a REAL person on the other end of the conversation, or it's some kind of "spam bot". But Sam was a real guy and he sent me a response the next day, his attachments helped me know what he was looking for. 

Dear Mr and Mrs Maynard, thank you for responding so promptly.
Attached is a picture for your review.  I hope you can open it.
I felt in love with this Hanging Forged Iron Hurricane Lantern but the store that was selling them originally does not carry them anymore ... (also see the) glass hurricane gives you a general idea of what I want.  I think 40" - 48" diameter would be great but I'll wait for your quote and recommendations first.
Thanks a lot for your help with this.
By the way I'm thinking 2 for my patio deck.

4) This email presented me with a decision. First of all, we don't generally "copy" any one else's designs. I searched to find that indeed, the lantern was no longer available from the place Sam had found it and I could not find it available anywhere else. Once he'd found out that he was going to have to get them custom made, Sam was willing to let me take the opportunity to make these as large as we could. We work from time to time with a Glassblower friend and so I knew I could commission him to make the hurricane glass votives. So I agreed to quote the commission after requesting some more information... but I also let Sam know that I wasn't going to copy it exactly, but reproduce something like what he had seen and I knew a few areas where we could make some improvements as well.

Hi Sam, 
It's a beautiful lantern, and we'd be happy to quote the cost of creating them for you.
4 feet in diameter would be quite large! ...(the) size would look stunning, but your real cost then would be on the custom blown glass, especially in such a large size. 

One of my dearest friends is a glassblower... I could ask him to quote & provide our options.
The metal ring could be hand-forged in our blacksmith's shop, but we would not directly copy this design from your photograph, but alter it & add our own touch. Most likely we would also practice our "artistic liberties" in the way the glass would sit on the ring, and how the chain attaches as well.
Next we should discuss the finish, or topcoat. This is for your porch, so I might recommend either powdercoating (black) or a custom primer and paint finish.
Looking forward to talking with you about your project! Feel free to give us a call anytime.

5) Sam's response (compliments won't always get you everything you want, but they sure don't hurt).

And Sam was always such a pleasure to work with, it helped me want to go the extra mile to get him what he wanted.  

(Matthew & Karine)OMG!  You are so thorough!  I love dealing with intelligent, professional people.
I will go with whatever recommendations you think best, final size, choice of glass, etc.  For the finish I'd like a black powder coat or whatever you'd recommend to withstand heat and rain.
If you feel 4 feet in diameter will be too large by all means please recommend a size that will make a statement and be functional at the same time.  I will try to take some pictures of my deck and send them to you tomorrow.
I can't thank you enough for taking time out to help me with this project.
Best regards,

6) After I talked to my husband and got his idea on the glass-connecting-to-ring point (from here on I called the "base"), I also spoke to our friend the glassblower. I got Chad's recommendation on the size & price of the votive, as well as his advice on the base, and how he felt I should go about affixing the votive to the hand-forged ring. So then I wrote Sam again...

Hi Sam, 
I have attached a quote for you, with a hand-forged 15-18" ring size with glass and chain for $___ each, and included estimated shipping & handling. We would be able to create these in our blacksmith's shop  and ship to you via UPS (insured) in the next 6 - 8 weeks. I was told the glass could be blown as early as next week! To start the commission, you can mail a check for 50 % or I can take credit card by phone.
This is a great design and we'd be delighted to make these for you. I hope our quote falls within the ballpark you were looking for. Take a look at the attachment, and if you have any questions feel free to call me at (502) 859-3170.
Thank you for the opportunity!

8) The attachment was just an invoice, so I didn't include it here (no pretty pictures). But Sam accepted. 

I trust your expertise.
I will mail you a check for $___ this afternoon and will mail you the balance before July 30.  Please let me know if that will be acceptable to you.
Thanks Karine.

The votives arrive!

Trying to find the "right" size of the ring... sketches from my work table.

Within a few weeks (and this was a very hot extreme week in the Ohio Valley! Whew, was it hot!) Chad had the votives finished and I was able to send photos to Sam, showing him the hand-blown glass, as well as a drawing of a new larger size that I felt of making the ring, drawn on my shop table to 24" in diameter, but letting Sam know that this larger size would also increase his quote.

9) Sam's response:

Good morning,
I love the votives and I love the rings at 24" in diameter.  Please go
ahead with the 24" circles.  Let me know if there's more money required.
Thanks a lot,

10) I let Sam know what the price difference would be- the larger dimension meant larger base, larger ring, heavier chain, more in shipping and I'd have to order special boxes to ship them in. I also let him know that shipping in one box might require freight charges, but I'd do my best to keep the cost as low as possible. After a few hours of poking around my estimates I returned his note with the new price & approximate ship date (now into August) and when he asked if he should send another check now, I told him he could wait until it's time to ship.  

11) Sam's response:

You guys are great and I can't thank you enough for taking such good care
of my project and budget.
I trust your judgement implicitly and whatever the additional cost may be
to end up with 2 beautiful conversational pieces arrive intact I will

gladly pay.

12) In the end, we had completely re-designed our approach to how to fit the votive into the ring. Our earliest ideas had been simplified and I had also discussed these with Sam. The base was made by Matthew who oversaw the actual machining of the parts we made;  and our assistant in the shop, Ben Beckett, hand-forged the rings. Each  hanging lantern was truly a collaborative. I sent Sam notice that we were nearing completion and the final shipping was coming due. I had found a way to avoid freight charges and ship in separate boxes and included this progress photo for Sam:

Progress Photo for Sam
Final Picture

1 comment:

  1. it was a pleasure working with you guys on this...can't wait for the next project!