Rodology on Making, Part 3: Finishing

Rodology on Finishing - Earth vs Venus Ring - Inky Collective Blog

Hello and welcome to Part 3 of the Rodology on Making series! You’ve read all about Design in Part 1, and Production in Part 2. This time round we tackle Finishing (or How To Finalise Your Products So You’re Able To Start Making Money From Them).

This post will be the shortest in this four part series, but if anything it’s the most important as it’ll show you the difference between the stuff you like to make for fun, and something that is commercially viable.

As with all parts in this series, the main flavour is jewellery, but the overall dish is handmade. If you’re a maker looking for that extra value-added push towards the launch phase, look no further than the following three bits of Rodology advice on how to be a good finisher!

 

AIM HIGH, BUT BELIEVE IN HANDMADE

Rodology on Finishing - Polishing - Inky Collective Blog

 

De Beers, Tiffany’s, Cartier – whilst there is no doubt that their jewellery is beautiful, a lot of it is made by machines so they can produce them more efficiently. Give a design blueprint and the exact same materials to a master goldsmith and you’ll get a similar result, but one that contains the subtle markings and nuances that only a handmade item can produce.

For me these subtle differences are what make a piece truly unique. It’s not only your way of producing something that has your heart and soul woven into the fabric of everything you do, it’s also one of your biggest selling points.

 

BE A PERFECTIONIST, BUT KNOW WHEN IT’S DONE

Rodology on Finishing - Over Working - Inky Collective Blog

 

We’ve all done it – sanded a bit too much here, added something unnecessary over there. It’s easy to overwork something and have it lose its original purpose (Barcelona’s started-in-1882-still-not-finished-yet Sagrada Familia anyone?), or worse still, break it in the process.

I’m a huge perfectionist and love to continue working on something until I feel it’s done. I’m also a pragmatist who knows that if I don’t put my tools down at some point and move on I’ll never finish it.

 

Rodology on Finishing - Earrings - Inky Collective Blog

 

Striking the balance between the two is something I struggle with regularly, but I find walking away from something and coming back to it with fresh eyes half an hour later helps me answer the question, does it really need more work? If not, then for me it’s normally a simple case of popping it in the home made barrel polisher for an hour or two and it’s done. If it ain’t broke, as they say…

 

ADD VALUE

Once you’ve completed your products there are plenty of ways in which you can add extra value without breaking the bank. I’ve taken a look at the three that work best for me:

 

Rodology on Finishing - Rodology Boxes - Inky Collective Blog

 

1) Packaging.

I mentioned at the design stage that you should aim to spend a similar amount of time thinking about your packaging as you do about your actual product. Packaging is hugely important as it allows you to brand your pieces and gives your customers a way to recognise your work where it is displayed.

It adds a touch of class and if you’ve made something small and delicate it serves the rather important purpose of protecting it whilst it’s in transit too. Your packaging is also another way to up-sell your products and provide extra information about your business.

 

Rodology on Finishing - Personalised Packaging - Inky Collective Blog

 

It’s quite nice to offer your customers a small loyalty discount should they wish to buy from you again in the future. You could include this by way of a discount code on a specially printed insert.

Links to your website and social media outlets should be listed, and you should also include contact details so customers can get in touch if they have a problem.

Packaging can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, and I find something simple works well for me.

 

2) Quality.

Working with precious metals means having to conform to certain legal requirements when it comes to letting people know that what you’re making is of a particular quality.

A physical ’hallmark’ is a series of marks applied to your piece by one of four official offices in the UK. They confirm the level of quality through independent testing. It sounds complicated, but as a process it’s been around since the 1300’s, and as well as providing piece of mind to your customers it also adds an additional value to your items. For more info, you can read my brief Rodology guide to hallmarking right here.

Jewellery aside, if you make any kind of cosmetics, electrical items or children’s toys for example you’ll also need to ensure your products conform to the correct safety standards. Whilst the additional responsibility required for these types of products may seem like hard work in the short term, the ability to add a ‘legal thumbs up’ to your products can add to their perceived value in the long run. Check out the government’s guide to product safety and legal responsibilities right here.

 

Rodology on Finishing - Hallmarked Ring - Inky Collective Blog

 

3) Variations on a Theme.

Can you charge a little more for creating a bigger version? Or for using different materials?

Car manufacturers have got this technique down pat. Sure you could live with the base model, but for an extra £100 you could get cruise control. For an extra £200 you could get air conditioning. On the jewellery side of things it’s nice to offer gold plating or personalised packaging as optional extras. Everyone wants something slightly better than the norm so think about ways in which you can finish your product to create a two, or even three, tiered pricing structure for your customers.

 

Rodology on Finishing - Gold Plated Cufflinks - Inky Collective Blog

SUMMARY

When it comes to finishing your products it’s all about finding ways to add value whilst staying true to your brand and product ethics. If you can nail these down you’ll have something you’re not only proud to have seen through from start to finish, but that you should now find incredibly easy to get out there.

The next and final part of this blog series is all about the art of selling. How to take your lovingly crafted creations and get people parting with their hard earned cash so that they can wear them/use them/recommend them. Until then though we’d love to hear about your own creative process.

Working on something new? Got any questions you’d like us to answer next time?  Let us know in the comments, drop us a tweet or tag us over on Instagram.

Rod Barker-Benfield

Rod Barker-Benfield

Freelance artist, photographer and jewellery designer-maker at Rodology. I blog about my creative process.
Rod Barker-Benfield

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