Folksy Ltd

Desperate for a silversmith or silver caster to help me

Ok so I am going to again try to find some help here. I am really struggling to find silver findings for my horse hair jewellery here in the uk. I did buy abroad but the postage as just gone up 5x so not cost effective to continue. I am looking for a small uk based silver smith or caster to do commissions for me on a regular bases. I have examples of what I need.
I fear if I don’t find any help soon I may have to give up my craft and this would be tragic as I absolutely love what I do.
I have considered learning to do this myself but this would take many years to perfect to a standard that an experienced silversmith can achieve so not an option at the moment but possibly in the future. Please, please someone help me :cold_sweat:

What are you after lovely?

Hi thankyou so much for replying, These types of items to use with my jewellery.

Hope you manage to find something Maxine, I am still looking out for end caps for you for the tie pins, no luck yet! I managed to find the brooch backs but it looks like majority of findings for horse hair are cast. Wish I could help :frowning:

Aw thankyou for looking, I really appreciated it. I know it’s a caster I think I need but not sure where to find one that would do pieces in a smaller scale. My eyes and head are quite sore try to find one :slightly_frowning_face:

The problem is that these sort of clasps and end caps need to be precisely made in order to work. The sheer quantity of work involved in making a lobsters claw clasp by hand (even if you did cast the pieces first yourself) would make it unaffordable for a UK worker to do it. That is why they are usually mass produced in factories. A silversmith who was capable of such precision work would be throwing themselves away making findings rather than concentrating on statement rings, filligree, etc, etc. I would advise you to find a reliable UK supplier of mass produced findings and pass the increased cost on to the customer. I know this sounds harsh, but it is kindly meant.

Sam x

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I use this company for findings and they do the round type end caps in a range of sizes and trigger clasps
As Sam said pass any increase in materials cost on to the customer, I imagine people who are having pieces made from the hair of a much loved horse/ pet will pay the extra as it is not a throwaway fashion piece and more of a sentimental keepsake.

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I know your right Sam. I will have to increase my jewellery prices, I have always tried to make them affordable as some of the prices asked are pretty steep. I am not to bothered about the lobster clasps as I can get them from many places that are affordable, I am more looking for the custom made endcaps, I presume these are made using a cast system. To get endcaps with the correct size opening in UK is pretty much impossible. Believe me I have tried international craft, Cookson gold, palmer metals to name a few. To then get them with some kind of equestrian emblem on them is unheard of. I don’t mind paying a reasonable amount for my items I just hate to pay more postage than the items cost me, I think i need to learn to make them myself x

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You could look here they are already imported.
If you bought something like this it would be possible to have them sent to me to solder clasps on for you and polish them.

Thanks Deborah these are Sarah’s designs that she uses to make her jewellery, you buy a complete piece from her. I am looking for someone to make my design end caps for me, I think I could manage the soldering with a bit of practice.

Ah ok sorry,I didn’t look further than that page, but noticed that all the ones that say artisan are imported ones that are readily available on Etsy.
It would be possible to make a master for you, that could be sent away for casting, they would then need finishing, or I think it may be possible to pay the casters to finish too.

I would advise having a master pattern made then using a company like jewelcast based in Birmingham (who do all of my sterling silver casting) to cast them for you. Their casting is easily cleaned up and polished in a barrelling machine or with a dremmel drill attachment and you can pay by card and have your casting posted to you (there’s no minimum order either). I would happily make the master pattern for you and take it for mould making but I’d need an example to base it on for the dimensions

I think if you tried to make them yourself, you would start to see what I am saying. You can easily purchase sterling silver tubing to the correct size, but then you would have to solder to an end plate you had cut to the correct size. Then you would need to add the ring and the horseshoe. All possible, but for a pair I would be looking to charge you £20 as this work is fiddly and would take just as long to finish to an acceptable standard as a much larger and more profitable piece (say for example a semi-precious stone pendant set in a rub-over setting). It is possible to cast them by carving the piece out of wax and then doing the cast, but the artisan methods only produce a few casts before the mould starts to deteriorate. As Deborah has suggested, it would be best to approach a company who is prepared to cast to your own design for this. Hope this helps,

Sam x

Here are some of my master patterns that I used for moulds and the casting from jewelcast before any clean up just to give you an idea. My moulds have cast maybe 100 items each so far and are still perfect, jewelcast store them for you in their own temperature controlled mould room to keep them in good condition

Thankyou all so much for all your help and advise. I was thinking along the same lines re a caster. I have sent an email to a caster in Scotland (also no minimum) to see if they could make me a mould and then produce the ends for me and I am waiting for them to reply.
I have original pieces to make molds from so it should work. Just for comparison how much should I be looking at getting a mold made and then getting the pieces casted?
I have no idea as first time doing this, but hopefully won’t be the last.
I have also been looking at working with metal clay for my beads and charms as I think this would be a really good way to get just what I want and to make my pieces really bespoke. I am very excited about the metal clay, does anyone else work with it and can give me some advice.
Wow I am very needy at the moment :scream:

I would definitely recommend having a master pattern made from metal rather than carving from wax because then your mould can be made from vulcanised rubber rather than having a more easily damaged “cold mould” made. Plus then when your mould does wear out you can have another made with your master pattern as it won’t have been lost in the process. Carving a wax wouldn’t be my choice for a master for a piece like this anyway because the wax is very brittle and it would be hard to get the thickness of the tube walls accurate all the way around. If you do get a master made elsewhere ask for them to make it in silver as copper master patterns degrade over time and can also cause pitting inside the mould. There are companies who could create your design with you using computer software and then have it milled out or 3D printed in wax which could then be cast in silver as your master pattern. Denford used to offer this service but it can be quite costly.

Thanks Deborah, I get my pieces from etsy at the moment, the seller is fab and I give him designs and measurements and he makes the pieces fantastic. This has worked great and I would have continued but there have been changes in the postage they can use and now the postage is 5x what it was so the pieces are no longer cost effective. It’s such as shame as he has lost a lot of business due to this.

Most casting companies will offer a mould making service. I pay £20 for my vulcanised rubber moulds, I can’t remember how much I pay per cast in addition to the price per gram of silver but I know it isn’t much.

That sounds promising, I will see what they say and will also look into the one in Birmingham, again thanks for all your help I have been hunting around for months and have had more info in one night on here, you are all fantastic x

I might be able to help.
If each of the end caps are different sizes each order they would have to be handmade each time. But for your horseshoe motif a master could be made for that, cast and then soldered on. Alternatively you could make end cap masters in 3 or 4 sizes, cast these and use the ‘best fit’ for each order.
I could make make the masters for you or if you want to handmake each one, let me know what sort of quantity and I’d seriously consider it. We’d have to discuss the costs obviously
For your clasps. Have you looked at Rashbel in Hatton Garden? If they supply suitable (lobster) clasps etc. they could be attached to your end caps. They do a wide range of findings - a lot you don’t see anywhere else.
A master could be made of the hook-over clasp or they could be handmade if sizes differ or again masters in 3 or 4 sizes could be made, cast and use the ‘best fit’ for each order. But to handmake a lobster clasp is just not feasible.

Any use?