The Etsy Blog

UK Edition: Interview With chrisparry

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

I’ve long been a fan of chrisparry‘s craftsmanship so it’s a real treat to gain insight into his techniques and daily life. I find the more avant-garde of his designs (such as his Nail Varnish Ring) deeply fascinating. What a pro — he’s the kind of designer/maker I’m sure many of us would like to be when we grow up. In fact, you might even call him a Diamond Geezer (sorry).

Tell us a wee bit about yourself.
Hi, my name is Chris Parry and I am a professional jewellery designer/maker living and working in Gravesend, Kent, UK. You may not have heard of Gravesend, but Pocahontas is buried about 300 yards from my shop. I specialize in making bespoke pieces of jewellery, be it a sparkly engagement ring or a subtle pair of earrings. If it can be made from platinum, gold (red, white or yellow), palladium or silver, then I can probably make it for you. I started off working from home, which progressed to a shed, then a workshop, then my first shop and I am now in a large town centre shop. This comprises a retail space for my jewellery, other lovely goodies and of course my workshop.

How did you begin your foray into the world of designing/making?
I left a very good career at the age of 30 and went to study a degree in Silversmithing and Jewellery Design. During the degree program I set up my personal website and immediately started to pick up commissions. From that day onwards I have been self-employed.

Photos from Chris Parry on Flickr

Educate us a little on silversmithing; what’s the physical process like and why do you love it?
Each commission or repair is unique for me so I have to call upon an array of techniques. A simple ring commission might involve working directly in bullion, hammering and bashing. It might require hand-carving a wax model, so that the piece can be cast, or it might need more modern technology like computer aided design (CAD) and rapid prototyping (RPT). Within a week I can find myself smithing, carving, computer modelling, engraving, casting, enamelling, stone setting and doing a host of other techniques. It is this vast range of skills that makes my work life so enjoyable. I think most jobs become dull and boring because every day is much like the one before. For example, repairs have ranged from a 100 year old football trophy to replacing lost stones in rings.

What is the “Ring a Day” project?
The “Ring a Day” project is a task to simply create, as quick or as slow as you like, a ring every day from any material which may or may not be practical or serve a purpose. Think of it as a kind of 3D doodling exercise. I tend to run out of time to document all of my rings online, but the Flickr group is wonderful.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by my clients — I create unique designs for each of them! Every person has their own perception of beauty, and the old saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is very true. I try to be very, very neutral in helping a client realize their dream item and will offer opinions on scale or proportion or structural integrity. The beauty of working in this way is that one client might want a piece inspired by Art Nouveau, the next something minimalist and so on. I have had clients turn up with pictures of buildings, cars, flowers, tattoos or just dreamy descriptions. I work with each client to create a design and tweak it as required until they are happy.

What’s it like to work on bespoke, custom commissions? Do you have a favourite memory of one in particular?
It may seem cliché, but every commission is rewarding. To be able to create something that the client has been dreaming about is so thrilling. Some commissions are even more emotionally charged, especially when I am given a fingerprint, hand or footprint of someone who has recently been lost. Sometimes I have wonderful meetings with mothers and fathers who have lost a tiny one, and to be able to create a piece of jewellery which carries a very special memory — this has to be the highlight of any day.

What does an average day in the life of Chris Parry entail?
I try to keep my work life separate from my home life, so work for me starts when I arrive at my shop/workshop at 9 a.m. I have already been up for a couple of hours and done the daddy stuff. One of the highlights of my day is walking hand in hand with my daughter to school. I don’t check on work emails or Etsy sales outside of my working day. It’s not that I am not interested, but it is too easy to neglect your loved ones by checking the computer every thirty minutes.

Working for yourself and running your own shop/workshop has many demands. The kettle is the first thing I turn on and I try to answer emails right away. I process any sales and set a list of things to do for the day. Eva, my apprentice, arrives at 9.30 a.m. and I give her a list of tasks for the day. She is a wonderful woman: we get on so well and I could not ask for a more hardworking helper in the workshop.

Sometimes I might be mentioned on a blog or in a forum, which, whilst really nice, might create 20, 40 or 100 email enquiries. The Internet is a truly wonderful tool and in the same breath it can create a ton of traffic. I once created an Instructable, which was viewed about 90,000 times and generated a shed load of emails. I also created a free pricing spreadsheet for the Etsy community, which was downloaded about 40,000 times from my blog and again sent me lots of emails, some of which were short novels asking me for further help! Needless to say, it can be overwhelming.

Eva and I then set about our daily tasks and we serve customers in the shop. Clients come in to ask about this and that or to bring in repairs. I don’t have a typical day, as each is so unique. The kettle is never cold. I close the shop up when the town centre closes at about 5.30 p.m. and after a short trip home it is back to being a daddy and hubby again.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Anything my kids have made. My great-great-grandfather made a beautiful chess table, probably circa 1900.
Do you have any advice for artists starting out in their career?
I have three hot tips for any artist in any field:
  1. Pricing.
  2. Pricing.
  3. Pricing.

You need to learn the reality of pricing to earn a living. A self-employed artisan cannot rely on their craft alone. They need to understand the complexity of running a business equally well.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I have a saying that I try to live by. It can be applied for both my personal life and my work life: “Is what I am doing now getting me any closer to my objectives?” It reminds me not to waste time on trivia.

 

Thanks to Chris for taking part! You can see some of his beautiful work below.

Interview Posts | The UK Edition | More Jewelry Posts | Shop Jewelry

  • lupin

    lupin says:

    Great interview! It's always so great reading about all the behind the scenes stuff & Chris is so right that you have to get to grips with all that "boring" business stuff to make a living doing what you love :)

    4 years ago

  • PoPkO

    PoPkO says:

    wonderful article! thanks! ps-i had no idea what 'nail varnish' was for a moment...we call it 'nail polish' here in the US.

    4 years ago

  • LustreBeads

    LustreBeads says:

    I love Chris's work, really great interview. It's awesome to hear from such talented UK etsians :)

    4 years ago

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts says:

    Great article and very nice pieces! Congrats!

    4 years ago

  • sewlola

    sewlola says:

    Chris designs beautiful pieces! I ♥ the guitar pick.

    4 years ago

  • chelsuba

    chelsuba says:

    Nice read,Chris you sound like you have a wonderful life with the right balance of work and play,I love that you leave work AT work, its so very true that the internet can eat up alot of valuble home/family time. I wish you continued success your silverwork is stunning <3

    4 years ago

  • pocketcarnival

    pocketcarnival says:

    Ooh great interview! The nail varnish ring is such an awesome idea!

    4 years ago

  • QuiteContrary2

    QuiteContrary2 says:

    brilliant interview and stunning work Chris - have never read about a Silversmith before, it's so interesting, and the special custom items you've designed are amazing - i love the guitar pic, and the calendar with a diamond where the date should be on your Flickr photos. Congrats!

    4 years ago

  • AmandaSainsbury

    AmandaSainsbury says:

    Lovely article!

    4 years ago

  • FamaraDesigns

    FamaraDesigns says:

    Great interview. The jewelry are wonderful :)

    4 years ago

  • lisaroy

    lisaroy says:

    Awesome work! Love the cufflinks! It's always so great to hear how other artists juggle their days.

    4 years ago

  • MyJunkyTrunk

    MyJunkyTrunk says:

    Great interview and really BEAUTIFUL work! WOW!

    4 years ago

  • FluteTeacher

    FluteTeacher says:

    This was fun to read! Thanks for sharing.

    4 years ago

  • sarahknightdesign

    sarahknightdesign says:

    Great advice and amazing work:) The Shirt Stiffeners are genius!!!

    4 years ago

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie says:

    Chris has been a favorite for a long time. So nice to see his shop, hear his ideas, and enjoy his work.

    4 years ago

  • kadlubik

    kadlubik says:

    thanks for the interview!

    4 years ago

  • candacejean

    candacejean says:

    Such a great interview. Chris provided a bunch of really helpful tips to keep in mind! Very talented artist.. thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • saintesmariesjewelry

    saintesmariesjewelry says:

    great article! he is inspiring!

    4 years ago

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy says:

    That's the smile of a man who loves what he does! Thanks for sharing your story.

    4 years ago

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry says:

    Great article and great advice about pricing, pricing, pricing. Beautiful work, Chris! Thank you for sharing.

    4 years ago

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel says:

    lovely work! i have admired his work for sometime - great to know a little better! thank you!!

    4 years ago

  • KittyCityCreations

    KittyCityCreations says:

    Great article! And he looks like one happy guy!

    4 years ago

  • monocotoleydon

    monocotoleydon says:

    Great article, Chris your work looks fantastic. I especially love the idea of the nail varnish ring, it sounds like such fun to actually paint your ring to match your nails. Being a crafter take a a toll on my hands, but I still love to play with bright color on my nails. I really love getting to see UK sellers featured, as Etsy is getting bigger over here.

    4 years ago

  • blackbirdtees

    blackbirdtees says:

    Love the saying that you live by! Such an important question to keep asking at every turn. Thanks for the reminder ;)

    4 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage says:

    A talented artist and an inspiring story!

    4 years ago

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage says:

    wonderful story - lovely work

    4 years ago

  • StarAniseRecipes

    StarAniseRecipes says:

    Very nice! Brilliant idea with being able to customise a ring, very creative and fun :)

    4 years ago

  • Tresijas

    Tresijas says:

    Separating time and making a to do list is so important and great advice. "Shed load" made me laugh! Thank you for doing this interview :D

    4 years ago

  • ColoursandTextures

    ColoursandTextures says:

    Interesting article

    4 years ago

  • VeryCarey

    VeryCarey says:

    I can sense the passion to create, congrats.

    4 years ago

  • elisasherejewelry

    elisasherejewelry says:

    I love that Chris has a shop with a town center (that closes up at 5:30pm, no less!). Sounds like a sweet little studio and life. Thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • Whimsywares

    Whimsywares says:

    Great article! Really unique artwork and helpful tips!

    4 years ago

  • RussianDollDesigns

    RussianDollDesigns says:

    thanks for a great UK interview, I love Chris's blog too!

    4 years ago

  • ovgilliesdesigns

    ovgilliesdesigns says:

    Amazing work!

    4 years ago

  • KarensLoom

    KarensLoom says:

    Great to keep up to date on all thats on and in in the uk.... thanks...

    4 years ago

  • lifeofcolors

    lifeofcolors says:

    Love the idea of the nail varnish ring... and that you leave the office at the office!

    4 years ago

  • reinaldovalentin

    reinaldovalentin says:

    Words to live by... Great article.

    4 years ago

  • sherrytruitt

    sherrytruitt says:

    We've talked about goals and balance before, Chris. So nice to see you really live them. I love seeing your work all in one spot. xoSherry

    4 years ago

  • ErikaPrice

    ErikaPrice says:

    Great interview! I love Chris's work - he's so inspirational :)

    4 years ago

  • trinketsncharms

    trinketsncharms says:

    Good interview, and you've highlighted some gorgeous items too!

    4 years ago

  • heartworksbylori

    heartworksbylori says:

    Chris, thanks for sharing! Your passion is infused with each piece your hands create and I know your customers love you! So personal and at the same time, your work is top quality. Thanks for being such a brilliant example. xo, ~Lori

    4 years ago

  • Inbarbareket

    Inbarbareket says:

    Chris is a great artist !!! I love his work !!! Great interview!

    4 years ago

  • chrisparry

    chrisparry says:

    Thank you all so very much. Not only for taking the time and trouble to read about little ol' me, but in leaving such lovely comments. It is such a nice tonic to read such lovely words. & of course, here I am, sat at home doing work stuff..... Just really couldn't resist showing the family the article and leaving my own comment. right must go, kids to put to bed and a wife to cuddle.

    4 years ago

  • AutumnLeavesJewelry

    AutumnLeavesJewelry says:

    Huge fan, bigger fan of his brother who is a photographer!!! (must run in the family!) :-D

    4 years ago

  • bijougirldesigns

    bijougirldesigns says:

    Hi Chris!! Wonderful interview!

    4 years ago

  • simplymega

    simplymega says:

    Hi Chris- such fine work! and good advice too.

    4 years ago

  • KristyLynnJewelry

    KristyLynnJewelry says:

    Beautiful work!!! Your very talented, congrats!!!

    4 years ago

  • kathryncole

    kathryncole says:

    Great Interview! And Beautiful work!

    4 years ago

  • shopKCQ

    shopKCQ says:

    So true - pricing is difficult for so many of us, myself included.

    4 years ago

  • HouseOfMirth

    HouseOfMirth says:

    the work looks very professional. i like the square ring, but would it be comfortable?

    4 years ago

  • BijouxChouchou

    BijouxChouchou says:

    Great craftsmanship and very inspirational!

    4 years ago

  • frenchtoastfriday

    frenchtoastfriday says:

    Great interview. Beautiful work. And such a family man.

    4 years ago

  • galanight

    galanight says:

    love the guitar pick!

    4 years ago

  • Sallyent

    Sallyent says:

    Chris I've had one of your plectrums now for a couple of years as a first father's day present from my little boy to his daddy, it's still very much treasured and loved. Great workmanship. And excellent choice of interviewee Amity, loving your UK blogging for etsy, keep it up! x

    4 years ago

  • kristincoffin

    kristincoffin says:

    Oh, Chris Parry..... How I think of you daily, at least 5 times a day! Every time I price an item, I open up your pricing spreadsheet. It's been a gift like no other! You may never know me, or all the other thousands who use your pricing guide, but I feel like I've gotten to know you quite well! Thank you so much for sharing such valuable information. I honestly have never seen such an excellent pricing guide as this one. It takes a true, honest, and community oriented artist to be willing to share such important information with others. Thank you, thank you, muchas gracias.

    4 years ago

  • kristincoffin

    kristincoffin says:

    Oh, Chris Parry.... I think of you daily--at least 5 times a day! Every time I price out an item, I open up your incredible spreadsheet. You may never know who I am, but I assure you that I and thousands of others silently thank you daily as we effortlessly type in numbers to the incredible formula you've provided. Where would my business be without you right now? I can't thank you enough. It takes a truly caring, community-oriented artist to be generous enough to share such insightful information with others. Too often, tips are withheld out of fear of competition. I love what you do, how you approach it, and your absolute generosity. Muchas gracias ....and now time to reopen my pricing guide so I can price out some new items in 18k...

    4 years ago

  • jewellerybyviki

    jewellerybyviki says:

    Chris Parry made my wedding band about 5 years ago, I love it and still enjoy wearing it everyday. The service was great and it is nice to put a face to a name after reading this interview. I just love his stuff. And as a newby to Etsy it's always good to read any advice from someone who's been in business for a while.

    4 years ago

  • evihan

    evihan says:

    wowww this interview is soo greatt..thank you for sharing...One day I hope etsy can see my shop and give me an opportunity to make an interview as above:-)

    4 years ago

  • greenriverstudio

    greenriverstudio says:

    Amazing workmanship! I love Chris's work.

    4 years ago

  • pinkytoeclothing

    pinkytoeclothing says:

    Great interview, lovely pieces. Wow!

    4 years ago

  • ArtisticIntentions

    ArtisticIntentions says:

    Great article - really cool stuff!!

    4 years ago

  • vickiorion

    vickiorion says:

    I've been a fan of Chris' work for a long time. This is a great interview and an amazing peek inside the real Chris!

    4 years ago

  • kristincoffin

    kristincoffin says:

    whoops...I guess my comment did post the 1st time. Apologies!

    4 years ago

  • vintagemaison

    vintagemaison says:

    Beautiful work and beautiful work ethic - the balance is right.

    4 years ago

  • seaofbees

    seaofbees says:

    for a second i thought chrisparry was bravo andy. i love the fingerprint idea.

    4 years ago

  • boojewels

    boojewels says:

    It was fabulous to read about one of the sellers I most admire here - and put a face to the name. I envy the lifestyle he's made himself, sounds a lovely balanced arrangement and something to aspire to. I too use Chris's pricing spreadsheet and recommend it often. Thank you Amity for also including my copper raindrops necklace on the page, it'll be heading to Ohio shortly, so I'd best hit the workbench myself and make some more!

    4 years ago

  • OneLittleHouse

    OneLittleHouse says:

    ace interview amity! chris, beautiful work :)

    4 years ago

  • LifeCovers

    LifeCovers says:

    I really want to check out that pricing spreadsheet but I know it will make my products unaffordable so ... maybe another day.

    4 years ago

  • lovealittle

    lovealittle says:

    What a great article, lovely to see the person behind such awesome work ;)

    4 years ago

  • ffflowers

    ffflowers says:

    Lovely to read about someone who has got the balance right - and proves it can be done!

    4 years ago

  • feltmeupdesigns

    feltmeupdesigns says:

    beautiful work, a great interview and great advice

    4 years ago

  • westbyron

    westbyron says:

    now THAT man looks like a happy entrepreneur. Oh, to find that kind of balance and order in my life... Beautiful items and very helpful article, thanks!

    4 years ago

  • LoveOwlEyes

    LoveOwlEyes says:

    great interview! great advice :)

    4 years ago

  • chrisparry

    chrisparry says:

    Wow. I am blown away. So many lovely comments and you should know that you have all brightened my day. I am thrilled that so many of you have found the spreadsheet so useful and you are still using it. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time and trouble to leave a comment. Chris

    4 years ago

  • novaofsweden

    novaofsweden says:

    I remember when I first joined Etsy (with novadesigns) and I stumbled upon that wonderful spreadsheet on your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and letting us take a peak at an average day in your life! So inspiring!

    4 years ago

  • ianparry

    ianparry says:

    Holy heck bruv how did you get your teeth so shiny I bet you were up all week polishing those for the photo shoot , better not publish any more pictures of yourself or the etsy world would think you were an inbred from the wererabbit film.( leaves himself open for copiuos amounts of chrisparry wit) I think if you lived in America you would have been licked clean by all your admirers by now , go in disguise next time or there will be lots of funny bunny lookie likeys hopping around Winsconsin.

    4 years ago

  • chrisparry

    chrisparry says:

    ahhhh, tis my older and significantly uglier brother. The whole white teeth thing is what we call in the trade " a toothbrush". Next time I see you, I shall introduce this latest breakthrough, along with the hairbrush and the magic stone known as "soap". Don't be fooled by the kind words here, they are all in my employ, and have received significant sacks of cash to write even the smallest positive comment. I have to go now, I have lots of things to put ontop of other things.

    4 years ago

  • kalicat

    kalicat says:

    Great interview. Great talent! Fun brother :) I really like the advice on pricing: priceless LOL! xxx

    4 years ago

  • AndrosCreations

    AndrosCreations says:

    Great article of one of my favorite Etsy sellers... What's all this about a pricing sheet? Someday I shall own me a guitar pick from Chris Parry. But I have a question first... Can the guitar picks actually be used? ah.... I ask this in jest as it is the question I oft times receive. Spectacular work, Chris!

    3 years ago

  • wwdancegirl1

    wwdancegirl1 says:

    Just ordered the Valentine ring. Can't wait to get it! Really fun to learn more about the artisan behind my new piece.

    3 years ago