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The Commissioning Process: and how to get the best from it

Commissioning a bespoke item can seem a little daunting. Even if you have a very clear idea in your head about what you want the finished item to look like, it can be difficult to explain that to someone else. Or perhaps you only know that you want to have a journal cover or coffee sleeve designed for a special gift but don’t really know what the design should look like. That’s why I like to take time to talk things over with customers and work with them until we arrive at a design that achieves everything they had in mind.


The commissioning process starts with the completion of the enquiry form on the website. This asks for minimal details about the enquirer and also first thoughts about the project they are thinking about. Questions to consider include: Do you want to order a journal cover, coffee sleeve, luggage tag or napkin ring? Who is it for? What things do they like? Do you have a budget? Do you have a deadline?



A collage of 4 commissions. Top left shows a coffee sleeve with an open hobbit door looking to the lonely mountain and a dragon. Top right shows 3 leather napkin rings with designs of a moose, loon and kayak with mountains in the background. Bottom left, dark brown journal cover rear with a roaring crowd from the view of a ballerina performing. Bottom right is a rectangular luggage tag with a robin carved onto top surface and painted robin colours
Examples of bespoke commissions


Once I’ve received this information, I contact the customer to start a conversation about the project. The next step is the completion of the briefing form which gives me lots more detail about what is wanted. From this I begin to work on design ideas. For a simple brief, like for example requesting an image of a robin to be tooled on a luggage tag, I will come up with a number of different poses and styles. For a more complicated brief such as a journal cover which needs to reflect the many varied interests of the recipient, I will try out a number of different layouts and interpretations. I then send my ideas to the customer and arrange a Zoom call to discuss them.



It can take more than one call to arrive at a design solution that works. I don’t grudge the time involved, it’s important to get it right and it’s a chance to get to know my customers.


Only when a final design is agreed, do I ask for a 50% deposit. Once the item has been made, tooled and finished, the balance is due.



Features two images, the first a hand drawn sketch featuring a rugby ball, goal posts, Manchester Hills and Bee hive theme, the rear has a man running across the hills with his dog. The right of the sketch shows that design tooled onto leather, has been hand-dyed an orange, brown, saddle tan colour
An example of the final design sketch and the finished leather item


All commissioned items are delivered to customers in a handmade T Cole Crafts black linen bag with a leather label.


If you’re thinking of commissioning a bespoke item, why not get in touch now?