Fear the Reaper


Sometimes it’s a perfect storm.  I’ve talked about this before, but when a client can come to me with a rough idea with specific goals and a target aesthetic and THEN has the trust to just let me do my thing, magic can happen.  Ladies and gentleman, check out the black death.

Screen shot 2015-08-24 at 6.43.40 PM

This is a heavily modified Jupiter Skull ring with fully customed features around the eyes, jaw, and forehead as well as a reaper carved around the back of the shank and two rubies set in the eyes.

Screen shot 2015-08-24 at 6.37.37 PM Screen shot 2015-08-24 at 6.43.01 PM

With rings like this, I need help setting those stones and my friends over in north ATL KILLED it with an amazing laser job. The stones are open from the back so light can pass through and the result is just awesome.  Here are some detail shots of the reaper.

Screen shot 2015-08-24 at 6.42.43 PM

Screen shot 2015-08-24 at 6.42.53 PM

Over time, this gunmetal finish will wear away to a high polish, leaving the recesses black.  But I also industrialized the finish a bit so it looks more raw and rough.  It’ll NEVER be a pretty ring and that’s what the client wanted.  She ain’t pretty, she’s fierce.  Heavy, solid, cast as one piece and everything (in my opinion) that a custom skull ring was meant to be.

Screen shot 2015-08-24 at 6.54.35 PM

I know I’ve done my job when it hurts to send her off into the world.  Sounds like I’m bragging, but it isn’t me.  It’s the client who had the concept and let the ring develop through collaboration.  Just like getting a tattoo.

Screen shot 2015-08-24 at 6.36.01 PM

Blood Meridian: The arrival of the Leonids

1 Comment

I’ve finished my companion piece to the new Gentleman ring.  This one has been a long time in the making and really just hinged on me finding a place that could supply the right kind of gemstone.  I had very specific requirements for this and I’m happy to say I’ve cracked it wide open.

Ladies and germs, I’d like to introduce you to the Leonids.  
Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 5.49.18 PM

I bought a square turquoise stone ring on an indian reservation outside of Tucson once and I thought it was just hte coolest freakin’ thing I’d ever seen.  The ring wasn’t made very well and broke after about a year of daily wear, but I always loved the shape of it – the flat sculptural planes around the bezel caught the light and the stone was a pale blue, not that childish cloud-blue that you see in so many of the crappy turquoise rings you can buy online.  The stone was so pale that in the sun, it took on a ghostly effect.

I spent a lot of time looking for its equal and…yep, you guessed it…..nobody made ’em.

Unless you like this shit:

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 5.58.23 PM

Just like I was complaining about on my previous post, there’s no care at all taken with how the stone and the ring interact.  It’s a dinner plate filled with crappy stone just clumsily soldered onto a tiny band.  Why don’t you just glue the f’king thing to your finger?  Or how about duct taping a poptart to the back of your hand?

So enter the Kingman turquoise.  This stuff is coming out of the Cerbat mountains north of Kingman Arizona.

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 6.02.43 PM

I’m working directly with the miners and processors on this one.  They’re producing a 18x25mm turquoise rectangle in the exact color I wanted.  Not cheap, by any stretch of the imagination, but they had exactly what I was looking for.

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 6.02.21 PM

And it’s not like its easy to mine.  Or work with.  It’s a delicate stone compared to onyx or agate and so much of the stuff you see on the market is fake or artificially dyed for the morons who like their jewelry to look like its made of plastic or think it makes perfect sense to be able to buy a ring for 45 bucks.

Anyway, access to the right stones is going to let me finally create an improved version of the ring I’ve always loved.

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 5.50.04 PM

There’s a skull on either side and a femur bone connects the two across the back of the shank overlapping a single eye.

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 6.13.18 PM

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 6.13.11 PM

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 5.49.47 PM

She’s not small either.  That stone is 25mm tall, so this is a nice, comfortable, but substantial ring.  To me it embodies the real west.  The Blood Meridian west.  All american made with legit AZ turquoise mined and processed a mere seven miles from the mountain.  And then shipped to yours truly to make THE square turquoise signet that we all deserved, but could never find.

The Leonids and the Gentleman.  Yep – my two gemstone offerings.  They’re both rolling out this Fall and will go $495 to your door, at least for a little while.  The Leonids may be a limited run since the supply of stones is..well…limited.

Screen shot 2015-08-11 at 5.49.37 PMstonestogether03stonestogether04

The Gentleman


It’s about time for a new product.

I’ve been wanting to do something with some stones for quite a while.  Yeah, I set stones in the eyes of skull rings on a pretty regular basis, but rings like that are all about the shape of the skull.

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 9.32.02 PMScreen shot 2014-10-15 at 9.06.50 PM

I’ve also done a number of full custom pieces that turn the tables on a classic gemstone ring and create a ring around a specific client-selected stone or a stone I’ve gone hunting for.  These weren’t a regular part of the line, but instead they were full custom jobs created from scratch.  Naturally work like this ain’t cheap.

Screen shot 2014-11-11 at 8.14.50 PMScreen shot 2014-08-15 at 2.34.04 PM

But what about offering something like this as part of the line?  A great, classic men’s ring with a massive gemstone.  Something badass, but also very colorful and elegant.  Something you’d wear when playfully tying a chick to a railroad track or trying to fry James Bond’s nuts with a laser – yeah, kind of a supervillain ring.

I’m aware there are other gemstone rings on the market.  So let’s address that with an absolutely shocking, mind-blowing, totally surprising fact: most of them suck.  Yes, just like the classic men’s torque I put out last year, I was and am unable to find an affordable but well-made American gemstone ring.  They are all hollow-backed, shitty trinkets with tiny-ass stones that look almost embarrassed to be sticking out of the top of the ring.   There are also a metric shit-ton of them that look like they were made in some crappy community-ed jewelry class.  You know the kind I’m talking about.

Screen shot 2015-08-10 at 7.19.43 PM

A thin band of sterling silver sloppily soldered on one end with a thin, uneven bezel.  This crooked-ass flying saucer-looking thing is then just soldered right on top of the shitty band for one of the shittiest-looking crafty ass pieces of shit you can freakin’ wear.   It’s a triumph of absolutely no creative engagement with the shape of the stone and the laziest way to incorporate the mounting with the band.

Luckily there are a small handful of makers out there trying to get people to wear good product and I’m throwing down with a new gemstone ring I’m calling The Gentleman.  It’s heavy, solid-backed, comes in sterling or gold, and can be fitted with a variety of 30x22mm oval gemstones from black onyx to tigers eye to mother of pearl.

Screen shot 2015-08-10 at 7.39.59 PM

This is the Lex Luthor ring.  The Al Swearengen ring.  The Louis Cypher ring.   The ring you can wear into a board room that says “I’m a serious professional” but also “I might have dug a hole or two.”

Screen shot 2015-08-10 at 7.41.16 PMScreen shot 2015-08-10 at 7.40.49 PM

I wanted to make something for the modern gentleman.  Wear it with the suit and engraved Rolex or rock it next to a skull ring with a big, raw, chunky silver biker bracelet and your tattoo sleeves.   Drop it on a ring finger if you don’t want to scare people, or drop it on your pinky if you do.

Screen shot 2015-08-10 at 7.40.27 PM

That’s gunmetal patina.  Yeah.  Oh, and of course, if you look on the back of the shank, there are a pair of skulls on either side.

Screen shot 2015-08-10 at 7.41.31 PM

The Gentleman will be available this Fall on http://www.mtmaloney.com and is going to roll at $495 for sterling with shipping included, at least for a little while.  Email me at matt@mtmaloney.com if you have any questions in the meantime.

And you know what?  I’m not done.  I’ve got another stone ring coming right behind this one that’s a bit more cowboy.  Stay tuned.

The Root of all Evel

Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.31.04 PM

After a summer of carving and hacking, casting and polishing, the Evel Knievel ring is finished and on its way to Robb.  She’s chunky and will definitely leave a few accidental bruises on loved ones and unlucky friends, but man, what a piece.

Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.31.46 PM

I think Robb is a chef and that puts him in a distinct class of people that I’m very happy to make work for.  I was a short-order cook when I was a teenager and I worked in the restaurant and food service biz starting at 14 years old, so while I’m not a chef myself, I definitely respect it as a warrior class if you know what I mean.

Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.31.16 PMScreen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.31.23 PM

I also had this badass Evel Knievel toy when I was a kid.  Remember that?  Well I was thinking about it the entire time I was working on this ring.  Evel was a freakin’ superhero in the 70s and 80s.  It’s hard to imagine someone like that being an A-lister now, but he was.  You’d even see updates on his stunts on the national mainstream nightly news.

Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.41.16 PM

Other than that, my summer has been slow and steady.  As I’ve talked about, I’m not taking as many orders as usual and trying to focus on some other projects.  I do have some cool pieces in the pipeline right now, but a good deal of my time has been spent moving my shop to bigger and better digs and grilling all kinds of dead things on my webber.

Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.30.22 PM

It’s really been the summer of the Jupiter.  I’ve had a number of people ordering custom skull rings and while the King Skull was leading the pack for years, there’s  been a rush on my big, hulking, full-jawed Jupiter ring.

I’m working on a custom job that may or may not ever leave my shop using jade eyes and some sugar treatment along with a central image of the Five Rings from Miyamoto Musashi.

Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.30.36 PMScreen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.30.42 PM

But this one is a long ways off from casting still.  I’ve been working on it alongside one of the coolest King Skull requests I’ve had in a while.  While this Jupiter is completely covered in scroll work and detail-carving, I’ve had a request to do a reduced “aged” King Skull with minimal lines and a streamlined brow.


This may be a ‘thing.’  In other words, I’m pretty happy with the way this looks and I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a run on this kind of simplified form.  I’ve also had a lot of people emailing me and asking if they can get ‘minimized’ skull rings like this.  Obviously this takes inspiration from Courts and Hackett’s Keith Richards ring, but interestingly enough it’s rooted in how the ring looks NOW as opposed to how it was originally designed.

Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 12.56.12 PM  Screen shot 2015-08-08 at 1.01.35 PM

As you can see, all of the detail is word away into a smooth surface, leaving the basic shape of the skull, the nose and eyes, and a smooth half-cylinder that used to be the upper jaw.  Of course, the King doesn’t look like the Richards ring and NO, I won’t make you a copy of the Richards ring (still get 1 or 2 emails a week asking for that) but the idea of a smoothed-down ring is clearly yet another conceptual tribute to the ring that started it all.

I’ve talked about these cats before, but if you aren’t a long-time reader or you just have a short memory, swing by Courts and Hackett and pick up their Death’s Head ring.  If you’re a skull ring collector, not having one is like collecting fine Swiss watches and not owning a Rolex.  More on that later.

Color me Lucky

I’ve been in Hong Kong for a few weeks but I’m back in the states and ready to finally finish the Evel Knievel ring.  This one is totally custom from a raw block of wax, so it’s slow going anyway, but I’m about ready to cast and it’s about damn time.

Screen shot 2015-06-21 at 11.32.36 AM

Screen shot 2015-06-21 at 11.32.46 AM

I’m real happy with how it’s going, but I’m a little concerned about the size.  This thing is going to be heavy.  The shank is well-balanced, but the Evel “V” is huge and thick.  I’ll have to get some client feedback on this bad boy before we decide if this is too much.


Everything is done but the stars.  They’re going to take a minute.  It’s not like I have a stamp or anything.  I’m hoping to finish up the wax this week, take a quick 2-day jaunt to visit Elvis in Memphis, and then cast this sucker.

Meanwhile, a quick shot of another finished Jupiter with the brushed finish.  This is quickly becoming my most popular piece along with the Tiki.

Screen shot 2015-06-21 at 11.48.44 AM

This Custom Life


It’s been a while and I just had to sit down and throw up a few custom jobs that have me pretty excited.  A few I’ve just wrapped up including one LONG TERM project that took me the better part of five months to finish.

The Abraxis ring.


A client threw this one at me back when we were all wearing coats and I have to admit, I just didn’t get the concept at first.  He had worked the whole thing out – knew exactly what was supposed to go where and how it was supposed to look.  He did what I usually like clients to do which is REALLY think out what imagery was supposed to be worked into the design.  Problem was, I really didn’t think it would come together the way we were talking about it.  He’d say “put this here and put that there” and I’d kind of think “okay…gonna be a trainwreck.”  But hell, this ring came out great.  More than great.  I was very, very happy with it to the point of wishing I’d offered something like this as a regular part of the line.

Screen shot 2015-05-11 at 12.18.26 PM

Screen shot 2015-05-11 at 12.18.39 PM

We’ve got some great texture worked into the shank with a classic 3/4 skull and crossbones on one side and a buddhist wheel on the other.  Big cock on the shank.  No, I’m not kidding.  And guess what, it looks badass.

The front features the wrapped snake and Abraxis with his two snake legs, whip and shield.

Screen shot 2015-05-11 at 12.19.14 PM

Google it.  I think it all ties together.  Very cool project and definitely a one-of-a-kind piece.

Speaking of one of a kind pieces, I also had a client come back to me after ordering a Torque and want a full custom skull ring to go with it.  I dig this.  First of all, that’s kind of my thing: a big ring and a bracelet on the same hand.  I used to offer a special on the Full Right Hand that packaged these together.  Second, the concept was great.

Screen shot 2015-03-29 at 4.35.20 PM

This is the emblem from the Prussian Totemkopf.  There are some pretty amazing photographs of these calvary badasses in full regalia.

Screen shot 2015-05-11 at 12.28.53 PM

It’s got distinct round eyes with bone ridges completely encircling the brow.  No bottom jaw.  I was adapting this a bit since we can’t do a good 3/4 version that would wear comfortably, but I think it’s pulled off rather well, if I do say so myself.


The trick is, when a client brings in a concept for a 3/4 view skull ring, to design the ring straight-on that will look accurate from the 3/4 view, but still wear in the round.  It’s hard to explain, but you can see in the photo above that the skull has the same basic sculptural planes that the reference does once we turn the skull’s head.

It’s always a blast doing Jupiter rings or a one-off skull like this one (which started as a Big Voodoo, believe it or not) because I feel like it’s going back to my roots as a skullsmith.

Not to be outdone, I also had a client order her fella a custom wedding band with a series of small skulls nested in the shank.


When I do a band, I still want it to be hefty.  Nothing is worse than one of those cheesy paper-thin bands that was obviously formed out of a piece of wire and soldered together (which is basically how it’s done 90% of the time.)  This one is cast all in one piece.  And the result is a lot heartier and more satisfying.


Still comfortable as well, since I comfort-fit the inside of the shank.  But this bad boy won’t squash into what I call the “five year oval” that many of the thinner rings become after they’ve been squashed and stretched into oblivion.

Last, but not least, I’ve got an AWESOME project on the bench for a client interested in a full custom piece.


We’re doing one for the man.  The Evel Knievel ring is underway.  It’s hard to explain to young people what a big freakin’ deal Evel was, even by the 1980s when I was growing up.  Well, we’re doing a ring for Rob to honor Evel and his bike.


This one is based on client sketches that I’ve adapted into something very wearable that uses all of Evel’s imagery.  Another longer term project that’s going to take some time to get right, but it will be worth it.



The block-out is done to a size 10.  Fits like a glove, but she’s heavy and solid as well.  We’ll keep hacking away at this one and post updates as we go.

One of the reasons I’ve been away from the blog for a while is that I’ve moved into bigger and better digs.  I’ve got a new place and a new studio with more room for metal work.  Very happy.

The bad news is I’m also going to be back in Hong Kong for the month of June and this means I won’t be able to work on any pieces while I’m gone.  So if you have a project in mind, email me and get on my waitlist.  I’ll get to it by the end of June and try to get your piece knocked out as quickly as possible without sacrificing the quality that we both want.  Stay tuned!