Mohawk in Sterling

Cook ring time.

Jason wants a Big Voodoo with custom treatment.   Jason is part Mohawk Native American and that’s the direction we’re taking this sucker.  He’s already requested FTW on the shank, which I love.  My own ring has this and yeah, I mean it.

So for the forehead, Jason’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to get overly complicated.  He wants something simple that also tells a story.

What a story, right?   First of all – the guy is half Maltese and half Mohawk.  So basically he’s got his choice of amazing history and culture to choose from.  Plus he plays the guitar.  I’m a sucker for musicians (being a bit of a guitarist myself….more like guitarded… and I tool around on the harmonica.)

But Jason, he’s  a real musician.  He plays banjo, guitar, even cigar box.  Just took up the mouth harp as well.

Secondly, Jason’s passed along some reading on what it means to be a Mohawk today.  I just finished reading about the Oka Crisis in 1990 (something most Americans don’t know anything about) and now I’ve branched out on my own to take in some additional reading and reference.

I’m thinking about doing a design on the forehead that reflects the Mohawk people and perhaps the Iroquois nation.  The Mohawk people from the original Mohawk Valley near NY were called “the people of the flint” and are actually called Kanienkehaka.  So I looked into a bunch of Kanienkehaka stories.

I’ve got three ideas.

1.  Base the skull on a Kanienkehaka creation story which offers up the idea of the three sisters: corn, beans, and squash.  These are the traditional providers of the Mohawk people.  I’d try to find a cool way of incorporating the “three sisters” into the forehead.  Corn, beans and squash – not cool-looking.  Means it’ll take some work to pull it off.

2.  Use the muskrat.  The idea that the Kanienkehaka were fucked out of their land.  In the creation story, the muskrat brings mud up from the bottom of the ocean so the Skywoman can have land to live on.  Might be a cool way to go.

3.  There was a dream that this chief named Tharonhiawakon has that basically explains to him how to fix everything that’s screwed up with the world.  I thought it would be cool to create a representation of this dream in the geometric shape of a mohawk on the forehead of the skull.  This is my favorite idea thus far.

I’ve spoken with Jason and he’s up for idea number 3 as well.  Next step: drawings.  I’ll post some sketches tomorrow.

ITGM is Finally Finished

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Took some time, but I’ve finished the ITGM rings for the graduating 2011 game design group.  They look splendid, if I do say so myself.  In fact, I had to take a ton of photos to try to show exactly what the ring was.

If you’ve read the earlier posts on this, you know that the centerpiece of the ring was a d-20.  I’ve created that d-20 in silver and made it dark gunmetal against the hi-polish finish of the rest of the ring.  The overall shape of the ring is ancient.  Its like a modernized medieval ring.

Its big, but still comfy.

Teeth from the skulls on either side wrap all the way around the shank.

Anyway, hope the fellas dig it.  For those of you who didn’t order one who want one after seeing how badass it is.  (First of all, shame on you for doubting)  Just email me and put your order in.  Remember I’m only charging cost of materials on this one.  You’re just starting out and the last thing you need is to drop 800 bucks on a ring.

Just remember this when you’re rich as hell and I’m still scraping by.   But seriously, congrats.  Go get ’em.

Website Work

Guys – new website up very soon.  This may result in some dead periods where the flash site is down.  No worries.  My trusty blog here will still be up and running.

When the new site goes up, some items have new prices.  Some rings are cheaper, some are more expensive.  If you’ve been in touch with me about a piece in the last few weeks, (or begin conversations with me between now and the time the new site goes up,)  no worries.  I’ll give you whichever price is cheapest between the old and new prices.

The Mayan

I’m working on a piece commissioned for a special client.  This one is an absolute blast because it’s one of those instances where I’ve been given a lot of lateral room to come up with something cool.  Basic instruction was

“A necklace.  Vaguely Mayan.  Not too big.  A skull.”

Right up my alley.

I should say that on the topic of necklaces with pendants or medals or whatever kind of big feature piece that might be used for the design, there’s always a danger of making something that’s very dated.  We all have that image of someone walking around with a fake tan, an open kimono, and a big gold or silver medallion nestled in a forrest of chest hair.

That’s right.  If you’re not careful, this will happen to you:

I’ve got  a solution to this and it works great.  If you’ve seen my post The Irishman, you know that you can actually put a massive pendant as a slider on certain types of chains and have it look completely modern and badass.  (The names of my left and right fist.  Kidding.  Or am I?)

This mounting system gives the pendant total freedom to slide up and down the chain as you move around.  Also just looks great.

Now the Mayan skull is a lot smaller than that massive shamrock/maltesecross-ish looking thing above, but the same system still applies.  Here it is in wax:

You can see the necklace (provided in this case by the client) runs perfectly through the mass of the skull’s forehead.  I still have detail work to do on this baby, but you get the idea. Should look great by the time I’m done with it.

The only downside to this is that it can be hard as shit to carve.  You can easily shatter the wax after putting in hours and hours of sculpting.  After all, that chain has to fit in there somewhere and it can’t be too tight.  The result, however, is a necklace that hangs ON the chain instead of below it.  It just looks better.

I think the only time a pendant should hang below a chain is if it has a distinct linear shape to it.  Like a bullet, a dogtag, or a tooth.  Those shapes can work.  If the thing is even slightly round, however, I’d suggest going to someone with the skill to pull off this style of pendant.

I’m not a fan of traditional necklaces anyway.  Even the Solo Joe (Seen unfinished below) puts the feature piece IN the chain instead of below it.

In fact, the only necklace I’ve done that hangs traditionally is Jimmy’s Bob Dylan skull:

I did this for a number of reasons.  First off, the pendant wasn’t shaped right for a slider and would be too heavy to hang through the eyes.  Second – if I gave Jimmy a piece and said “Hey, man, this is more modern” he would probably stick a knife in my gut.  So anyway, that’s a rare one.

Stay tuned for more images of the Mayan.  I expect to have it finished by early September.  Much sooner than that will be the first images of the ITGM class rings.  First batch should be done tomorrow or the next day.

Closing in on a new website – new gallery up too

Website is getting wrapped up soon.  About time.  Reason its getting done at all is that my pal Mason is doing it for me and he’s a pro.  Why didn’t I just hire someone in the first place?  Here’s a preview of what the thing’s going to look like.  Best news is that its not Flash, so you can visit it on your smartphone.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided to make some of the images easier to see on the wordpress site.  You should see a custom gallery 01 tab a the top of the screen.  Its just a quick place for me to post thumbnails as I get work done.  Some of these images are recent, and some are from the old site.  Enjoy.

Skull Tide – Here it comes.


If fashion is a small world, then jewelry design is a freakin’ little township with no traffic lights.  This would make custom jewelry  a shack on the edge of this town with uncut grass, and SKULL custom jewelry the pressboard doghouse in the backyard.

With skull jewelry, for a real quality product,  you really only have a few choices and most of them are detailed in Karl Elvis‘ blog complete with pictures and links.  We have a small community and we like it that way.  Why?  Because we’r e not churning out mass market filth.  We actually CARE about the work we do.  So much so that at certain points I’ve even refused to make rings for people because they either had stupid ideas or the person just rubbed me the wrong way.  (For those of you who don’t remember, let me recall one of the more delightful rejection appreciation letters I’ve received.)

Where do we get off?  Because all of us (yes, even the Deadringer guys – who may actually be the nicest guys on the planet – officially)  take pride in the fact that the work we make really isn’t for everyone.  It’s a select group of people who are interested in hand-made custom jewelry anyway and an even smaller group that can actually pull off a skull on a finger, around a neck, or pinned to a lapel.


Imagine my joy at discovering that Alexander McQueen 2011 Fall catalogue is chock fuckin’ full of skulls.  Skull everything.  It’s like a goddamned skull grenade blew up in Saks Fifth Avenue and covered watches, wallets, cufflinks, ties, scarves, and shoes with all manner of silver and gold skullwork.  This is on the heels (no pun intended) of his 2010 release of a woman’s high-heeled shoe with a skull right above the toe.

I didn’t mind this so much.  I thought – hey, that’s….a skull on a shoe.  Would look good underneath the right pair of legs, I suppose.  But this fall, man, they’re everywhere.

It’s a complicated thing.  On one hand, I’m glad that skulls are making it into the mainstream.  Why wouldn’t I be?  For those of us in the dog-house crowd, this is great news.  Right?  After all, this means that people who never would have worn skull jewelry before will not be interested in putting a skull around their neck, on their lapel, or on a middle finger.  If you thought it was hard to get a Tony Creed skull before, wait until this shit hits.  Alexander McQueen is no slouch.  This is bound to send new clients to all of us in the custom skull doghouse who know and expect to pay custom prices for custom work.  Who’d have thought that would be a rarity?

On the other hand…..

These supposed new clients I mention look like this:


“Give me a skull ring or I’ll slap you with my SASS!”

And I LOVE putting my stuff on the glitterati crowd, okay?  I live in Atlanta and we have no shortage of hi-fashion urban royalty and many of them can rock a skull as good as any biker or pirate ever born.

But again:

Maybe I can put a skull on his too-short pants.  This young fellow (evidently dressed as H.W. from ‘There Will be Blood’ ) may be wearing a wardrobe that costs more than my car, but that’s the problem isn’t it?   This level of fashion and jewelry is based on cost and brand and not so much quality.  Also, much of it is purely cosmetic.  These punks had absolutely no fucking interest in wearing a skull ring until Alexander McQueen’s company TOLD them they should be wearing a skull ring.

And what skull ring should they be wearing?  Well, it depends on your tastes, right?  I’ve got big, realistic skulls like the King:

I’ve got stylized stuff  with wild and crazy lines like the Big Voodoo:

and I’ve got clean stuff like the Mystery Cave:

And that’s just me.  Creed’s got his wild-man jeweled stuff.  Stephen and Mark have their New Zealandish pirate-looking hyper-detailed skulls and demons.  Dave’s got his simplified old-school classics.  Armand has his British death-metal stuff.  Julian owns the highly gemstoned velvet and ruby styles.  Point is, there’s so much variety when it comes to the individual designers, what will these new feverish fans of the skull choose to wear?

They’ll want to wear this:

Why?  Because it’s from McQueen.  These motherfuckers are between 2 and 3 hundred dollars a pop and many aren’t even real gemstones or solid gold/silver.  They’re not custom.  They are off-the-rack and it costs more than TWO Dave’s custom skulls or THREE Little Voodoos.

I don’t own one (obviously) but I’d venture to say they are likely hollow-backed as well.  Enjoy, jackasses.  If you want to spend your bank on the same shopping-mall trinket that every other “i saw this on the Today Show” lemming is wearing, go for it.

The site offers solid silver bangles for over 500 bucks, in case you’d like to get fleeced that way also.

Visit Alexander McQueen’ site.  Which looks like this:

And see for yourself.

I’m not bashing him.  After all, he’s deceased and the entire brand’s creative direction is now in the hands of a Sarah-somebody.  Further, the guy was a genius in many respects.  To boot, me or anyone else in the custom doghouse bashing a guy like McQueen is about as relevant to the fashion world as the guy who sells hotdogs at a Yankees game complaining about Derek Jeter’s batting average.

No.  What I’m doing here is pleading with you.  Imploring you.  If the skull craze hits…..when everyone and their brother is looking for that perfect jewelry piece….. DON’T fall for expensive off-the-rack stuff.  Go custom.  TRULY custom.  (“custom” is a word that gets thrown around an awful lot…more on that later.)  Get yourself sized and get yourself over to that small town.  Find the shitty road shack.  Go to the backyard and checkout the dog house.  Let one of us dogs carve up a piece of jewelry JUST FOR YOU.  Wear it knowing that nobody – truly no one else – has a ring like yours.  It was made for you.

Maybe then you’ll see that all anyone ever wants is to be part of the dog house.  They want to be special.  Small.  Exclusive.  Part of a pack.  And for all their fame, for all their money, with as many people who flock to the shopping malls to pick up their stuff….they’re just not.

@ibogost and Cow Clicker


Ian’s ring is finally finished.  This one was epic.  A very, very tough design to adapt into a dimensional sculpture, let alone one that can be worn…let alone one that can be worn COMFORTABLY.

I actually finished this ring a few days ago, but when you pay for a totally original sculpt like Ian has (absolute top of the line, as far as custom work goes.  Hand-carved to one’s exact specs from a block of wax) that comes with the right to see it before anyone else does.

I was tending towards brushed metal for a finish, but once I’d put the hi-polish on it, I’changed my mind.  Hopefully it pleases.

Shawn’s Rings on a Ring

I was finally able to finish Shawn’s Big Voodoo with the rings on the forehead.  I was initially concerned that the rings would “clean up” the ring a bit too much.  The BVD is supposed to be wild and crazy, after all.


Like the series 1 Little Voodoo, I’m getting about to the end of the first run of Big Voodoo Rings.  I’ve done a lot of them and  I liked this one in particular because the design is so simple.   The rings have a little bit of dimensionality as you can see.  Also, I finished the rings with rough gunmetal instead of hi-polish.



Man Day

This Saturday is Man Day in Atlanta.  You bet.  Russ Abbott and the cowboys over at Ink and Dagger Tattoo (the guys who’ve done all of my sleeve work) are hosting Man Day this weekend and yours truly is a humble contributing sponsor.  Check out their site at


Some lucky bastard is going to win several hundred dollars worth of credit at my joint by spinning the “wheel of destiny.”  To give you an idea of what this event is like, features include things like the Arm Wrestling Showdown, the Manliest Mustache Death Match, Sexiest Back Hair, and the famous Beer Gut Pageant.  So yeah, enjoy.  Get a tat while you’re there.


Silver is Silver

As many of you know, I’ve been in Hong Kong for the past few weeks.  Not a vacation – I wish.  No, I’ve been working.  Took some time out to visit the jade market and see what’s what.  Also hit the markets in Mong Kok and Jordan to check out the silver.

The dudes in Hong Kong have their bling together.  Well, some of them do.  What you have to understand is that Hong Kong isn’t just Hong Kong island anymore.  You’ve got Hong Kong central and then you’ve got all of these outlying areas including Kowloon.  There’s a segment of the male population that I really dig and most of them seem to frequent the Kowloon side.   These guys are iced up in silver.  Usually a big, hazardous-looking necklace and then big freakin’ bracelets.  Always.  Even in the gym.  Not little tennis bracelets either (which, if you’re a dude, you should NOT be wearing.)  No, these guys wear GIANT SHINY silver bracelets with all kinds of big honkin’ link styles and clasps.  Ever see The Expendables?  Steaming pile of shit, no doubt, but the boys had their jewelry together, right?  That’s Kowloon.

The OTHER side of this coin is the upper-class Hong Konger.  These are the dudes (and chicks) who wear 400 dollar glasses without lenses in them.  ???

This bears repeating, even in print.   THEY WEAR GLASSES WITHOUT LENSES IN THEM.  Bodes well for the jewelry right?

Is that the saddest thing you’ve ever seen?  Common in ritzy shopping districts all over the world.  These pieces are packaged like fucking mochi rice sweets in a aquarium of high key light.

mochi - actually delicious

It isn’t surprising.  This kind of absurd other-worldly display is the only way to make these minuscule, insignificant, and totally generic pieces look appealing.  It’s even more frustrating to see actual creative work having it’s balls cut off in similar displays like this one:
So, yeah, if you look at this shot, the pieces are actually quite interesting.  Hong Kong is full of stuff like this.  We just don’t get this kind of creativity in the states (at least not in the mainstream outlets.)   Still, we can’t stay away from the ridiculous metaphors here, can we?  “Life of Circle” was likely meant to read “Circle of Life” and although I’m sure the designers were thrilled to have their work named after one of the most souless songs ever recorded, the overall branding and display just says “you can’t afford me.”
This is funny.  First of all, there’s no way this stuff is worth more than custom work.  Second, you ever notice how those of us in the custom field can just shoot our work any old place and it still looks good?  Right.  That’s because the pieces are….wait for it……designed to be WORN in public.  Tony Creed shoots his stuff outside on what looks like some kind of a cheap-ass picnic table.  The Deadringers guys photograph their stuff in their WORKSHOP for chrissake.  I shoot my stuff on my front porch.  Hell, here’s a shot of my ring and John’s Mystery Cave out for a drink in Hong Kong at a place called “the Pawn.”  (One of the coolest bars I’ve been to, by the way.)
Those rings are worn as hell (we wear them every day), shot under terrible lighting with a shitty camera on a beer-stained crap wooden table with about 1 american dollar’s worth of HK coins.  This kind of environment makes good jewelry happy.
Anyway, rant over.  I expect Ian and Shawn’s rings to be done on Monday and I’ve just had a new order in for a Little Voodoo.  I’m seriously almost out of the waxes for these.  Take a look:
That’s three left minus the one G just ordered.  Once these suckers are gone, I’m not sure if I’ll be making them anymore.  I like the idea of retiring a series after it’s had it’s run.