Twisted Sister Part 2

Landed in Manhattan last night at 1am.  Immediately hooked up with my sis at a joint called the Flat Iron.  We argued about McQueen and pounded Old Fashions, Gin Martinis, and Bourbon.  I’m not sure who won the argument, but when we got back to her place, I accidentally used her husband’s toothbrush, so joke’s on them.

Jillian has small fingers

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Working on the wax for Jillian’s ring.  She’s a size 6.  I don’t have a Big Voodoo Frame that small, so I’m actually carving a smaller wax sleeve to fit INSIDE the shank of the Big Voodoo frame so it will fit right.


Exciting right?

Luckily Jillian’s vision for the ring is really great so this will get much more engaging, interesting, and fun once I get to the actual details.  This is the kind of work, though, that too often is overlooked by the shittier skullsmiths out there.  This is an issue of comfort.  Sure, I could have pinched a wax down to a size six or even cast a larger size, cut the shank and re-solder it to a size six.  But that’s crap silversmithing.  Nothing is more comfortable than a ring that is CAST as one piece.  That’s what we’re doing with this puppy.  This slows down the process, but the dividends are fantastic.  Plus, considering this ring actually has a lifespan of about 500,000 years, an extra week taken to make it more comfortable for the first owner is a small thing.

Jillian’s also sent me some fur from her dog that I’m going to set behind the gemstones in the eyes.  More on that later.


Twisted Sister

So I posted a rant about so-called ‘custom’ skullwork and skulls in general creeping into the mass-market stuff at the more-than-capable hands of high-priced designers – specifically the incoming death star that is the Fall 2011 Alexander McQueen lineup which is absolutely rife with skulls and skull-like imagery.

My sister – who is a Manhattan-based editor with…let’s call it ‘experience’ in all things hi-fashion (evidenced by shoes, bags, and dresses worn in impeccable combination with a few of my custom pieces to give her that extra badass edge)…..she writes this retort to my bitch-session which I’ll offer up below.  She makes a ton of excellent points and I wanted to post the thing unedited for your consumption.  Munch, munch….

All things considered, I actually agree with 99% of this.  It doesn’t really change most of my points from the original post, but it does illustrate that I should make a distinction between a guy like McQueen designing truly custom, individual, one-of-a-kind pieces (nothing wrong with that, obviously) and McQueen’s people or ANY high fashion juggernaut carelessly offering off-the-shelf mass market stuff to people willing to pay custom prices for non-custom work.

Think about Wolfgang Puck making dinner for you and your ladyfriend versus going to the supermarket and picking up one of his frozen pizzas.  Now imagine paying 25 bucks for that frozen pizza because Puck’s name is on the pucking box.   Meanwhile, there’s a great mom and pop pizza joint down the street that’s selling fresh pies for the same price, but nobody wants one because they don’t come with a Puck photograph.  Yeah, that’s what fashion is doing.
To keep working with this pizza metaphor (getting hungry) and to work to what my sister is saying, I’d rather have people watch Wolfgang Puck on TV saying “look at my amazing fresh pizza” and then go out for an amazing fresh pizza…like the kind served at that mom and pop shop.  Instead, they watch him make a fresh pizza and say “let’s go get a shitty frozen pizza with that guy’s picture on the box!”
What do we admire about McQueen?  The creativity, the boldness, the originality, the personal touch.  So seek out THOSE THINGS.  Find it in McQueen (if you can afford it) or find it in that fabled dog house I speak of.

Anyway, enough yappin.  Here’s my awesome sis’ response:

McQueen lives in your doghouse

Ugggggggg why did you have to choose McQueen to make this argument? Christian Audigier would have hit this home flawlessly (read: Ed Hardy’s douche-mover). But you did, and now I feel obligated to write. I have very mixed feelings about your post and I think that by the end of this argument, we may come to the same bottom line. Just not by way of McQueen.

On the one hand, there is obviously no denying that a custom, solid piece of jewelry wins over the crap-looking images from anyone’s mass market collection. But you will never find anyone who can mass market that kind of art and keep quality. Now it’s time to learn you. Here’s some real McQueen for you:

You know what those are? Fucking razor clam shells. The second one is thousands of feathers the size of your pinkie fingernail. The third is about 40 lbs of hand-embellished lace. The headpiece alone is about $7,000 worth of lace torn open with a prop. My point is that you’re not going to find these puppies on their website. That’s because neither you nor God can afford this kind of stuff. You can’t compare your custom rings to his mass market stuff. You just can’t. He does custom too and we humble earthlings will never get to own any of it. All we can do is hope to own a part of McQueen via mass market.

Yes, more commonly in McQueen’s mass market collections, you will find skulls. However, you have to understand that McQueen is designed around three genres, all of which overlap with the school of thought behind skull jewelry: Naturalism, Gothicism, and Romanticism. All of his shapes, textures, etc. are based on these ideas, and he does it differently than any other designer. So they’re going to put a shell on a dress and a skull on a scarf. Tough. They’ve been doing it for years, and it’s not a departure from the line’s basic principles. Since I can’t afford or even wear the silver hand crafted jaw bone accessory:

I’m going to buy the shoe/scarf/hat if they’ve got one. Hence:

And McQueen is counterculture. He started out on welfare, grew up pretty hard in a skinhead area in England, and actually was drawn by their look and attitude. As for the line, McQueen is what you want to wear when you don’t want to look like everybody else, when you want to make a statement. His shapes and materials are unusual, and almost a ‘fuck you’ to the straight edged designers who have run fashion houses going back for decades. Many of his shows made the audience question what they know about fashion and what they consider to be beautiful.

Moving on, that model you post may look like someone just stole his last batch of meth, but isn’t saying that skull rings are only for certain people contradictory? Skulls being the tie that binds, commonality in all, etc etc.? If anything, putting skull jewelry on guys like this is an improvement and probably something you can write off on your taxes. Your rings aren’t only for the tough, or the artistic, or the blahblahblah. My favorite time to sport my massive ring is when I’m wearing an ultra-feminine cocktail dress, nails done, hair done, makeup done. To anyone looking, it says ‘don’t think you know me’ and I love it. Maybe shithead in your picture there is wearing one of your rings already. Can’t judge by the pic.

So lay off McQueen. They’re doing this shit right. Peacefully coexist with the skull mass market because you’re not playing in the same ballparks so there’s no real need to worry. You can both ride this wave together.

New Website is Finally Here

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Thanks to my man Mason, my new site at is finally live.

Many of you following my blog this past year have heard me talking about it and I’m pleased to report that we’re not only finally live with a new site, but the site is accessible on smart-phones.

Now I don’t want to hear it.  Yes, some of my pieces are going up in price.  Why?  Because they are immensely popular and given that the brand is worth more (along with the silver itself) the value is simply higher than it was before.   The good news is that other pieces are going DOWN in price.  The King Skull, for example, is going to remain at its current sale price.  At least for now.  I’ve had a wave of orders for them and I’m thinking I’ve found the sweet spot.

I have a few new items for sale as well.  The Mystery Cave has finally made an appearance.  I expect this one to be popular.  Pictured below is a Mystery Cave with a gunmetal finish.  This ring was originally designed for notable game designer John Sharp.  His punk sensibility mixed with the general playfulness that all game designers have  was the inspiration for this puppy.

Swing by and check out the new digs.  I’ve got a few new projects coming down the pipe that should be very interesting, so stay tuned.

The Mayan in Silver

I finished up Shawn’s commissioned piece this morning.   The slider Mayan pendant.

The chain was provided by Shawn, not one of my own.  He had a certain chain in mind and I actually designed the pendant to fit the style of the chain.

Hopefully it will please.    The website is DAYS away from being updated.  Thanks to Mason for helping out with that.  Stay tuned everyone.




Drawing some BVDs


I’m getting close to finishing the wax for Jason’s Mohawk Big Voodoo.  Jason’s approved some early sketches and now’s the tricky part: making sure all ‘dem purty drawin’s translate to 3d planes.  See, sometimes a great 2d illustration just doesn’t work when you actually try to wrap it around something with 3 dimensions.

Luckily I’m familiar with the Big Voodoo frame so it’s rare that I screw this one up.  I was using a very simplified image and was feeling pleased with myself when I realized I was looking at designs from the wrong tribe.

I was fitting Cree images into this Mohawk template on the forehead.  So I called it quits for the evening, worked on a few other things, towned on a Perdamo Habano cigar and a tumbler of my new favorite black rum to drown my idiocy, and took an angry nap.

Second try went a lot smoother.  I was able to incorporate some feedback from Jason into the design.  I’m using a small flint arrowhead (very relevant to the Mohawk people) and some tribal imagery from Mohawk tattoos.

So let me know how we’re doing here, Jason.

Also had a request for what should be an AMAZING custom piece from Jillian.  Jillian does a ton of rescue work with dogs and we’re collaborating on a theme for a very special ring based on her own rescued pit.  She’s requested the full sugar treatment on this bad boy right along with blue agate (protection stone) eyes based on her special fella’s actual eye color.  I’m going to incorporate some of his fur into the piece as well.  This is the kind of piece I love to work on because Jillian’s pulling out all the stops.  We’re just going to make the absolute best ring possible.

First round of sketches:

..REJECTED!  As most first ideas are.  This one was a little too geometric for Jillian’s tastes and she didn’t quite dig my idea for a stylized dog head as a feature piece.  Yes, it was an epic fail.  I soothed myself with gin martinis and….yeah, another cigar.  In all seriousness, I love client feedback and I honestly think I don’t get enough of it from my more timid clients.   It’s YOUR ring, right?  I want to make it absolutely perfect.

We’re keeping the “Mercy” script on the shank and we’re simply replacing the flower on the side with a rose.  Here’s the new sketch:

Jillian provided a great idea for a forehead featurepiece.  We’re doing a thorny rose on the side and giving it an overall more organic, scripty look.  We’ll keep the Mercy thing on the back for now.  I’m also trying out a much more narrow upper jaw/teeth idea in these sketches.  Might be interesting….not sure yet.

Jillian, let me know if we’re getting the hang of this.


My Youngest Client

That’s me and my youngest client.  I’m serious.  He got a skull necklace for his belated 2nd birthday.  He lives in Hong Kong so I was able to deliver the piece in person.  Going to be a great MMA fighter someday.



I’ve known Bill since he was born, practically  (I’m pals with his mom and dad.)  Dude is really smart.  I mean really.

Every parent says that.  “Oh my kid’s so f’ing smart and so f’ing talented.”  The reality, of course, is that most kids are freakin’ morons.  All you have to do is look around you at the adults that are in your life.  How many of them would you actually call “smart?”  Guess what?  They were stupid as shit when they were kids.  Not Bill.  This kid is strong as hell and very, very sharp.  Not in a “this kid’s gonna know what the inside of trashcans look like in school” kind of way, but more of a cerebral real-world intelligence which is the only kind that’s really valuable.

Not a surprise.  His mother is an amazing artist who’s been working in the unforgivable realm of new media for quite some time.  His father is a former astro-physicist who became a photographer (you know…what we USED to call new media.)   Both exhibit around the world and mirror Bill’s display of physical prowess and mental agility with equally intimidating yet totally humble grace.

At any rate, I’m glad to know Bill and hope he does my necklace proud.  Every few years I’ll try and snap another shot of Bill with his silver gear on.