Well, I had to start over and finish it right. But it was worth it. It’s a Gentleman ring I dubbed “the Road Agent” for a client with a custom-shaped gold obsidian stone. It turned out great and has this amazing subsurface gold highlight when the light hits it.
This whole thing brings up the point of mastery, which is something I am constantly talking to my artist friends about. What is it and are we (or is anyone) that thing? The skullsmithing industry is a small community. We all pretty much know each other and most of my instagram is occupied by makers that I follow. Everyone seems to be a true master of the craft. But the truth is that I know for a fact that we all regularly and frequently screw up multiple aspects of projects. Problem with social media is that you don’t see that stuff, usually. And I get it. You don’t want clients thinking you’re incompetent.
But the more I think about ‘mastery’ the more the prospect of imperfection comes to light. Because the more I learn, the LESS CONFIDENT I become in the craft. I’ll knock out what I think is a series of absolutely awesome pieces and then screw up something as simple as a stone setting or a comfort fit. Take that along with discussions I’ve had with other artisans that have what I’d call “mastery” and I’d say that mastery and humility come hand in hand. In other words, if you’re walking around thinking that you’ve GOT THIS then you’re probably a journeyman at best. If you’re walking around thinking “holy shit there is so much to learn and all of my contemporaries are so inspiring” then you might be approaching legitimate mastery.
I think this is why most artists I know walk around thinking that at some point they’re going to be ‘found out’ and everyone’s going to realize they don’t know they’re shit and it’s all going to come crashing down. What’s actually happening is that they’re reaching that peak. Mastery. And to call it a ‘peak’ is actually yet another fuck up of mine because I don’t think “mastery” is a place. I think it’s a path.
So, I’ll leave you with a custom skull ring (full jaw) I finished for a client a few weeks ago that might be one of the finest sculpts I’ve ever made. Path to mastery, right?
I completely screwed up a wax for a totally similar piece that I should have been able to do perfectly. This is for a client who is getting multiple pieces from me.
Luckily, I’ve been able to send him finished pieces while we begin remaking this one. In the meantime, yeah, whooops.
So yes, I’m a master skullsmith. Yes, I screw up all the time. Yes, I will end up putting a perfect piece in your hands at the end of it. Here’s to all the other skullsmiths out there and the next time your silver throws too cold and totally destroys your wax tree, remember that we’re all in the same boat. I’ll leave you with this shot of a skull I put together in Zbrush. I’ll be casting this soon to begin working on a new Deaths Head line that will be uber-realistic skulls set in slightly smaller rings: