Back in action

 

 

Yes, I’m back on the bench.  Happy to be back, too.  Got a lot of projects wait-listed from motorcycle club rings to wedding bands to full custom jobs to the good old fashioned custom skull rings.

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A couple of things will be changing in 2015.  I’m going to pace myself a bit better, not rush multiple jobs or take on more clients at one time than I should.  I got into this business to focus on individual clients and when I’m knocking out 20 or 25 rings at a time, that just isn’t happening.  So don’t be disheartened if you contact me to place an order and I ask you to hang tight for a few weeks.  I’ll get to you.  I just think your project deserves my full attention.  If you doubt my intentions, know that I was invited to create rings for the Sons of Anarchy season finale event and I declined because I wanted to deal with individuals like you guys.  Yes, I’m Jerry Maguire.

Speaking of individual clients, this post is largely for Dylan who has asked me to make a custom Tiki ring with a gemstone.  I’m feeling the amber.

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I picked up these stones on Lamma Island a while ago, but I only have a few left.  I still have one of the bright yellow ones from the far left and the four transparent stones on the right.  This isn’t cheap amber.  Not that resin, assembled shit you get in the states all the time.

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This is Lamma.  I get off the ferry here after about a 45 minute ride from Hong Kong island.  It’s a tiny little fishing island and I hike right over the mountain to Yung Shue Wan to visit the Lamma Island Amber Shop.

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Cool right?  This shop is tiny and set into a dark corner of this tiny little road called “Main street.”  I’ll usually swing by this great joint called Lamma Grill for a whiskey and the closest thing to a great American cheeseburger you’re gonna find and then find this shop which is practically GLOWING like a gemstone.

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The place is run by Udo and his wife.  That’s Udo below selling amber in Tibet in ’92.

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I freakin’ love this place.  I spend a lot of time looking through their stock and their finished jewelry.  I’ve made a few skull rings with their amber set into the eyes.  Just a great place.  I wish I could just import from these guys regularly, but the demand for amber just hasn’t quite caught-on in the US yet.  So what I usually end up doing is swinging by to pick up gifts for family and friends.

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So yeah, if you’re ever in HK, catch the ferry at pier 4 to Lamma and visit them.

So Dylan – let me know what wer’e gonna do.  Drop me a line.  And I’ll catch the rest of you cats in the next week.  Stay tuned.

Right between the eyes.

3 Comments

 

 

This is Scott’s special custom Tiki Tattoo with a brilliant green gemstone inserted into the brow and some rooster-themed imagery along the shank.  Scott’s been waiting for me to finish this one for a while and I’m happy to finally drop it in the mail.
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I take pride in how balanced this particular ring is.  Tiki Tattoo was designed to be worn everyday even though she’s absolutely massive.  It doesn’t actually sit off of the finger that much and we wanted to keep that balance despite adding metal to set that central green gemstone.  That’s Chrysoprase, actually.  A badass under-utilized gemstone with an amazing natural color.

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Along with a great brushed metal finish, this one is ready to go.  Safe travels, friend.

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That brushed metal…I can’t say enough about it.  I know a lot of us go for high-polish, but there’s something about that brushed metal look that just pulls out detail.  I wear high-polish stuff myself, so I’m not knocking it, but doing brushed finishes (like the Big Voodoo above) on these skull rings gives them a modern look.  I don’t know….I could go either way, which is why I usually just leave it up to the client.

Speaking of custom finishes, I’ve been working on a Big Voodoo with a bottom jaw for PJ which is going to end up with a gunmetal finish.  I don’t know if I’ve done a lot of talking about skull rings with a bottom jaw vs the jawless look, but I thought now’s a good time to start as any.  I think the whole jawless thing starts with Keith Richards and his badass Courts and Hackett skull ring.  Let’s be honest – it really set the standard.  So it follows that most of us in the skull ring business began by offering core products without bottom jaws.  After all, it made the rings smaller and allowed us to focus on the forehead shape without getting too wrapped up in what was happening below the first row of teeth.  Like my King Skull.

 

 

 

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The skulls tend to have a downward tilt to emphasize the brow.  Just looks damned good on the finger.  But with a little less surface area on the forehead and a more up-turned profile, I many of us are able to follow what the Deadringers in New Zealand were able to do with their classic model and offer a quality, comfortable ring with a bottom jaw.  It’s a bear to sculpt though, as the jawbone and how it intersects the main head is by far the toughest part of the shape to sculpt.

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And that’s the Jupiter.  You can see above, how they upper portion shapes are different and how much taller the Jupiter is as a result.  I freakin’ love that ring.  So I get the bottom jaw thing.  I really don’t have a favorite.

That being said, I never really considered my Voodoo line to have bottom jaws.  For those of you who don’t know, that’s the more hand-carved, raw, crazy looking set (Big Voodoo, Little Voodoo.)

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But recently I’ve had a bunch of orders coming in for this bad boy with a bottom jaw included.  Despite how it sounds, I don’t really have much of an ego about this sort of thing and if a client says “hey, that would be awesome with a bottom jaw, I’m open to the idea that they might be right.  In this case, they were.

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So PJ puts in his order for another one with the jaw and I thought it would be cool to show what goes into making the Big Voodoo with the jaw’ed look without losing it’s hand carved appeal.

All the core products start with a base wax cast from my master molds.  These are very low detail, as you can see below.

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The eyes don’t have good shape, the cheekbones don’t exist, the nose and teeth are soft and mushy, and the ring just lacks overall detail and shape.  I do all of this by hand to ensure that no two Big Voodoo’s are the same.

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Then I have to make a tiny jawbone.  Again, no detail yet.  Just the blocking for the jawbone, chin, and bottom row of teeth.

Cute, right?

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Then I have to shave down the Big Voodoo’s prominent upper teeth to make room.  Otherwise, the thing would look all stupid.  That’s a technical term.  This makes the jaw able to fit in place without extending too far down where the eyes are no longer center-focus of the mass, which they need to be.   You can see here that I’ve also shaped out the cheekbones a bit, which comes with shaving down the jaw.

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There, that’s better.  Sort of.  Cheekbones closer to done.  Nose started.  Jaw is a mess.  This is how shitty the wax looks when I first fuse the jaw.  Those of you who are always asking me if I can work faster should keep in mind this is how shitty your shitty ring would look if I didn’t carve things up by hand.

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So this is getting better.  Now I’ve blocked in some teeth, started to shape the jaw, continued to shape the nose,and started an overall de-shit of the ring.

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Each tooth has to be carved in, along with a hollowing out of the nose cavity, each eye, and the cheekbones.

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And finally we get the look we’re after.  Eyesockets are deep, bridge of the nose is finished, and we have teeth and detail in the jaw.  THAT’s ready to clean and cast.  Still more work to do, of course.  PJ is going to have to wait a bit longer for this one to get wrapped up.

I’m working on a new line of bracelets for the shop that I want to talk about later, so stay tuned.  Oh, and one more thing……

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I got my hands on four amazing pairs of amber eyes for Jupiter, King, and Big Voodoo skull rings.  I’m so excited about the quality of these stones that I’m going to give them away for free.  If you order any one of those three rings, I’ll set a pair of stones in it on the house.  Just shoot me an email and let me know which set you want.  I posted this on Facebook and only got a few nibbles, so right now I still have all four sets available.

Follow me on twitter at @MT_Maloney    When I get a deal or a special like this, that’s usually the first place I announce it. My clients aren’t really Twitter people, I’ve discovered, but I guess that’s what makes my special offers special.