The Road

Remember this?


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.

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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.

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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?

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…and then…..

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.

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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:

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Remember when I announced development of a new Gemstone ring.  (check it out HERE if you haven’t read it yet.)

Well, folks, the Gentleman ring is finally ready for pre-order.  It took a lot of time to get her ready but here she is, complete with a massive 30mm x 22mm oval gemstone.

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The goal was to make a REAL gemstone ring for clients who want a good, custom made, solid backed, hi-quality piece.  As usual, I set out to make this ring after discovering that there were very few quality gemstone rings for men or women who want a significant stone in a substantial ring.

Which gemstones are available?

  • Black Onyx
  • Tiger’s Eye
  • Black Lace Agate
  • Aventurine
  • Rose Quartz
  • Red Carnelian
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Malachite
  • Blue Lapis
  • Dark Green Jade (for an extra $20)

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How much does it weigh? I have no idea.  I’ll get that figured out by the time in lands on the website for general sale.  Right now, i’m taking 5 preorders.  That’s right, 5 preorders based on my digital renderings here.  This beauty is going to retail for $475 when she’s done and the first five will run at $425 each for sterling silver.  I don’t have a price for gold yet, but if you’re interested, just shoot me a message at



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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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The Gentleman will be available this Fall on and is going to roll at $495 for sterling with shipping included, at least for a little while.  Email me at 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.

Right between the eyes.




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.