It is a question I have been asked a few times:
“Why have you chosen to focus on Custom Jewelry?.
It would be easier to be a stone setter, fabricator
or simply reproduce stock items,
why bother to continually make new designs?”
In 1970 I was introduced to the jeweler’s bench
where I was taught the basics in fabrication
then given assignments to “reproduce” other works,
yet not to “copy” them
but encouraged to embellish on the designs,
to add my own touch of line and form.
From these experiences I learned the craft
but also to respect the work of other artists.
I began my business in the mid ’80s
my primary intent was to develop a new Tarot Deck,
not as paintings or drawings
but as tiny sculpture that may be dropped and read.
Towards the end of the decade,
I began to show my work at Renaissance Fairs
and other art shows.
I then discovered the jewelry being made in America
was becoming anemic.
In other words
a practice of steeling designs from artisans
was becoming more and more common.
Before the practice of “out sourcing” became the rage in the United States,
people were purchasing copies of jewelry
shipping them over seas for folks to pull molds
and reproduce them.
Particularly common on the west coast
(where I was living at the time)
even other jewelry designers were creating
“Knock Offs” (Direct copies)
of each others work.
This corrupted the Jewelry industry in the states to such a degree
many Jewelers retired or quit out of frustration.
“Why bother?” one fellow told me.
“If I spend all my time and effort to create something new
only to find hordes of copies of my own work within a few months
for less than I can produce it,
it would be better for me to simply quit.”
To this day stores have found that it is cheaper to purchase knock offs
than to purchase the designs from the original artist.
should a jeweler try to sell his
work to stores
the first question is:
“How much a gram?”
The result in this country is obvious.
The jewelry industry has moved into an over seas industry.
Our designers are fewer than ever
and the stores are selling the same pieces they were forty years ago:
the same girl in the moon,
the same pentacle and so on.
In my youth I met a fellow who had designed a moccasin sold at the Renaissance Faire:
the founder of Bald Mountain Moccasin.
He developed a technique in the creation of his footwear
that was unique
and I marveled at his ingenuity and craftsmanship.
“Aren’t you afraid of getting ripped off?” I asked him.
“It is going to happen.” He told me.
“Not all merchants and craftsman have scruples.
So what I do is to continually create something new
so as I get ripped off
I have a dozen new things to offer,
always ahead of the thieves.”
That really hit me with both barrels.
As an artist I am always concerned of the Knock Off,
being as I saw many of my contemporaries quitting
to be truck drivers and other professions
because of theft.
However I have kept those words in my mind for many years.
My solution was to re-focus my work on developing jewelry
by asking them up front:
“If you cold have the piece you really want,
what would it be?”
The results have been staggering.
The first time I made something for a client
they designed themselves was overwhelming for us both:
she had a vision two hands holding a stone as a ring,
like scrying into a crystal ball.
I took pictures of her hands to make it very personal.
I carved the piece and cast it,
set the stone and presented it to her.
After a few tears she told me she had dreamed of the ring
and this was her dream come true.
Then blessed me with permission to reproduce it,
the Scrying Hands Ring
became one of the first rings in my Line of Jewelry.
Since then I have created custom pieces,
some became a part of my line (with permission)
other one-of-a-kind pieces with no photographs and sketches destroyed
(by request of the client).
My line of jewelry has grown to well over 400 different designs,
most available to the public,
some are specially made for other distributors,
companies or religious organizations.
However I continue to expand my own line
to “stay ahead” of the knock offs.
I still make each piece I sell
including the Tarot and Rune sets.
Only when the sculpture becomes of a size
do I seek help from a foundry.
I have created replicas from time to time,
but only by actually re-carving the design
rather than pulling a mold from another’s work,
this way it may look much like the museum piece,
but it has it’s own look,
feel and size:
still an original work of art.
If you are interested in having something made that is unique,
or a limited run for you and your friends;
perhaps you own a store and want something that only you carry,
I look forward to creating your custom jewelry for you.
For more information on Custom Work from Amulets by Merlin,
please visit my Custom Page.
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