Friday, December 30, 2011

Almost There and Back Again

It's the end of the holiday season once again. I'm so ready to start the new year. 

The baby is growing so fast and is just so adorable that I can't stand it. Soon I'll be able to hand him some metal and a torch and let him have at it. But... not quite yet. Two months might still be a little young for that.

The year 2011 went by super fast. I've been so busy that most of it escaped my notice. Let's see...

  • DSC started showing up at the big events like I-Con, Anachronism, etc.
  • I married my best friend.
  • We ran off to Bermuda for a couple weeks.
  • Started picking up more custom orders.
  • Had a baby...
Constantine ready for action.
All of this while making jewelry, making music, editing graphics, writing copy, taking photos, learning Russian and handling my general business. I have to say that's not bad. Now, I'll just have to do it again in 2012. Even bigger this time. I might leave out the getting married and my wife having a baby for this coming year. That will leave more time for other things like growing the business and raising the current spawn.

Looking back at this past year and then looking forward to the new year makes me a bit dizzy. There is so much we want to do with DSC. So much we want to do with our little bundle of baby boy joy. So much we want to do in general. This past year makes me optimistic. The coming year makes me hopeful. The baby makes me miss sleeping through the night.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There is still time to win...

We hope you're not missing out on your chance to win free jewelry.
No scams and no gimmicks.
We want people to like our Facebook page and you can help brings numbers.
In exchange, we're giving you a chance to win a piece o handmade beauty.
There.
Honest and to the point. That's how we do it here at DSC.

Check out the video for more info and/or see below.


For those who missed the early posts...

Win a FREE CogStone Necklace as our Thank You to you. Anyone that refers at least one person is eligible to win. The person referred must "LIKE" Dark Side Customs' page on FaceBook and post the name of the person that referred them on the Dark Side Customs wall. It's that simple. Drawing happens on Thanksgiving day. Long Live SteamPunk!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Future is Sweet

Bouncing around inside my head are these crazy thoughts about the future. My wife, Xenia, and I just had a beautiful baby boy on October 11th. (Well... she did all the having. I just planted the seed.) It's amazing to look at him and realize that this tiny, adorable thing keeping us up at night is a living being. It never fails to amaze me. 

I know that, one day, he's going to start asking questions. He's going to start trying to find his own way in life and he's going to need guidance, answers and someone to look up to along the way. I think that's the biggest reason Dark Side Customs means so much to me. DSC is not a hobby. It's not just making jewelry and trying to sell it online and it's not just a home business. It's a portal to a better, brighter future.

I used to dream about owning a store and having my wife and kids be a major part of daily business. I guess I'm a bit old fashioned in that regard. Shareholders... BAH!!! Family is the key. I refuse to let the concept or idea of the "Mom & Pop Shop" die as long as I have breath in my body. Even if my children don't take over where I leave off, I want them to know that they can do anything they set their minds to. It's a concept I still trying to learn for myself. I'm so happy to have the love and support of my amazing wife. She's the perfect tutor for this life lesson. 

I'm growing just as much as our little boy. I'm learning and trying my best to put everything I learn to good use and not be so afraid to fall flat on my face. I've been there. It hurts; only for a moment. Then we move on.

I'm moving on to a future of my own design. 



The Little SteamPunk Goddess 
STEAMPUNK: a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan "What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner."

I'm sure that, even if you're not a part of the culture, you've come across some steampunk-inspired... something in recent days. I remember passing by Bergdorf-Goodman and Saks 5th Ave, a little over a year ago, and seeing their window displays had been made completely steampunk. It's contagious.

My darling wife - when she was still just my darling girlfriend - introduced me to "SteamPunk" as a culture. I knew about the idea of it from movies and books and various other media but never knew there was a name for it. I also never knew that it could be so infectious. I got my first taste and I was hooked.

Now... I can never just do things the way I'm told. Just ask any of my high school teachers. I always have to mix it up and add a bit of myself. I'll get the job done if I can have a little fun. This is why my work isn't like everything else you'll see out there.

138 Willoughby St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
You can, however, see my work out there from time to time. I'll be vending at Dekalb Market for the holiday season.

From November 26th until December 24th, I'll be there every Saturday and Sunday. It's a great place to shop local, eat local or just hang out. It's sweet.


And... Speaking of sweet...

Large Thumbs Cookie Jar made by Robyn Frank
My figure is in jeopardy of expansion from cookie consumption. I tried these cookies at Dekalb Market and ate an entire sleeve. I even tried to save some for later. I tried to keep myself from eating them all. I tried to no avail. These are some damn good cookies.

Robyn Frank is just as sweet as the cookies she makes. I read all about the family history behind the captivating confection but I want you to find out for yourself just what these cookies are all about. 

"Each cookie is rolled in the palm of my hand and then finished with my thumbprint. I used to make these cookies alongside my mom, Barb, in the kitchen while she made them for all neighborhood special occasions."
~From Robyn's Etsy listing

Surrender to your sweet tooth and grab a fistful of these cookies. Go to the Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/FrankysThumbsCookies

~Bobby~

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Raising The Bar, Baby

So...

Tri-Stone Opal & Purple CZ
October has proven a bit chilly but things in the D.S.C. family are heating up. New stones, new metals & a lot more pieces made completely from scratch. That's what we're up to here.

I've been in my workshop with some sterling silver and some really cool, new gems like rubies, spinel, emeralds and more. Xenia and I have been coming up with designs together. It has truly become a family business and it's growing by leaps, bounds and contractions.

That's right. Contractions.

Along with expecting new designs, we're expecting a new member of the D.S.C. family. A priceless jewel. Due later this month. Our new baby. Hence the big push for opal. Our little one's birthstone. It's also one of my favorites. I already have a piece made for our little one. You'll get to see it when it's on the baby. Check back from time to time.

I've always had an attraction to shiny, sparkly things. When I was a toddler I used to go to department stores with my mother and spend a good amount of time staring at the Swarovski Crystal case. The way the light played off the surface of the facets always made me feel relaxed. The same could be said about stones like moonstone and labradorite. 
South Australian Opal Triplet

Later, I found opals just as - if not more - appealing. It was on a trip to a jewelry store to pick up a gift for a friend. I couldn't have been more than nine or ten years old. I stood in front of a case of opal jewelry and drooled. I didn't want to look away. The shimmer and shine was different but the fire in the stone just seemed peaceful.

"Opal's internal structure makes it diffract light; depending on the conditions in which it formed it can take on many colors. Opal ranges from clear through white, gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown, and black. Of these hues, the reds against black are the most rare, whereas white and greens are the most common. It varies in optical density from opaque to semi-transparent. For gemstone use, its natural color is often enhanced by placing thin layers of opal on a darker underlying stone, like basalt."
~From Wikipedia~

Look out for more opal jewelry from the Dark Side.

Anubis Egyptian Sterling Silver Ring 
Inspiration comes from a great deal of places. This time it's coming from Italy. I've never met the owner of this shop in person but we have corresponded via Etsy. His name is Arosha Luigi Taglia and his Etsy site is full of awesomeness like the Anubis Ring to the right.

"My work ranges from visual arts (sculpturing, painting, digital art) to jewelry design. I like to experiment with every material possible - plastic, silver, gold, metals, textiles, vintage pieces etc..

My work is presented in art, design, fashion and jewelry galleries all over the world.
"

~From Arosha's Etsy Profile~

Make your way to his shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/arosha) and take a look at some of the beauty he creates. Let him know you were sent by Dark Side Customs.


~Bobby~


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Making Good on a Promise

Where does the time go?

There is so much more involved with starting this business from the ground up than I had anticipated. Good. It will keep me on my toes. There's nothing like a challenge to keep the blood flowing.

CODA Brass, Sterling CZ Collar by D.S.C. (Sold)
The biggest deal for me at the moment is being sure I'm putting out a product that people want. I'm all about it. In fact, I'm so much about it that I spend a good amount of time that I should be sleeping thinking up designs and ways to implement them. As it is, I began this post at 3am. I just can't get my mind to calm down when it's flooded with so many design ideas and and the best I can do is some research to try to figure out if the ideas keeping me awake have been done or not, how I might implement my ideas, what people are actually interested in seeing, buying... etc.

It's enough to make one lose sleep...

So now, I'm setting myself up to create a new line for Dark Side Customs. It will be quite different from what you're used to seeing from us. It will also be a lot more personal. No components unless they come from my hand. Each piece will begin as some of my others have - as a drawing. From there, I will set about making that drawing into a tangible piece of wearable art.

This is my way of making good on a promise. It's the promise in my mission statement and the unspoken promise I make each time I pick up a stone, a piece of metal or my torch. It's the promise to give you my best.

From the early days. Our first Dorian's Parlor gig.
Dark Side Customs will be making an effort to attend more markets and events so that we might be able to reach out to more people in more areas. You may have seen us at Dorian's Parlor, Authors After Dark, The Brooklyn Indie Market, Astoria Market or even ICon. Now, we're looking to make our way into some more of your favorite haunts. We'll be putting pieces in some local boutiques as well

Tell us about some of your favorite market places. We would love to see you there. And, with the holidays fast approaching, we'll be offering deals for online shoppers to make choosing your holiday gifts even easier. If it is a holiday gift, we'll even wrap it up in a neat little package for you.


Wrapping things up in a neat little package is a job for a wonderful lady named Nikki. She's the owner-operator of MayFaire Moon Corsets & Costumes.  
TARDIS Corset by MayFaire Moon

"We specialize in corsets for the more discerning wearer: all patterns are custom-drafted to individual measurements, fully steel-boned, interlined, and wrapped in silk, tapestry, leather— anything your heart desires. Special orders are welcome, and we love a challenge." - From the MayFaire Moon Website. 

She does so much more than just corsets. Her costuming is top notch and she can make any bride feel like a queen on that special day. She creates beautiful, wearable works of art for men and women. 

You'll have to make a stop at her website and check it out. www.mayfairemoon.com/ 

Also, check her out on Facebook.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Inspired

Dark Side Customs was recently asked to vend at an event called Authors After Dark. We traveled from Astoria, NY, to Philadelphia, PA, for the event, and it was so worth it. (A big "Thank You" goes out to PJ Schnyder for the invite and for being an awesome person.) I'm not just talking about sales. I'm not just talking about the fun of the Steampunk Ball. I'm talking about inspiration.

The Dark Side Customs Team
To be honest, as much as I was inspired by surroundings, other vendors, the general public, etc., the greatest inspiration came from my wife. She did this event with me. No sleep, crazy hours and all. She's my partner in life as well as in Dark Side Customs. Her help and support was - and is - invaluable. She handed me ideas that had me building new jewelry pieces during the event. She went around taking photos of pieces that needed to be added to inventory. Neither of us had gotten much sleep and were looking at being up for a very, very long time. She held on like a trooper.

After the event, we packed up to head home. We both had a good time. We both felt like we did pretty well. We were both looking forward to getting some sleep on the ride home. That sleep never came. Instead, we talked about plans for the future of the business. We talked about ways of making things better. We talked about ways to increase productivity and quality. We talked about ways to introduce variety... and it was glorious. While most of the people slept, slumbered and snored, we were connecting. We tend to do that. We're planning on bringing you some new items as well as some variations on old favorites. Keep your eyes open.


Metals, stones, catalogs, boutiques... Wow! There is a lot to think about. Even the dreaded inventory is something I'm looking forward to, these days. I may whine and moan about it but Xenia has a great way of keeping me motivated. 

Gryphon's Crest
We've decided on experimenting with different metals and different stones and stone combinations. I'll be working with very different design ideas as well but my first venture into this journey of exploration will be adding some variety to our Heraldic Collection.

Some of you may be familiar with our crests. We've sold a few here and there. Brass beasts with beautiful stones and shells in formations reminiscent of a coat of arms. Until now they have all been brass. That's changing. I'll be putting a spin into the metal mix and introducing them in other metals as well. I have even introduced a new sigil to the line for those with darker allegiances.

Along with the new metals, we'll be adding more stones to the lineup. I'm working with more faceted stones along with my normal cabochons. I'm also adding a few more unusual colors. Orange has become a big hit in today's fashion. CZs are splashing in deeper color pools these days.

You never know what's coming next.


Magic Vial - Summer
Do you believe in magic? Well... believe in this shop. Izile's shop has some pretty little eye-catchers and I happen to know for absolute fact that the lady that runs this shop is quite amazing.

"I created the idea of my Magic Vial Pendants, blends of gemstones, herbs and oils based around all the symbolic concepts of love, tranquility, and the four elements (water, earth, air, fire). All these years later, hundreds of combinations have evolved to cater to not only other concepts, but zodiacs and even personal custom requests based on the people themselves." ~From Izile's profile~

(Right) The Magic Vial - Summer caught my eye as simply a very interesting piece. That was until I looked deeper. "So this vial starts with a generous amount of Peridot for new growth, life and prosperity; combined with Malachite for harmony, healing and strength. These are blended in a neutral oil base with a tiny sprig of Clover for luck and love." ~Item description~

There is more in Izile's Etsy shop. You should take a look. I guarantee you'll enjoy your visit. As you peruse Izile's Oddities, remember to tell her you've come from the Dark Side.

~Bobby~

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One small step for man... (Friends)

(Waiting for boxes and supplies is frustrating.) ... so I'll write.

The internet has connected the world in a way that only wars have come close to matching. Sounds insane but it's true. You can find anything on the internet. Really. Type in the most ridiculous thing that you can think of and you'll at least be able to find one other person that has thought of it if not created it. It's too much. But, we all know too much is never enough.

The View From Dark Side Customs 
So, when is it enough?

I suppose we'll just have to wait until we find out. I, however, will be indulging myself in the excess of connectivity that is the world wide web in order to reach out and touch someone like you. Think of it this way. In an effort to reach out to the world of consumers I, the business owner, need to make myself accessible in as many ways possible. That means advertising.

Blogs and banners and billboards. Oh My. Ok... maybe not billboards. Not just yet. I'll be reaching out to friends and internet neighbors for link exchanges and other mutually beneficial opportunities in the near future. And why not? We have to live in this cyber world together. Why not make the best of it? There so much we can do for each other if we just try. What else is the web good for? Ask Al Gore. He invented it. Right?

Hmmm...

Friends (unlike internet porn) can sometimes do the most beautiful things for you without even knowing it. Just the other day I overheard a friend of mine use my my name - while talking to another person about music - as a reference to the types of things she likes to hear. I have to admit that I was taken a bit by surprise at how freely she just true my name into the bunch of artists that she liked. I was in amongst a few of my personal musical heros. She didn't even know I could hear her.

No. I wasn't eavesdropping.

Caitlin wearing the Queen Dylene by D.S.C.
 Photo by Kelly Rowles
Others carry a certain kind of ├Žsthetic that makes everything around them seem that much more beautiful. It can come in so many forms. It could be a look. I could be a voice or their way of speaking. It could be in the attitude. There are many ways people can make things so much more pleasant for others around them. I would figure it makes things so much more pleasant for them as well. 

There are people like Caitlin. I wish I could say that I have known Caitlin for years and that I hand chose her for this photo to make my work look good. I would be lying.

My met Caitlin at an event called Dorian's Parlor in Philadelphia. She put on one of my necklaces and it looked like it belonged. There have been a few words passed my way, from Caitlin, that made me realize that she - and others possible- really liked what I was doing. It made me feel like I was on the right track. Like I'm doing what I should be doing.

Then... this picture shows up on Facebook and the first thing out of my mouth was, "Holy crap. That's amazing." (I know. Eloquent  Right?) The picture is by Kelly Rowels and it's beautiful. The subject is a natural beauty and the composition is excellent. My necklace being in the photo is one thing. The fact that it looks like it's loved is quite another thing. A wonderful thing and it touches my heat to see it.

Thank you to Caitlin and Kelly. I have even more of a reason to continue doing what I do.

Dragon Unleashed by Decadent Dark
Friends of Dark Side Customs are spreading out all over the country and the world. Some cary a bit of their own Dark Side with them. Check out this D.S.C. buddy and see what I mean.

Decadent Dark is based out of Minnesota and has created some wonderful pieces that are more than just intriguing. They're fantastic.

(Right) The Custom pendant has a very interesting patina with the dark shadowing on the wings and breasted body. All the black convex gems are vintage and glass...as well, as the set faceted tear drop jewels (center and connectors)


"Designing and creating Stained glass windows and art for customers has been the most enjoying till I started using my knowledge of the art in producing jewelry and components." -From the Decadent Dark profile page.

The owner of this shop, Kathryn, also runs a few others on Etsy and has provided some great components for some of my own work. She is a pleasure to work with and a total sweetheart. You'll want to be on her Dark Side.

When you stop by http://www.etsy.com/shop/DecadentDark, let Kathryn know that Bobby from Dark Side Customs sent you. You'll be glad you did.


~Bobby~

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who’s this “we” from the last post?

Xenia and The Wyvern's Crest
Time to make a few introductions. Yes, Dark Side was thought up by the man who used to work on motorcycles, precious metals, lyrics and music, you name it. Yes, he’s the one with the torch in his hand crouched over an intricate piece of filigree at the desk in our living room. But there’s another part to the business – one that I hope to be stepping up. That’d be me.

Bobby will tell you I’m the muse, the inspiration, the reason for his starting this crazy idea. Don’t listen to him. He’s biased – after all, he’s married to me. What I am, what I hope to be, is a little more than an ornament in the catalogue. Although that’s where it starts.

My first job, of course, as the earliest Dark Side creations got invented, was modeling them. I continue posing for photos and taking new pieces out for some exposure before they go up on the shop, though of course several other models have been featured in our product photos as well. After a stint in costuming and stage combat, posing for a camera is second nature, and so is finding something in my wardrobe to play up a piece in any genre, be it classical, tribal, modern or steampunk.


Sea Foam by Xenia
Less obvious, but no less important, is the behind-the scenes organizational work I do. Blessed with the mathematical mind most creative types lack, I keep track of scheduling, budgeting, inventory, and the logistics of turning dollars and cents into a roll of wire and nifty stone, into a Dark Side original creation in the hands of my husband, and thence into a piece of much-loved jewelry in someone else’s hands. It will take that logical brain and a lot of critical thinking to let us turn our little online shop into a physical presence.

Mathematical or not, being exposed to Bobby’s beautiful work does inspire my mind to its own moments of creativity. I do my best to learn his techniques and combine them with my own old favorites: sewing and trim, bits of knitting or crochet work, embroidery, and of course, beading. Lots of beading.

After learning on cheap seed beads as a kid, the sudden wealth of beautiful materials available to a jeweler (which I’m also still learning about) is breathtaking, and enough to trigger the creative impulse in even the busiest wife and soon-to-be-mother. And while I started out by shyly letting Bobby bring my ideas to life, these days I’m ecstatic to be adding more of my own work to our lineup. Look out for more mysterious stones, bright crystals, and glowing pearls coming together in pieces like the Sea Foam set.


And while we’re on the subject of beading, I’d like to introduce you to a dear friend who has been an inspiration to us in that realm, not to mention a source of inherited beads for many projects to come. Chrysilla, Queen of the Cat People, has an eye for combining materials in startling new ways to create meaningful, expressive work.

Leopard Of Little Breezes
Jewelry plays a large part in the events of all cultures and historical periods. It expresses individuality and radical ideas, marks status and class, wins love and favor, and occasionally topples entire empires.
  Queen of the Cat People creates individual pieces to capture any and all aspects of this interstitial art form, inspired by many historical eras and movements.” –from Chrysilla’s website,

Check out Chrysilla’s work and pick up a sample for yourself at her well-stocked Etsy shop, or order a custom charm or talisman to adorn yourself and entice good fortune.


~Xenia~

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What are we up to?

So...
Dark Side customs is looking like it's headed in the right direction. I'll be investing quite a bit into raising the standard of D.S.C. Excellence. Better materials, new designs and more ways to buy are all in the works. I'm doing everything I can to make Dark Side Customs a Household Name.

The Gear Box (Dark)
You may - or may not - be aware that the metals market has been in a state of flux lately. The price of silver and gold has been through the roof and traders are in a panic about prices skyrocketing over a number of months.

Many jewelers, like myself, have turned to using base metals for their small-ticket items. Though most have kept their noble metal items in production, the cost is, as always, passed on to the consumer. I'm working on a way around that. I will continue to produce handmade base metal pieces; I'm stepping up to the noble metals in a way that will keep them affordable and not sacrifice quality in any way. I want D.S.C. to be the Gold Standard so I'll keep reaching for that Brass Ring.


You may have noticed that I've placed donation buttons on the D.S.C. website and at the bottom of this blog. Well... don't be frightened. I'm not telling anyone that they have to pay "or else" and I'm not begging for 10% of your weekly earnings. I'm just leaving the option open for those interested in being a part of the growth of Dark Side Customs. A couple people have asked me to explain. So...
Dark Side Customs started out as an idea - between a few former friends and myself - several years ago. We liked working on cars and motorcycles and wanted to start our own custom shop. Differences happened, people split and I'm sure you can figure out the rest. The idea never left my mind.

I had already run a small jewelry business and I felt comfortable with it. When the opportunity came around and I was able to start again, I figured I would combine the dream name with the dream of being creative and making a living at it. Thus we have the current incarnation of D.S.C.

Now, I'm looking for ways to bring the full dream of my art feeding my family to fruition. That is the reason for the donation buttons.


The Aviary
My friends are doing great things. Really. Take a look for yourself. Some people are just amazing at altering your perception and challenging you to open your mind. Kelly Kotulak is one of them.

"There is a fire in your heart, sometimes shy, and sometimes bright, and it yearns for magic. You carry it like a secret. It reaches for mysteries, it delights in the strange, it dares. You step behind the curtain. That fire sets your eyes alight".
-From Kelly's Etsy profile.

(right) Three brass bird skulls hang beneath a gate of ornate brass filigree, graced by the rhythmic drape of chain.


She is the essence of SteamPunk. You can find more of her beautiful work on Etsy. She's among my favorite shop owners. I have a feeling she'll be one of yours as well. Check out her shop:

~Bobby~

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The New Blog Format

Welcome to the NEW blog for Dark Side Customs.

I'll be able to update this more often and I'll be looking at, not only my own works but some of the works that have inspired me as well as some of the other artists that are trying to make their own way on Etsy and the web.

Dark Side Customs is stepping up its "A" game. Those who know my earlier work from Celestial Silver (my first company) know that silver was my media of choice. With D.S.C. I've been working with base metals as a way of making pieces more affordable for my customers. The plan is to re-introduce sterling (.925) and fine (.999) silver into the mix on a larger scale while still making pieces that are beautiful and affordable. 

ANGELIQUE - Winged Goddess
Some Higher End pieces like ANGELIQUE, that still use base metals and heavy plating, will stay in the mix as well as many of the bone and polymer pieces. 

One of the things I like most when it comes to designing new pieces is to receive feedback from people that view my works or just happen to like a particular style of jewelry. I especially love when people tell me about pieces they have never seen but would like to. It's a challenge and I love a good challenge.


I mentioned stepping up the "A" game. As part of that initiative, D.S.C. is looking for investors and people willing to make donations to help Dark Side Customs grow. Even $1 is welcome. I'll be setting up a paypal button for those who may wish to invest. I will also be setting up an investors page on the website, once that is done, where the names of our investors will be shown for all to see. (Should you not wish your name posted, just send a note and I will make sure to keep your name private.)

I'm also looking to add some outside artists to the D.S.C. umbrella as a supplement to my own work. I'm not inclined to go the route of simply buying wholesale pieces and reselling them to turn a profit. Not really my cup of tea. I have done this in the past with Celestial Silver but there wasn't much satisfaction in it.

I'll be looking for innovative designers, just starting out, looking to make a name in the business as well as lesser known artist with a great eye for design. Keep your eye out.


Golden Age
There are some people making some beautiful pieces for sale on Etsy. Let's take a look at Paradise Jewelry Shop.

"We enjoy making wonderful jewelry items for family and friends at unbelievable prices. We decided to reach more people and show what we have created and to bring a smile to you and your family as well."

(right) A pair of earrings that are as easy on the ears as they are beautiful to wear. The little white balls have a touch of pewter lines painted on them.

There are a great number of beautiful items in their Etsy shop. Stop by and let them know that you were sent by the Dark Side.

~Bobby~