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~