How did you get into jewelry making? In the summer of 2009 I was looking through the community education classes on the Savannah College of Art & Design and found a silver jewelry making class and went for it. I wanted to just do something creative that was different than graphic design and using a computer. After the first quarter I ended up taking 3 more quarters and started getting my own tools. After that, I set up a little work area and just kept making jewelry.
The jewelry I was making was your usual project stuff from books and magazines. I started playing around with ideas, some were good, most weren't. Around October 2012 a guy at work asked me to make a custom ring for his husband. I'd had this idea for doing a spinner ring that had a more finished look on the ends with 3 spinners. First try and it worked, thus the humble beginnings of what was going to become Silver Piston.
By the beginning of 2013 I'd started selling the spinner rings on Etsy and had created another ring for the ladies who ride. It had a side set tube with a 4 mm stone. I called in the Moto Lady cocktail ring named after Alicia Elfving's site, The Moto Lady.
How many people are at Silver Piston? Right now it's just me but beginning to look for some help. My wife is doing the backend and helping me keep everything in stock.
Where'd the name Silver Piston come from? By the beginning of 2013 I'd started working on ideas for a name that would also have a motorcycle feel since that's crowd I run in and wanted to appeal to. The internet has a funny way of working and I'd become internet friends with John Ryland at Classified Moto. We both share a love of bikes and advertising backgrounds. So I hit him up for some help and in the end he'd come up with the name Silver Piston Rings and started laying the ground work for the voice of my brand. At the beginning of 2014, I dropped the rings out of it because I was doing more than just rings and John was in agreement with the idea.
How did you get into the Indian/Buffalo rings? When I was a kid I loved the Indian head nickels, there was just something about how authentic they were. I've always thought there was something very American about what showed. In the spring of 2013 I picked up a bag of nickels just to play around with. For a while I was just soldering jump rings on them for pendant and keychains. Then one afternoon in the studio decided to cut the head out and mounted it on a half inch wide band that I made. Boom! I loved it, so I next cut out a buffalo and did the same. That was beginning of what's become the Silver Piston signature rings.
When did you start doing hobo nickels and how did that come about? By January of 2014 I'd been making the nickel rings on a regular basis and selling them on Etsy. A couple years before I'd bought a hobo nickel on Ebay for like $35 and I decided to cut it out to make a ring for myself. When I posted it to my Instagram, a fellow in England, Mark Lee, said I should hit Ebay and look at the hobo nickels Shane "Hobo" Hunter was making and selling. I loved the one up there so I put a bid on it to top at $75 because it showed how bad the hobo nickel I'd used was. I was outbid in 4 hrs.
Next, I googled him and got an email address. I reached out to him telling him what I was doing with the nickel rings and asked if I could buy some nickels. He said yes and carved the Dias de los Muertos nickel I'd wanted to do. I decided on that style because I wanted a unique style on it that wasn't what you'd normally see on a hobo nickel. After that he carved a Mercury head dime that's become a permanent part of the hobo rings. As for the nickel I was outbid on, it sold for $200.