My favorite part of Clutch Jewelry is not the fashion shows, the photoshoots, the interviews, or the glossy magazines. Building a fashion brand is often about faking it till you make it. You show people the bright and shiny fruits of your labor and keep all the hard work behind the velvet curtain. But that was never the idea behind Clutch Jewelry.
Working in the garage is where I take rough, raw metal and make it soft, smooth, shiny and bright. The first moment I fell in love with metalworking I was polishing my very first piece of copper. I began with a soft satin finish I had achieved through four different grits of sandpaper. Beginning with a relatively rough 220 grit, then a finer 320, then 400, then a super fine 600 grit. But the best moment is hitting that piece of carefully sanded metal with a big rotating cloth wheel coated with polishing compound. This process that is a bit scary and very precise and reveals a mirror finish that is positively dazzling. It was a pristine, reflective piece of metal that I held with dirty black fingers coated in polishing compound. I in my hand, for the first time, I held the most satisfying art form I have ever experienced.
But it wasn’t the first time I had fallen in love in the garage. I was raised around motorcycles, mostly dirt bikes. I rode with my dad from infancy in a little baby pouch to a toddler hanging on for dear life and yelling faster! I was four years old when they put me on a little Honda 70 four speed. By the time I was 10 I was on a Honda 250R 2 stroke and never looked back. Riding was like breathing or smiling or skipping. I have always known that feeling of freedom.
But the first time I saw my grandfather working in the garage on one of his old cafe racers, I felt something more than a feeling of freedom. I fell in love. He collected parts from swap meets and bike shows all over the country. He even visited the Isle of Man every few years. He would put these bikes back together, from old, beat up, forgotten parts, sometimes building his own original frames. He restored every single piece individually. Everything from the chrome plating to the pinstriping was done with his two hands in his very tidy garage. All bolts covered in grease, metal spiral shavings all over the floor were swept up daily but they were still always there. Papa always had something to do in the garage. There was just so much love in there.
When I graduated college with an English degree under the guise of attending law school or going into social work, my family was no doubt more than a little surprised when I announced that I was becoming a goldsmith and jewelry designer.
But Papa pulled me aside and told me the story of the day of my birth. He was welding joints on 20 foot tall underground pipes for the Palo Verde power plant. My mom went into labor just before his 12-hour shift so he knew he would likely be meeting his first grandchild when he finished. He said he etched my name and birthday into the inside of the pipe time a few dozen times out of pure excitement and boredom (he always finished before the rest of the team).
“You came into this world with fire and metal,” he told me. “It’s in your blood.”
There’s something about using tools, working with my hands, and working on metal, one of the most unforgiving materials on the planet that brings me straight to the zen zone. The piece of metal will be around for thousands of years. And the more love I put into it, the stronger and prettier and more satisfying it’s going to be. It’s true love, and I love sharing it with every Gameshifter I get to meet.
Here’s to love, art, and garage time,