Because you asked for it..

The BMEShop gets requests for items all the time.  Sometimes we can fulfill those requests, sometimes we can’t.  So when Rachel started getting requests for the jewelry featured in this post last year, she set out to make it happen.  Well, it took a bit of time, but the waiting paid off, you can now get these hearts from the BMEShop!

We have 2 types of hearts, 18ga bendable niobium hearts, and 14/16ga stainless steel bendable hearts.  The niobium ones come in a variety of colours, including Ice Blue, Green, Pink, Yellow, Light Blue, Purple, Dark Blue, Teal, Dream Blue, Rainbow, and High Polish.  Here’s the pink one..

And here are a couple more colours.

The larger gauge ones only come in stainless steel, as you can see in this picture.

So head on over to the BMEShop now to get your own hearts!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the t-shirt section while you’re there.  Rachel just added MORE DESIGNS over the weekend, including the ever popular “Always Wear Lube“.

A brief chat with John Durante of Evolve Body Jewelry

John Durante is one of those guys whom I have known of for many years. However, I don’t believe I actually had the pleasure of meeting him until the Philly Tattoo Convention early last year. Since then, I have ran into him at a few conventions and have always enjoyed talking to him, so I felt sure the modblog readers would enjoy hearing from him as well.


John is a good example of a body mod renaissance man. He is actively involved in so many facets of this industry/community that he is hard to keep up with.  Perhaps later, I will have to interview him again to dig deeper into his piercing and scarification work, as well as his extensive traveling and involvement with ancient and modern body rituals alike. This time though, we are focusing on the body jewelry company he founded, Evolve.


For the interview, keep on keeping on.

The following is from a Skype chat I had with him a while ago, combined with some of the  amazing pictures he has shared with me.

John Durante: Hey bro!!!

Sean Philips: Hi man, how’s it going?

John Durante: Good, working super hard, rearranging the Evolve office and work shop, setting up a larger work area. We finally got the rest of our stone machines set up here!!!


Sean Philips: Very cool, where is Evolve out of anyhow, your always on the road. But I assume there has to be a home base somewhere.

John Durante: We are based in Seattle, WA. Actually, right next to Laughing Buddha, the studio I work at.

Sean Philips: Awesome, that sounds extremely convenient! So I guess the best place to start the interview is with the start of Evolve. What’s the history of your company?

John Durante: Well, I moved to Seattle between 6-7 years ago. I moved here from kuala Lumpur Malaysia, where I had been working at Borneo Ink. I started the company with my business partner, Michelle Hamilton, about a year later, so about 6 years ago.

Sean Philips: …and how did you personally get your start in the production and distribution of organics?

John Durante: I have spent 13+ years extensively traveling and living all over SE Asia. I had made the connections with many carvers and material suppliers many years before I actually began my company. So when me and Michelle started Evolve we utilized many of those connections, as well as starting our own US based production on top of that.


Sean Philips: When I think of Evolve, I think of  all the road sales and traveling, what brought that about?

John Durante: I always wanted to be able to connect directly with our clientelle, learn directly what people want, what works, and what does not. Plus it’s fun, and makes the good ol’ USA a much smaller place!!! But mainly it is piercers connecting with other piercers, not just some salesman.

Sean Philips: It definitely seems to work, Evolve seems to be in most  of the shops I have visited that carry decent jewelry. I assume a lot of that is because of the easy accessability of the traveling sales people.

John Durante: We work hard at it, and I hope it makes people happy!!!

Sean Philips: Speaking of happy people, how about your carvers? How is Evolve’s relationship with them?

John Durante: They are Evolve, whether they be our carvers overseas, or our carvers here in the USA. I am happy to have been able to positively impact the lives of our carvers all over the world. I personally am friends with, and spend a good deal of time with our carvers/artists here in the US and abroad. Evolve is a big family that spans so many countries.


Sean Philips:  John, I am going to backtrack a bit, because my brain refuses to work in a congruent order…… How did you get your personal start in body mods?

John Durante: Hahaha, cool. I began my facination with piercing and body art around 92′, but did not start working full time as a professional piercer until late 94′. I can honestly say that I was in the right place at the right time living in Los Angeles, around old school Gauntlet croud as piercing was coming out of the closet so to speak, from a primarily gay and S&M subculture. Remember the Aerosmith video???  As soon as that video aired, all of a sudden piercing became mainstream!!! I started my professional piercing career at Puncture Body Piercing in 1994, and since then have worked at so many of our country’s best studios, and for that matter many of the world’s best.

Sean Philips: Oh yeah, Aerosmith and Alicia Silverstone set a trend that has long since became a staple of our industry in that video. God bless that big lipped bastard, and his video writers for inadvertantly setting the stage for our careers.

John Durante: Im serious, and its funny, I later had the chance to thank him myself when he came in to our studio in Los Angeles.

Sean Philips:  That’s awesome that you got to meet and thank him for that.  That video was a long time ago, you are definitely dating yourself with that reference. Hell, I got my start in ’96 and people are amazed I haven’t jumped ship or totally burned out, you have 2 years on me, what’s kept your heart in it so long?

John Durante: I have such a passion for piercing and this art, but honestly I have an equal passion for world travel and exploration. That travel is usually oriented around piercing, or jewelry, or anthropology, or better yet ethnography. So the time I give myself to travel I believe greatly saves me from burnout!!!

Sean Philips: Sounds like you got it figured out pretty well. Back to Evolve, what seperates Evolve from the countless other organic companies that have popped up in recent years? Does Evolve make any political, humanitarian, or ecological type impacts?

John Durante: L.T.D indeed!!! First, Evolve is a company founded out of an almost 2 decade passion for this industry, founded by piercers for piercers, and jewelry lovers. Not like so many popping up to simply try to exploit what some business people may see as some fad to capitalize on. I have been here, and will be here through good and bad for life. I can’t say I try to get overly political, but we do go out of our way to take care of our carvers around the world, here and abroad. Exploitation is no part of how we do business.


Sean Philips: LTD is Live the Dream, correct? I see that on a lot of Garza’s stuff as well, how did that all come about?

John Durante: Hahaha, well LTD is a crew of close friends and family who share a passion for life, and traveling the world. Myself, Ron Garza, Chris Glunt, Dave Gilstrap, Wayde Dunn, and more. One thing to add about what sets Evolve apart is how much we are focusing on our custom work here in the USA lately. We’re now producing almost any custom stone or wood right here in Seattle.

Sean Philips: Are there any custom pieces or styles you are particularly proud of?

John Durante: Alot!!! Our wood is second to none these days, produced here in Seattle with high end exotics. Our new stone production here is also coming along very nicely. Some awesome weights, labrets, conch pegs, and plugs!!! And to add to the LTD thing, essentially it’s more of a mindset!!!


Sean Philips: Ironically enough, someone is buying some Evolve  jewelry from me at this very moment. The black onyx facet cut ones, to be exact. (I do most of these interviews at work, so sometimes I have to deal with customers in the middle of them. It was cool to be talking to a customer about the Evolve plugs while also talking to John about Evolve simultaneously.)

John Durante: Hahaha, AWESOME, thats what I like to hear!!! Nice, the onyx is super clean!!!

Sean Philips: The facet cut stones really  fly off my shelves.

John Durante: We just got in a bunch of faceted opalite, smokey quartz, onyx, carnelian, and rose quartz.


Sean Philips: Very cool. Does evolve also do custom pieces?

John Durante: We do indeed, we just finished getting the last of our stone tools set up for plugs.  We have been doing custom wood for a while, now lots of custom stone labrets, conch pegs, some stone weights, and specialty materials. Much, much, more to come. We also do some teflon, we do custom for various mod procedures.

Sean Philips: I didn’t realize you did teflon, that’s good to know.

John Durante: We dont really advertise it, but sure enough!!!

Sean Philips: You should, that’s a good niche that isn’t really filled by many companies.

John Durante: Indeed I should. We do alot of things like TS (trans scrotal) plugs and such that are not so common.

Sean Philips: Are there any long term employees you want to mention and if so, what role do they fill for Evolve?

John Durante: Well Michelle Hamilton my partner, Sophia who is our manager/road manager, James Woodsmall is our head carver here, and Chris Jakubiak, who is as well one of our awesome carvers. As well as many of our road team we have out yearly.

Sean Philips: Very cool. Lets see we got some history some current how about the future?

John Durante: Well I hope to expand our production here in the USA, and getting more international distributers. We may soon open an Evolve studio for piercing and jewelry production, as well as working more with distributing some publications for tattooed kingpin, modern primitives, the Godoy brothers, and Ron Garzas LTD productions.


Sean Philips: So if any modblog readers want to contact you, what’s the best way for them to do so?

John Durante: The best way  to contact me about  Evolve is via email at [email protected], or call at 8773291834

Much thanks to John for taking the time to Skype this conversation with me and get me all of these pictures. If you see him running around a tattoo convention, a Mayan temple or anywhere else for that matter be sure to say hi. He is one of the nicest, most down to Earth and knowledgeable guys in the industry and he is always willing to talk your ear off.

A brief look into Maya Organics

A while back I featured my old friend Jared’s company onetribe on here. Readers seemed to appreciate an in depth look into one of the many organic jewelry companies. So when the, ever so likable, Cyrus showed up in my shop carrying a selection of gorgeous organic jewlery from Maya, I told him to tell his boss I’d like to do a feature on her company. Due to prior commitments on both our parts, it took a while to get it together, but I am pleased to have it ready now.


For many more images and a brief interview, keep on keeping on.


Why don’t we start with a brief history of Maya Organics.

In 2006, body piercer, Corey Lolley set out to create a line of jewelry inspired by her travels, indigenous culture, street fashion, graffiti, architecture, and attitude. She has been an active member of the piercing community since she got her start in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area in 1994. Utilizing her knowledge of industry trends, standards, and aesthetics both modern and ancient, she expanded her focus to developing the freshest designs from the most luxurious materials. Each Maya piece is a reflection of an aspect of the community that inspired them, and an offering back to that same community.

As a piercer I have always been inspired and moved by indigenous cultures, their preserved traditions and how they embody adornment.  It was the people of the island of Borneo that first inspired me to travel to distant lands.  Their nomadic and primitive lifestyles somehow made sense to my young mind that struggled with how our modern society claimed its roots to humanity. It was on this first trip to SE Asia in 2000 that I first visited the mystical island of Bali in Indonesia where I now work.  I stumbled upon its cavers, world renound as the most gifted hand carvers on the planet.

I feel that Maya was a natural evolution for me, my dream career manifested.  Maya has allowed me to integrate traveling, indigenous culture, art and business while remaining immersed in the community that I feel most connected to.  I think that these things go hand in hand.  Our way of life is expelled from ancient cultures, when I say this I do not just mean how we look, these ways manifest in how we choose to live our lives.



What impact you feel your company plays on the modified community as well as the community surrounding your carvers.

When one experiences the Maya collection they get a sense of a more of a fine jewelry experience, this is the angle as a designer that I want to bring to the table.  Maya offers a collection that feels elegant and sophisticated.

We put great effort into how we display and promote our jewelry.  For the past 3 years, we won best booth at the APP’s annual piercing convention in Las Vegas.  With many shops beginning to boutique their studios we realize the importance of display, customers need to see how special these pieces are.  Our experience has been that the more elegantly shops display this jewelry the more likely it is for clients to understand just how exclusive it is.

I feel Maya organic to be a sincere representation of the evolution of the body piercing industry.  When I started piercing the only thing that was available for stretched ears was steel captive bead rings.  As I evolved with the industry so did the jewelry that is available for stretched ears.

My desire is that Maya servers as an inspiration for other body piercers and body modification enthusiasts, that they too are able to bring their ideas from a thought to a manifestation.  I hope that they are able to find the root of their passion and what draws them to this community and them act on it, to make it bigger then themselves, push boundaries.

When I first began working with the carvers and metal smiths in Bali 4 years ago there were 7 carvers and 1 silversmith chipping away at this dream, I now work with over 40 carvers and 15 metal smiths.  The vision of Maya has not only been an immensely life changing experience for me but also for those I hold so dear on the other side of the world.  Although it is sometimes overwhelming for me to think about the colossal responsibility that I have when I think of all those people and their families that are relying on my success it is also immensely gratifying.  All of the jewelers who I work with in Bali challenge and push me to be more creative.  During the design process we often work together and bounce off of each other, I enjoy nurturing their ideas.  I really feel grateful to work with such remarkable artists, many of my carvers are third generation, this is in their blood like it is in mine.




What separates you from the other organic companies?

Maya was born from the mind of a body piercer and all of those who work for Maya are experienced piercers all stemming from some of the countries most reputable studios.  In addition to being piercers, we are all creative and passionate people.  We understand the industry and its clients, what works and what does not.

We are extremely committed to the quality of the jewelry that we put out.  Also, we have a very fast turn around on orders.

I feel that we offer a very personable experience. This is rooted in the fact that we are all so immersed in the piercing community.  It is not just our way of life and a way to make money, but in many ways it is the foundation that we are all built on.

Our customer service and presence with our clients here in the office also translates to our door-to-door sales.  We have an incredible team of conscious individuals who work on the road.  When we are on the road it is more like we are traveling the country visiting our friends and family than working. Our industry is so inimitable in this way.  We are keeping the gypsy way alive, traveling from city to city and allowing out clients the opportunity to hand select their wares.  I am so proud to be a part of keeping this way of life thriving.  I hope that people find inspiration in what we do.



Want to adorn yourself with some beautiful pieces by Maya Organic, the best place to start is their website

PS: I’d like to do some more features on jewelry companies, so if anyone wants to showcase their stuff (John, I am looking at you buddy) hit me up.

Q&A with Jared of onetribe organic body jewelry.

I have known Jared for several years now, a bit before he started onetribe. When he first approached me at one of the old Richmond Suspension Socials with a few pairs of plugs and a dream, I thought he was crazy. I didn’t think it was even possible for one man to compete with the established organic jewelry companies. Well, obviously, he proved me wrong. Not only did he prove me wrong, he did so in an honorable and humble way that deserves recognition. So without further ado, I present to you a few question with jared from onetribe.


Jared hard at work grinding jade

For the questions, keep on keeping on.


Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into body mods.

From a young age I was interested in the idea that the body could be colored and shaped to fit an aesthetic purpose. My childhood was shadowed by my home life so I spent a lot of time alone in the basement reading the massive collection of National Geographic magazines that my grandfather had been saving for years. I learned at an early age that the world was full of people of all different colors and shapes, and that people decorated themselves both to individualize as well as for inclusion and identification. My parents were always fairly accepting of the fact that I was intellectually interested in body modification but were adamant that I not do anything to my body until I was 18 – “my house, my rules” sort of thing. I practiced some easily concealed piercings but never really kept anything in terms of permanent jewelry. I graduated high school just before turning 18 and a few months later moved several hours south to go to art school. It was there I finally started exploring piercings openly and started filling myself up with holes – professionally done tongue, nostril, nipples, lobes, and some self-done genital work. In the years immediately following I started doing a lot of research into tribal cultures and learning more about the origins of Western body modification as well as body adorning cultures closer to home. In particular my interests lie in Mesoamerican and North American cultures, and it’s those cultures I find most fascinating as I have Cherokee blood and have always been very interested in native culture and ritual, and the inherent closeness to nature that formed the backbone of those societies. In the years since, I have retired many piercings and focused on those with more historical significance, along with some heavier work including cartilage punches, my large labret, and of course a chest scarification piece that you did several years ago.


onetribe antiques and cases

What inspired you to start onetribe?

I started looking around for natural jewelry in mid 2002 and very little was available in terms of designs and most of it was wholesale. There were a few online companies selling retail but most of the jewelry was coming from the same places and I don’t think there were any companies that solely focused on the retail side of things that produced their own products. I saw an interesting niche for a self-manufacturing, retail direct-to-consumer business model via the web. Having been a web developer and print designer for several years I had enough background knowledge of eCommerce to pull together a web store on a budget and shave off an incredible amount of start up cost, so the only real costs were the inventory we started with and the shipping materials, making it an ideal scenario for what I hoped would be a successful shoe-string budget startup.

In starting the business I went to every body jewelry website and company I could find and scoured each site from page to page, clicked on every link, read every document, and learned about what made each business unique (or not). I also visited hundreds of eCommerce sites on the web and from all of this information I compiled a massive list of the things I did or didn’t like about each company, and the feeling and overall business presence of the website and their customer service, based on the site copy and any reviews or experiences I could find. From that I developed a business plan of what I thought the perfect “mom & pop” feeling online small business might entail.

There were a few things I found lacking specifically in the body jewelry industry in late 2002 into early 2003 – reference information & general product knowledge, professionalism (skulls, flames, and copy writing that included things like “tatz” just weren’t doing it for me), and easy to use websites that allowed for personal dialogue between the business and customer. These were the things that we focused on when writing the initial copy for Onetribe’s site and designing the user interface and products. We wanted to portray a knowledgeable, professional business that could be trusted, but that was also very creative and open to dialogue. A business that feels like interacting with everyday people was, and still is, my number one priority.

Could you tell us a bit about the history/progress of onetribe?

Onetribe started in my bedroom in the basement of a house outside of Richmond, VA with some, admittedly generic, horn and bone jewelry carved by the artisans we still work with today. The paperwork for legal business status was filed the first week of January 2003 and Onetribe was officially born. The eCommerce site was started prior to that by myself and a friend in Rhode Island collaborating remotely, and was completed in three months and launched mid February. I badgered the hell out of my partner at the time, Rachel Easter, to help me out with the organizational and monetary side of things because I am a total math idiot and generally needed a second head to help me keep track of things, and she’s still with the business to this day as our office manager and primary customer service contact.

At the time we did not have the hardware capability or time to produce enough jewelry in house to be competitive and get off the ground, so one of the first orders of business was to find good product. There were several wholesale jewelry vendors out there to choose from but we were trying to eventually move in a different direction and make Onetribe unique, so through some phone calls and emails I ran across a guy named Everett, originally from the USA but living in Australia. He was paying his way through journalism school there by wholesaling jewelry from some artists he knew in Bali. This turned out to be a perfect match for us because after working with Everett for a little while he permitted us to start sending our own jewelry illustrations and we started turning out completely unique products. We became Everett’s biggest customer and in 2005 we were given the opportunity to purchase his company. I then travelled to Indonesia for the first time to begin working one on one with our artists there.

For the first few years I maintained a full time job while running Onetribe – first working as a youth behavior counselor at an inner city elementary school, and then for the company that prints National Geographic up near D.C. I was commuting several hours each way for a 12hr night shift and eventually it got to the point where I was too exhausted to care about much of anything and Onetribe had grown enough that if I didn’t pay more attention to it, we ran the risk of impacting the business negatively. I left having a full time job and took the plunge into self employment supplemented by some coffee shop work, which in hindsight was more for discounted coffee to fuel workaholism than it was for the money. Eventually I took the full plunge and started dedicating 60-80-100 hour weeks directly to Onetribe. Shortly after that, Rachel was able to ditch her job for full time employment at Onetribe, and we have been growing by leaps and bounds ever since.

For the first several years, growth was exponential as knowledge about the company spread via word of mouth. Until very recently we had never done advertising of any sort and relied on our customers to pass out the business cards we included with every order. We have moved the studio times, and over the years as we were able to grow our customer base and thus our sales, we have reinvested virtually everything back into the company. We helped to build a nicer workshop for our artisans abroad and started supplying tools and materials so that they had to invest nothing but their exceptional skills back into the business. We also invested in tooling and machines for our Richmond workshop and for several years now we have been making what we believe to be some of the most interesting natural custom body jewelry that exists, including reproductions of traditional Mesoamerican jadeite multi-piece ear flares, and a method for setting inlays, including stone into stone, with hardware settings and no adhesives. We have been able to build a local showroom including an antiquities museum and workshop, designed in such a way as to enable customers to come and see jewelry being made, and place custom orders on site with the materials in their hands and the understanding of how that jewelry is physically created.


What kind of political and/or ecological stance does onetribe take with its jewelry materials and manufacturing?

The double edged sword of business is that it has to make money in order to exist, and money can cause all sorts of social and environmental problems both directly and indirectly. I decided a long time ago that because businesses hold the majority of the worlds wealth, and if structured properly they are composed of employees and customers of like mind, they should be used as a catalyst for bettering our society based on certain values. We do not take a specific political stance so much as we make it a point to promote what we believe to be values and actions that contribute to a sustainable society and environment. We try very hard to be as low impact as possible, buying materials as we need them, reutilizing and repurposing things to get the most out of everything from materials to workshop tools to computer hardware. We shred all of our business and employee junk mail as the packing materials you get in your box. There is a statement on our site about the origins of our labor and materials, that at the very least is an interesting read, but I think it tells a lot about the mentality of myself and the people that work for this business.

The biggest thing Onetribe champions for is sustainable societies – specifically, personal and community self-sufficiency and sustainable food systems. We are a very vocal advocate of healthy local economies free of the grasp of federal and corporate hold, and vibrant local food systems where everyone is guaranteed free and fair access to healthy, locally produced food. Onetribe financially supports several non-profit organizations, including Austin, Texas based “Dinner Garden,” which sends seeds free of charge to anyone in the USA wanting to grow their own food, and the non-profit that I started called Renew Richmond, currently focused on working with the city public schools on programs designed to get at-risk youth into the garden growing their own food, working with members of the community and leaving school with a sense of self-purpose and skills that will enable them for the rest of their lives. We actively encourage our staff and customers to be active participants in community dialogue and action and try to lead by example. It’s great to say that we plant trees or recycle, etc. but when it comes down to it, getting your hands dirty or directly enabling someone else to do the same is the way to change things.

woodbaymarshallworkingMarhall working in the wood bay

Why don’t you tell  us a bit about your shop and staff?

The studio is an interesting place – combination workshop, retail showroom, educational space and event location where we participate in the local monthly art walk and showcase local art on our walls. The first thing you see when you walk into our non-descript street entrance in a formerly industrial warehouse district is the workshop immediately to your right, where you’ll likely see my wood man (Marshall Brown) turning wood jewelry and myself in the lapidary bay hand carving stone for custom work. As you progress pass the order filling and jewelry storage areas, you’ll enter the showroom, which looks more like gallery than a retail space. Virtually everything is either bamboo or reclaimed woods. The wall cases are framed in bamboo ply and backlit, and they’re mounted on walls covered in bamboo flooring. The floor displays are bamboo, steel and glass, and the reception area is built from eco-friendly plys, bamboo and trees that died of natural causes or fell during storms. We have a collection of tribal antiquities from around the world on display with the origins of each piece denoted on maps on the wall. There’s a resource library of books and journal articles on those cultures available for research and reference. The space is just as much about education as it is about selling things – from being able to hold the materials and learning why some are or aren’t ideal for your custom project, to learning about the roots of body modification, seeing examples of items we theme our pieces after and being able to come in and read texts about the history of body adornment, jewelry, and man’s connection with this earth. We are here to make the world a better place than it was when we arrived.

My staff is quite small, and we enjoy the marketplace agility and personalized atmosphere that comes from being small and having everyone overlap duties. Myself and Rachel make up the administrative side. Our newest hire Amanda Cleland has been doing a brilliant job holding down the back end with jewelry inventorying, order filling, and other useful tasks, and myself and Marshall are the two jewelry producers in our Richmond workshop. Rachel also switches gears every now and then to hand carve wood items for custom work. We all hold pretty similar views on social and political issues and are all activists in many different facets. We’re all modified in some way and we run the gamut from tattoos and piercings to scarification pieces, scalpel and punch work, you name it. Between the lot of us we have just about everything you could possibly put natural jewelry in, which comes in handy when we’re designing custom work and need to test fit a prototype’s shape or get feedback on design details.

handcarvingstationHand carving station

When did you start offering piercing, and what lead to taking that direction?

We started offering piercing by appointment when we opened the retail showroom in June 2009, and it was because we wanted to be able to show people the right way to do things. There are no 100% legit studios in our city as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to piercing, and particularly jewelry. I am a student of Zak Zito’s absolutely anal retentive feelings about material suitability and freehand work, and Onetribe’s ADORN studio is 100% titanium for initial procedures, with the exception of larger stuff in reputable glass. We started out with a piercer on staff and moved toward having the piercing room available as an asset to piercers, locally or traveling, that can uphold our standards in terms of jewelry and aseptic technique. We take appointments and assign projects to a short list of piercers based on the customer’s needs, and those piercers also take their own appointments and use our space as a safe, clean and professional venue for their own business. Our piercing volume is very low but I am far more concerned with quality over quantity, and piercing is provided as a service to our customers and not our primary focus.


How is your relationship with other jewelry companies?

Our relationship with other vendors is generally quite well. I’m a big fan of Anatometal and have been known to call and bug Barry about things every now and then. Him and I are also involved with a small group of other vendors in an informal industry business ethics forum where we all discuss copyrights, industry issues, etc. Jason Pfhol (Gorilla Glass) and Ana Paula (Quetzalli) are two people dear to Onetribe and we are working on different collaborative projects with both of them right now. Dy from Ebone Designs is a wonderful friend and aide during my travels in Indonesia and I’ve stayed at his house a few times. He has also donated several Southeast Asian pieces and books to our Eastern antiquities collection. I have talked with Adam at BVLA several times about various collaborative ideas and at one point we made a really beautiful Chiapas amber cabochon for a ring commissioned by one of their clients.


What does the future have in store for yourself and Onetribe?

Haha, well in the immediate future we’re just looking forward to warmer weather so we can open all of the doors and bays in the studio, and so I can start moving the lapidary setup back outside and make jewelry on the sidewalk again. Great way to make new friends and it’s always a blast when customers stop by to watch. Business wise, we’re hoping to continue growing in a very organic manner (no pun intended), taking on new customers with the help of our current customers and hiring new staff as needed. Into our eighth year and beyond, we are hoping to continue growing our showroom into an educational establishment and we have tossed around the idea of starting a non-profit to manage that aspect of our business and our continuing mission to research, collect artifacts and educate. We have started to completely digitize our antiquities collection with 360 degree views and cultural information and references, and examples of our reproductions, all tagged together in a handy database for people to learn from. This year we will start implementing some ideas we have in regard to getting anthropologists and archeologists into the studio for lectures that customers can attend (and we will hopefully be able to digitize those and add them to our site), and I have plans to teach a ‘primitive’ lapidary workshop where customers can see how ancient cultures turned hard stones such as jadeite into incredible jewelry with simple tools, sand and water, as well as doing knapping (particularly obsidian). I am also considering incorporating some of those original lapidary practices into limited edition custom pieces.

Innovation is what makes our business fun, and we will be constantly coming up with new design and assembly ideas, working in new materials and methods for producing our items and taking on a lot more unique custom work. We have plans to create a Onetribe ‘couture’ line and really go to town on the details when it comes to custom work. The plans include very robust customer back-ends with production photos for each customer’s project, more information and photographs about materials, videos of production and short segments about materials like labradorite, rainbow obsidian and opal that visually benefit from movement. Our goal overall is to create as personalized of an experience as we can for customers shopping on our site – we want it to feel like you’ve walked into the showroom and are talking to us about the things you are seeing. We have no interest in growing to the point where we are mass producing items and getting further removed from our customers – we want them to be more and more involved in the production of the jewelry that they are trusting us to create for their body modification journey.

I personally will be stepping back a little bit from my insane work/production schedule to focus more on anthropology research, and our more elaborate custom work (particularly with stones and ambers). I will definitely be spending more time working with my sustainable urban agriculture non-profit. I’m getting married in May, and if all goes well we will begin a family homestead & small organic farm business with a particular focus on supplying food to those who need it the most. I am also looking forward to more time for ethnobotanical research and the growing and collecting of native and exotic medicinal plants and entheogens, which I believe have played a very important part in human history and may go hand in hand with many of the body modification ceremonies and rituals practiced by cultures around the world.





That which does not kill us.


Does this guy look familiar to you? He should, he’s appeared on ModBlog before. Gregory has been an IAM member for a long time. Some people love him. Some people hate him. I know he and I have had our share of head butting. One thing is for certain, Gregory is an incredibly talented individual.

Gregory makes jewellery. He told me that the majority of what he makes is body jewellery but he also makes some of the most beautiful rings I have ever seen. If I had a boyfriend, I know what I’d be asking for.


I asked Gregory how he got started in the jewellery making business:

“I really got my start back in ’94 when I worked at Next Body piercing here in Vancouver. I started out just like everyone else really, by being the counter guy, and moved on from there. The job was by total luck too. I was killing time waiting on a girl to meet me and I waked in off the street. Fogg ended up hiring me on the spot.

I worked there until ’98 when I was fired so that Fogg could have his girlfriend work there. If it was not for Fogg and his girlfriend, I would have never been able to get my start in jewelry making. After being fired from Next, I bought ownership in Stigmata Designs in Vancouver. My partner at the time was Steve Symons whose partner Neil wanted out. Steve never really liked me even though at that time we only ever saw one another at shows and shit. We ended up taking on a third partner and worked like that until Stigmata closed down. When I first started working with Stigmata, I was in the polishing room full time and was right at home there. I would polish so much back in the day , I would end up polishing away the tips of my fingers.

I ended up being the polishing guy for all most a solid year before I started to make jewellery. Steve was a total hard ass about letting me anywhere near a machine. Then, I think the very first thing I was responsible for making was 1.2mm thread along with 0.80 thread. From there, I was off to the races so to speak…

Steve really is the guy responsible for everything I know about the industry and the people too. Back in those days we could sell a 14g 3/4 inch barbell for 20 bucks wholesale. Back then there were only half a dozen companies making high quality jewelry. Plus, at that time, Stigmata was the only company in Canada making internal threaded body piercing jewelry. There were a few others back East but I am pretty sure we were the only ones at the time. As the company got bigger and things got better for the industry we got slack and instead of going into the world of CNC we did it the old fashioned way. We made a lot of mistakes like having clients owe us 40 thousand dollars and shit like that. But from 1998 until 2004, Stigmata was my home away from home. I loved that place and still have great memories.”

I confess, I know nothing about making jewellery or how one becomes a jeweller, so I asked Gregory to tell me how he learned the craft:

“I was taught everything I know from Steve and he was self taught. I am not a book smart kind of guy, I need to see it and touch it before it sinks in. I took some classes two years ago at BCIT for MasterCam and Solidworks. One is a CAD program and the other is a CAM. CAD stands for computer aided design and CAM is computer aided machining. I really only have a basic understanding in both and the rest has been a ton of trial and error. Let me tell ya, there have been a lot of fuck ups on my part, but really, all it takes is one mistake and I correct the problem.”

This sounds complicated to me! I wondered about the appeal. I asked Gregory what he loved about his craft:

“I really had no plans back in ’98 to start making jewellery; it kind of found me I think. At the time, my life was all about the next weekend and the next party. What I like about making jewelry with my own two hands is that I can see it go from raw form to finished product and I can take pride in the fact that I did it. Now with making conventional jewellery, it really has become a new life for me. Plus after making tens of thousands of curved gem navel bars, I am over it really. A lot of piercers just want it cheaper and cheaper and yet still charge the same as they were back in ’98. I still have alot of old I.SA and Anatometal price sheets along with my own prices. I have seen those prices go from 20 bucks to 5 bucks for a straight 14g barbell. Yet the piercing fee is still 30 bucks for most shops and has been for 15 years.

Because of that, a lot of very good companies have called it a day. Plus the industry is no longer the family it claims to be and too many piercers act like they are king shit. I still love making body piercing jewelry but only for a few clients these days. I am not one to kiss ass and a lot of piercers just don,t like me and my mouth.”

Gregory, mouthy? Impossible! Seriously though…

“The very best part about making jewellery is the phone calls and the e-mails I get from people telling me how much they like what they have. To hear from someone who has gotten an engagement ring from me and they post a picture and I can see the smile on their face, it really does make me happy when I see that. Lately, I have been digging a lot of my new stuff and other people are saying the same. Plus, I also have clients in Vancouver come down to the shop and I let them make rings for themselves. To be able to make something and give it to someone you care about is pretty special. Anyone can buy a really expensive ring, but no amount of money can compare to making it with your own hands to give to someone. Most of the time, I stand close to them and guide them through what needs to be done.”

Suddenly I wish I didn’t live so far from Vancouver. My final question to Gregory was whether or not he had any special stories to share. I thought I might get a funny anecdote but instead I got what is surely a lesson in strength and living:

“This may not be a funny story but it is a life changing moment. May 12th 2005, I had a really bad motorcycle accident on the Granville Street bridge. I don’t remember a thing but this is what I have been told, by the police and by my family.

Around 6:30pm, I crashed my bike doing 140km on the off ramp at 4th Ave. I ended up spending three and a half months in the hospital. I spent the better part of almost two years getting things back to normal. I should have died, but cops always say that stuff don’t they? I broke
a lot of bones and did a lot of damage to my head. I lost a lot of the mobility in my left arm due to the nerve damage. But, without a doubt in my mind, it was the best thing to ever happen to me, hands down. It has opened my eyes to a lot and it as changed me for the better in so many ways. I have been asked to do public speaking for I.C.B.C in Vancouver and GF Strong rehab hospital. When I have gone to speak to someone at the hospital, I try to do what I can for them and let them know that I am there to help them as much as I can. I tell kids at schools about the dangers of racing a motorcycle on the streets. If one person listens to me and they don’t hurt themselves or anyone else, then I have done something to help my fellow man. I really believe that it was my karma and that it was sign for me to try and help others out. This accident was a very good thing for me, as odd as that sounds.”

To view more of Gregory’s work or to order your own custom piece, visit his sites Infinite Body and



Gregory’s beautiful custom BME plugs can be purchased from BMEshop.


(Photography credit goes to Jerome.)

Just In Time For Christmas: Glow in the Dark Nipples

We will admit that, sometimes, we are very simple and easy to please. This is one of those times, and it’s all thanks to one of our long-time and most reliably creative contributors. Take it away!

About 10 years ago, I sent some pictures of self-done nipple-pocketing. In 1999, a picture of my nipple with a cigarette butt stuffed in its stretched hole at the center was selected as a cover image of BME. I also sent pictures of my flame-throwing penis, which was achieved by sending butane gas through a silicone tube inserted into my penis through a urethral reroute. Some of those pictures appeared in the ModCon book. I also had my own bonus gallery that was entitled “Beaded Nipple.” More recently, I’ve done some cool (and funny!) nipple play.

To start with, I created new holes at the center of my nipples—I hadn’t worn any jewelry in them for a long time. Then I stretched them by pressing tools like the stem of a painting brush against the nipples and cutting the tissue in them with a knife until the holes could accommodate beads measuring 6 mm. in diameter. I pushed 6 mm. balls of barbell studs in the nipples and left them in there for three weeks. New skin grew and covered the holes completely, making the size and shape of my nipples just like a woman’s nipples. (I, of course, am a man.) Then, the center holes were pierced again and some nipple play was done, then the holes were stretched again up to 8 mm. and glass beads measuring 8 mm. in diameter were pushed into the nipples. The nipples were pierced horizontally so that the beads in the nipples were skewered together with the nipples. Then, hand-made CBRs that were made out of stainless steel tubes with LED (light emitting diode) chips fitted in them were inserted in the horizontal holes to illuminate the beads from inside.

See more in Custom Jewelry Gallery (Culture)

Ohhh, Bug Plugs

That saucy little minx Uranium Hobo just sent in these shots of him sporting some home-made bug plugs. It was his first time casting in resin and, while he says they’re not perfect, everything is “glass smooth” except for a few nicks around the edges that he says don’t affect anything. These ones were rather heavy and stretched out the piercings somewhat, so next up will be a thinner pair, more suitable for long-term wear, filled with mantises.

See more in Ear Stretching (past 1/2″) (Ear Piercing)