Deaf Breed is an acquired taste to say the least, one that I happen to love, but one that I am going to have to grudgingly accept might not float your proverbial boat. For the last decade they have been a bastion of confrontational organic shapes against the relentless onslaught of luxury gothic (i.e. Chrome Hearts). Now it looks like tastes are finally shifting away from endless vines, crosses and smiling skulls and towards slightly more striking and challenging work. Don’t get me wrong, I am always clad in classic gothic motifs, it is after all the aesthetic that biker jewelry was originally founded upon, but sometimes I just want something outside that comfort zone.
Enter Deaf Breed:
Continue on reading for a closer look at this legendary silversmith and his works.
You could say that all his work is inspired by organics in a much more visceral way than someone like Taujan (who are on a very similar page aesthetically speaking and part of the same original wave of Japanese silver designers). His 2010 collection above is literally themed on parts of the body but previously his work has had more of a conceptual flowing vibe. Deaf Breed is also clearly influenced by the early biker brands like Gabor, and to my mind is the only guy still in business making crosses of the same weight and size of the original Gaboratory ones – apart from perhaps Share One’s Fate.
Other inspirations include Tibetan impressionistic depictions of nature and occult mysticism, together it is all very cohesive and has become such a signature style that you can spot it at 100 metres.
This is potentially my dream piece from Deaf Breed. I love the 18K gold detailing shining next to the heavily tarnished silver – It looks like some kind of cultish relic that has just come out of the ground. Which is oddly enough a vibe given off by the designer with his epic dreadlocks and vaguely spiritual presence…
This is another of my favorite items, this time from his sub-brand – Deaf Panic. It is deceptively simple at first, but like all his work it has amazing detail from whichever angle you come at it from – and I love his use of a rope setting in gold.
It is work like this that just takes advantage of the natural beauty of silver rather than covering it in coatings and trying to keep in shiny. This embraces that balance between light, dark and all the gradients in between. I once saw a Deaf Breed ring that someone had cleaned in a silver bath to get it nice and shiny – it made me want to cry.
Close-up you can see that every inch is infused with some kind of allusion to nature. I guess with silver like this you will either just walk by and call it ugly, or you will be sucked into the little weird world that Deaf Breed creates.
Deaf Breed really turned a corner when they started using brass/gold for a lot of detailing. It just brought the work to life and elevated it to that next level as it were.
A very creepy eye from the current collection. A great take on the prosthetic eye ring that the Great Frog / Crazy Pig Designs has always done so well with – but this brings something new to it and manages to make it even more disturbing.
More current collection – I like the way this one twists, it almost looks like it is moving…
Deaf Breed is pretty famous for doing these bracelets with lots of hanging parts. If you like this kind of thing Taujan and Lone Ones also do this really well.
And this has got to be the best example of it – with this clanking around on your wrist you are going to feel like some kind of Shamen. For the record Deaf Breed designs this kind of stuff incredibly well so that there is resistance in the bracelet to stop it from turning back on itself etc, so these are actually surprisingly comfortable to wear and don’t get in the way (that much).
Even the stones he selects echo that same eerie atmosphere.
Great call on a washed grey stone here, rather than a blingy zirconia.
A simpler setting to show off the wonderful imperfections in the stone – I would love to see him work with more opals, that strikes me as a natural paring if you ask me.
Again managing to reinterpret a cross in an entirely original way.
I really like this final bracelet because it acknowledges his influences more openly then most of his other more oblique work. I could easily wear this coral and silver beauty next to my antique Tibetan jewelry and actually my silver from Afganistan looks quite similar to this come to think of it.
Which brings me to what I admire most about this artist – that he has taken the uncomfortable jarring look of classic tribal, say, a Tibetan bone Mala, and made it for the modern day using the same principles of anthropomorphisation next to the underlying purpose of jewelry being to mark yourself out in society. Modern tribal if you will, but not in the cliched tattoo way…
Oh well, maybe that is just me as a fan of tribal jewelry, if you are lusting after a grinning skull with zirconia in his eyes and a crown perched on its head at a jaunty angle you have probably come to the wrong place!
See more here, you know you want to.