The Skull Cup 2011 competition is a dream come true for silver fans (such as myself) to find the first ever King of Skull Rings. The competition has been open to amateurs as well as established designers and the remit is simple – skull rings only. They have all been on display in Rockin’ Jam Store in Shinsaibashi in Osaka and are now coming to Black Barts in Ikebukuro (as of the 12th) so if you around definitely head on over to see the finalists – all 121 of them! They are all going to be displayed without artists / brand names so half of the fun is going to be guessing who is behind each ring – although having said that some are so blatantly obviously by certain designers that that is a bit unnecessary. Still, I admire the sentiment of displaying artists as equals side by side, in the same environment without fancy displays for lighting so there is nothing between you and the silver. This way it forces you to really look at the work and appreciate the art for what it is.
So who is involved? A good amount of Tokyo Telephone favorites including: anima exists in all creation, Atelier Shima, CRAZY SMILE, DARK MATTER, DEVIL JOKER, Guardia, Kagemaru Designs LegioMade, LOVE CRAFT, Luciferian Art, OWL’S, Quetzal, , S.O.F (hint), SKURANGER, Square of mind , VATTLE ROYALE and ZEKE. Phew! And that sir, is only a brief taste.
It is worth remembering that even though skull rings tend to be associated with Renaissance vanity rings in western tradition, there is a really strong history of skull jewelry in Japan – mainly in netsuke and ojime beads. It is a nice thought that my (and probably your) taste for skulls is echoed back centuries into history and when you look at a skull netsuke it is nice to imagine just what kind of Tokugawa-era bad-boy was swaggering around with it all those years ago.
I thought I would give you my picks from the 121 skull rings I have had a good look through. I mean, they are all fantastic in their own right, but I only have so many fingers (and so many 10000 yen notes) so sometimes you have to choose… In my selection I have favored innovation as designers like Crazy Pig Designs or The Great Frog have pretty much perfected the simple design ethos, so I thought I would highlight those who have done something that little bit different with the classic skull ring:
I don’t think you can fail to be moved by the range of interpretations here, use of materials, types of polishing, finishing and alternatives to traditional bands on these rings. There is clearly so much talent out there in Japan right now, not just people jumping on the Chrome Hearts bandwagon, but real artists working hard to further their art.
As for who should win, I obviously have my opinions. I have always been a fan of the Japanese tradition of netsuke that are human from one side and skulls from the other – a sort of reminder of transience if you will. So I am glad that so many designers are still working with that theme. On the other hand I just plain love Legio Made’s work.
But this is not to be decided by me so head over to the official page to vote (you will need to read Japanese – sorry!) or just check out all 121 contestants and discover some new up and coming designers in the process.