Friday, December 17, 2010

The Truth Behind the Fleur-de-lis

Although many would argue the fact that the fleur-de-lis was created by the New Orleans "Saints," the truth of the matter is that it is one of the oldest symbols in history.

What it Means
The fleur-de-lis is a beautiful and popular symbol worn by both men and women. Derived from the French word for fleur "flower" and lis "lily," it is a stylized version of the actual lily flower. It has been used throughout time in many cultures and time periods.

This symbol has been used in heraldry over the centuries on many European coat of arms and featured in the Crown Jewels of England and Scotland. However, it is mainly associated with the French monarchy and has been used on French postage stamps though it has never become an official symbol of the French republic.

The continued association with France carried over in North America were the symbol was associated with areas settled by the French such as St. Louis, Louisville, Louisiana and Quebec.

One theory is that the 3 leaves of the fleur-de-lis represent the three medieval classes: the workers, fighters and prayers.

Religious Affiliation
The fleur-d-lis has also been seen as a symbol of purity and chastity as well as female virtue and spirituality. The Virgin Mary was often depicted holding a lily and the fleur-de-lis was seen as a decorative element in the image either in a sceptre or within the ornamentation some where in the painting.

Similar to the Irish Shamrock, the French fleur-de-lis depicted the Holy Trinity with the three petals and the band on the bottom symbolizing the Virgin Mary.

You will often find the fleur-de-lis symbol at the top of iron fence posts. It is a symbol of defense warding off intruders. It has also been used as patterns on tile work, and as finials and the point on gables.

handmade metal fleur de lis money clip

The fleur-de-lis has also been the symbol for scouting thanks to Sir Robert Baden-Powell who adopted it from the reonnaissance specialists who wore it as an arm badge in the British Army.

The Stars and WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear Fleur-de-lis accessories
The stars show off their WATTO DMW accessories!

Kaylee Stroh of Highschool Musical with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear gold fleur on chain

Shantell VanSanteen of "One Tree Hill" with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear fleur-de-lis charm on chain

Actress TAnia Gunadi with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear silver fleur-de-lis charm on chain

Stacey Oristano of "Friday Night Lights" with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear purple charm on chain

Ryan McCombs of the band "Drowning Poo" with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear silver fleur-de-lis charm on chain

Harvey Guillen of "Huge" with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear silver fleur-e-lis charm on chain

Isabelle Fuhrman of "the Orphan" with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear Copper fleur-de-lis belt buckle

Piggy D of the band "Rob Zombie" with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear fleur-e-lis distressed metal belt buckle
Sameer Bhattacharya & Ames Culpepper of the band  Flyleaf with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear  iron cross and fleur-de-lis belt buckle
Sam Trammell of "True Blood" with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear distressed metal fleur-de-lis belt buckle

Morgan of the band "Sevendust" wiath WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear gold fleur-de-lis charm on chain

If you would like to read further about the fleur-de-lis visit
All information was adopted from

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Story behind the Shamrock & the 4 leaf Clover

Nov 16, 2010

Are a Shamrock and a 4-leaf Clover the same thing? Well after much research I’m still confused. Some say a shamrock is a 3-leaf clover. Some say a 4-leaf clover could be considered a shamrock with 4 leaves. In any case a shamrock is a clover, but for most Irish, the 3-leaf clover is considered the shamrock and the 4-leaf clover is NOT considered a shamrock, but is considered LUCKY because it is rare.

WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear Green Shamrock Belt Buckle

WATTO was told by many of our customers that we needed to add a 3-leaf clover to our handmade belt buckle and accessory line as we only had a 4-leaf clover (that we were then calling a shamrock). We’ve now added both the 3-leaf (Shamrock) and the 4-leaf Clover to our line to satisfy everyone! (see end of blog for details.)

There are so many reasons why the shamrock is linked to Ireland. Although the harp is the official symbol of Ireland, the shamrock is still the most recognized symbol of Ireland. Here are a few reasons why.

Shamrock is derived from the Irish word “seamrog” meaning “summer plant” or “little clover” and was said to be a symbol of life.

WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear Silver Charm Moneyclip

“Be in Clover”
Live a life of prosperity and ease and “Be in Clover.” This is the most common saying associated with the Shamrock.

WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear
Handmade Distressed Shamrock Belt Buckle

The Druids
One of the first to be linked to the Shamrock were The Druids. They were and indigenous people of Ireland and their Celtic religion held the number three a mystical number. The three petals that formed a triad led the Druids to hold this little gem as sacred.
Shanon Larkin of Godsmack
with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear
green Shamrock Charm with Gunmetal Chain
St. Patrick
Way back in Ireland around the 5th century or so, St. Patrick was going about his business spreading the word of Christianity. Now it's always easier to show things with an image and particularly in those days when people were a little less educated and needed simple stories or visuals to understand things. And let’s face it; religion can be a little complex.

So, St. Patrick spied a 3-leaf clover and said to himself, “Ahha, this little lovely creation can help me explain the meaning of the Holy Trinity.” Therefore, he went on to show the people how each leaf symbolized one aspect of the Holy Trinity- The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost. Three separate leaves, but one stem. It was also said to symbolize the three theological virtues in Corinthians 13:13- Faith, Hope and Love.

Perttuu Kivilaakso of Apocalyptica
with WATTO Disitnctive Metal Wear
silver Shamrock charm on gunmetal chain

Ireland Rebels

Who would have known this little green plant had so much power. In the 19th century the shamrock was seen as a sign of rebellion against the English. If caught wearing the symbol, it was rumored that an Irish man could be hung. Since then it has been used as a symbol in Irish pubs to show the warmth and welcoming of the establishment.
WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear
silver shamrock charm with gunmetal keychain

If you are going out hunting for gold, make sure to take a Shamrock with you. Apparently it has magical powers against the Leprechauns who guard the gold, and will turn to trickery or magic if you capture them to find the gold’s whereabouts. Only the Shamrock can undo the spell.

Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies
with WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear
green shamrock charm with gunmetal keychain

Why is the 4-leaf Clover considered Lucky?
Well, the 4-leaf clover is still the rare one, and so finding one in a clover patch would be considered lucky. Remember looking for those as kids and making clover necklaces? Or, maybe we only did that in the Midwest.

The four petals stand for: HOPE, FAITH, LOVE, and the 4th petal for LUCK!

WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear Green 4-Leaf Clover Belt Buckle

WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear now has Shamrock designs in:
Handmade belt buckles
Handmade Charms on Money Clip
Handmade Charms on gunmetal chains ($30):
Handmade Charms on Key chains ($15):

WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear now has 4-leaf Clover designs in:
Handmade belt buckles ($55):
Charms for chains, key chains and money clips available upon request.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Esty Handmade Division Team Blog

It's time for our monthly talk about blog with our Etsy group team "Handmade Division".


I'm writing this one for both Jon and myself since we are both artists (though my artistery has been limited lately to running the business).

Jon would love to study under an artist and cartoonist named "Big Daddy" Ed Roth. Jon has a passion for motorcycles and custom-anything-that moves. Ed was a custom car builder who influenced the hot-rod movement of the 1960's.

Although best known for his wacky character Rat Fink, Ed also was a huge influence on the hot rod movement turning these vehicles into works of functional art.

You can see his creations at

As I wrote in my previous blog, I went to college for graphic design and painting. My favorites always have been and always will be post-impressionist painter Paul  Cézanne who bridged the gap between 19th century Impressionism and 20th century Cubism. Although Matisse holds a high second to  Cézanne for me. I'm drawn to their both painterly styles and graphic breakdowns of objects and forms. You can see more of the history of this great master and view some of his works at

Another painter with whom I'd love to study with for technique is John Singer Sargent. Although I guess he is considered under the movement of Realism, I still consider his Impressionism influence to be what I love the most. His rich juicy use of paint and his exquiste drawing ability wow me. I do not myself choose to or want to paint in this manner, but I would like to have the knowledge and skill level to do so in order to translate it into my own style. I also love how he captures the romantism in every painting he does. They look mysterious yet beautiful. You can find out more info on him or read about his works at

Please visit our other team members to see who their favorite mentor would be:
Andes Cruz:

Nancy Dale:
Tosca Teran:
Rickson Jewellery:
Beth Cyr:
Lisa Hopkins Design:
Sand Fibers:
Emily Watson
Thomasin Durgin:
Pink Crow Studio:

Monday, October 18, 2010

History of the Belt Buckle

• Belt Buckles date back to the 2nd & 3rd century where the Xiongnu, semi nomadic Chinese people, wore extravagantly decorated buckles over their tunics. This showed a mark of status. Not dissimilar to the reasons consumers wear designer labeled accessories today.
• Germanic invaders introduced animal
and combat motifs on their buckles.

• During the 7th century the designs focused more on gold interlacing patterns.

 • Around the 1600s, the British Maritime sailors were faced with brutal weather. Their clothes became waterlogged and the current eyelet and string lacings did not hold up in the harsh weather. Thus, the belt buckle was brought back into existence.

• During the Puritan times, the button had been developed, but not yet perfected. The Puritans saw the button as sinful and so promoted the popularity of the belt and buckle.
• Before the 1920’s the buckle was worn mainly by men in the military as decorative wear, but as waistlines were lowered in the 20’s they were worn by the everday man as a functional item to hold their pants up.

The Cowboys actually wore buckles they found from the military. It wasn’t until the Western films were made that the stylists at that time felt a more decorative buckle was needed to spruce up the cowboy’s appearance and hence the Western buckle was born and is still popular today.

• Recent popularity in belt buckles was brought on by customization, gadgets and electronic devices that have been developed as well as the fashion influences of rock stars and celebrities. The rap and Hip-hop crowd is a huge influence in the belt buckle industry expecially “Iced out” or “blinged out” versions in which the buckle is adorned by gems and rhinestones.

All buckle images are designs of WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Etsy Handmade Division Talk About Blog

Here is our monthly Etsy Handmade Division Talk About Blog:
Tell us about yourself - how did you get to where you are now with your skills?

(If you want a shorter version- read our bio on the right hand column)

Jon Watson, grew up in the South, went into the army at 17 and then off to design school. For over 15 years he was a graphic designer and worked at many well established firms. I must say, not being biased or anything, but he was a kickass designer and very good illustrator to boot.

Here's some examples of his design work:

Jon's first love (I think maybe even a little more than me) is motorcycles. In fact when we met, we moved out West so he could go to motorcycle mechanic school, but he soon found that being a mechanic sucked the fun out of his passion, so he went back to graphic design.
After a few more years of bouncing from job to freelance to design firm, he got bored of sitting behind a computer. At the time I (Mary Spencer-Watson) had a very good job making a decent income, so I told him to shoot for his dreams. Do whatever he wished. He toyed with lots of different ideas including being a landscape designer.

Somehow he came across the idea of metal. He'd always enjoyed working with his hands and making things more than sitting still so it sounded like a good idea. We looked into classes for him to take at the local university. But, one day he came home and told me he found a metal show and asked if they needed an apprentice. Strange enough they did. The job paid less than $10 an hour, but it beat actually paying for shcool and he'd be learning first hand. We decided he'd go for it. He quit his job and was ready to start. The next day the guys called him back and told him he couldn't hire him. He was afraid he wouldn't be able to pay him. So, Jon worked for free for something like 6-9 months then got hired on and worked there for maybe 2 years. That was in 2005.

That's how he started in metal. He soon was making amazing scluptures and I knew he'd found his calling!In 2007 he bought his own equipment and we started a company called The Metal Gardener.

I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Painting from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I was recrutied out of school by Hallmark Cards in Kansas City to be a line manager for greeting cards. Interestingly enough, it was something I had wanted to do in highschool, then forgot about it. I only know this because we had to write a letter to ourselves at the beginning of our senior year, then we received it when we graduated. I completely forgot about it until years later after I had already left Hallmark I happened upon it. Strange, but true!
I was lucky, I got to travel all over the country and even to Europe to research since this was before the internet (am I dating myself). Even though I didn't do art myself, I worked with artists and photographers, writers and editors and people from marketing, accounting and many other business functions. It was the ultimate coorporate job complete with a cafeteria, great 401K and lots of people to learn from.
Once I hit 30 I ventured off to Atlanta to pursue a freelance career. In what I wasn't sure. I worked as a floral designe, graphic designer, prop artist and faux painter. That's when I met Jon.
We moved out to Arizona for his motorcycle schooling and I worked for Lisa Frank ( a little girl's stationery and craft company)  as a craft artist. I got to make beaded jewelry, yarn, and other craft product for kids as well as write the instructions. I also worked with the photogrpaher to style the girls for photoshoots.

I left there and worked as a graphic designer for several years at a printer which was great because I learned a ton about prepress, and since it wasn't a design firm, I pretty much got to design as I wished without much direction. I worked on some fun pieces there.
I then worked for a puzzle company "MasterPieces Puzzle Company" for over 5 years. I was fortunate enough to start their board game division as a Product manager and worked with game developers all over the country. This was too fun since I held focus grops with kids to play the games and see if they liked them or not. Plus I went on several trips to China and learned to work with foreign vendors.
Finally I moved to a Michigan based company that had it's kid's craft and stationery divisions in Tucson called Colorbk. I was the Senior Product Manager. This job was more about costing and workign with our China office and far less creative than my other jobs had been, but it helped me learn more about profit margins and how much my lines were actually making. I worked there less than a year when the company abruptly shut it's Tucson office and I was laid off. This was in Nov of 08. I stuck around until Feb to help with their transition and it gave me time to consider my options.

I took this as the opportunity to do what I'd always dreamt of doing. Start my own business. I wasn't sure what it was going to be until Jon walked in one day with a metal buckle he had made. That was it, a handmade metal accessories line. We launched a full line of buckles at the Pool Tradeshow (affiliated with MAGIC one of the largest fashion tradeshows in the country in Las Vegas).
We're still working diligently to make a go of it. Every job we've had has given us the confidence and ability to begin our own thing. It's beeen such a great journey and we hope to continue learning and exploring. Jon and I couldn't be happier with how things have turned out!
Together we make a great team, and hope you enjoy watching our adventure as we expand our business and follow our dreams!

Please see the rest of my team and how they got started on their creative adventures:

Tess Norberg/ Nova Designs:
Bill Martin/ Purified Art:
Sand Fibers:
Emily Watson/ Metal Emily:
Susan Moloney:
Alice Istanbul:
Jewelry by Natsuko:
Tosca Teran/ Nanopod:
Bella-Bijou Jewellery:
Beth Cyr:
Lisa Hopkins Design:
Metalriot/ Thomasin Durgin:
NEDbeads/ Nancy Dale:
Tamra Gentry -
Rosy Revolver/ JJ Papke-
Alisa Miller-

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sponsor to City of Hope Bone Marrow Program

2010 Shotgun Sporting Clays Invitational Benefiting City Of Hope Bone Marrow Donor Program
Sat Oct 9
El Monte, California

As some of you may or may not know Jon and I began with our parent company The Metal Gardener in 2007 where Jon does custom gates, lighting, sculpture etc. We were asked at one of our gifting suites to be a sponsor for the City of Hope Bone Marrow Program by director/actor(Minority Report, Criminal Minds, Nip/Tuck, 24) – Patrick Kilpatrick. We decided to donate on of Jon's beautiful sculptures seen here which will go up on the celebrity auction website.

The event was held at Triple B Shotgun Sporting Park in El Monte, California. Celebrities, members of the armed services, and recreational shooters attended teaming up to compete in a day of shooting clays.

The mood was festive with a patriotic/harvest theme.

The day included team shooting, breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, silent auction, live auction, awards, honors and happy hour.

Puppy that was in live auction. Was sold for $1000 + more for training. Purchased by Sandy Climan (Golden Global and British Academy-Award Winning Producer – The Aviator)

Asian American pop star Chelsea Emata  sang the national anthem. Seen here with a bunch of Navy guys.

Special guest Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds, The Godfather: Part III) was there.

Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters,The Secret Life of An American Teenager)sat down with us to have lunch. We'd met him before at several charity events. He's super humble and said he wears our crown buckle often.He was there to hang with his son who was down from school.

Scott Bailey, and Adrienne Frantz also ate at our table. We've met them before as well. Adrienne filled me in on what it was like to work on a soap opera ( the Bold and Beautiful). Sounds like a sweet setup for an actress. a couple weeks on a week off and if your part is small that day, you may only work a few hours. Easy to set your schedule and plan your wedding. She's engaged to Scott who was in Lifetime movie (Praying for Bobby)

Scott Bailey

Erik Estrada (Chips),  came over and hung at our table and signed a ton of pics of when he was in his early 20's. He was such a character. His beautiful wife and kids were there as well. I believe he won one of the awards for shooting.

Then along came Roger Cross (agent curtis 24). He was too funny, cracking a bunch of jokes and bought a few pieces of art at the silent auction.

Phoebe Price

David Eigenberg Miranda’s husband in Sex and the City

Keith David (Platoon, The Thing)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (ChuckFrank Stallone
Carmen Perez
Ryan Merriman
D.B. Sweeny
Bruce Buffer
Scott Elrod
Stephanie Powers

You can find more pics as well as a special picture of Jon peeking through the crowd and just a hint of his sculpture in the background.

Thanks for visiting
 ` Mary