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

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meet Up with the band ShineDown

Arizona Fall Frenzy Music Festival
Sept 17th

We were fortunate enough to score some VIP tickets to see Shinedown along with Sevendust and the Cult in Tempe, AZ. It was a steamy 108 degrees as we made our way early to the concert. Once inside the gates we got to hang in the artist's tent facing the front of the stage complete with it's own bar and port o. Can't beat that!

After listening to the heavy metal of Sevendust we made our way to the trailers at the back of the park and waited patiently as Shinedown met with the radio winners to have their pics taken and autographs given.

One guy waited patiently outside the fence to see Shinedown, but security finally covered the fences and he was left to peer through the last empty spot. The drummer of Shinedown, Barry Kerch, spotted the guy and went over and gave him an autograph. Now that's a nice guy!

Finally it was our turn to meet up with Shinedown. We headed into the trailer and they all introduced themselves to us and thanked US for coming. Imagine. Well, we did come bearing gifts so I guess we were more than the normal fan. We brought along some buckles chains and armbands and let the guys go through them.  Eric Bass already owned our horseshoe buckle. He said he'd worn it every day since he'd gotten it.

He decided he needed a few more. Here he and Zach Meyers are looking through the gear.

Lead singer Brent Smith came in and appologized for not being able to stay longer, but he had a freind in town that he hadn't seen in 7 years. Wow, I was impressed that he even stopped by to say hi let alone hang out. He took time out to take a pic with Jon.

Drummer Barry Kerch took off his beautifully made celtic buckle and put on our lion buckle and skull chain and said he wanted to wear it on stage that night.

Here he is on stage. Kinda hard to makeout, but our skull was hangin out on the screen a bunch. Unfortunately I don't have the camera or the know how to take a good pic, but you get the idea.

The crowds were out in droves and these guys though quiet and humble in person, really came to life on stage and put on such a great show. Brent works the audience all the way.


Here's to Shinedown! Rock on!!!

To view more pics from the concert go to