Although most of this website is written by Pam, The Jewelry of Mark Defrates is a joint venture between my wife and life partner, Pam Daley, and I. Both Pam and I have been interested in symbols since we were children, but we didn't start making symbolic jewelry until 1986.
I've been a jeweler since 1975. I started by cutting the designs out of coins and then went into developing my own designs, doing jewelry repair, custom jewelry and casting jewelry using the lost wax process. I met Pam in 1984 and married her two years later. We had made a few symbolic designs and were doing the arts and crafts show circuit in the mid 80s when we realized that we consistently sold out of our symbolic designs, long before we sold our contemporary art jewelry designs. We decided to concentrate on symbols and selling wholesale to New Age, Magick and Gay and Lesbian stores, eventually ending up with over 150 wholesale accounts and hundreds of symbols. Five years ago we started selling retail on the World Wide Web.
Our primary interest remains celebrating the relationship between human beings and the universe through the creation of spiritual symbols.
Pam and I are both Dzogchen Buddhists (a Tibetan Buddhist path) and deeply involved in magick and the occult. We founded a network of magicians known as the z(cluster) which continues to thrive online. We are practicing magicians and practicing Buddhists. Pam and I are delighted that life has given us the opportunity to do something we like, to bring beauty into the world, and to help people identify with something greater than themselves. Our jewelry is an expression of our belief in the essential interdependence of all phenomena,and of our gratitude for being born into a time and place when human beings are becoming increasingly aware of the beauty, symmetry, and complexity of the cosmos and of the critical importance of understanding the relationship between consciousness and the universe it illuminates.
Almost all the jewelry in this website is made by hand from Argentium Sterling Silver or karat Gold sheet and wire. Although I do very very rarely carve wax and cast I prefer to work directly with metal. In most cases the designs are pasted onto sheet, drilled, and cut out using a jewelers saw (which looks like a small coping saw). The jewelry is then worked with files and small machine tools and stamped with hand punches or engraved. Jump rings, other design elements and/or stone settings are soldered on to the design (using hard, never soft, solder). Stones, if any, are set and the piece is finished by hand using a buffing machine. The whole process is labor intensive but it is the only way that I have discovered to maintain the quality that Pam and I require. Because each piece is one of a kind we don't have economies of scale and buying one or five or ten of the same piece will probably be the same price. We're happy to make models for you, though, which you can take to any qualified caster and have multiples made, We just don't do much of that ourselves. Our jewelry is fine jewelry made to last hundreds of years. We hope that if you buy our jewelry you will enjoy wearing it as much as we have enjoyed making it.
Pam and I designed (and redesigned, and redesigned) this site. We generally update our site once a year. Most of the images were photographed with a Pentax k1000 with close up lenses and then, for the last few years, with a Nikon CoolPix 2500. The CoolPix resolves to 2 1/2 inches in macro mode and is excellent for jewelry. The images were imported and Photoshopped in - Photoshop, natch! The website was developed and edited on Macs (an eMac and iBook in 2007), and is currently being edited using the following software: TextWrangler for raw text, SuperCard as a database, and Adobe's absolutely amazing Creative Suite CS2.
I used to develop websites but I am now too busy making jewelry. If you like this site it may be because we have strenuously avoided Cascading Style Sheets, Flash animations, Java, or any of the other tricks that we think gunk up today's sites. If you like this site and want me ask questions about yours, click the email link on any page.
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zombify yourself at http://www.zombieportraits.com/