Your pals at Monkey Edge thought we would give you a quick behind the scenes look at what exactly goes into the making of a Starlingear piece.
Starlingear Finished Beads
As you may or may not know, many of the big silver artists have little to do with their product lines. They have made the decision to pump out quantity and for that, many are produced in a factory like method.
Many of our customers ask us: "Hey, I want XYZ Starlingear piece and why can't you just order it for me?" Well, we could give you a very long answer to that. The short one is that Ryk Maverick of Starlingear has always wanted to keep his vision pure, and constantly reinforce the value of hand craftsmanship. He refuses to compromise quality for quantity. So, here is a really quick look inside what goes into even a 'simple' Starlingear piece.
It all starts with this guy: Ryk Maverick.
Founder and artist behind Starlingear
Ryk has a long history of creating and a background in many mediums. (Check out our VIDEO INTERVIEW for an in depth review of his history.) Ryk literally hand carves (sculpts) every Starlingear piece from wax first, then the wax masters are used to create the mold for the finished pieces. While he is well versed in 3D (computer) sculpting, he prefers to keep the warmth and feel of carving each piece by hand.
Rubber mold for the Monkey Edge bead
Starlingear uses what is known as a lost-wax casting process, which means that every piece made must have a wax "twin" made that is literally destroyed during the casting process. Because of this, Ryk's master hand carved wax piece is used to make rubber molds like the one above.
A peek into just a small portion of the Starlingear mold vault
Starlingear keeps a "library" of sorts of their molds. The molds have a lifespan that vary based on the design of the piece and mold material. They are destroyed when they start to lose detail or tear.
Here Kimo prepares to shoot the mold with wax
Each final piece of jewelry requires a wax. Meaning, for every piece produced, a wax copy must be made first. The wax is injected under pressure into the molds.
The mold prepping for the injection of molten wax.
the open mold next to the finished Monkey bead for comparison
A graveyard of Starlingear pieces that did not make the grade.
Creating the wax is just the start. Each and every sing piece is meticulously hand cleaned and detailed.
Pile of wax parts ready to be detailed.
In this step things like mold lines are removed. Any imperfections are smoothed out.
Every last piece must be detailed
The smallest details are addressed
Each piece receives its individual stamp
At this point, each detailed wax piece is personally inspected by Ryk Maverick. Ryk is fanatical about maintaining the Starlingear reputation for quality, and insists on seeing each and every single piece before it moves on to the casting stage.
Ryk goes over each and every wax copy prior to casting.
Each piece is individually marked by Ryk with the appropriate stamps.
In addition to the inspection, Ryk individually stamps each and every piece. This is one of the things to look for when trying to spot fake Starlingear items. Each piece is stamped in the wax, so each one will be a bit different. Also, on fake items, the counterfeiters are making a second generation copy of a stamped piece and the details on the stamps will not be as crisp as they are when stamped in the wax.
After inspection, Ryk personally stamps everything.
At this point, you can see that there is a TON of hand work into each piece BEFORE it even gets turned into metal! Now keep also in mind that the casting process does not generate 100% yield. There are always pieces that don't survive casting and must be scrapped. This means all that work put into the wax is now lost. Certain materials (like copper) have an even higher loss rate during the casting process.
Parts fresh from casting
As you can see from the parts above, there is still a TON of work to do before the pieces are completed.
Jade hard at work getting post casting work done
Post casting, each part is then again hand detailed to clean up any imperfections and to get ready for Starlingear's proprietary finishing processes. If it is a two part bead (like copper and silver) there will be twice as much finishing work, and then the actual soldering of the two parts together.
Ryk hard at work hand finishing a copper piece
There were, of course, some things that we were not allowed to photograph, but this should give you some idea of what it takes to make the bling we all chase after. Know that each and every Starlingear piece has been crafted by hand by three guys in California USA, and every piece has actually been through the original artists hands for inspection. In a world of mass produced things, Ryk Maverick has chosen to stay pure to his vision of producing hand carved, hand made, works of art. Hopefully this also answers the question of why any given Starlingear piece is not available at any given time. You can see that this is a process that just cannot be rushed.