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Fashion accessories inspired by architectural patterns, made by hand in Oakland California.
109 backers pledged $6,231 to help bring this project to life.

About

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My name is Benjamin Cowden. I am a metal sculptor with a love for mechanical devices. Working in my studio in Oakland California, I have made devices that lick lollipops, kiss strangers, and mix cocktails. My contraptions can be seen around town occasionally, and have been featured by BoingBoing and Make:blog.

Part of my love for mechanisms is my fascination with patterns: patterns of movement and patterns of structure. About four years ago I decided to try designing some belt buckles using patterns I had seen on buildings and clothing (one of my first inspirations were my own Argyle socks!). I had the patterns cut at a local lasercutting shop, and they came out so wonderfully, I decided to have some more made.

In the years since, I have added bottle openers and refined the patterns I use to really take advantage of lasercutting technology. So many tiny, intricate piercings allow for a super strong but very lightweight buckle, not to mention stylish. I began making the earrings last year when I realized that an impact-resistant resin like Delrin would be an even more lightweight medium for these beautiful patterns.

The process of building this business has been, for me, a wonderful blending of my skills and background as a metalworker with my keenness for fashion and style. I hope you will agree with me that every item in this line will look great in a wide variety of environments and last for many years.

Holiday Delivery

Holidays are coming up! Supporting a Kickstarter project and gifting your reward is a great way to have unique, innovative gifts for your friends and loved ones. Barring a natural disaster, I guarantee fulfillment of the first 200 rewards by December 15th. If you need delivery earlier (Hanukkah comes early this year!), just let me know and I will work hard to make sure your reward makes it on time.

Honeycomb in Brushed Stainless with optional Bottle Opener
Honeycomb in Brushed Stainless with optional Bottle Opener

Each belt buckle is lasercut from T304 Stainless Steel. They are contoured to fit the body, and have a bracket and pin to fit any 1-1/2" snap belt. The piercings, inspired by architectural and fashion patterns, make them very lightweight but also strong. There are seven different patterns (see chart below), and for each pattern there is an optional bottle opener in the corner, and two finishes: Brushed Stainless and Black Lustre. 

Want to design your own buckle? Check out the Custom Buckle reward! You can make the buckle any shape you want, and create your own pattern. 

Need a belt? Any 1-1/2" snap belt will do, but I have full-grain leather belts in black and brown to save you the trouble of finding one. You can add a belt to your reward by adding $20 per belt to your pledge. At the end of the campaign, I'll send out a survey to all backers, and you can let me know what color and size belt you would like. Belts come in sizes Small-XXXL.

Radiant in Brushed Stainless
Radiant in Brushed Stainless
Honeycomb in Black Lustre
Honeycomb in Black Lustre
Cloverleaf in Brushed Stainless
Cloverleaf in Brushed Stainless
Cloverleaf in Brushed Stainless
Cloverleaf in Brushed Stainless

The Bottle Openers are made from the same T304 Stainless plate as the Belt Buckles. The have a curved recess milled into the front to create an edge to grip the bottle cap. The edges of the openers are rounded over to create a very soft feel, similar to a worn beach pebble. As much as I love crisp, modern patterns, I had some fun with curvy Nouveau motifs and created a couple extra versions of the opener. Each one has a ring in the bottom corner where you can attach your keys or whatnot. See the chart below for available patterns.

Nouveau in Black Lustre
Nouveau in Black Lustre
Smoke in Brushed Stainless
Smoke in Brushed Stainless
Radiant in Black Lustre
Radiant in Black Lustre
Byzantine Contours in Black
Byzantine Contours in Black

About a year ago it occured to me that the same patterns I was using for the Buckles could be cut in a lightweight resin to make beautiful earrings. I experimented with acrylic, nylon, and other materials, but they either cut poorly or were too brittle and broke easily when dropped or mishandled. Then I tried Delrin, a material familiar to many metalworkers since it is often used for non-marring forming tools. Despite its light weight, Delrin is super tough: you could even step on these earrings and they won't break. 

I have two "sizes" for the earrings: Teardrop and Contour. Really they are shapes, but the Contours are smaller and more subtle, where the Teardrops are more bold and lively. Want to design your own earrings? Take a look at the custom earring reward!

Argyle Contour in Black
Argyle Contour in Black
Byzantine Teardrop in White
Byzantine Teardrop in White
Deco Teardrop in Black
Deco Teardrop in Black
My Shop in Jingletown, Oakland CA
My Shop in Jingletown, Oakland CA

My goal with this campaign is to bring production levels up while maintaining the quality and craftsmanship that I have been striving for this whole time. There are a few critical pieces of machinery that I need in order to efficiently produce larger orders. Having the ability to make a bulk order of parts also means the per-part cost goes down, which will help me keep these pieces affordable. Specifically, contributions to this project will go toward:

  • Arbor Press for bending buckle brackets
  • Large Capacity Tumbler for production runs
  • Bulk order of Buckle, Opener, and Earring blanks
  • Hiring a studio assistant to help with production and fulfillment of orders

Barring a natural disaster, I guarantee to deliver the first 200 rewards in time for the Holidays (December 1st-15th). I will be in contact with backers to make sure their orders are fulfilled in time. Here is my timeline:

  • Before End of October: Kickstarter Campaign ends, bulk lasercutting orders (for Buckles, Openers, and Earrings) are placed. New Equipment is purchased.
  • Early November: Part blanks delivered to shop. Fabrication begins.
  • Before End of November: Parts requiring Black Lustre finish are delivered to finisher.
  • Early December: Reward fulfillment for at least the first 200 orders
  • Mid-December to January: any remaining orders are fulfilled as soon as possible.

Risks and challenges

I have been making these pieces for several years now, and so as far as the process is under my direct control, I cannot see much that would slow me down. Nevertheless, ramping up production always carries some risks. For my project, the greatest risk will be delays from my suppliers. My lasercutter in Indianapolis has been wonderful so far, as well as my finisher here in California. I intend to be in contact with them well before I place my bulk order to make sure they have material on hand and are expecting my purchase order. I have included buffer time in my timeline to allow for some amount of delay, and will keep a firm eye to holiday deadlines for backers using their rewards as gifts for friends and loved ones.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A hand-written thank you note as well as a project sticker. Backers at this level will also get access to project updates as production continues.

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    Pledge $22 or more About $22

    One pair of earrings. Choose a pattern from the chart, then choose a size (Teardrop or Contour), and a color (Black or White). Earrings are made from impact-resistant Delrin resin and are very tough but lightweight. The hooks are all sterling silver, although the hooks on the black earrings have been patina-darkened. Your earrings will come in a stamped gift box.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    One Bottle Opener. Choose a pattern from the chart at left, then choose a finish (Brushed Stainless or Black Lustre). Openers are lasercut from T304 Stainless Steel plate and will not rust. Your opener will come in a stamped gift box.

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    Pledge $36 or more About $36

    The Mix'n'Match Earring Special. Pick two pair, any style, size, and color. Several people have requested this option so that they could mix colors or styles together for a fun look. Earrings are made from impact-resistant Delrin resin and are very tough but lightweight. The hooks are all sterling silver, although the hooks on the black earrings have been patina-darkened. Each pair of your earrings will come in its own stamped gift box.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $44 or more About $44

    One pair of Earrings and one Bottle Opener. Pick any pattern, size, and color for the Earrings, any pattern and finish for the Bottle opener. Perfect for gifts. Your Earrings and Bottle Opener will each come in their own stamped gift boxes.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    EARLY BIRD - Thanks for your support! Have a Belt Buckle of your choice at a special price. Choose a pattern from the chart at left, then pick a finish (Brushed Stainless or Black Lustre) and decide whether you'd like the optional bottle opener cut-out in the corner. Your buckle will come in a stamped gift box and fits any 1-1/2" snap belt. Belt is not included by default, but if you'd like one, see instructions to the left.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    One Belt Buckle of your choice. Choose a pattern from the chart at left, then pick a finish (Brushed Stainless or Black Lustre) and decide whether you'd like the optional bottle opener cut-out in the corner. Your buckle will come in a stamped gift box and fits any 1-1/2" snap belt. Belt is not included by default, but if you'd like one, see instructions to the left.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    A pair of Custom Earrings. Send me a drawing, even a scribble on a napkin, and we will work together to create a design for a pair of custom earrings. The final design will have to be a closed silhouette, but can be any shape you want up to 4" square (those would be some big earrings!). Your custom earrings will come to you in a stamped gift box.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Complete Set. One Buckle, one Bottle Opener, and one pair of Earrings. You pick the patterns, finishes, and other options. Make them all match or pick randomly: it's up to you. Each piece will come in a stamped gift box. A belt for your buckle is not included with this reward by default, but if you'd like one, see instructions to the left.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The Beer Lover's Special! Choose 4 Bottle Openers, any style, any finish. Perfect for holiday gifts, the openers are lasercut from T304 Stainless Steel plate and will not rust. Your opener will come in a stamped gift box.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A Custom Bottle Opener. Send me a drawing, even a scribble on a napkin, and we will turn it into a custom bottle opener for you. The final design will have to be a single closed silhouette, although it can have many piercings, and measure less than 2"x 5". Your custom bottle opener will come to you in a stamped gift box.

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    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    The Holiday Special! Two Belt Buckles and two Bottle Openers of your choice. Patterns and finishes can all match or be completely random. Each of your pieces will come in a stamped gift box. Belts are not included by default, but if you'd like one (or two), see instructions to the left.

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    Pledge $260 or more About $260

    A Custom Belt Buckle with a Full Grain Leather belt. Send me a drawing, even a scribble on a napkin, and we will turn it into a custom buckle for you. The final design will have to be a single closed silhouette, although it can have many piercings, and measure less than 5" on any side. Belts come in Black or Brown, with sizes from Small-XXXL. Your custom buckle will come to you in a stamped gift box.

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Come to my studio in Oakland CA and we will make a custom belt buckle for you together! I'll throw in a full-grain leather belt too for a complete package. We will work out the design before-hand so I can get the lasercut blank. I'll show you how the forming, welding, and finishing works. If you're interested, I can teach you other metal techniques, or we can visit the studios of other local sculptors. If you choose the Brushed Stainless finish for your buckle, you can take it home with you. Otherwise I will send you the belt and buckle in a couple weeks. You can choose a black or brown belt, size Small-XXXL.

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Funding period

- (25 days)