Lobster gear now making its way into fine jewelry

First published in Landings, February, 2017

Bar Harbor native Tegan Curry literally stumbled upon the idea of incorporating rubber bands used by lobstermen to keep lobster claws closed as an accessory for her handmade jewelry when she came across a few of the colorful bands while beachcombing a few years back. “People loosely refer to these bands as ‘Downeast wedding bands’ and I thought why not go a step further and actually make a ring where the bands could be worn?” Curry said.

Photo courtesy of T. Curry.

Curry, who has a BFA degree from Maine College of Art where she specialized in metalsmithing, did just that and the result was a sturdy sterling silver band with edge ridges that can hold a lobster band for display. “The lobster bands are made in different widths, so all may not fit on your ring — but they can easily be trimmed to size with sharp scissors if needed,” Curry said.

All rings are all stamped with the word “Maine” on the outside and may be worn with or without a lobster band. Each ring purchased comes in a clean bait bag with four new, different-color lobster bands to interchange as you wish. Curry gets her bands from local lobster co-ops, but ring owners may also collect their own, or purchase other band colors or bands that are custom-stamped with messages, or use recycled bands from live lobsters. Some people like to collect different bands from various fishermen friends.

“The LobsterBand rings are sturdy, versatile and fun and a unique conversation piece and reminder of Maine,” Curry said.

Since she began marketing these particular rings three years ago, the 36-year-old designer, who currently has six other jewelry lines, said the rings have become popular among both men and women and fishermen and non-fishermen as well. It appears the rings have a universal appeal, as Curry has sold her rings to people from all over the world. And though she is not sure if any of her rings have been used as actual wedding bands, the possibility is certainly there.

The sterling silver LobsterBand rings may be purchased directly through Curry’s website www.lobsterbandrings.com and are also available at selected stores across the state.

Evan Griffith, 29, grew up in South Portland. The youngest of three brothers, he spent his first years out of school as a golf professional, but decided to give up the clubs four years ago. He began to make lobster gauge cuff bracelets and hasn’t looked back since.

Photos courtesy of E. Griffith.

“My biggest focus and area of expertise in golf was building golf clubs. That’s where I picked up some of the skills I use making jewelry,” Griffith said. Griffith’s interest in the unisex lobster gauge cuff was piqued when a friend introduced him to the concept and suggested he could easily do it because of his experience and the skills he had honed building golf clubs.

“I thought it was really neat and wanted to try to make one. I had never made jewelry or anything really like it before, but I saw the potential for what it could be beyond just the original polished brass design that others had made,” Griffith said.

“The first two cuffs I made were a polished brass and a torched stainless steel lobster gauge cuff. I knew from working on golf clubs that heating stainless steel brought out a wide range of colors, deep blues and purples as well as gold and green depending on the temperature used. From there I came up with the weathered brass patina which simulates brass being left out in the open air. This season I added what I call a ‘sea spray’ patina which uses salt to mimic the patina that brass tools get when used in a marine environment.”

Every step in the bracelet-making process is done by Griffith himself — from the shaping, bending and stamping to the final patina effect and polishing. The complete process takes him about 36 hours to complete. The cuffs sell through his online studio store.

He has created another variation of the cuff bracelet which he has calls the mariner line. “Customers can have coordinates engraved on the inside of their lobster gauge cuffs. I love that the coordinates themselves are a great conversation starter, as well as having the ability to have each cuff be unique to each customer,” Griffith said.

His cuffs appeal to both men and women and young and old alike. “I’ve sold to just about everyone, of all ages, from those who are local and in some way involved in the fishing industry to people as far away as California who love the concept and story behind the intended use of the original form,” Griffith said.

Since he officially started the business in the spring of 2015, sales have been brisk. “I’ve sold somewhere around 750 bracelets, which is amazing to me. I never really thought I’d love it as much as I do or would have the ability to make it my full-time job when I started.”

“I’m working on prototypes now for the spring/summer season,” Griffith explained. “I have some designs I’ve been thinking about for a while now and it’s just a matter of seeing what is feasible. I’m also working on products for the home. I’ve been designing lamps and home interior designs for about a year now and I’m about ready to add those to the list of things I make for Lighthouse Studio Design (www.lighthousestudiodesign.com). My goal is to keep thinking of and making new ideas and see how far I can take the business.”