In 2020, OHM started broadcasting a weekly live stream showing the behind-the-scenes of bead making from its small OHM Studio at OHM Headquarters. We also started teaching people how to design and make beads themselves through OHM Studio 2 Go program. Ken is the man behind OHM Studio at OHM Headquarters and we had a chance to talk to him today. OHM team members use these hashtags to describe him #notanalien #andken #deepvoice #latenightfmdjvoice.
Thank you for sitting down and chatting with us. How long have you been a part of the OHM team?
I joined OHM in July of 2017. Where does the time go?
Time flies when you're having fun. Right!? What brought you to OHM initially? What do you do at OHM?
555 (LOL), absolutely. I previously had left a management position at a high-end jeweler in Seattle and was looking to get back into the jewelry business and wanted a position where I could be creative again. I am now OHM's head jeweler here in the US, producing items for the OHM Studio and other secret projects. We bring customer pieces to life through the OHM Studio 2 Go program and create in-house OHMkensteins and other experiments. Those are for sale at OHMtogether.com along with additional unique OHM-one-of-a-kind designs. We are constantly pushing the boundary to see what we can do next.
Are you a bead collector?
I'm not a bead collector myself and don't wear too much jewelry, but I do love to make it!
Which project or design at OHM Studio are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of the client's pieces I get to cast. They put their hearts into these designs and trust me to make it a reality from wax to metal—a true privilege to do. I really love completing those pieces and getting them back to their owners.
Designs coming from OHMily are some of the most amazing creations for sure! What would you say to OHMies nervous about starting with the OHM Studio 2 Go program?
I would recount to them the same lesson I first learned about working with metal but in regards to the wax directly: Don't fear it! The worst thing that can happen is you get to redo the piece. Once you can get over that fact, you can let your creativity run free. Unleash the weird as it were. Life's mistakes are where we learn to do and be better. In this case, in wax.
Don't fear it, a good lesson across the board. Do you have a favorite metal with which to work?
Gold by far is my favorite metal to use. It's very forgiving and is workable into just about any design imaginable. It doesn't heat up like silver does, so I am not constantly burning my fingers when polishing. 555! Gold comes in yellow, rose, green, and white, so lots of options on finished looks. The second place to that would be silver, of course, then bronze, brass, etc... The latter two are somewhat new to me and are a bit tricky. It's been fun to start trying to work with them. They melt at much higher temperatures than precious metals and produce toxic gases as they are heated. Not a problem at all, but it requires additional safety considerations.
Do you have a favorite tool in the studio? Anything with sentimental value?
That would be my Foredom jewelers rotary handpiece. I could not get by without it. It gets used multiple times for every piece of jewelry produced. From cutting, burnishing, texturing to polishing. Following that, it would be my stainless steel rotary tumbler and my new industrial ultrasonic cleaner. Both are game-changers that save so much time and energy.
It has been great to see all the behind-the-scenes stuff. What can we expect when we follow you on Instagram?
I typically show the latest projects. I like to highlight finished stuff mainly. There is usually one or two pieces that I particularly like and want to share with the world. I like to do my IG shots in black and white to show the pieces off. I think it shows an excellent definition of the polished vs. oxidized finish of our beads. My Instagram account is @kenatohm.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I'm typically listening to classic rock, 80's music, and reggae while working on the bench. It's a good time for podcasts as well. It's nice to learn something extra while putting in the work with my hands.
And lastly, how do you take your coffee?
Drip with half-and-half and a touch of turbinado sugar. I also like a good ristretto latte.
Thank you for taking the time to share a little bit more about you with the OHMily. OK, back to the bench!