Where are you answering this interview from and what is your current state of mind?
I waited until a Sunday morning to sit down with these answers. At home, comfortable with my dog Zira at my feet, and a café in hand. I feel at ease yet anxious all at the same time- this is how my mind works. I know the storm will follow a calm day.
If you went back to the very beginning of Colby Byrd’s life what would be the earliest thing that might suggest who he is today?
Many thoughts come to my mind. Which also suggest that I am an overthinker. Of course, the easy answer would be my family’s influence and encouragement to live a life of opportunities and love. But what I think back on are the imaginary friends I had as a child, seems odd but these voices I talked to in my head were actually the beginning of my creative mind. I would get lost in their world innocently without judgement but also deeply as a security to maybe mask my own insecurities. This might not answer who I am today but it is something I look back on and think of as one of my first outlets of creativity.
You have recently collaborated with fashion designer Sabato Russo based in Milan and the Italian band Stunt Pilots, can you share an insight into these projects, how did it all come about?
Yes, late 2021 I had the honor of working with Sabato Russo by designing a small collection of jewelry for his Fall 2022 collection. This collection featured many elements true to my brand while giving respect to the garments that debuted during Milano Fashion Week in the Spring of 2022. The collaboration allowed me to explore more in the world of fashion from one of the best and gave many new opportunities for my jewelry. Sabato pushed me to not only be a better designer but more aware within my brand. During this time in Milano I separately met with musician and songwriter, Zo Vivaldi to help style a music video. This lead to creating custom jewelry for Stunt Pilots and a lasting friendship with the band. Zo, Emanuele, and Moonet have inspired my designs in a new way and it’s always an adventure with them. I am looking forward to watching all they do in the future and honored to have Shelton Metal apart of their journey!
Do you remember the first piece you designed? Could you describe it for us?
The first piece I designed as a metalsmith I can recall very well. This was a shift for me as an artist because up until this point I designed unknowingly of what my true passion of focus was within the vast choices of the creative world. Studying metalsmithing allowed my mind to create dimensional objects, wearable sculptures that required creativity and problem solving skills. It was 2010, I hand forged a piece of raw silver using different hammers to learn the textures, weights, and functions. Then, I measured the area to cut with a jewellers saw, filing the edges, forming the shape, and soldering into my first ring. My mother wears this sterling silver ring today. I look at it now with pride, noticing the hammer marks in a uniformed yet organic pattern mimicking coral, or something of the sea.
I can feel from your past interviews and your designs that you have a special connection with Mediterranean culture and aesthetics. Why did you pick Italy as a starting point for your career as a jewelry designer?
I was first drawn to Italy for the experience of learning metalsmithing and jewelry design but quickly found out that was just a fraction of what kept me coming back. The people, the connections I have made, and the genuine support has changed my life. Over 10 years ago I began my journey studying in the Tuscan region, while traveling throughout the country for inspiration. It wasn’t just the detail in fashion or the beauty of the land or the food, it was a connection I often cannot put into words. The hard working mentality while balancing the tranquility of appreciating life has been something I have tried to withhold, but I only feel while in Italy. As a designer, I have to have that balance to create and move forward. Italy and the people of Italy gave me the confidence to start Shelton Metal.
Ancient peoples who lived near the ocean used the shells of sea creatures to make jewellery. Have you been inspired in any way by ancient civilizations?
Absolutely. One of my favorite past pieces of jewellery used a tusk shaped shell, Dentalium, which is a part of the mollusk sea species. Using these found objects is the blueprint of my creative process. These shells were once used by Native Americans primarily along the west coast for international trade. Although most of my work is inspired by European culture, this was a way for me to respect the true origins of the country I live in. I hope to always have the opportunity to travel, experience and understand different cultures, and find pieces of their past to inspire me.
Why do you name your creations “treasures”?
Well it is easy to envision a sunken ship with pirates gold as the meaning of treasure. While that does inspire me and my work, the meaning of treasure is deeper than that. Treasures are artefacts, pieces of history that have a story of endless time. Each piece I create has a story and my goal is to withhold the integrity of that story for the wearer.
How do you feel has your work developed over time? What significant discoveries have you made?
I feel as if my work has developed with me over time. It has been a true reflection of my personal life as I grow and learn from my mistakes. My work is heavily influenced by where my mind is, whether its as deep as a love life or as superficial as a trend in fashion. I have developed quality, integrity, and purpose in every treasure I make. Valuing my self-worth and the individuals I design for has allowed for this evolution.
Do you have an ideal dream collaboration in mind with anyone? If you were to design a special custom piece for someone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
I would love to design with the creative director of Schiaparelli, Daniel Roseberry. I am constantly inspired by his work and the direction he has taken within the brand. The designs have remained true in the brand identity yet pays respect in new innovative ways. The mix of classic fashion and whimsy is something I admire. I also find Roseberry’s American upbringing and journey to get to where he is truly inspiring.
What’s a worthwhile & meaningful question you would have liked to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?
Do you think you lose or gain a part of your heart and soul in every design you create? Yes.
What do you dream to accomplish in the next years?
I dream to push myself further. At 10 years in, the growth of my brand and my art has just begun. I recently started designing a home collection, a luxury collector’s edition of barware, flatware, and cabinetry hardware. My roots are in metal and that goes well beyond just jewelry. The treasures I create will represent all aspects of my life. I would love to create more expressive and experimental work for exhibitions, collaborate in creative design with other artist, and focus more on well curated retail locations for Shelton Metal. Above all, I am thankful for where I am in my journey.
Tell us a secret.
Loose lips sink ships…but then again, without the sunken ship, how will I find the treasure.
Photography: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Jewellery: Shelton Metal / @sheltonmetal
Interview: Iro Bournazou / @irwb
Assistant: Fee-Marie Loebel / @feetasticsphotography
Model: Nasty at The Wolves / @lilnastyyyyy @thewolvesmodel