My visit to Bomb Metal and Fry Jewelry is a good example that despite some language barriers there is a jewelry language that is universal and connects jewelry people. Peggy Hung, one half of the BMFJ team, asks me on one of our email exchanges if I’m bringing a translator with me for the studio visit. I smile at the idea and in my good old optimist way, I think that the Google translate app will help me ask questions and understand their answers. None of this was needed cause Peggy and Ting-Ting spoke a little bit of English and they also had a wonderful gallery assistant turned translator, the lovely Amilus, that made our communication very easy. Between gestures, laughs and pointing at things we managed to understand each other perfectly.
The Bomb Metal & Fry Jewelry consists of a fun jewelry duo: Peggy Hung (洪佩琦) and Ting-Ting Tsao (曹婷婷). They started their brand 10 years ago out of a passion for contemporary jewelry design. They wanted to bridge the gap between the mass jewelry consumption market and contemporary art jewelry and show that you can mix craftsmanship and fun concepts in a piece of jewelry.
Peggy and Ting-Ting’s studio is a workshop + gallery. It’s located in a busy Taipei neighborhood in Taiwan and the street where they are is an alley filled with a mix of cool stores and old traditional businesses, like the neighboring mechanic garage adjacent to their studio.
If you have to guess I think they must have a pretty good sense of humor from all the details in the gallery entrance. Their logo is a cartoon of their faces and the name of their brand is also funny and has double meaning (more on that below). The door handles to the gallery are hammers and all over the place there are pierced metal details of shadows (of Peggy and Ting-Ting) hammering and sawing away, which they fabricated themselves. All I can say is that the BMFJ team has a very good sense of humor, lots of patience and a serious attention to details.
Good thing Ting-Ting and Peggy knew I was gonna come visit and take a bunch photos… wouldn’t want them to get mad at me :)
The handles to the door are hammers (on the right) and there are pierced details in metal at the door showing the BMFJ team hard at work in the studio (on the left)
Another interesting detail in the gallery space. The pierced bird and the branch rack holder for the clothing items were created by the BMFJ team for their studio space.
A detail from the gallery space and the first edition of the BooooooMB News journal that BMFJ prints
It’s all in the details. Everywhere you look around the studio and gallery you find fun pierced metal details that the BMFJ created to personalize their space.
Very funny pierced shadows of Ting-Ting and Peggy working that serve as pricing holders for the jewelry that is being displayed.
Peggy greets me and as she gets up I see that she’s pregnant (for the record, 2 weeks to go until her final due date and still rocking it at the studio). Ting-Ting comes out of the studio and I see she has a hurt finger with a huge bandage ( I know how she did it but promised not to tell anybody). I can only share that it was made while working at the studio and remind people of how much love and blood literally goes into making jewelry.
As they lead me to the behind the scenes of their gallery into their studio I’m impressed with a very well equipped studio. I meet some interns working at the BMFJ benches that stop sawing and introduce themselves. The studio is very well organized. For a medium sized space they fit 7 benches, 2 kilns for enameling, a good row of hammers and 3 large stumps for hammering away.
The BMFJ collection of hammers
Even the files are organized in a leather pouch made specifically for that, where everybody that is working can come and pick their file and when they’re done put it away in the same place.
Since I decided to abdicate from the questionnaire because it would become too complicated with translations, I decided to ask questions while at their studio. Ting-Ting’s favorite spot in the studio is her soldering station, which is in a separate part of the studio that houses the soldering, polishing and tumbling and of course, the “kitchen” part. In this area there are more benches where the handles for the drawers are their logo (the cartoon with their faces). These were their first benches before they moved into this space, 4 years ago.
As for Peggy’s favorite spot in the studio she says it’s with her laptop over her bench. It’s harder now that she’s 9 months pregnant to sit at the bench so now she’s more in charge of administrative side of the business.
Peggy and Ting-Ting laughing and avoiding my camera at the same time
As for their favorite tools, Ting-Ting goes for her jewelers’ saw, which she has been using for 16 years. She broke it but managed to fix it and still uses it daily. Peggy is choosing her favorite hammer from their collection and she finally picks one, even though it looks like all of them are her favorite and she’s having a hard time picking just one.
There are some very funny moments as the whole team sees me go around taking photos. I stop when I see a hairdryer under one of the benches and ask for what they use it for. They all laugh and make the gesture of drying their hair (I told you they had a sense of humor), until they finally acquiesce, in between laughs, that they use it to dry pieces out of the pickle. I ask where the BMFJ name comes from. They all laugh again and say that none of them is very good at cooking but both love to make jewelry. The bomb comes from hammering away and the fry from soldering and “cooking” jewelry.
Both Peggy and Ting-Ting are big advocates for contemporary jewelry design. They want people to find out more about design and contemporary metalsmithing and they use their gallery as a hub for showcasing other and their work. The BMFJ studio also publishes a quarterly newspaper, the BooooooMB NEWS that features other artists and promotes contemporary jewelry in Taipei. As this wasn’t enough, they also teach metalsmith classes in their studio and are going strong for next year as the BMFJ studio is preparing to teach some workshops at the Taipei MOCA Museum.
I ask them for their favorite piece of jewelry. Ting-Ting’s favorite piece is a awesome metal pencil bended in a way that you wear it as a ring but can still write with it. Peggy’s favorite piece is a really cool necklace with an enamel pig that has a metal piercing on the nose.
It’s interesting to see that they have very different jewelry styles. Whereas Ting-Ting is more about geometric lines and constructions, Peggy does this funny enamel jewelry putting both of her kilns to good use.
As I’m shooting their jewelry the neighbor’s cat purrs at the gallery door and Amilus opens the door. The cat comes in, sharpens his nails on the rug, purrs again and demands to leave (by this I mean he purrs at the door while looking at Amilus again). We all laugh cause the cat is not their pet but apparently believes he owns the place. I take his lead and leave as well. Not before I thank Peggy, Ting-Ting and Amilus for their kindness in letting me come in and discover their studio.
Thanks TMFJ studio for a lovely and very funny visit! And a special thanks to Amilus for being the official translator!
Bomb Metal & Fry Jewelry
Gallery + Studio:
No.27, Ln. 1, Sec. 2, Chengde Rd., Datong Dist., Taipei City 103, Taiwan