L.A. Born. L.A. Bred. L.A. Made.
And that’s exactly why I’m in LA this warm morning. I’m in Echo Park visiting Tyson Miller’s studio, the mastermind and skillful hands behind T Morgan Made. I first came accross Tyson’s jewelry while browsing Accents Jewelry site, this wonderful jewelry store in Santa Monica that always carries cool jewelry from local designers. What caught my eye were these bold, geometric rings that Tyson made, with gemstones in the center. They are different from what you find in the jewelry market nowadays and they feel unisex, anyone cand rock one of these rings and feel pretty good about it.
Tyson’s studio is very breezy, calm and spacious. The first thing I notice around the space is a Lou Zeldis mask, which feels very medieval and modern at the same time. Tyson tells me the story of how he got it and a little bit of the final story of Lou Zeldis. As I’m looking around, another thing catches my eye: this beautiful birch cabinet with drawers and red Chinese characters that lies on the bench table. Next to it stands a chalkboard with a to do list (not updated recently according to Tyson), a red rocket and a bottle of Johnson&Johnson’s baby oil (I told you before that jewelers have weird things on their benches, but for a perfectly good reason, the oil is used as a lubricant on stones so that they can be taken out of the wax after making the bezels).
Tyson’s chair is a beautiful green leather barbershop chair. He says that he really loves it but that it’s not that comfortable when you have to sit on it many hours straight. Everything around the bench is neatly organized in drawers and boxes. Even the 3M sanding sponges are perfectly cut into small squares so that it’s easier to sand the pieces or give it a final texture. On the side of the bench there’s a board with the T Morgan Made logo, made of nails and cord, and it’s actually really cool. The vibe in the studio is relaxed and laid back, pretty much like Tyson is.
As he shows me his castings and waxes I’m delighted to see the bigger pieces, with a good weight and lots of geometric forms. There’s substance to Tyson’s pieces and he works with shapes and textures brilliantly. As he’s working I notice one of his tattoos: “This too shall pass” which is something that Tyson’s dad used to say and that stayed with him.
Tyson had another life before starting doing jewelry. Little by little he started experimenting with carving wax and this was an eye opener for what he wanted to do next. He started creating pieces for himself and from there, a seriously cool men’s and women’s collection followed. Tyson has a very sweet humbleness that is rare to find these days, and that’s probably what makes his jewelry special, he translates it into each piece he makes. Well, that and talent too.
As for the photo of Tyson relaxing on his couch I have to thank his girlfriend Jaclyn Collier the help she gave me for making him laugh. Nobody is ever comfortable taking a photo and hers was a precious help.
Thank you Tyson for a wonderful studio visit and keep on creating really cool jewelry!
T. Morgan Made
What’s the first thing you do when you get to the studio?
“Clean my desk, it always gets really messy by the time i’m done working so in order to focus on new work I need to start with a clean slate.”
What do you like most about your space?
“The natural light & my bed is only 5 feet away from my desk.”
Pick 3 objects in your studio that make your space yours:
‘Chair, TMM Sign, Lou Zeldis Mask”
What do you love & hate doing at the bench?
“Love, creating something from nothing. Hate, brushing my files clean.”
What makes you procrastinate?
“Pretty much anything.”
What piece of jewelry do you always wear?
“My born + bred california & TMM logo shield necklace.”
Currently obsessed with which gemstone/metal?
“Whatever Jean-Noel @topnotchfaceting is posting on his instagram account, I will absolutely get one of his stones someday.”
Piece of jewelry you’re most proud of?
“I’ve made a few wedding bands for different friends and although they are plain and simple bands they are the most important pieces I’ve made.”
What’s your dream jewelry piece (if there was no time or budget restrictions)?
“I don’t think it’s about budget really, my dream is to make pieces for people who love them so much they pass them down to their children and/or grand children. So something so good that it becomes an heirloom.”
What’s the longest period of time that you’ve spent at the studio and why?
“ Maybe 8-10 hours at the bench, just because I was on a role making a few different things and I lost track of time.”
If you weren’t a jewelry designer?
“I’d like to think an artist or designer of some kind but I really have no idea.”
What’s your favorite tool?
“Depends on what I’m working on but it’s hard to beat a good file or dental tool.”