Legendary London jeweller The Great Frog has teamed up with artist Wes Lang on a limited edition ring in line with the launch of The Great Frog collection at Dover Street Market London.
Adorned in skulls, daggers and snakes The Great Frog’s jewellery runs a consistently rebellious aesthetic perfectly in tune with their red hot customer list – a who’s who of rock ‘n’ roll cool, including Keith Richards, Led Zeppelin, Billy Idol and Slash, to name a few. It is this combined with their intricate artisan production (handmade in their Carnaby basement since 1972 no less) and sustained family direction (Reino Lehtonen-Riley, whose parents founded TGF, works at its helm today) that makes The Great Frog the ultimate go-to jewellers for bikers and rockers. And a fair few of us more meagre folk to boot.
The collaboration with Wes Lang feels a long time coming: the artist, known for his iconic artwork for The Grateful Dead – and more recently Kanye West’s Yeezus tour merchandise – draws on iconic references to rock n roll and the rich history of the American tattoo.
The 18kt gold ring features Wes Lang’s signature Native American skull motif, accented with diamonds and crushed coral. With all this in mind it’s no wonder the ring has been made in a run of just five pieces to be sold worldwide, of which DSM London has two. But if your wallet won’t stretch that deep fear not: there’s also a detailed skull ring part of a special collection made exclusively for Dover Street Market to celebrate the retailer’s 10 year anniversary, now available at in store alongside a fuller range from The Great Frog’s mainline.
Alex James Taylor: So how did the collaboration with Wes Lang come about?
Reino Lehtonen-Riley: We met while Wes was doing a residency at the Chateau and were introduced by a mutual friend over the phone. He wanted to turn some of his ideas into jewellery and was already a customer of ours but we hadn’t met. Then he sent me a photo of my name tattooed on his hand which was somewhat scary, thinking I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I share the same name as his uncle (Reino) so with that the deal was sealed, it was fate.
AT: Was it planned or more spontaneous?
RLR: It was quite spontaneous but due to us being in London and Los Angeles it took a while to get it together. However once we sat down to it the ideas flowed easily.
AT: How was it decided that it would be a ring?
RLR: Wes’ imagery lends itself well to our style of jewellery, we have always been heavily influenced by our biker roots and heavy rings have always been synonymous with outlaw biker get up so it had to be thus.
AT: How did the design process work between the two of you?
RLR: Wes is prolific and constantly working so there is a massive outpouring of ideas to draw inspiration but the Reaper and Skeleton Chief stood out, they are a widely used motif through a lot of his works.
AT: Were these rings any more difficult to create?
RLR: Yes, I’m a huge fan of his work so had a lot of internal pressure to do it justice. As we are both extreme perfectionists sometimes this caused friction but it just worked!
AT: What was it about Lang’s style that encouraged the collaboration?
RLR: The symbolism that Wes uses throughout his work is very close to the imagery we use at TGF and both draw influence from the same worlds, plus I really wanted to make some big fuck-off gold rings! It’s not that often that you get to do something so immense!
AT: Both TGF and Wes Lang have a heritage rooted in rock ‘n’ roll, did this shared passion influence the collaboration?
RLR: We share a very similar aesthetic and also an interest in cars and motorbikes so we just hit it off. We both live very unconventional lives and since working together we have become good friends.
The beginning of this month saw the Philippines ripped apart by a storm with a ferocity and intensity that has to this date affected 11.5 million people. Typhoon Haiyan has proven the second most deadly Philippine typhoon to ever occur and with 2.5 million of the population in need of food aid and many thousands displaced or with their homes destroyed we felt it was of the utmost importance to contribute to the relief effort in some way.
We will be donating 50% off all apparel sales to http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/ to help with their work in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
If you use Instagram we will also be sharing an image that for every repost we will donate an additional £1. Just share our image and use the #TGFphilippines to make a contribution.
Thank you for reading,
All at The Great Frog
If you didn’t manage to make it down on the night, we managed to throw a pretty damn good Halloween party with the help of our friends from Kraken rum (and our amazing shop manager Jess!). Thanks to everyone who did swing by to sample our ghoulish treats and complimentary rum; we were all nursing ferocious hangovers the following day.
Here are some photos taken by Edee of the evening.
Naturally, Halloween is The Great Frog’s favourite holiday and so to make this year a memorable one we have teamed up with our friends at Kraken Rum to offer a late night shopping event in our Carnaby Street flagship.
Be sure to come down and check out our Kraken Halloween window display; we will be running another competition from that evening. Take a photo in front of our window, upload it to Instagram and tag us and we will pick our favourite to award a limited edition Kraken skull ring, and 2 runners up will win goodie bags.
While we are only slowly recovering from missing out on QOTSA’s crazily intimate set at Rough Trade the other month, we were pleased to see Josh still sporting his Enamel Skull Shield Ring for The Fly and CRACK magazines.
So for your viewing and listening pleasure we have compiled our favourite videos with JH in, looking fucking cool.
Queens of the Stone Age – Make It Wit U (How many children have been conceived to this song, we wonder?)
Queens of the Stone Age – Little Sister
Them Crooked Vultures on Jonathon Ross (Everyone loves Wossy, and bonus points for his mispronunciation of Josh ‘Homie’…)
Queens of the Stone Age – If I Had A Tail
Them Crooked Vultures – Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I
Queens of the Stone Age – I Sat By The Ocean
Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows (The ubiquitous QOTSA track with over 15 million YouTube views but with good reason. The soundtrack to a good time.)
We are pleased to finally announce our latest collaboration with cult Japanese bike builders Brat Style (click for their site) and graphic designer Knuckle.
The Shiisaa wind devil is from Japanese mythology and is widely used in Okinawa to ward off evil spirits said to be carried by the wind. This imagery has been adapted by Knuckle and Go Takamine as a mascot and talisman tied in with the Brat Style brand, to protect a rider at high speeds (no guarantee included).
We have translated this into a solid sterling silver ring; each will be laser engraved with a number and are limited edition.
TGF London is currently praying with everything crossed that the package we sent out yesterday is very close to arriving at it’s destination, come on FedEx, you have to pull through for us!
These solid sterling silver pins are winging their way to Trico in Los Angeles, California to be awarded to each of the builders participating in Born Free 5.
If you manage to pick up a copy of the latest Jocks & Nerds then be sure to check out pages 20 & 21; our partner company Black Skulls London is featured. Click here to check out the Black Skulls site & shop. Leather jackets are coming really soon, so be sure to keep checking.