Impermanance, temple of the soul, sacred, ancient mysteries… The symbol of the skull is the magnificent obsession of Judicael, tattoo artist and craft jeweller, who has made these objects the focus of his creativity, bringing them to life in a range of materials: wood, metal and precious gems and fossils.
Why? Because, as he tells us in this interview about these magnificent miniature works of art: “I want to represent the ancestors of every race that has walked on this planet even the extra terrestrials”.
Hello Judical, Nature, Movement and Dynamism are three features that characterize both your tattoos and the jewellery you make. Can I ask you to match each of this elements to each aspect of your work as a creator of jewellery. How is Nature involved in your work? How do you create movement? How do you give dynamism to the material you use?
The key to all 3 aspects is answered by using the golden ratio. It’s a proportion that represents precision, perfection, aesthetics and beauty, it’s the pattern of the universe. It exist in the human body and nature. Ancient builders would use it for pyramids, temples and cathedrals. I first sketch following my feelings and intuition and then verify the measurement with a golden mean caliper and adjust. About 95 percent of the time my sketches are accurate to the golden ratio. I use that formula for tattoos and skull making.
What are the materials you use?
I love mixing materials like wood, metal and gemstones. I love high density exotic woods like ebony, iron wood and many others for the base of the skull. Sometime I use fossil mammoth ivory. Mammoths died during the last ice age at least 10,000 years ago. Lately I’ve been experimenting with minerals (stone) and I am loving the result. It’s just a bit more tricky and completely different to carving… I also love to use precious metals and different types and shades of gold as well and platinium and sterling silver for inlays and ornaments. At the end of the process I use precious gemstones for the final touch and for their metaphysical properties.
How did you develop this passion? Did you start first with tattoos or jewellery?
I started both the same year and it first came with the skulls. I was travelling through India, to Rajasthan to be precise, with some friends we went on a camel trip in the desert for a few days. I found a cow skull jaw sticking out of the sand and thought of carving it with my pocket knife. I had never carved before. I made my own talisman, a warrior face from another world. It kind of looked like a man of Gondor from The Lord of the Rings. When I was done carving I designed a helmet in paper and brought it to the local jeweller in Pushka, an amazing little holy town.
He made it in silver and added a diamond on the third eye… I watched every step. That was my first jewellery lesson and my very first own talisman for protection during my travels. After that I went to the local jewellery tool shop and got a few tools to carry on… I remember that for the rest of that trip in India a lot of people would stop to ask where I got my pendant and hought that was very encouraging and I should definitely keep going and make more. Later on that year I started a tattoo apprenticeship in Goa. That was 18 years ago…
Can your jewels be considered as talismans/charms which have a particular significance for the wearer?
Definitely yes, that’s what they are. Most of them have a secret chamber where I let the wearer decide the content. You can stash mantras, precious stone, ashes of lost ones, sacred medicine or I like to use a manifesting prayer note. When I fell in love with my wife I offered her my own talisman and put a secret love note inside as a charm. So she would be mine forever!
The Skull is the” king” of your creativity. Why? And how do you enjoy shaping it?
I love making skulls as to me they represent the ancestors of ancient lost civilizations. I love the shocking and intense aspect of it as I believe that art that creates powerful emotions touches the observer more profoundly. I want them to evoke a feeling of ancient lost technologies and mysteries waiting to be reawakened. I use features from all around the world and even the traits of extraterrestrials.
I want to represent the ancestors of every race that has walked on this planet even extraterrestrials.
What is its meaning for you?
Impermanence, temple of the soul, sacred, ancient mysteries. I love to question the Origin of the human race and I feel like my skulls do elicit this in the observer by simply looking at them!
Is the Skull a central icon in your tattoos too?
No, it’s only the main subject in my jewellery talismans. This is where i am 100 percent free to channel my art without the influence of external preferences from the client. In tattoos I see it more as a collaboration. I love tattooing skulls but I don’t get the demand as often. I feel like people come to see me for tattoo I create more for the flow and general aesthetic.
Where do you sell your jewels? I know you have special clients who love your jewels, for instance Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman). Can you reveal to us what he requested?
I sell my jewellery mostly online and little bit at special exhibition at the Tuscon gemshow in Arizona. My friend Goldy from New Zeland showed Jason my Instagram page. He called me from Australia when he was filming Aquaman and we started working on stuff for him. He is an awesome guy and very supportive of artists. Jason got his first skull for his wife Lisa Bonet for her fiftieth birthday then he followed with one for himself, both really special masterpieces. They are both elongated skulls with a mix of very ancient and high tech touch inspired by legends of the sunken Atlantis.
Are your jewels all custom-made or do you also produce some series/collections?
The very special pieces are all custom and unique. I also have a production line that is more affordable and accessible. It took me years to develop a line that the common mortal could afford. I always made them too intricate and detailed so they were more expensive to buy. I feel like it took me about 10 years to refine the process. Now I am finally happy with where I am at and have an awesome diverse collection.
Do you have anything in particular you are working on, that you would like to talk about to finish this interview?
I started creating mini skulls this year and I am working hard to reproduce every model in miniature. Of course I use the golden ratio proportion. So the mini version is one golden ratio down from the size of the original skull. They have been very popular so far. They are easier to wear for every day life, though they still have a secret chamber which makes them interesting and totally badass!