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July 17, 2003

The best cloisonne pins in the world…
Posted by Teresa at 03:46 PM *

…come from Wm. Spear Design. I first encountered them when my in-laws gave me the Write hard, die free pin. Their designs are beautiful, their subjects are wildly various, and they’re biased toward things attractive to me and people like me. (Test case: From the next room, I just heard Patrick say “Wow! They’ve got Thelonious Monk”)

Taking these images as single examples drawn from larger categories, you can get Blackbeard’s flag, a murre egg, a synapse, a fireplug, a bulldog, a kitchen mixer, an error message, a snowy owl, a great horned owl, a broken bone (and an x-ray), a Tlingit mask, a newspaper hat, a pod of belugas, the Hubble Space Telescope, a book of matches, a spectator pump, Thelonious Monk, strelitzia, ponderosa, prickly pear, silicon, kabuki, a mammoth, a comet, a dirigible, an octopus, a voltage meter, a flying carpet, the world as a bowling ball, Robert Burns, ruby slippers, asst’d prehistoric critters, a Mountie, a robot, a runaway mummy, a dark angel, a Lockheed P-38, a mole, a scaredy cat, a tree frog, a Hampshire pig, a luna moth, Ursa Major, the Tsongass National Forest, a dozen different vegetables, a hypodermic, an amanita, a flying saucer, a rubber duckie, the flag of Oz, and an elegant midnight coelocanth.

Many of them are also available as zipper pulls, as though you needed any more incentive.

Comments on The best cloisonne pins in the world...:
#1 ::: Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 09:19 PM:

I would like to note that the first thing I did when seeing that list of links was to check to see whether or not it was a palindrome.

#2 ::: Rivka Wald ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 11:15 PM:

Barbed wire. They make a cloisonne pin in the shape of barbed wire.

I think I'm in love.

#3 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 11:33 PM:

Wow. I could easily drop a couple hundred dollars at that site. (If I had money.)

#4 ::: Jeff Youngstrom ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2003, 11:49 PM:

The artist (William Spear) has an irregular, but entertaining email newsletter. There's a link to subscribe on the "fun" page here:

I gave my dad one of the radiation symbol pins when he had radioactive seeds implanted as cancer treatment recently.

I've got a question-mark-in-thought-bubble pin on one of my hats, a saturn zipper pull on a jacket, and a write-hard-die-free on my backpack. Becky has a winged book, a monarch, and a silver studded blue.

They're not only cool looking, they're extremely well-made.

#5 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 03:01 AM:

Ye gods.

I was looking through the stuff to see if he had a hang glider pin, and cruising by the "Raptors/Owls" section, I was like, "Wait! I've seen those!" I bought one of his Condor pins just a month or so ago at the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program booth at the Capitol Hill People's Fair. The nice lady who sold it to me said that the money went to raptor rehabilitation... So he must have some sort of donation thing worked out with them.

Not only cool looking, not only well-made, but made by a guy with some generosity in his heart!

Any of you who will have the luck to be in Colorado some time in the next three weekends can go check out his work in person (see how the light changes as you shift the pin!) at the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program booth at the Colorado Renaissance Festival. :)

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 07:43 AM:

Darkhawk, I absolutely did not expect anyone to notice that I'd arranged those in the style of that palindrome.

#7 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 10:10 AM:

Gah. I don't wear pins, but I want a winged book, a blue moon, a gold maple leaf, and an Owl of Minerva.

No, no, I don't *wear* pins. Gah.

#8 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 11:14 AM:

And who can resist a triolobite?

Not me.


#9 ::: LNH ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 11:15 AM:

Nor, apparently, spell it ...

#10 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 12:25 PM:

Ah, marvelous! I first discovered these little gems at Elliott Bay Books, which had a very nice selection for a while there -- and may still, though I haven't been by to check -- and found that they did a particularly handsome cardinal, which Vicki Rosenzweig clearly needed to have one of. I got the bluejay for myself. And now I can find more of them on the web. Teresa, you're a dangerous woman.

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 12:47 PM:

Triolobite actually *sounds* kind of nice. Could be the name of an faux-italian snack food. ("Mozarella cheese! Marinara sauce! Thinly sliced raw beef! All together in Triolobites!")

#12 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 12:54 PM:

And apropos of nothing much, other than some common themes, I'm reminded that the work of the guys at DeBrady glass is totally fascinating to me: 3-D ship and boat stained glass. Gorgeous, complex, amazing structures:

#13 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 02:47 PM:

As we just got back from Alaska, I hit that section -- wow.

The best one, quite unexpectedly, is the Spenard Divorce pin. Not having ever heard he term, I googled it and found the definition on

Spenard Divorce
A noisy, sometimes fatal, way of ending a relationship. A proper Spenard Divorce involves a husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend shooting at his or her partner. The action is named after the Spenard district of Anchorage, where the rite is often conducted in one of the area's many watering holes. Since a Spenard Divorce often involves alcohol, a surprising number end with all parties still breathing.

Everybody is now looking into my office to see what I am chortling about. I think this guy is going to get into us for serious money around Christmas this year.

#14 ::: Ter ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 03:56 PM:

I think this guy is going to get into us for serious money around Christmas this year.

Yep, I just reviewed my 2003 Birthday list and this site fills in the remaining gifts.

This one might have been made just for me. I'm glad to know someone in Alaska is against the return of wolf hunts.

#15 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 04:15 PM:

Triolobite sounds like a classical music ensemble. One that plays Crumb, Penderecki, and Cage.

#16 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 05:09 PM:

Wouldn't that be Triolbité?


#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 05:10 PM:

That's perfect, Xopher. I can just imagine John Scheaffer introducing Triolobite on an installment of New Sounds.

Hmmmm. Christmas gifts. Gooooood idea.

#18 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 05:26 PM:

Xopher - One that plays Crumb, Penderecki, and Cage - love it.

I finally figured out where I had seen these before when I came across the Spawn 'til You Die pin. That's from a design (often seen on t-shirts) by Alaskan artist Ray Troll. Ray has a studio in Ketchikan called Coho Soho in the old red light district that hangs out over a salmon stream (it's called Creek Street). They had an assortment of these pins there for sale.

Some of the more, well, notable Ray Troll designs/shirts were:

- It's never to late to mutate
- Fish worship; Is it wrong?
- The perils of nude flyfishing
- Got Milt?

#19 ::: Daniel J. Boone ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 05:56 PM:

He's right here in my home town. Brilliant enamel artist.

#20 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2003, 09:59 PM:

Ulrika: Who's a dangerous woman. You know how I am about glass. Actually most of that isn't something I'd want though I admire it greatly. The musical instruments are nearly irresistable though. Teresa, better keep Patrick away from that page.


#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 08:05 AM:

Mary Kay, Patrick wouldn't want glass models of musical instruments; he'd want the real thing. But he does want the Thelonious Monk pin.

#22 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2003, 10:26 AM:

Did Patrick ever manage to find the "Angel Snowy/Devil Snow" pin pair that he sought many years ago?

(Footnote for the audience: Snowy is Tintin's dog.)

#23 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2003, 09:24 AM:

Good footnote, Kevin. Not everyone is familiar with the milieu.

#24 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 12:18 AM:

Ooooaaahhhhh . . . .

Kip, please lean in the direction of Portland so I can slap you upside the head.

Quite-good site:

#25 ::: Sue Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 08:08 AM:

Oh dear, they have a Moose head...

#26 ::: Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 02:17 PM:

*remembers to come back and check comments*

*laughs lengthily*

*recovers ability to type*

Well, I suppose I didn't know whether you did it on purpose, so we're even. :}

#27 ::: Bill Spear ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 03:37 PM:

Well, I'm not bragging, but I get Googled a lot. However I think this is the first time I've ever been blogged! And Hey, I love it. Thanks for all the kind words about the enamels..when I saw the ones you liked I really felt I had to blog back. Our hard copy catalog is about 28 pages and we are just redoing it. There are about 5 pages there which are really dear to my heart..and which include a lot of the designs you have cited...stuff that I just "had" to do ....and then there are the majority of pages with a lot of standard stuff like hummingbirds and black labs and so on. Hey, everybody's got'ta eat. Anyway we ran the numbers as a real business might do to see which pages were carrying the freight. Needless to say every single one of the pages I liked with stuff like the Runnin' Mummy (sort of a self portrait) were not just near the bottom, they were at the very bottom! So, it's great to hear someone(s) out there get it.

Well anyway, where is it written that you are supposed to make a living out of self expression? ...I hope I haven't spoiled it all by showing up or done something stupid or impolite...
Bill Spear

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2003, 04:04 PM:

I like the fact that you offer a zipper-pull version of the pins, Bill.

Any chance of getting these cufflink form? For those male relatives who wouldn't wear a pin, y'know.

#29 ::: Bill Spear ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2003, 05:10 PM:

So few of our customers wear shirts...and the ones that do so often are the type with no sleeves let alone cuffs!

#30 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 12:27 AM:

Bill, I'm delighted and honored to have you show up. As you'll probably have noticed, we've got a lot of overlap between "people who like your pins" and "people who read my weblog". I mean, the black labrador is a fine stalwart beast, and the hummingbirds are very pretty, but the running mummy and the box of matches and Thelonious Monk and the x-ray (and and and ...) are just plain cool.

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2003, 12:29 AM:

Kip, I don't know what to say. A groan seems appropriate.

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