JOCELYNN BROWN

Handmade: Ancient Egyptian artistry inspires talent

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

The distinctive structure of ancient Egyptian architecture and body adornment inspired Kalom McClore of Detroit to learn metalsmith jewelry making.

Self-taught jewelry artist Kalom McClore of Detroit prepares to set a stone in a ring he recently designed.

“Before I got started in jewelry, I always looked at and studied the jewelry and architecture of ancient Egypt. I wanted those kinds of pieces that the pharaohs wore, so I decided to start making them to wear by looking at pictures and trying to replicate the pieces,” explained McClore. “My first professional-looking pieces are like actual replicas of ancient Egyptian style symbols.”

He designed all his work around ancient cultural representations, including the Ankh (the Egyptian symbol for eternal life). But, he later realized “everybody is not into the ancient Egyptian culture,” so he expanded his “KaM Dynasty Collection” to include abstract pieces — “things that would appeal to everyone.”

And, like the jewelry once worn by wealthy individuals of one of the world’s oldest and most influential civilizations, McClore’s unique pieces are created with semi-precious and precious stones and metals. For added interest, he sometimes incorporates wood, bone and fabric into his “sculptural art jewelry.”

McClore, 35, prides himself on being a “completely self-taught” jewelry maker. “I’ve never taken a class,” he said. “Everything I learned is trial and error. I did go online and look at a few (how-to) videos years ago, and maybe looked at a few books to learn how to do particular things.”

McClore grew up not knowing what profession he wanted to pursue, but always found himself drawn to the world of art and design. “I started off doing just something as simple as pen and pencil drawings of cartoon characters. Then that grew into painting and air brushing,” said the naturally talented entrepreneur, whose father and brother are fashion designers.

The fact that at one point he wanted to be an architect may explain his attraction to the architecture of ancient Egypt. “I actually got an internship, but I didn’t really want to pursue it as a career,” he said. “I tried so many different things, (but) when I got into the jewelry, I knew that was it!”

McClore says he does a lot of “experimenting,” which leads to his eye-appealing and one-of-kind-designs. “I’m always experimenting with new ideas. I have this new piece for men that goes on their suit jacket. I’m always pushing my creativity and incorporating elements that you would not normally find in jewelry. I’m also going to be designing glasses made of sterling silver and gold. Some might have wood, bone and stones, as well. I’m also doing belt buckles now — so basically, every type of accessory.” He also does lapel pins and cuff links for men.

McClore sells pieces from his “KaM Dynasty Collection” on Etsy, and he welcomes custom orders. His jewelry is also sold locally at C. Grantston Bullard Design Studio (19132 Livernois) in Detroit, and at a number of art shows around town. Prices start at $40 for a “simple” pair of earrings.

Pieces from McClore’s “KaM Dynasty Collection” are displayed for sale at C. Grantston Bullard Design Studio in Detroit.

Look for McClore selling his work at the following shows: Orchard Lake Fine Art, Fine Wine Fair at St. Mary’s in Orchard Lake (June 24-25), Arts, Beats and Eats in downtown Royal Oak (Sept. 1-4), and the Brazilian Day Street Festival at Dabls African Bead Gallery (6559 Grand River) in Detroit (Sept. 16).

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact: KaM Dynasty Collection at (313) 282-8216, on Facebook or etsy.com/shop/

kamdynastycollection.