What you see is what he gets. That is, the rustic aesthetic which emerges from repurposed materials and the masterful welding process of Brian Carlson.
Carlson’s designs are soulful as they are stylish and serendipitously right on par with fashion’s revival of utilitarian, American-made goods. The native Oregonian pays tribute to his agrarian Pacific Northwest upbringing and adopted Nashville, Tennessee home by mingling provincial and heritage styles.
Welded out of steel, brass and copper Carlson renders timeless, second-skin pieces crafted from skillful labor and a hyperactive imagination. He has long been passionate about working with his hands since a childhood of building tree houses, rafting and horseback riding. Carlson credits his machinist grandfather for his artisanal skills and a high school welding class, in which the lifelong musician built his first drum rack. Shortly after, reminded of an old nail cross hanging from his brother’s wall, the burgeoning designer stumbled across a box of horseshoe nails and welded his first cross necklace as an expression of faith.
Christian bookstores and music festivals were his initial markets, and he sold through timber displays of inventory faster than his drill press could operate. His jewelry is now showcased in high-end boutiques and on television shows like ABC’s “Nashville,” plus, it graces the necks of several country music artists. The nimble-fingered welder has sold hundreds of thousands of necklaces throughout 30 years of honing his expertise.
Salvaged materials, rawhide leather and antiqued treasures make for inventive pieces that are equal parts adornment and sculptural art. With precision and spontaneity, Carlson welds metals together over a fire brick, hammering and molding each piece into its antiqued, heirloom-reminiscent aesthetic. The final creation reveals itself organically in the process and is metaphorically, stamped with the designer’s fingerprints. Although motifs may be repeated every necklace is the only one of its kind.
While others look externally for inspiration the designer credits his creativity as contingent on his spiritual connection. Above all, he aspires to craft jewelry that is the impetus for conversation, communion and a mile marker on his customer’s journeys.
"Creativity continues day and night,” says Carlson. “I rely on God to show me how to connect with people through my jewelry and the symbolism behind it all.”