Justin Marsh is Goat and Kettle: a company that describes itself as “Artisan Jewelry Hand-Forged from Antique Hardware”. Justin values history as much as he values creation, and that’s something special in our world right now. That said, there’s nothing precious about his pieces– they are strong, beautiful, and made with an informed sense of legacy.
please introduce yourself.
My name is Justin Marsh. I was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Florida, and moved to Pasadena, California in 2007. Last year my wife and I moved to Santa Monica, which is where I make all of our rings and other jewelry on the beautiful sunny patio of our apartment!
what do you make or do?
Goat & Kettle started with one-of-a-kind rings hand-forged from antique keys – which is still our signature item – and that has expanded over the past 9 months into earrings, antique backplate cuffs, necklaces, and our most recent addition – antique key and leather bracelets. All of our items are created from real antique hardware that was all in use at some point in history.
where can we find your creations?
You can see our rings and some of our other pieces in our Etsy shop – but the best place to see our stuff is to visit one of the markets or shows that we do in the Los Angeles area. Some of our regular handouts include Unique LA, the Renegade Craft Fairs, Patchwork, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and the Melrose Trading Post, but we’re always doing other things too!
how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
Even though I made my very first antique key ring many years ago as a gift for my wife, I went full-time with Goat & Kettle starting in November 2012. Before that I worked in churches in various roles – I have an undergrad degree in Religion and a Master’s of Divinity (the reason we originally moved from Florida to California). Over the years my wife was constantly getting asked about her ring – where she got it, what it was, how old it was, what the key was to – but we never really considered that it could be the beginning of its own creative endeavor until last year when I was looking for a change. I’ve always been an extremely creative and artistic person, and now Goat & Kettle lets me do creative work every day!
where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by the history of the things I use in the creation of my jewelry. Each key is different, not just because of the cut of the teeth, but because most of them have engravings or stamps from the original manufacturers or added names, addresses, numbers, or random letters from the people that used them long ago. We just had a ring that had a locksmith’s name and address on it, and after a little digging I was able to find his family on the 1910 and 1920 census reports, as well as advertisements from his old locksmith shop with the same address that was on the ring! This is very rare – to find a small item that is so tangibly linked to a real person who was born and lived over 100 years ago. I’m always seeing new company names and trying to search out where and when these companies started and what happened to them since. Most of the companies I come across started in the early to mid 1800’s – and it’s just crazy to think how different the world was 150 years ago! These all come from a time when all the keys in the world didn’t look the same like they seem to now. There are just so many intricate styles and designs – and with a little work these translate perfectly to rings, bracelets, and necklaces. I love telling people the story of their new ring, and people love knowing that they’re wearing an authentic piece of history that has been rescued and given a new purpose – to be worn as a beautiful piece of hand-crafted jewelry!
what’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
We’ve been doing lots of markets and shows and we’ll continue to do that because that’s where you get to meet people face to face and tell them the story of your company and introduce them to these little pieces of American manufacturing history. In the coming year I’m going to put some more focus on the wholesale side of things. Getting our rings out into local boutiques and shops can be challenging because they’re all unique, so it’s not like a retailer can order 10 of the same ring. But we’ll figure out something that works! We’d also like to look for some more specialized shows and festivals since our items go well in so many categories, from steampunk shows to ren fairs to old west festivals – just going to some of those events once for the experience would be a lot of fun!
Goat and Kettle’s Antique Key Bracelets
Goat and Kettle’s Justin Marsh