Second-generation metalsmith Ren Patch used his mantra — taking nothing and creating something — when naming his business Void to Form.
“I see it as God’s truth, Mother Nature, or ultimate truth loosely based on stoic philosophy,” Patch said. “My dad’s a goldsmith and I’ve been around molten metal and hammers since I was a baby.”
He learned the mechanical and technical jewelry craftsmanship at a young age. He repairs jewelry for a living, and creates his own jewelry as a hobby and now as a unique business in Hamilton.
“I use a special silver called argentum silver in most of my work,” he said. “It has a touch of germanium and a little bit more silver and less copper than sterling silver has. It makes it so the metal is harder.”
The metal is tarnish-resistant but Patch adds a patina to most of his creations to dull the shine. He said argentum silver has great advantages for a smith.
“It fuses beautifully, casts incredibly and there is no fire scale — some jewelers call it ‘mithril’ — the metal in Lord of the Rings,” he said.
Patch creates custom jewelry, but holds on to the creative license.
“I turn down a lot of work, actually,” he said. “I love doing custom work but I have to have the free rein to make things as I see it. I’m doing this to make art — the best jewelry I can make. If someone likes what I do, it works. I like to talk to people and make something for them.”
Most of the week, Patch works in his shop at home but on Fridays he puts his creativity, building and designing on display in his storefront.
He calls his business an experiment, an incubator of art and ideas.
He and the hand engraver and jeweler who calls himself Montana Turtle met at the Farmers Market and admired each other’s work online. The two built a friendship and share work space and ideas.
The Void to Form work space provides for collaboration.
“I feel like kindred spirits with common goals,” Turtle said. “Our work is completely different but we share common ideas. We refer customers to each other.”
Patch said it works.
“When people aren’t in a competitive nature, then we can rise each other up,” he said. “Some people in the jewelry trade worry about trade secrets being stolen. If we could all work together and share our techniques, we’d all be stronger.”
In the Void to Form space, the two jewelry makers distill their craft while talking philosophy. They also share the space with a friend who does glass blowing.
There is room for more artists.
“I don’t know where this is going yet,” Patch said. “It is an experiment and continually changing. I’m learning a lot and fine-tuning the vision. My goal this year is to get as many guest artists as I can in here. This is a platform for exposure for artists.”
Turtle called the business and work space with large windows a "fish bowl."
“Artists get to express their art,” he said. “They get exposure on Ren’s front corner. One of the things I love about artists is we all have a different spin on life and our job isn’t to emulate life to perfection but to interpret it from our mind and our heart.”
Patch said he loves the process of making jewelry.
“That’s what I want to connect to people coming into the shop looking for jewelry to buy,” he said. “This space lets people see artists at work — making something real from imagination, creativity and dreams. It is an alchemy of ideas — a spark becoming real.”
Visit Void to Form, Montana Turtle and other artists from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 180 S. Second St., on Fridays; 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., on Saturdays at the Hamilton Farmer Market; online and at venues around Montana.