About Us

Michael Johnson

of Cosmic Folklore Studios


My dad decided that at the age of 8 I was old enough to start helping out around his jewelry store. He was a master jeweler who had a jewelry repair shop in the old downtown area, and later a retail store in the better strip mall area of our small town, and then latter he converted an old building near the house into a jewelry production shop. He trained me to work as free labor up until I was 18 and able to escape off to college sworn to find something more creative to do for a living and never to return to the confines of the jewelry biz.

I started off cleaning up casted trees of rings and doodads, polishing, sizing rings and chains, and then setting stones. I could not see any creativity in making rings and setting to hold stones. These were the 80’s and decadence and gluttony was rule. As the middle class divided into rich and poor, my father rode the rich up into their spiral. I remember many nugget pendants and groovy medallions (the 70’s lasted much longer here in Alabama). Jewelry was just work. The only creativity was figuring out how to make the customer’s wishes come true.

As a young fellow, my Star Trekky father would occasionally send me off to Space camp and fill my head with notions of one day piloting space craft to and from planets, making way for new colonies. But, then Regan killed off the space program in lieu of plans to put missiles in space. The economy bottomed out, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to outer space to escape the jewelry industry.

In college, I struggled with the idea of pre-seminary, but I liked girls way too much to be a priest. So, I went where the girls were, art classes. And, I did very well, with girls and art. I used my passions for space as a means of expression in my artwork, and that carried me off to grad school. I even taught at the University of Alabama for a few years. But, kids came along and a wife. Then it was just me and my two girls. So, I went into public education teaching art and graphic Design, benefits and summers off to spend quality time with my two full-time daughters.

Then I met my Bead Goddess who encouraged me to work in stones and metal. Actually, it was her passion for lampworking that drew me into that direction. Fire, fire, fire, I wanted to melt stuff, he he. Now, it’s been a few years of making jewelry, and I look around and wonder how this happened. But, at least I came to it on my terms. No repairs, no custom work; I just make what I want, expressing my own ideas in metal and stone.

My work is called Cosmic Folklore Studios, because my daughters and I love to look for meanings in old stories. Old stories and futuristic imagery are entwined in our product. And, we sometimes we add new elements, such as ceramics, ironwork, woodwork, and textiles into the mix. And, they even add their own creativity to the mix. We have made many pieces where they have done the initial drawings, and I just sort of guide them through the process. At the moment they are 9 and 11 years old, but I try my best to allow them to be creative, without killing their enthusiasm. We all work together to keep our ideas young and wise.

So, I have come full circle, but I still feel like I am still learning new things. I need the excitement of exploration to keep me moving forward. But, sometimes moving forward means looking to the past. Ancient techniques impress me much more than new high tech equipment. We keep tools simple, and we turn to ancient ancestors for finding new ways to do new things. I do not consider myself a jeweler. Jewelers (in my mind) are people who make settings for stones. I like to think of myself as an artist. The imagery and idea is way more important than the value of the rocks or metals. Gold, silver, copper, and the plethora of stones are all just colors in my crayon box. And, the objective is to keep telling stories with our work.

I hope you enjoy my work.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne July 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Love your background story and it’s good to know that being a Trekky parent was a positive influence on your daughters. You’ve inspired me to get my kids into the workshop more often. Thank you!

Peggy January 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm

My husband for Christmas handed me the little wooden box and when I opened it I saw a wonderful handmade neckless…I just want to tell you how lovely it was and I just loved it.:) I will be sure to let all my friends know about your work….and your blog

Thanks again,
Peggy L. Marchetti

Jerry November 28, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I am very interested in your pendant that you created using Wisconsin jade. Back in the early 1970’s I tried to market Wisconsin Jade from northern central Wisconsin What we sold was not as green as yours or as translucent , Can you tell me anything about Your Wisconsin Jade.
Take care Jerry

Michael Johnson February 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm

LOL, thanks Jay!!!

I’m definitely a Twitter newbie as well, but it has been fun.

Many don’t use anything over their patina, and that is fine. However, I am always trying new recipes and methods that I want to fix as it reaches neat colors and finishes. Plus, I use copper accents that would just fade away without something. Many use varnishes and such. That is fine as well, but they will tend to crack or flake after a while. Plus, I can see these types of finishes, whereas the wax is practically invisible :o)

Thanks for reading my blogs, and I look forward to seeing your work as well. I’ll keep in touch on Twitter :o)

Jay Parker February 28, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Hey There,
I found your blog yesterday and I think I’ve read everything! You’re too funny! I really like your work and appreciated your comments on Orchid about the renaissance wax. I’ve got to try using some of that, as I do a lot of keum-boo, which I then oxidize to highlight the gold. I haven’t “coated” my pieces with anything as yet, as I’ve read quite a few posts where folks have stated that they didn’t use anything. I know the fine silver oxidization will change over time, but I’m thinking that’ll happen eventually anyway. Maybe I’ll break down and get some wax and try it, just to see what happens.

Keep up the good work! And I found you on Twitter (which I’m new to as well), so I’m following your trials and tribulations there. Get well soon!


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