Photo: Ruby Johnson
“When you see a stone that calls your name, you just want a piece made out of it,” Arash Mafi tells me. We’re sitting in his parents’ garage, surrounded by a variety of acids, grinders, a small torch to melt metal and a tray that is covered in a beautiful array of stones. Mafi has transformed the Holladay garage into the workshop where he crafts handmade jewelry for his company, Paisley Dreams. Approximately 20 minutes later, there I was watching Mafi create a custom bracelet for yours truly from copper wire and a massive piece of turquoise sea sediment jasper—a stone which Mafi says is currently one of his favorites to work with.
Mafi is relatively new to the handmade scene compared to other artists featured in the second annual Craft Lake City. Mafi began making jewelry about a year ago. His early designs were simple and mostly consisted of soldering copper together. Last summer he sold some pieces in the Gallivan Market Place during the Twilight Concert Series and eventually started selling pieces at Salt Lake Citizen in Library Square. “I started really simple and just progressed as the days went by. It’s something that [I] built over time” he says.
Four months ago, Mafi
ditched the simple copper wire pieces for intricate pendants, bracelets and rings where stones like turquoise, tiger’s eye, onyx, amber and amethyst take center stage in welded pieces of silver, copper and brass. “I haven’t been doing this style of jewelry for that long,” Mafi says, “It’s just been going really fast and that’s why it has been exciting for me.”
It’s clear that Mafi is a fast learner, but his quick progression is also a result of dedication to his craft. Mafi says that he makes jewelry every day and tries to spend anywhere between two to four hours in his shop making around two pieces a day. Typically, by the end of the week he has created at least 10 pieces and by the end of the month he can fill an entire tray. “I think I’m peaking as far as my quality of work goes, but I don’t think you could put a level on any quality of design because you keep coming up with more designs,” he says.
Mafi will be selling pre-made pieces at Craft Lake City, but his real passion lies in the custom work that he does. He says that he enjoys working with people on their pieces since it is something that they will have for the rest of their lives. “I like collaborating with people because I want them to add some of the art into it, too.” he says, “[And] I just can’t get enough of the smile I get from people when they look at [their jewelry] and they’re like, ‘Damn! This is great!’” To date, Mafi says he has created about 60 custom pieces.
Check out Mafi’s jewelry at Craft Lake City, or if you just can’t stand the wait, hit him up through his Facebook page to craft a unique piece alongside the artist.