12-11-03 Latest News

Lord of the Pins
Xoanon @ 10:33 am EST

Badali's 'TORN LP3' Pin
Badali's 'TORN LP3' Pin

The last two telecasts of the Academy Awards have featured, if fans looked closely at Peter Jackson's jacket lapel, two "good luck" pins from TheOneRing.net made by the hand of Paul Badali.

Badali is a long-time fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's books and has always been fascinated with the Middle-earth jewelry.

"Near as I can remember I was 15-years old when I read the Hobbit." He discovered later in life that he had dyslexia as a child. "The Hobbit was the first book I ever read that I wasn't required to read in school. It was an impressionable age to be reading Tolkien. It captured imagination and heart."

Tolkien's magnum opus caught Badali in college sparking a life-long love affair with fantasy and science fiction, but the love of jewelry stuck with him from his teen-aged first exposure to Middle-earth.

"That is part of why I became a jeweler." A college course and friendly competition with another student prompted the pair to open a shop. Badali changed his business model several times but never his passion. "I choose to do what I love."

Susan and Peter JacksonJim and Randy
Peter Jackson, Jim Rygiel & Randy Cook wearing Badali Pins at TORN's 'The One Party' in 2002

His love of Tolkien and jewelry prompted him to take a "crude" stab at the One ring in 1975. Later he acquired the licence from Saul Zaentz to make the rings into fine pieces of art which he continues to do. It was natural then for Badali to find TheOneRing.net and tap into the Tolkien on-line fandom.

He doesn't hold the rights to reproduce any of the jewelry in the films and that doesn't bother him at all.

"The jewelry I design is the way I envision Tolkien having envisioned it when he wrote the books. I believe our customers are book-reading, life-long, true fans. I am used to real quality jewelry - heavy enough to be worn. I don't care if I am making it in brass or silver. People producing movie replicas are producing movie souvenirs for people who say "oh that is cool"."

Badali, who lives in Layton, Utah has been a part of the TORn line party activities since they started two years ago for "Fellowship Of The Ring." This year, he felt that he wanted to do something a little bit extra so he created a comemorative pin for the thousands of TORnados who participate in line party activies around the globe.

Singing Gandalf with Dan HennahLord of the Pins II
Dan Hennah, Joe Letteri, Randy Cook & Ethan Van der Ryn
with Badali Pins at TORN's 'Two Towers: One Party' in 2003.

"It is more a labor of love than a project I thought I was going to get rich off of. I wanted one myself and I was in contact with folks making it happen and folks participating."

So he created a quality pin at an affordable price for LP3 events the world over and a slightly different version for Salt Lake City, the line he participates in.

"I guess the reason I am doing two different pins, a little bit of home grown pride. Several of the other people that are running line parties are envious of Salt Lake for having its own pin. It might be the folks here in Salt Lake don't appreciate what a good line party we have got." (Thanks Paul!)

He sent a few around the U.S. as a line party prize along with some of his rings and offers the rest at a website. So far Salt Lake City's pin is being outsold at a pretty brisk pace.

"Why are we doing this? Why jewelry from (Tolkien) and why are we making line party pins? This is not the biggest audience. I choose to do what I love to do.

"I guess basicly making the good luck for TORn for them to give to the folks that did the movie the last couple of years, it seemed like that was for the important people, but fans wanted to have something too. First for the line party in Salt Lake, we have had so much fun with those things."

The doing is not easy. He sends the design to a photo engraver in Los Angeles who does the original in magnesium while Badali does the winged helmet in the center of the pin by hand. Later he joins the two parts together to make the original piece. Then it is molded and cast in bronze and finally gold plated, by hand.

"Clean-up is all done by hand," he said. "The kind of jewelry that we make is what we call hand-crafted mass production or mass-produced hand crafted. It is made in quantity but finished by hand. If there are little flaws that need to be done by hand to bring it up to quality, the mass producers miss it. During the last 10 to15 years people are used to accepting stuff that way. People have been lulled into accepting less than excellent. We feel jewely needs to be finished by hand and inspected closely to get it as closely perfect as possible."