The Great Frog
Sitting near the corner of Barnaby Street & Anton Street in London’s West End, you will find The Great Frog, makers…no, craftsmen of fine Jewellery.
The store itself, from window dressing to store itself, it screams Rock & Metal…there is history here, you can feel it. But at the same time do not fool yourself into believing it is all cliché…far from it. The Great Frog is ever evolving & 35 years of providing their craft is proof of that.
I went down to meet Patterson (founder) & Reino (son), the past, present & future of The Great Frog to hear their story.
The first desire to create a piece of jewellery came, the day Patterson received his Skull Ring from ‘The Phantom Comics’.
Patterson was raised on a farm near the South Pole & apart from the excitement of the ‘…cow bulls mating…’, he would eagerly await his monthly copy of ‘The Phantom Comic’. In the back of the comic, you could send away for The Phantom’s skull ring.
So after ordering, waiting many moons for it to arrive…Patterson had his ring. It was plastic, & Patterson had a slight sense of unsatisfaction. So the seed was planted, ‘ I reckon I could have done a better job ‘ & the search for the perfect ring began.
Through luck & change, he ended up in London, working for Harrods. Eventually discovered sex, drugs, rock & roll, & ended up on Carnaby Street, ‘selling pipes & paraphernalia, plus jewellery & the like’.
The jewellery originally was cheap stuff from Mexico & Italy, mostly for ‘the kids’, but Patterson soon realised that they could sell more if they could make them bigger. Relying on the supplier to send the resized items soon put a dent on the business & hence The Great Frog started their ‘ Trip’, as Patterson put it, into crafting & producing their own jewellery.
Through reading & experimentation…a method was found & that is what is evolving today.
As for design, Patterson always drew on what was Natural for him, Sun, Moon, Stars & yes The Skull, the holder of the mind, the key to the soul. The desire to make jewellery had taken over, The Phantom was reborn & the search for the Perfect Skull began…& still continues.
Nature played a big part in design & the appeal worked on others. Bats, Rats, Cats, Eyes & The Skull, all things that Patterson considered & are primal.
But, as in most things trends change, & Great Frog became the ‘Dinosaurs’ that did not move on with the so called ‘times’. But then as Patterson puts it, ‘ Next thing you know the models on the catwalks of Europe were wearing Biker Jackets & Skulls, & the whole thing changed again. ‘
‘That is what is so satisfying, the horizon is so broad & always changing’
Then the family came along & Reino was surrounded by the sound of banging metal & bikers, the sound & view of his father working away at his bench…oh yes & the paraphernalia
But Reino, as do most children, went the other way…did an engineering degree, worked in Graphics & then slowly, slowly came back to the fold.
Reino is very different from his father & yet the passion is the same, the appreciation and respect for the final product is mutual but from different vantage points.
Reino comes from a different methodology than Patterson, as Reino puts it ‘ my dad will maybe go through in a trial & error way, where as I will sketch out things, get an overview of a collection, research it…’ Reino brings all the discipline of his education to the table.
This in my opinion is crucial today. The specialist consumer, as I have said a 1000 times is far more informed today. They want to know & see your reference point. Aside from affirmation, it has more to do with knowing that what they have purchased has pedigree.
Again because of Reino’s approach, projects are continuing to grow & evolve The Great Frog even more. There are collaborations with Swarovski, French Fashion houses & host of previous movies where they have created beautiful pieces of work.
But more on Reino, through his attention to detail & amazing research, the work shines. Everything is considered & an answer is provided to every question….no stone left unturned.
In contrary to Patterson’s already skilled work, Reino’s detail & finishing is a little more delicate & precise. The integrity of his design shines. The pieces he is working on for Paul & Joe, are amazing…accessories for your shoes. I want these on my converse !!!
It is the understanding, the knowledge that Reino has of his market, which will take him further than his talent. He knows that people have come to emulate what it is The Great Frog can do, so he is doing what he knows to keep The Great Frog ahead of the pack & keep them coming back for more.
With all the catwalks continuing to hail the God of Rock, The Great Frog is feeding the design influence & consumer alike.
The 2 schools of Patterson & Reino compliment & feed each other. When the time comes for Patterson to walk away from his bench, Reino will be more than capable to keep the creativity flowing.
All hail The Great Frog.