Cubone Club is a completely customisable jewellery label running out of Sydney. The two halves of the label are Tallis and Rei who have turned their attention to one of the more under-accessorised areas of the body—teeth. Yeah, we’re talking about grills. The jewellery makers have delved into the grill business simply through supply and demand. Cubone Club’s modern take on the accessory is breaking the mould—the grill mould, that is.
How did you end up making grills?
Tallis: We both had been studying jewellery design for four years. During that time, there was a friend of ours who was after a set of grills, which not many people in Australia do. So we just kind of worked out how to do it for them. Then after that, a few other people asked and we kept doing it until it became a bit of a thing.
Cubone Club is a partnership, how does that work? Who takes care of what?
Rei: Tallis does all the grills—the hard work. I do most of the social media and business side of things. We run everything by each other, we discuss everything, even down to the smallest thing. If there’s an email from a client we’ll be writing the email together.
Tallis: Rei is far better at designing than me, I usually relay everything off her.
What is the process that goes into making each piece?
Tallis: Alright so once we’ve spoken to someone and either set up an appointment with them, they can contact a dentist to get a tooth mould made—or they can come by us and we’ll sort them out—either way, we need a mould to model off.
After that, depending on what they want, we just makeup, you know, wax and then get it cast, fit it, polish it, add in any specifications they want, anything different like a stone set in it. We’ll add it all in and then usually invite the person back over and do a fitting to make sure it fits perfectly and that they’re happy and comfortable. Your teeth are very temperamental and it’s a very sensitive place to have something added into, so it’s best to have it fit well. After that, it’s done.
Rei: The whole process takes about two weeks in total.
What are the client’s options when it comes to customising their grills?
Tallis: There’s things like stones, but we like taking suggestions from people as well and going off what people are into. A lot of people just want to get fangs, that’s the most common kind of alteration.
Rei: We’ve done teeth with cut out windows or we’ve done a playboy one.
Tallis: Oh yeah, that little playboy bunny.
Red: Or a single set stone, or a gap where you just have the metal bit in the gap between your teeth, or we often do an inverted cross in the gap.
I’ve also seen engravings on your other pieces, is it possible to get engravings on your grills as well?
Tallis: It’s possible. We usually send pieces off for engravings because that’s a very special art and not many people practise it but if you want it, it’s definitely possible.
I saw Moonlight last night and was surprised when a character had to take his grills out to eat. This is a pretty weird question, but can you eat food with the grills or is it better to take them out?
Rei: It’s far better to take them out, you’ll be way more comfortable without them.
Tallis: It’s an extra layer in your mouth, about an extra millimetre or so that un-aligns your bite.
Rei: Grills are basically just an aesthetic thing, it wouldn’t be recommended to wear them for long periods of time or like when you’re drinking or smoking. It’s purely for a look.
What maintenance is required for upkeep?
Tallis: The mouth is highly acidic, it’s got a lot of changes happening all the time so just the acidity in your mouth can tarnish metal depending on the alloys and things like that. Silver has a copper contention so it can tarnish quite easily. At the end of wearing it every time, all you have to do is give it a rinse and a brush with a bit of dishwashing detergent and that’ll just keep it clean and stop it from tarnishing
Visually, the pieces look unreal. Where do you draw your inspiration from in your designs?
Rei: Instagram culture and Rihanna [laughs].
So you think a big part of your demand has been Instagram and photo sharing?
Rei: Definitely. The first pair we made was just a favour for a friend and I posted a photo of it, not even of the finished product, just of us in the process of making it. Because people saw that one photo, people started hitting us up and requesting their own.
When we are talking about such a niche kind of market, how do you make sure your brand is inclusive for everyone?
Tallis: I love hip-hop music and everything but we try not to come at it from that angle. It’s more about that high fashion kind of shit that we like.
It’s not necessarily niched in that kind of aspect, it’s more that anyone can have it if they chose too and it can just be a really small accent to your look. It doesn’t need to be an image changing piece, like a whole set across your teeth. Just a single split between two teeth can just be a nice addition to how you’re dressing for the day.
Rei: I think that our brand in particular has taken it to a different place where we’ve stepped away from that whole hip-hop vibe. I feel like our brand looks quite approachable.
It’s not just grills that you make though, is it?
Rei: We’re not predominately grill-makers, we just happen to make really good grills.
Tallis: We do all sorts of custom jewellery. Our brand is more for people to get what they want, as opposed to what we chose to offer. We’re always welcoming any kind of suggestion, anything people want to work on—we like having the customer involved.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Tallis: Well If you want a grill, you know who to hit up.
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- Interview: Emma Arnold
- Photography: Chris Loutfy