A Quick Bio

My name is Zygote. I’m a semi-retired technical foundry artisan, a jeweler, a ceramicist, and a gentleman’s gardener. I turned 40 this year!

I was born in late sixties in Cedar Rapids Iowa, a beautiful, agrarian city nestled along a river and among farm fields and old oak forests.
It’s a community that traditionally thought with its hands. It’s a community that values and takes great pride in its laborers, thinkers, craftsmen, and artists and it still raises its’ children with the belief that much of life’s wisdom is found through the handle of a shovel and through encouraging a curious exploration of the natural world.

Biography Self Portrait of Zygote (Joel) Blum

As a 16 year old, I was encouraged to begin formal art training and left home to attend Memphis Academy of Arts to study drawing, sculpture, and silversmithing. By the age of 20, I had established the beginnings of a private silversmithing studio for ongoing personal nighttime studies and had accepted my first position as a technical foundry artisan in an arts foundry in Arizona. The next decade was spent working with groups of artisans providing technical assistance to professional artists in producing bronze works for private collections, museums, and large public art works for display throughout the southwest, west coast, and pacific rim countries.

Arizona Bronze Foundry, Zygote Blum preparing crucible

In 2000, my wife and I moved our growing family to Stockton, California. I really needed a few years to relax and begin a new creative path in ceramics and gardening while we began raising 2 young children.

Over the past 3 years, most of my personal studio activities has been focused on creating personal silver and ceramic work for the FetishGhost collection and serving my local community through my new studio, RedGate Ceramics.
Through RedGate I create a distinctive high quality body of domestic ceramic wear that speaks specifically to my local markets, and is beginning to cater to a handful of regional galleries. I really enjoy my new path in ceramics and my work keeps improving as I push forward. The best part is having a artistic vehicle that allows me to interact closely with my community.

Fetishghost Tea Ware

Fetishghost Canister


But… it’s my affair with FetishGhost that’s drawn the most attention though. For over the past 20 years, I’ve generally been known for my unique approach to handcrafted sterling macabre.

The silversmithing studio is firmly anchored in the past. I use a mix of traditional preindustrial silversmithing and jewelers skills to create my Gothic SteamPunk designs, eschewing any pre-made or mass produced parts or findings. I’ve been dancing with this muse since 1988, and I love making subtle and noodlely detailed work done in a heavy & stylized motifs of the North American Southwest Macabre (now part of a developing Southwest Goth aesthetic).

Lately I’ve started to enjoy realizing more of my rather “operatic” designs. These are designs, that while they are made to be sensuously experienced by the wearer, their obvious intent is to project the wearers chosen personality.

Fetishghost Silversmith Jewelry
Fetishghost Silversmith Jewelry
Fetishghost Silversmith Jewelry

As always, I’m really excited about the next group of pieces. I’m hooked on the thrill of discovery and something new is always bound to happen. Now that the children are getting older, things could get really strange.
Fetishghost Silversmith Jewelry
I can’t wait!