Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Artist rides happily with jewelry demand

Express Staff Writer

Navigating the river or pedaling a bicycle, John Caccia enjoys the ride. These days he also enjoys an accelerating ride as a jewelry artist. The Wood River Valley jewelry maker recently attracted national interest for his silver amulet designed for bicycle enthusiasts. The attention significantly increased the demand for Caccia's designs and prompted the artist to design a second piece for cyclists.

"The joy of propelling yourself with two wheels—the freedom and exuberance of when you are cruising on your bicycle—that's what I was trying to depict," Caccia explained.

This fall, Terry Precision Cycling, headquartered in Macedon, N.Y., noticed Caccia's affinity for outdoor adventures. The company admired an amulet Caccia designed for cyclists when a model wore one bought in Stanley to a photo shoot in New York. The amulet is appropriately named the Cyclists Amulet and joins Caccia's established line of river jewelry and bolo ties.

The Cyclists Amulet features the front view of a cyclist on a bicycle with a cog-toothed spiral on the back.

"I got my inspiration during a bicycling trip to Moab. I have always been interested in petroglyphs and pictographs. While I was there I saw all of these petroglyphs that looked like bicycling parts," Caccia said.

The design builds from authentic Anasazi petroglyphs that Caccia believes reflect the energy and movement involved in riding. He designed the amulet nine years ago to remind riders to live and ride in a respectful manner and to maintain the mechanical and physical aspects of cycling. Awareness of riding responsibilities in turn enhances a person's riding experience and brings protection to riders, qualities that are traditionally associated with an amulet's good luck power.

After admiring the model's Cyclists Amulet, the New York company ordered 50 amulets. Two weeks later the company promptly ordered 50 more. In the last four months the company sold approximately 500 amulets. Typically, Caccia sells 20 to 30 each year.

The successful sales of the Cyclists Amulet prompted the cycling company to commission a pendant of their own from the valley artist.

"We faxed and e-mailed for two weeks until we came up with a design," Caccia said.

The finished design features a woman on a bicycle, her hair flying in the wind and limbs stretched in the air, exulting in the thrill of riding a bicycle.

The simple design conveys the delight of cycling on a circular silver pendant. The pendant symbolizes the sport, with the shape signifying a bicycle wheel and the jagged edge formed like the teeth of bicycle gears.

All of Caccia's amulets also feature a design on the backside of the work. He carried this tradition into his recent creation.

"They wanted a message like what Lance Armstrong was doing with his 'Live Strong' bracelets," he explained.

Working with the company, Caccia suggested that the saying "Ride Happy" be imprinted across the back. The cycling company embraced the suggestion and now calls the piece the Ride Happy pendant.

The design is being cast and will be available as a pendant and as a key chain. Terry Precision Cycling will feature the merchandise in their spring catalogue that will be released Jan. 15. Both Ride Happy pieces will also be available at the Golden Door Gallery in Ketchum and at

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