Those in attendance at this year’s APP conference in Las Vegas are probably well aware of Joe Amato‘s well deserved win of the Creative Innovation Award with his newly released Art Hook designs. The winner is selected based on votes from the conference attendees, which makes the award not only a huge compliment from the suspension community but the piercing community as well. In the previous two years the Association of Professional Piercers has honored two outstanding individuals in the suspension community with the President’s Award. Getting to see a third year where piercers chose to recognize someone from our community, and to do it based on a suspension specific product, is simply incredible; more so when you take into consideration the brilliant jewelry companies that were entered as well.


Although creating hooks that were more than just a piece of equipment was a concept Joe had considered in the past, a new product that is focused on the artistic side of suspension can certainly be hit or miss in this community. While making a small batch of specialty hooks, Joe’s mind wondered back to the idea of creating artistic hooks and the almost limitless possibilities, including doing special editions of various designs. As he weighed the idea once more, he thought of the beautiful work of Jimmy Buddha with Diablo Organics. The large hanging weights and inset gems that they create inspired Joe as he took the jump to create the pieces he wanted. He started hunting down large crystals and creating designs in which every piece of the hook is tailored to the client’s interests, with even the wrench being a piece of the theme. The Art Hook gives people a reason to want their own hooks; not just their personal hooks to hang from, but their piece of art that has every detail created to fit them personally.


From that point, Joe and his crew jumped in head first. They spent the next few weeks leading up to APP working shifts around the clock to make these hooks happen. Their hard work paid off. They were not only able to complete several designs in time for the conference, but also to have samples shipped to Rock Exotica for testing before they would be made available to the public. That mindset of bringing safety and practicality together with art and creativity really is what makes this work so well. Not only did the testing show that they maintain the strength of a Gilson hook, they also fully disassemble after use for cleaning and processing. That ability to disassemble every detail also leads to being able to further customize and change the appearance by simply installing new colors, gems, and shapes to the side plate. It is really a case of form and function working hand in hand.


So exactly how much can you change up on one hook to make it your own? For each part of the hook, including the wrench, you can choose:


Stainless Steel
-copper plate
-gold plate

-anodized solid color
-brush anodizing
-splash anodizing

Specifically for overlays:
-aluminum which allows highly detailed splash anodizing
-copper overlays
-brass overlays
-carbon fiber overlays

Gem colors:
– too many to list and they are interchangeable.

Bolt colors:
-fine silver plated
-black oxide
-22k gold plated


Those are the options to mix and match, with every piece potentially able to be a different color, finish, or effect. I would love one of my nerdy math friends to work out how many options that would create to choose from. Once you have that number figured out let me know; we can then add it to the fact that there are pretty much endless pattern, design, and color combinations with anodization. Oh, and as a final little number crunch, Joe is also willing to take custom design ideas for the side plates. Have we reached endless possibilities yet? I thought so.

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Joe wanted to make sure to give credit where it was due, and mention that he isn’t working by himself on this project. Nicola Sands, Brandon Pearce, Joshua Fisher, and Nathan Mahle are all on board making this happen, and bringing with them an all new creative force to the already impressive designs by Skin Mechanic Steelworks.


Thank you for the information Joe, and congratulations on the award. 2013 is shaping up to be a year for big changes and inspiration for hook ideas. Keep checking in for more information coming soon about some of the other designs and ideas that have been happening.

Photos by Skin Mechanic Steelworks and Juan Duran