"In all things be passionate"
About 1992 a good friend, Rudy Galloway, gave me my first Zippo - a 1991 Operation Deep Freeze Slim Ultralite Zippo - on his return from working in Antarctica. It was lovingly used & later became the first Zippo that I hand worked with a double-sided artpiece of mine (by replacing the Ultralight chips with anodized aluminium engraved plates) - I had decided that I wasn't happy having a Zippo that there was more than one of & so it became the start of a love affair of producing only one-of-a-kind designs on Zippos. After much more use & admiration from other Zippo lovers it's now retired & takes pride of place in my personal collection.
Click on thumbnail for larger image
Since then my everyday lighter has been a 1996 Original 1932 Replica, 2nd Release (love that shape!) with another design & my motto "In all things be passionate" in miniscule letters.
Yes, it's not one of my better pieces, but like the old saying of "Builders having the worst houses" there never seems time enough to do another special one for me. However, despite this, it's still much loved as it has been used as a hand-rest whilst working most, if not all, of the later pieces. (P.S. the circle in the middle wasn't part of the original design, it has been worn there by rubbing on the dome back inside it's belt pouch.)
Pieces are only available direct through this website (here) or our shop & have only rarely appeared on the secondary market (perhaps 5 in the last 7 years to my knowledge). Unlike some artists who have a team of people under them, & sign off the work as theirs, each design is worked entirely by myself, meaning yearly output numbers are low (eg 2009 saw 69 pieces). There is a 12 - 18 month waiting list on custom designs done to order.
Pricing is based upon time involved & the cost of the base Zippo - a single piece can take between 3 & 35 hours depending on the complexity & coverage of the design.
Some past Zippos I have worked can also be found in the Past works section
I also produce a simple, cheap "Kiwiana" range for a tourist shop here in New Zealand - again all one-of-a-kind, & normally with a fun sheep or 2 & a few gently humourous words about New Zealand.
About Paul's one-of-a-kind Zippos
Click on flag for
newspaper article in Chinese
As a stylish, functional lighter with a lifetime guarantee Zippos are unparalleled - the perfect canvas for a miniature one-of-a-kind artpiece.
See here for a Youtube video on how a Zippo is produced
The designs are worked into the Zippo using hand held rotary engraving (1st pic.) & decorative sandblasting (2nd pic.) techniques. By using different depths of blast and/or engraving a great variety of colouration & effects can be obtained which is very difficult to clearly photograph - many of the designs can only be fully seen by moving the Zippo around causing the light to highlight different parts. Over time & with use the colouration will darken a little.
Each piece is signed P.G.F. - early ones usually PGF in the bottom right corner of the front face (the pic. is of a very early piece), & later ones with it & the year it was done to the right of the Zippo logo on the bottom stamp. Pieces worked since 2005 have a tiny "No 1 of 1" on the bottom of the face opposite the hinge (although some have it in other areas depending on the design.) Since the start of 2009 each piece has been specially coded & detailed records kept. Sadly, as a result of a few computer crashes (aaaaaargh, hate that!) my personal records of most of my earliest pieces have been lost although I can instantly recognise them. Should you ever have a query if a piece was done by me please don't hesitate to ask as yes there have been some imitations done by other engravers in the wider world.
In 2003 I began communicating with Zippo for official acceptance of my work as a "Zippo recognised artist". Whilst anyone can purchase a Zippo & do whatever they want upon it, from a legal standpoint it cannot be then sold as a Zippo without Zippo's permission. I was honoured with a verbal acceptance by Mr Mike Martin, Zippo's past Vice President of Sales & Marketing, on condition that each piece is strictly a "one-of-a-kind" & that photos of each piece are filed with Zippo.
Vol. 3 of the 2007 ZippoClick (Zippo's official collectors club) magazine published this article ->
Work on Case knives (a subsidiary of Zippo) started in 2007 with the permission of W. R. Case & Sons' President, Mr Tom Arrowsmith.