We asked designer Crystal Hartman to answer our artist questionnaire. She is one of the most recent designers to join Hitchcock Madrona and she recently created a line of sterling silver jewelry exclusively for us! Crystal makes of all of her jewelry by hand in Durango, Colorado, her home town. The craftsmanship of her work is extraordinary, and her designs are elegant and timeless. Read all about her design philosophy below:
How would you describe your line’s aesthetic?
Sculptural…solid designs heavy in detail referencing botanical illustration and the movement of water, grass and air.
When you design your jewelry, is there any particular woman whom you design for?
I love the idea of all women wearing my jewelry, but I certainly design for the strong. I love a woman with “feist” in her eyes. The designs are heavy silver with stones set in them to stay; they will withstand being worn on stage, round the world, and to a very fine dinner.
What is your favorite way to style your pieces?
Layers…I like the rings with stones oddly stacked over bands. I like to see the bracelets layered with strands of navy or deep red glass beads, leather or lace tied round the wrist to remember love and texture. I like classic roses; feathers, driftwood and fabrics that emphasize beauty in the line work but remind us a bit of the physical strength of the jewelry in a subtly psychological way.
A sampling of some of Crystal’s pieces that we have in stock. How beautiful are these?!
Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
Music, film, travel and contemporary art and history. This line [at Hitchcock] was influenced by the giant, red rock walls and purple grama bursting between [them] at Indian Creek and the water rippling beneath it [in] Utah, [and] by the blue sky breaking to grey in late October [in] Seattle. I am egged on by E.E. Cummings, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Andre Breton, Caravaggio and Woody Allen, by Jonah Skurky-Thomas, Rebecca Tischler, Rachel Mindel, The Panoply, and sound… each album that catches the light in my ears just right at any moment…
On these pieces for Hitchcock Madrona: Cole Porter, Hurray for the Riff Raff, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, LCD Soundsystem, Billie Holiday, The Black Keys, Louis XIV and Ibrahim Ferrer played great inspiration.
What do you particularly love about designing jewelry?
The tradition, process and accessibility of it. I love to pour beauty into an object that will be worn on someone’s hand or heart to remember a time or display a feeling [and] into an object that is at once contemporary art and functional adornment.
Crystal at work!
What aspect of the design process do you find most challenging?
I used to be daunted by the enormity of the industry, of all of the different techniques and styles and the desire to try them all out. As I’ve developed a conversation with the materials that fear has faded into excitement… most challenging now is the time it takes to see a process through. With so many possibilities, it is easy to dream up a thousand designs. Choosing the freshest ones and introducing them to the design world takes perseverance.
One of the wax molds Crystal uses to create her jewelry – she employs a technique known as the “lost wax process”.
What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of being a jewelry designer?
Letters from lovers. And knowing that the pieces I design will help define an individual. A long time ago, I heard a story about modern man; the narrator [of the story] said that what distinguished him [modern man] was when he hung the first bead round his neck – adornment as an expression of individuality. I am honored to design pieces that are truly unique, where we see and feel my hand in them and no one will have another that is the same.
What clothing or jewelry designers do you admire? Asagi Maeda, Alexander Calder, Alexander McQueen, Coco Chanel, Agnes B., and Mervin Stilson (an outrageous cobbler down the street from my studio).
This is a piece that was just cast. It now has to be cleaned, polished, oxidized and polished again! Each one of Crystal’s unique pieces is understated but also incredibly detailed.
What would you say are three key pieces of jewelry that every woman should own?
A band ring that fits on several different fingers and can be worn alone everyday or stacked with others when she likes. A strong, great bracelet. A conversation piece… something big and bold and certainly made by hand.
We are so excited to introduce Crystal Hartman to our customers. Crystal is a new artist to Hitchcock Madrona and to the Seattle area. She has created a collection of exquisitely wrought designs exclusively for us – check ’em out!
This necklace is an exclusive design for Hitchcock Madrona. It is amazing.
Crystal grew up in a family of jewelers. Her father John and mother Estell began the Durango Silver Company in 1972. It remains family owned and operated in scenic Durango, Colorado. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Crystal also has an interest in watercolor. She initially turned her attention to painting and printmaking before learning sliversmithing from her father, a master gold and silversmith and stonecutter. Dustin and I are planning a trip to Durango to visit Crystal and her family’s business. We can’t wait!
Black onyx cabochon and sterling silver stud earrings
Crystal employs a technique called the “lost wax process” when making her jewelry; it involves using wax to create a mold into which she then pours molten silver. John cuts all the stones that will subsequently be added to her designs.
An example of a wax mold for one of Crystal’s bracelets – be sure to keep an eye out for a future blog post on the “lost wax process”!
We have silver rings, bracelets, and one gorgeous necklace of Crystal’s currently in stock. She is such a talented artist – all of her jewelry is beautiful, elegant and entirely handcrafted!
Mother of pearl and sterling silver earrings
Wide sterling silver band with tiny black diamonds
Wide sterling silver cuff bracelet (with or without diamonds available)
When Dustin and I met with Crystal during her recent visit to Seattle we were enamored with her skill and design narrative. I challenged her to incorporate white, champagne and black diamonds into her organic pieces. They turned out better than I ever thought possible. She cast the diamonds into the pieces and therefore they are seamlessly integrated into the design. Your eye has to hunt for the stones (she didn’t want prongs) and when you see one the others magically appear. Pure genius.