Linda and Tim Hartung, co-owners and designers behind Linda Arline Originals, Alacarte Clasps™, WireLace™, and WireLuxe™, have been designing jewelry for most of their lives. Driven by their faith, love for one another, and passion for beautiful, high-quality jewelry design, the couple has blazed a trail in the do-it-yourself jewelry market creating new tools, techniques and products for designers. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Linda after her recent Artbeads Café shoot to talk about her passion for jewelry, how she came to be a pioneer in the DIY market, what inspires her and what words of wisdom she has for the rest of us.
Jes: Hi Linda, welcome to Artbeads! Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. You have accomplished so many amazing things in your life; I don’t know exactly where to start. Maybe we should start at the beginning, how did you first get into beading?
Linda: Thanks for having me. That is a good place to start. I have been asked this question a lot, so I’ve really had to think about it. Starting as young as five, I can remember walking along the riverbeds to find “friendship rocks” with holes in them and stringing them on my shoelaces to make a necklace. I remember doing that a lot because my mom was always asking me “where are your shoe laces?!” [Laughing] I couldn’t wait to get colored tennis shoes because they had colored laces to make colored necklaces to go with my rocks. My mom was a Girl Scout leader and my little sister I got to tag along to meetings with her and my older sisters to make lariats, and lanyards, and potholders, so I’ve always loved crafting. Lanyards were one of my favorite things to do, so I think a lot of it is just the way I’m built and a lot of it comes from being exposed to it through the Girl Scouts. As I grew up I was into horses, and you know that kind of preoccupies your time, and then I met my (didn’t know then) soon-to-be husband. He was an artist and we would go to craft fairs to sell his art. I wanted something to do, and feathers were big at the time, so I started making feather earrings. I would sell out every time and made enough money to cover the cost of the booth and enjoy some food while we were sitting there. It was just kind of a neat way for us to do things together.
Jes: That is so sweet! So how did selling jewelry for booth money turn into the business you have today?
Linda: Well, then of course I got into the business side of life. I had a couple jobs, had my horse, and then my husband graduated with a graphic design and marketing degree and I decided to represent him, and we grew our business doing that for 25 years. When we had our daughter, I decided I wanted to spend more time raising her, so we made a shift. We decided to downsize, before downsizing was a buzzword, and moved to Forestville, CA. We visited there all the time and thought it was the most beautiful place, and one day we just thought, “Hey, why can’t we just live here?” So we did. We kept a handful of customers, and started to move into jewelry because it was small and manageable.
My husband had made jewelry all through high school and college using The Lost Wax Method* and I liked to create things, so one day we just decided to retire from graphic design and marketing completely and just focus on making and selling our designs. By then, our daughter was off to college and it was something we thought would be small and portable that we could travel with. We would go to jewelry and craft shows near our daughter’s college so we could go visit her and then go to the shows. We started traveling for shows all of the time, and eventually got started with the clasps because we could not find elegant clasps to go with our finished jewelry. We purposely chose to go with high-end costume jewelry because there were so many cool things to work with. We traveled all over looking for someone that would make us high-end, nickel-free clasps that could be customized with Swarovski crystals, and eventually found a few manufacturers in Europe. Once we started using the clasps in our finished jewelry, fellow designers would beg us to sell them some because there just wasn’t anything else like them on the market. So we would sell to them, and that increased our demand for more, and then Bead & Button featured them in an issue, and that increased our demand so much that it kind of pulled us into the DIY market (Alacarte Clasps). Swarovski was just starting to expand into the DIY market at the same time, and they liked the pieces I had been making with their stuff, so I began working with them on their Create Your Style program, and that’s how we really got our momentum in the DIY market. Now I would say I do DIY in reverse, I make pieces for my finished jewelry line or for a magazine and I see what people are interested in learning about then I go back and think “how can I turn this into a project?” So my kits are really designed to take the frustration out of learning to design so that people can focus on picking their colors, and learning the technique, and just having fun with beads.
Jes: Wow, what an amazing journey! I love that your kits are designed that way. I have experienced frustration while trying to learn a new technique on more than one occasion; I think I might need to try one of your kits! It sounds like you are part entrepreneur, part jewelry designer, and part inventor. What inspired you to create WireLace and WireLuxe?
Linda: For WireLace, I had seen a sample of knitted wire in Europe and I let my mind whirl trying to figure out what I could use it for. Eventually I tracked down the manufacturer and we worked with them to see what we could do together. It was so exciting because I felt like we were exploring uncharted territories. Eventually I ordered a full spool of every color and hung them from the wall in my craft room. For years I just admired them and thought about how to use them in my designs. Sometimes I’d make a piece or two with it but I hadn’t really figured out what to do with it yet. One day, the editor of Beadwork Magazine was talking with Tim, trying to find a source for a project that used knitted wire. She mentioned they had a project but could not run it because they had no source in the USA for the material. Tim knew immediately she was searching for WireLace and told her “we have a whole wall of it in our studio!” The editor asked if we would be willing to be listed as the supplier and Tim said “sure”, not really thinking much of it, and all of a sudden my phone was ringing off the hook; everybody wanted to order WireLace! I sent my daughter to the store to get the magazine because I couldn’t figure out why so many people were interested, and it turns out they had put the project on the cover [laughing]. WireLace just took off from there. We ended developing additional colors and sizes to meet the needs of the DIY market.
WireLuxe really just came from knowing the market. I like to look for needs that aren’t being met across multiple channels and try to figure out ways to meet them. In this case, seedbeaders, wire workers, and beaders all had a need for a wide, stable-yet-flexible structure to work on. So I started thinking, “what if I could make an open wire weave structure that was useful for design, but interesting enough to be used alone?” So Tim and I tracked down a company that was willing to build a machine for us. We tinkered with it for over a year. We would try something and that wouldn’t work so we would take it apart and start over. We spent a lot of time on the phone with their support people and they would help us try to figure out what to try next. We ended up having custom pieces made for the machine and eventually we came up with the WireLuxe open-weave structure. I’m really glad we did it because it was a lot of fun and we’re so happy with the finished product.
Jes: Your story is simply remarkable. I really admire your creativity and ingenuity. I’ve got to ask, what inspires you as an artist, designer, and inventor?
Linda: Well my husband and I always knew we wanted to work together. We are deeply faithful Christians and I would say faith is the core of my inspiration. Nature is beautiful and inspirational, and I really marvel at the endless creations on earth, but there is a verse in the Bible that says “…and by Him and through Him all things are created” and I really connect with that. I feel like there is a wellspring within me and creativity will flow out if I just let it. Some people really focus on putting information in and trying to get a certain result; I just focus on letting ideas and creativity flow out.
Jes: That is really special, thank you for sharing that with us. Last question, do you have any words of wisdom or advice to pass on to our Artbeader community?
Linda: Sure, well my advice is to have fun, you know, play with your beads! Lay them out, position them in different ways, and see what you like. Don’t be afraid to waste a little string or wire. Let yourself experiment, that’s how you learn to be a better designer. When I put together a piece I leave the components out at my desk for while. I arrange them in different ways until I see a design that really speaks to me, then I start thinking about how to make it. If you are afraid to waste stringing materials at first, start with a kit. Find a design you love, get a kit for it, practice the technique and then adapt it.
Jes: That is great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today.
Linda: Thank you so much for having me!
*The Lost Wax Method: The lost wax method of casting first began in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome thousands of years ago. This technique is still respected as one of the premiere methods of capturing superb detail in metal. Once an artist carves his or her design into the wax it can be transferred to a variety of metals, and it is often used in dentistry, sculpture, and fine jewelry.
How cool is it? Well, first of all, this tool allows you to customize your clothing and accessories with Swarovski crystal components like a professional designer! Moreover, the crystal applicator tool is compatible with different types of components from SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS, including jean buttons and snap fasteners. Do you have a nice jacket that needs just a little extra something? This crystal applicator tool can help! Use the rose pin sets for instant sparkle, or let out your inner glam rocker with snap fasteners to add a taste of glimmer. Dress up your droll business top with eye-catching buttons, made with only the finest from Swarovski! Do you have an old handbag that hasn’t seen the outside of your closet since 1998? Give it a modern facelift with the smallest touches—like one large 17mm chessboard jeans button.
Although this tool can look intimidating, you’ll want to decorate everything once you start. Don’t worry about how to use it—we have some amazing step-by-step instructions on how to use the tool and its compatible die sets. Our Learning Center even offers free ideas if you need some inspiration on where to begin.
Here’s a sneak peek at what our designers have in store for upcycling an old denim jacket! You won’t believe how quickly this process goes when you get into a rhythm. Keep your eyes on our Learning Center to see when we reveal the complete idea.
This tool is an investment—think of the money you’ll save creating one-of-a-kind designs that can be twice as cool as the ones found in magazines! Dip your hands in the bridal market by making veils and headpieces that will sparkle to match a glowing bride. Take an elegant approach to cuff bracelets by adding crystal snap fasteners to the ends of your favorite scrap fabric pieces. There are countless ways to play with the crystal applicator tool, but you’ll never know what until you try it for yourself!
We’re so excited about the new Pick-It-Up Vacuum Tool! This nifty tool has a suction wand that helps pick up flatbacks easier than using tweezers or a toothpick and wax. The Artbeads designers have been having too much fun with it, and they can’t stop putting flatbacks on things! Here are just a few of the things around the craft room that have been given a sparkling new touch from Artbeads co-owner and chief jewelry designer Cynthia.
Any optivisor is that much cooler when it’s decked out in crystals!
Cynthia will definitely never lose her thumb drive with its shimmering new cover.
This flatbacked picture frame would make a wonderful gift, or would even help brighten up a room with its brilliant sparkle. You can watch the video on how to use the Pick-It-Up Vacuum Tool below, and don’t forget to buy one for yourself. This makes a terrific gift for designers, too!
Every special moment deserves to be captured in a way that makes you feel like the day it happened. The joyful pounding of your heart as you walked down the aisle, the warm tears that filled your eyes seeing your child in a cap and gown, the uncontrollable smile when you held your first grandchild—these life-changing events played such an important role in your life that they should be symbolized by only the finest keepsakes. Artbeads is extremely proud to present to you Lassero, your new choice for telling a story with elegance and grace.
This collection of beads, charms, pendants and more is made of the highest eminence. The gold plating is of the utmost quality, and every component with crystals is made with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS. These crystals are set by dedicated hands, ensuring every setting is perfect. Lassero provides elegant additions while easing jewelry designing. Many of the beads and charms feature large stringing holes so it only takes minutes to put together a bracelet or necklace with sophisticated finish and professional flair. Tell the story of YOU with Lassero.
As you reach new milestones in your life, this collection will continue to grow, so you can anticipate creating new memories with Lassero’s expansion in the future. Experience it all now in our boutique.
Artbeads is always on the cutting edge of news from SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS, and this time we couldn’t wait to share it! Swarovski has showcased what’s in their pre-launch for Spring/Summer 2014—new additions to the line of BeCharmed large-hole beads.
The most exciting thing about their pre-launch is the introduction of BeCharmed Pavé products. These beads sparkle from Swarovski’s signature XILION cut crystals that cover the surface. These pavé beads will also have the SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS branding engraved along the large stringing hole.
All of these new items would make wonderful additions to your large-hole jewelry designs, elevating every bracelet, necklace or even earring idea in sophistication from the dazzling sparkle they possess. Stay tuned to Artbeads to find out when these pre-launch items will be available to you!
Artbeads is always happy to expand its collection of high-quality pieces, especially when we get to work with amazing suppliers. Graham from Regaliz™ leather opened up to us about our exciting line of fashionable leather components, and how this concept of providing quality pieces came into being. What is Regaliz exactly? It’s a very thick, very special type of leather that looks like licorice. In fact, regaliz in Spanish means licorice! This is where Graham got the idea to name the brand.
When Graham and his wife went to visit one of his suppliers in Greece, it was Graham’s wife who fell in love with leather. ” My wife and I travelled to Greece to visit a factory that I purchase from, [and when] she saw the bracelets at the factory she said they look very nice. So we brought a few samples home with us. I showed them to my family and staff, [and] everyone just fell in love with the whole concept and everything just developed from there.”
A lot of thought and research goes in to the Regaliz process. The team’s dedication to traveling and observing first-hand the current fashion trends is what makes them so successful. “… you have to get out and about and walk the streets. In Europe some woman are wearing 5 Regaliz bracelets and you often see men wearing them.” Although it’s sometimes tough, Graham does admit that his favorite part of the process is getting to travel: “It has to be traveling, then buying the different designs and watching them sell well and finally seeing someone wearing a bracelet that even though you did not make [it], the parts came from our hard work [that you know began] with the travel.”
So does Graham have a favorite component? “My absolute favorite is the faux snake skin wrapped leather. The fact that this just opens up a huge market for jewelry for men is the most amazing part of the Regaliz line though.” We’re in love with Regaliz leather because it is versatile enough for both men’s and women’s fashion and can be used to achieve so many different looks. You can explore more from Regaliz leather and create your own special jewelry.
Looking for other ways to use Regaliz leather? Take a strip and turn it into a headband! Use heavy duty hole punch pliers to thread elastic cord, double string it through the holes and secure with thread. It’s that easy! Stay tuned to the Blog for more fun ideas.
Have you seen our new collection of gemstones from Dakota Stones? These beautiful, high-quality beads are carefully selected through visits to the mines and extensive fashion trend research. We’re excited to be carrying these incredible new stones, and we know you’ll love using them to create unique jewelry. Read our Spotlight on Dakota Stones and then shop our vast collection today!
Here’s an exclusive sneak peek at the newest Innovations from SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS for Fall 2013 and Winter 2014! This season is all about what Swarovski calls glocalization—an embracement of one’s national heritage and local traditions (possibly in response to the Olympic Games). For Austrian-based Swarovski, this meant delving in to the folkloric charm of their country with new colors and shapes.
Crystal Blue Shade
This universally unique new color displays a smoky blue whisper that is both romantic and strong, creating a fresh and sophisticated feel. With just a shimmer of silver streaking through its slate blue hue, Crystal Blue Shade is like the still, moonlit water.
This is a color that has to been seen to truly appreciate its beauty! It’s a new kind of blue, but still has a familiar feel—a perfect blend of Aquamarine and Blue Zircon. Light Turquoise is meant to reflect the blue skies of Alpine treks, along with cool arctic winters and Caribbean summers. Pair it with earth tones for lovely contrast or a black and white pattern.
Part of the Spring/Summer 2015 collection, this pre-launch color comes off of the successful neon pearl colors from earlier this year. Now you can add this deep, vibrant green to your collection of crystal pearls when your designs need a real color pop!
Neon Red is another spring/summer 2015 Innovations launch. This pumpkin-red pearl further demonstrates the power of neon pearls.
The timeless pearl is getting a boost of elegance with the very sophisticated Grey shade. With Light Grey and Dark Grey already on the market, you can now create a cascading effect of grey pearls in your jewelry.
This brilliant cut puts Swarovski chatons closer to the look and feel of real diamonds. With complex faceting and durability, this evolution from the 1028 Chaton is the new definition of excellence.
The powerful symbol of the key is now captured in crystal form. This traditional shape outlined in precise facets makes the ultimate focal point for a design. Its avant-garde charm and luxurious feel comes in neutral shades to give it a more natural look.
This organic and playful shape is perfect for complementing any look you’re going for, whether it be a fun floral fall design or a nod to vintage subtlety. Bring the beauty of nature into any jewelry or accessory with this shape, available in a variety of components.
The Victory pendant features a familiar donut design but kicks up the contemporary feel with asymmetric faceting. Designed to resemble a medallion, the symbol of aesthetic triumph, the lightweight Victory shape appeals to mod-inspired pieces and modern fashion statements.
Much like their BeCharmed beads, the pearl presents an elegant look for large-hole jewelry. Finished with stainless steel grommets for a durable look, you can mix and match them with other large-hole components to tell a story with your jewelry.
These small yet precise geometric components are the perfect addition to any jewelry idea. Their flat, faceted design is what makes them exact—but their small size is what makes them perfect. The new mini shapes are available in square, round and oval cuts.
Be sure to check out our New Swarovski Innovations page frequently to find out when you can place an order for these new lovelies!
Artbeads has always believed in providing only the best quality products for jewelry and craft designs. Even if our selection is not as vast as others, it’s only because we want to keep our collection special. We understand the intimacy of an artist, how an artist likes to ensure that their designs are unique. This is why Artbeads prides itself of valuing quality instead of quantity. C-Koop Beads shares this idea with us, that designers are the best source for other designers. Sara Lukkonen, owner and artist for C-Koop Beads, started her business in 1999 with just two differently sized beads but has turned it into a successful business. Her enameled copper pieces demonstrate the raw, real beauty that pours out from an artist’s hands.
The first time Sara tried to make a bead was over 35 years ago. Sara recalls, “It was exciting! I still remember the excitement of instant gratification. This excitement still happens today with many of the pieces.” She started enameling with a hobby kiln, discovering that she could fuse glass to copper and produce gorgeous results. In fact, no two pieces look exactly alike—making them even more special for a designer! C-Koop Beads gets its name from the studio Sara set up for herself in the ‘chicken koop’ at her home.
Although she doesn’t have a favorite piece, Sara does keep many of her favorite pieces in front of the torch so they can inspire her. Sara admits, ““I do like when I have to re-fire a piece, because it can change completely. Most of the time the ‘redo’ is so much better than the first time.”
Her love for designing is what she wants people to know first and foremost. “I really like what I do. I like to try to make things for people that they don’t know they want until they see it.” Her passion for staying ahead of fashion trends (and other designers) is what keeps Sara’s designs special.
We love C-Koop Beads just for this reason, too! You can view our collection of C-Koop Beads to add to your collection today.
Artbeads has always believed in providing only the best quality products for jewelry and craft designs. Even if our selection is not as vast as others, it’s only because we want to keep our collection special. We search the world for quality artists and designers because we are designers. Old World Bronze is part of a family-owned and operated establishment that believes in this same purpose. Mike Charveaux learned from his goldsmith father what it takes to turn passion into a lifestyle.
“My father, Andrew, is a goldsmith and had one of the first open workshop studios on 5th avenue in Scottsdale in the 60’s. My brother, Steve, and I learned from our dad the love and excitement of design and metalsmithing. When we create pieces we often times cast our working models in alternative metals to work out all the design elements and details,” Mike told us. ” We really wanted our bronze line to be something special and be the standard in the bronze world so we take meticulous care in creating the bronze alloy which is a long held family secret recipe.”
The first step to creating their masterful works is to find inspiration. Living in the Arizona desert provides plenty of new ideas, including the changing colors from seasons and the organic shapes in the landscape. Each design begins on paper and then is carved into wax and checked for construction issues. The design gets its own rubber mold, which will be used for future castings. Mike describes the rest of the process:
“Each bead or component is individually pulled and inspected for uniformity. Then all the waxes are sprued, meaning placed on a casting cylinder in a pinecone like formation. This is then covered with investment which is a plaster like substance and then the wax is burned out in an electric kiln for a minimum of 6 hours. This is known as the lost wax process. This is to ensure that once the molten bronze is added the centrifugal force of the casting machine will pull the bronze into the cylinder leaving a perfect bronze bead. Once this casting is complete it is off to the finishing stage where each bead is clipped off, finished, hand polished and then it’s ready to be used in whatever way you can imagine.”
Mike says his favorite part of the process is working with texture. ” I love working and experimenting with texture because there are so many possibilities and endless opportunity to create fascinating visual and tactile components.” With a variety of new generations coming up with new designs, the beads and components they make all have signature styles but are well blended together for harmonious collections.
Although Old World Bronze is many things, the one thing they would like everyone to know is how much of a role family plays in their business. For over 20 years this company has operated within the family, and each day still brings new challenges and rewards. With everyone taking pride in their hard work, this business is sure to inspire the next generation of jewelry designers. Being fortunate enough to love going to work is what helps Old World Bronze produce such incredible works of art. If you want to view some of their creations, check out our Old World Bronze beads and components to add to your collection!