Bead Unique Magazine #17, March 2008
Linda Arline Hartung & Tim Hartung
by Jennifer Keil
Deep in the heart of California's Wine Country, artists Linda and Tim Hartung have collaborated on a personal and professional level for over 33 years. Together, the husband and wife team operated a graphic design business for 25 years until their daughter, Ashley, went off to college. Eager to begin a new chapter in 2001, they became the co-owners and designers behind Linda Arline Originals and Alacarte Jewelry™, and creators of WireLace™ and Alacarte Clasps™.
A self-professed and virtually self-taught crafter since early childhood, Linda has been experimenting with design all of her life. Early experiences with the beading loom and macramé helped her to hone the skills she uses in her creations to this day. "My inspiration is Jesus," she says. "I look at what He formed—the flowers, leaves, sky, etcetera, and see the limitless creativity in shapes and colors—that inspires me." Her husband, Tim, with his strong Fine Arts education and background, provides a wonderful source of design knowledge that brings that inspiration to life in their work.
Mutual disappointment in the availability of well-made, elegant jewelry clasps led Linda and Tim to design several styles that allowed customization with different colors of crystals. They discovered a bonafide need for elegant clasps in the jewelry-making community, which quickly took off. "We didn’t intend on selling our clasps, but so many designers asked us for them that we did—thus was the genesis of Alacarte Clasps™." The collection includes many breathtaking varieties and shapes of crystallized and non-crystallized pieces, magnetic and non-magnetic clasps, bails, and components, and is sold wholesale to the trade.
During their many travels, Linda and Tim discovered a material that they believed would be a further asset to their jewelry designs. They produced a variety of colors of what is now federally trademarked as WireLace™, a tubular mesh ribbon woven with very fine wires of brass, copper, and/or aluminum. The ribbon is bonded with an enamel coating to create a variety of colors and is nickel-free, waterproof, and heat resistant. "Word got out about WireLace™ and we’ve been selling it like crazy," says Linda.
Linda’s artistic jewelry line, Linda Arline Originals and Alacarte Jewelry™, utilizes Murano glass, Swarovski® crystal, and pearls. "I love seeing the potential in materials, producing new products, and discovering ways of using existing components in new ways," she says. Linda’s line carries the prestigious "CRYSTALLIZED™ with Swarovski®" branding, and she has designed several pieces for Swarovski's® "Crystal Trends," which debuted in Paris, Barcelona, New York, and Miami, and are displayed in Swarovski® showrooms. For the last three years, Linda has been a designer and teacher at the "Create-Your-Style with Swarovski®" Tucson show. Her necklace and removable pendant, "Makin’ Waves," features two techniques that she created herself: turning a crystal headpin into a bail and freeform-sculpting a necklace using wire and WireLace™. "Several years ago, I got the idea of trying to do 'crystal origami.' I spent weeks working on different ways to string crystals and fit them together so that they'd create an image. I ended up teaching my first piece, named 'WaterLily,' which features a focal piece using this technique."
As of late, Linda has once again ventured beyond the realm of jewelry to create home décor pieces. Her "Dragonfly wall art" is a foot-long piece covered in crystal flowers, Swarovski® elements, coated wire, and WireLace™. In the spirit of this departure, she advises fellow artists to expand upon new techniques, create something new, and go beyond their boundaries. "Don’t be afraid to waste material," she says. "It’s part of the learning curve." Linda believes that packaged kits assist greatly in learning new skills on your own. "You’ll have all the pieces and instructions while learning a technique or design and end up with a finished piece." Linda has made many of her designs available as kits for purchase on her website.
For information about Alacarte Clasps™ and to purchase WireLace™ and design kits, visit www.alacarteclasps.com. For finished jewelry and show schedule information, visit www.alacartejewelry.com or call (800) 977-2825.