Alacarte Clasps, located in Forestville, CA, at the threshold of the stunning Russian River Valley, is co-owned and operated by Tim and Linda Hartung. The couple has worked together for over thirty-five years, driven by their mutual passion for art, their faith, and spending time with one another. In 2000, the pair transitioned from their first co-owned business, a graphic design and marketing firm, to begin their own line of finished jewelry.
Tim, an artist by nature, first began making jewelry in high school and college using The Lost Wax Method of casting*, a hobby that he continued throughout his adult life. Linda has always loved crafting. She started making necklaces with her shoelaces using rocks with holes in them that she'd find around her house and in riverbeds on family outings before she was five. She first began making jewelry to sell when she met Tim, as a way to pass the time at the craft shows where the two sold his artwork. Jewelry design remained an important part of the couple's professional life, so when the time came to make the switch from graphic design and marketing to jewelry making, the transition was an easy one. The Hartungs' designs were an instant success in the marketplace, and they soon found themselves traveling nonstop from show to show.
Though their product was selling well, Linda felt something was missing. "We were using lobster clasps on our finished pieces at the time, and they just didn't fit with the elegant look of our jewelry." Determined to find a solution, the two spent several months researching suppliers and manufacturers, looking for someone who would be open to creating a better option for jewelry designers. Finally, after an exhaustive search, the two selected a small handful of European manufacturers to collaborate with on creating a line of high quality, nickel free, Swarovski-customizable pieces that carried the same elegance and sophistication their jewelry did. "We didn't originally plan on selling the clasps," Linda says, "but other designers kept asking us to sell them some because there just wasn't anything else like them on the market." It didn't take long for the larger DIY market to notice the Hartungs' clasps either. "Once Bead & Button published an issue that featured our clasps, the demand got so high it really pulled us into the DIY market," Linda recalls. Alacarte Clasps was born, and the two have been innovators of new products in the industry ever since.
Today their line features a wide array of looks, styles, and colors ranging from simple metal shapes to ornate designs adorned with Swarovski crystals. Thanks to Tim and Linda, DIYers can now select clasps that complement and even add to the elegance of their finished work. The couple's imaginative journey didn't end there however. Since then they have invented two lines of wire products, WireLace and WireLuxe, which have opened new avenues of structure and design for jewelry makers to work with. Artbeads is proud to offer all three of the Hartungs' DIY product lines and we hope they inspire you to try something new.
*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.