October 20, 2016 Meet the Maker - Catherine Hartley
Located on Keefer Street in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, tucked away inside an unassuming brown building you will find a cute and quaint jewellers studio. The studio is the shared workspace of Wolf Circus, Ali Munn Jewelry and the maker behind our very 1st jewelry collaboration, Catherine Hartley. Luckily for us, we caught Catherine on a quieter morning as she prepared for a big move to London and sat down for a little chat and studio tour:
You’re moving to London! — What’s next for your business?
I will take a couple of months to set up a studio over there and settle in. My partner has some family in London and we’ve always wanted to live in a different city so we decided this is the year to do it. London is an incredibly inspiring city and a great base for design, so I plan to focus on some new projects and ideas. For one, I'll be launching a line of engagement rings this coming year, mainly focusing on one-of-a-kind rings.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
Chaos! No.. I usually get here in the morning and spend a couple of hours on the computer and then I’m at the bench for the rest of the day. It has been long days, especially now leading up to the move. It goes up and down with collection launches and the holiday/wedding seasons. It's crazy before a launch but during the chaotic periods you always know that once it's done you’ll have a break.
Showroom at Catherine's Studio
Favourite things about working in Chinatown?
The mix of places. You can walk out and find the little grocery store that has been here for ages or lunch spot, Pazzo Chow down the road and then the tucked away bars like The Emerald. It's a pretty eclectic mix. There is a lot of development going on so it’s changing pretty rapidly but it’s always interesting.
How did you get started in your field?
It was kind of an Aha moment when I found the jewelry making program at VCC. Prior to that I had been in Fine Arts at Langara College, which I quietly dropped out of after my first year. I realized that it just wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted something that had a creative side as well as a technical side. I looked into several different fields, like industrial design and interior design. When I found jewelry design I was like "yes, that's exactly it." So, I did it.
What has been your favourite custom jewelry piece to make?
Oh man - that’s a hard question. It has been a wide range; from making an engagement ring for my best friend, to a really interesting piece for a customer that had his own unique idea. To see those through, from abstract concept to jewellery form was amazing.
Custom pieces created by Catherine
You make a lot of wedding bands. Where do you get your design inspiration?
I like to start off with classic designs then add in subtle details to make the piece a bit more unique or unusual. I know that engagement rings and wedding bands are going to be worn for years to come. By using different colour stones, combinations of stones, or non-traditional materials, I make jewelry that is unique and unconventional that they will like for decades.
If you weren't making jewelry, what would you be doing?
It would still be some kind of design, with a creative side and a technical side. I would have gone into industrial design or furniture design. I often find jewelry inspiration in really beautiful pieces of furniture.
Dream destination wedding?
The Pyrenees. I rented a house there in the summer with my partner and some family and friends. We expected it to be wonderful but when we got there we were totally blown away. We were able to hike in France and then walk down the hill and be in Spain. It was beautiful.
View more of Catherine's Hartley's jewels