We’re featuring some of our favorite Etsy artists this season in our catalog and online, including Altana Frantz’s vintage finish jewelry! We love that Altana uses reclaimed materials and hand-forges all of the pieces in her AltanaMarie studio, lending rustic charm to professional execution. We met with this San Francisco-based maker to talk shop and see more of her handiwork…
What’s the AltanaMarie origin story?
I started taking evening classes at a local art center in 2005, and goldsmithing became an instant obsession. I decided I needed to find a technical school that would help me to really develop my skills. After visiting Revere Academy in San Francisco, I promptly packed up my things and moved across country. I had the honor of learning from some of the most amazing, creative, and inspiring teachers.
With the encouragement of family and friends, I launched AltanaMarie in 2011. It meant working longer and harder than I have ever worked before, and struggling to make ends meet. But more importantly, it meant fulfilling my dreams of a career in the arts. I’ve spoken to colleagues in the jewelry industry in similar positions, and we all agree that the hunger and financial need to succeed is what pushes you to create magic for yourself. If I had instant success and unlimited finances, I would never work as diligently as I do.
Why is ethically sourcing materials so important to you?
The jewelry industry is a dirty business! It relies heavily on mining companies that produce massive amounts of waste and contamination while endangering wildlife and people. But with the huge accumulation of earth-mined metal, recycled metals are readily available at companies like Hoover & Strong. They have dedicated their business to 100% recycled precious metals and ethically sourced and recycled gemstones, all made in the USA.
In my studio, I also avoid the use of harsh chemicals and processes. I am proud to gold plate my jewelry by hand, using a cyanide-free, environmentally friendly plating system. It is far more time consuming to use, but it is safe.
Where do you like to turn to for inspiration?
I draw most of my inspiration from playtime. Whenever I feel like I need to refresh or renew my style, I start to play with various mediums. I love the odd, interesting textures, the ugly, the small, the colorful, and simply remarkable things one can find on a walk, a swim, or a bike ride. The majority of my most popular items have all arisen from these creative escapades.
What’s your favorite part about goldsmithing?
The most enjoyable part is using my hands and tools to physically manipulate materials. I have never felt truly successful while designing with a pen and paper. Once I can touch a material, I feel compelled to continue to move it, and I’m usually quite happy with the end result. There are usually no planned steps in my playtime; I just dance along the way.
See more of our featured Etsy artists here!
SHOP THIS LOOK
• Grand Lacquer Jewelry Box
Images: AltanaMarie, west elm