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Art & Craft Features: Karen Hartman

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Art & Craft, Community

Art & Craft Features: Karen Hartman

These earrings represent everything I was unwilling to give up. And so are appropriately named the Dreamcatcher.
While dreams are important, we are not alone on this planet. So my work on this earth is to find a way to be true to my creative vision while considering the impact of my endeavors on those around me. To this end, we craft our earrings from 70% recycled stainless steel and they are finished with silver plating. We chose this combination of materials because they are strong and beautiful- just like the women we design for.

Karen Hartman

Astor + Orion, just like many aspects of life, was born out of a coincidental meeting.

Karen Hartman – a passionate creative who spent nearly a decade in Shanghai, China as a manufacturing agent – was looking for a new way to express her creativity.

In her search, she came across a jewelry design class taught by renowned American sculptor, Tomas Wittelsbach. Intrigued by the idea of learning how to sculpt organic shapes using a 3D sculpting program called Zbrush, she signed up.

As Karen watched Tomas’ groundbreaking techniques unfold, she knew right away this new workflow could lead to big changes in the jewelry industry. After the class ended, Karen knew she had to use this technique to design a product line of her own.

Truly inspired by Tomas’ perspective on art and design, she kept in touch to discuss the development of her idea. They continued building upon it even when she and her family moved from Shanghai to Bali.

During their regular chats via Skype, it became clear they were both enthusiastic about the concept. Off the cuff, she asked Tomas if he wanted to be a partner in this new company. To her surprise, Tomas said yes. Karen immediately did a happy dance around her garden pool. Tomas then took the lead with design while Karen put her business and manufacturing experience to work to develop the brand and product line.

As fate would have it, Karen’s husband got a new job, which moved them from Bali to Seattle – right into Tomas’ backyard. They established a studio in the Ballard neighborhood and Astor + Orion was born in January of 2018.

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About the Author

Stephanie Staal and Nina Collins have worked together and adored each other since 1994 when they were both babies in the world of book publishing. Stephanie is a lawyer, journalist, & author of READING WOMEN, and Nina is the founder of "What Would Virginia Woolf Do?"