Meet the Artist SPOTLIGHT: Hallies Comet
Since Pinch’s founding in 1979, we’ve been staunch supporters of independent artisans. We are constantly inspired by artists all over the country (and those close to home) who pursue their creative visions and help enhance the world with their work. Our shop is an homage to the beautiful and the odd, and we are endlessly grateful to curate a space so filled with charming, handcrafted goods.
To show our gratitude for the people who help us make that possible, we’ve launched a SPOTLIGHT series this year. We'll be taking you behind the scenes of our beloved artists' studios, interviewing them about their processes and snapping photos of their workspaces—bringing you right into the brilliant center of their creativity!
This month, we talk to Christina Giebner, the brilliant force behind Hallies Comet fine jewelry. Tina will be in the shop on Friday, September 14, from 5-8pm, for a trunk show during Northampton's Arts Night Out, and you can always find a gorgeous selection of her unusual gemstone combinations on display in the shop!
Pinch: What was your path to jewelry-making?
Christina Giebner: I almost don’t remember a time that I wasn’t creating some type of jewelry. I was 7 or 8 when I started saving my allowance to buy linen thread and beads to macrame chokers and bracelets. And when I was 11, a cousin gave me bags of sterling, turquoise and coral beads that I then used to remake my mom's old jewelry into something new and much better. I was a fine arts major at a college that didn't have a jewelry major, but did have a craft center where I learned to solder. Later, I apprenticed with a goldsmith where I learned fabrication and stone setting using precious stones and metals. I had worked as a potter for many years, but then needed a creative outlet that I could do in my home, since my kids were small. The work that I do now stems from that and my need to have gemstones in my life. All shapes, colors, precious and semi.
P: Where did the name Hallies Comet come from?
CG: A brainstorming session with a friend who suggested it because she thought of Haley’s Comet and my youngest daughter’s name is Hallie. I loved it and it stuck.
P: What’s a typical day in your studio like?
CG: A typical day would be a loose plan about what design I want to work on. Necklace, bracelet, earrings, long, short, asymmetrical, etc. I tend to lay out the stones in groupings of shape and color that feel right to me and go from there. I generally have “create” days and “finishing” days, since I love to have my creating ideas work off each other during the process. I also like to work in longer chunks of time as it allows me to feel more inspired and focused.
P: We love the unique array of gemstones we see in your work—do you have a favorite?
CG: Definitely Labradorite and Iolite. I’m always sucked into the changing hues of the blue, grey, and green of Labradorite and the periwinkle blue of Iolite. I also love how those stones look with so many others. Oh, and a gorgeous Moonstone is hard to resist.
P: You’ve really expanded our knowledge of stones—how did you get into stones and how do you choose them?
CG: I was pretty young when my obsession started. I would smash rocks with a hammer in my garage to see what colors and sparkle lay inside and was fascinated by a pyrite (fool’s gold) rock we had in our yard. Now, I choose stones based on their color, cut and quality and how they draw me in. I have come to appreciate the real energy properties of gems and how each has a “feel.” I constantly experience customers being drawn to the same stone or piece over and over when trying to make a decision. I think they ultimately choose what they need in their life.
P: How do you decide how to combine the various stones?
CG: I love to combine unexpected shapes and colors. I usually start laying stones together to see what feels right and I go from there. It makes me happy to put together a combination that feels fresh and unusual.
P: How often do you come up with new ideas/designs? What’s that process like?
CG: At least a couple times a year. Sometimes an idea comes from an old design that I revamp with different stones or metals. Sometimes it comes from a spin-off of an existing piece. Occasionally a design has happened as the result of an accident. I’ve dropped a work in progress and when I picked it up it hung in a way I hadn’t envisioned and it spurred on some new ideas. I work in a very tactile way, so I hardly ever draw my ideas first. It all just happens organically.
P: What inspires you?
CG: The stones inspire me. Always.