Q: Where do you get your materials?
A: No creatures are harmed in the process of creating HartVariations jewelry. I source all of my materials with extreme care. All the butterflies, beetles and moths I use come from sustainable, licensed butterfly conservation farms working to conserve native insect habitats. Snakeskin is shed naturally, feathers are collected after molting, and the skulls and jawbones come from owl pellets collected in the Pacific Northwest. Hart-Variations jewelry brings a second life to insects and elements of nature that are normally discarded. Click here to read more about my personal journey of collection and display.
Q: What are butterfly conservation farms?
A: Butterfly conservation farms have been set up worldwide to preserve native habits and provide income for local populations. These farms require that forests and plants be protected and maintained instead of destroyed for other purposes. Butterflies and other insects are protected in these habitats. The survival rate of butterflies in the wild is only 2%, while on the farms, that rate increases up to 90%. On average, adult butterflies live 3 to 4 weeks. Learn more about butterflies and butterfly farming here.
Q: Can my jewelry get wet? How do I care for my one-of-a-kind piece?
A: Most people wear their Hart-Variations jewelry every day. While our pieces are made to last for many years, they do contain delicate materials that can be damaged by water. We recommend removing your jewelry before you shower and wash your hands.
Because of the medium we work in, we are able to use delicate elements and materials that are very heat-sensitive. Too much heat and the wings change color, sometimes losing the neon magic that makes them so special. The metal in our work is an alloy of tin and silver, which makes it melt at a lower temperature than sterling. This aspect of the metal makes it a "softer" alloy than sterling (which is 92.5% fine silver with 7.5% copper. The copper makes the metal much harder than pure silver.)The softness of the metal, combined with the delicacy of the glass, makes our work something to treasure and handle with intention and care. We 100% stand by our work and have sold thousands of pieces, with a very small number needing repair.
Q: What kind of metal do you use?
A: I use the Tiffany Method of stained glass soldering. The metal is a lead-free, nickel-free blend of silver and tin that melts at a lower temperature, allowing me to encase natural objects that are sensitive to heat.
All of the earring findings, ring, and bracelet metal is oxidized sterling silver. The chain and findings are nickel-free.
Q: Do you accept custom orders?
A: We have some curated custom options in our Etsy shop. The criteria for customization is the element used, such as ashes, snakeskin shed or feathers from a beloved pet, and in the case of the Polarity Ring, the natural elements that represent essences of your astrological birth chart.
Customization that is not available includes: shape, size, and metal color of the piece. We work in an existing range of shape and size that is dependent on the availability and limits of the materials that we use.
Custom designs take 3-4 weeks to create. I ask for all payment for custom orders to be paid in advance before I make the piece. The best way to begin the custom process is to contact me through the Etsy shop and click on the 'Request Custom Order' button.
Q: What soldering iron do you use? What type of metal? Where do you get your glass?
A: I get a lot of inquiries about techniques and tools and appreciate others wanting to spread their creative wings, but I am certainly no expert and my business is not set up for teaching at this time. I took one workshop 7 years ago and have learned by trial an error over the many years. A great place to start is delphiglass.com, they have a lot of supplies and tools. I also recommend checking out your local stained glass store if possible, as most folks are happy to share their knowledge.
Good luck to you and all of your creative endeavors.