When we heard two of our favorite Bay Area jewelry designers, Christy Comstock of Christy Natsumi and Christine Trac of Abacus Row, were teaming up for a collaboration that join Christy’s delicate metalwork with Christine’s intricate beadwork, we had to learn more. The pair first met at a co-working space, Makeshift Society, during a monthly social event. Christy recalls, “being a little awkward at networking type events, I remember being relieved to find someone who was so easy to talk to!” First the duo struck a friendship, then the idea of creating a line together was born.

What was the inspiration for this collection?
Christine: It was during a Goods x Services event that Christy proposed collaborating together. I didn’t know what Christy had in mind but I was eager to explore potential directions. She and I both share a similar aesthetic for minimal and delicate designs yet we work with different materials and practice different forms of craft for creating jewelry. Once we sat down to talk, I felt inspired to work together and find a way of designing that would highlight Christy’s strengths in metal work and mine with beadwork and patterning. We were inspired to create work that felt connected to the style of each of our respective lines but was ultimately new to both of us.

Christy: When I realized how much of an organization and container nerds we both were, I knew we would work well together!

And how did your work process change with the move from designing solo to collaborating?
Christine: Since we both relied on each other for the completion of any particular design, we were definitely on a stricter schedule than if we normally would have been designing and making on our own from start to finish.

Christy: I’m used to going into a project knowing exactly what I am going to make so it was so fun and exciting to be surprised by how Christine incorporated my hand hammered components into design iterations. I find that it is rare to see handmade metal components and delicate beaded work combined. In this sense, I think the collaboration worked-out perfectly where we were both able to contribute our strengths to create a visual mix of our two mediums.

Christine: A collaboration of this scale was new to both of us and was something that neither of us anticipated when we first started. We were so excited about working together and producing something that showcased each of our skills. Being that we are both jewelry designers, I thought working together would likely lead to some visual balance of our aesthetics. When I reflect on the work we’ve produced, I feel incredibly proud of having created a line of work that feels uniquely ours. If we look at the production and process of creating this work it is easy to identify each person’s contribution, but creatively and artistically this collaboration is shared. I think this was such a successful collaboration because we designed with the other in mind.

Your two styles seemed to have blending well, but it’s also not surprising that the two of you would collaborate with your shared interest in building up a community of artists, craftspeople, and creatives. 
Christy: I can’t say this enough — the community of makers here in the San Francisco Bay Area are some of the most generous and wonderful people I know. Yes, we work independently, but the feeling is very much an inclusive one where ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’

Christine: Community has shaped my business and creative experience in defining ways. Many of the relationships that I’ve built with fellow creatives and small business owners have taken on collaborative and mutually supportive directions. These connections push me think differently. They have helped me work better as an independent maker and they have also challenged me to learn new ways of working and interacting with one another. I feel continually motivated to help build and contribute to an actively engaged community because I believe it can lead to beautifully creative and meaningful processes and results. Being part of a community of makers has added such strong value and meaning to my work.

What do you admire most about the other’s work?
Christy: I’m most drawn to Christine’s ability to create designs that are simple but a little bit different, something that I try to do in my work too. I find it fascinating how she combines very minimal components into pieces that are beautiful and eye catching. She also has a fantastic eye for packaging and merchandising.

Christine: I love how Christy’s modern styles are minimal yet have strong personality. I think minimal can often mean neutral but that isn’t the case with Christy’s work. I like the bit of edginess and the bit of sweetness that I see in her work. It totally reflects her, and well, I absolutely adore her!

You can find the ARCN collection on both the Christy Natsumi and Abacus Row websites.