Light & Breezy

Marin artist Kristen 'Bucko' Sinn's upbeat persona and playful spirit flow through her MCM-inspired jewelry
Light & Breezy
Kristen 'Bucko' Sinn has carved out a niche in the world of studio jewelry, and many of her creations evoke a mid-century modern vibe. Above: Sinn's daughter Summer models a stunning aquamarine and silver necklace.

Jewelry can be a tough business. How will women dress next year? What colors will be in? How much will stones cost in six months? And by all means let's avoid 'conflict diamonds'!

These days, life is easier for Marin County artist Kristen 'Bucko' Sinn, who's carved out a niche in the world of studio jewelry that flows from and expresses her personality and predilections.

Her deeply colored enameled rings, pendants, earrings, and more—often using sterling silver, and asymmetrical designs—evoke stars, boomerangs, quirky forms inspired by the mid-century modern era.

"Well, I just love that look," she says. "I mean, all that kitschy stuff from back in the '50s and '60s just cracks me up." She also smiled recounting a recent trip to Palm Springs, where "we stayed at some Tiki place." "It was a lot, visually," she says of the town well known for its mid-century modern vibe.

Light & Breezy
(L-R) Three Squares Necklace (reversible, enamel), Outer Space Necklace.

About her jewelry, Kristen says, "Well, it's really colorful, and it's not real serious. It's also easy to wear. I make stuff that I want to wear myself."

"I like working with metals," she adds. "And I like that [what I create] is small, and that I don't have to buy a big studio space. I don't need huge canvases. It's just a small setup. And I like jewelry—I like wearing it, and I like giving it away as gifts, and things like that."

Julie Lindberg, a fellow jeweler who, like Kristen, is a member of the Marin Jewelers Guild, says of Kristen's work, "Some of it reminds me of 'The Jetsons,' you know. It's just lighthearted, and she's a lighthearted person."

  Light & Breezy
Kristen Sinn at her home studio.
 

Oh, and her nickname: 'Bucko'?

"[When] I was a baby," Kristen says, "it was the first word I ever said."

Not surprisingly Kristen and her husband, Patrick Yore, who works in advertising and plays guitar in a punk rock outfit, live in a mid-century modern home. It's an archetypal Marin house, a steep, glass-fronted A-frame from the early '60s surrounded by forest on a steep, twisty street above the quaint and lively hamlet of Fairfax.

Life is good. Her two teen daughters—their lighthearted names are Summer and Gigi—can sometimes be persuaded to wear mom's jewelry. Kristen's compact studio is in a room off their home's garage, with windows offering close-up views of tree limbs. Besides crafting jewelry for sale at the Marin Jewelers Guild shop in San Rafael, Kristen does custom work.

  Light & Breezy
(L-R) Carnelian Retro-shapes Necklace, Petosky Necklace.
 

But there are always challenges for artists—and artists are indeed what studio jewelers are. How can you stand out in a world flooded with jewelers? What can you say with your jewelry? Can you turn out decorative ware that goes beyond decor?

Studio jewelry is a tradition rooted in the Arts and Crafts era of the early 20th century, a tradition that reignited in the 1950s and '60s, with artisan jewelers—like artisan ceramicists and glassmakers at the same time—doing handcrafted work aimed more at personal satisfaction and artistic worth than at mass marketing.