About 10 years ago, Cat Luck hopped into her Volvo car to sell her jewelry on the west and east coasts. The Salt Lake City native eventually came to Pittsburgh, the place she has called home for six years.
Cat creates her two jewelry lines under Collarbone Jewelry in her studio in the Brew House in South Side and sells her creations throughout the Burgh and beyond.
Cat Luck is wearing one of her necklaces (📸: Courtesy of Cat Luck)
Cat began her journey at a community college in Salt Lake City. Her hope was to move to a larger fashion design school in New York City. However, while still in community college, Cat started a part-time job in a pearl shop, paying only $ 8 an hour. There she learned basic jewelry making techniques and began to tinker with various pieces of vintage jewelry.
After Cat sold some of her own work, she found that she liked making jewelry better than fashion design. She dropped out of school and started her jewelry project on the west coast in various resorts.
“I started these adventures for months and just trusted that the universe would get me where I needed to go, that my gas tank would be full, that I would have something to eat,” said Cat. “I’ve met cool people who let me live with them, I’ve been to hospitals, hotels, and shops. I got so many opportunities by following my dreams and trusting that the universe would guide me. “
After a stay in central Pennsylvania with her mother, Cat settled in the east. She officially moved to Pittsburgh in 2014 to work at a jewelry store and continued to hone her skills. After seven months, she quit the jeweler and decided it was time to hurry up and survive regardless of her own art. Through pop-ups, case shows, and museum and store sales, Cat was finally able to raise enough cash to enroll in a NYC jewelry school in 2018.
Since then, Cat has been making her jewelry in the Burgh. We had the opportunity to chat with her about her pieces, some of her favorite Pittsburgh craftsmen, and her jewelry. Below is our interview with Cat, edited for length and clarity.
The Incline: Where do you get inspiration for your pieces?
Cat luck: I have two lines of jewelry. Collarbone Jewelry has “a story with every piece”. Cat Luck stands for “as luck wants it”. They are essentially yin and yang. The two lines encompass both because we each have two sides of ourselves as human beings. It’s about trying to come together as a balance.
Collarbone is my line of fashion jewelry; I have pieces starting at $ 28 to make it more affordable and accessible. The Collarbone line is about travel, inspiration, trusting the universe, living the dream and following your heart. More free-spirited, similar to my trip across the country. The metals I use for this line are brass, bronze, rough stones, and freshwater pearls. I want the collection to have a soul connection because for me it’s not about money.
Hammered Collarbone X Earrings (📸: Courtesy of Cat Luck)
The Cat Luck line is more minimalist. It’s more structured and linear. It’s more about thinking about it before you do it than jumping off the collarone before you look. I had to apply higher skills that I was unfamiliar with until I got to Pittsburgh and attended jewelry school. I would call it art jewelry that is a bit higher quality. It all starts at $ 50 and goes higher. The metals for this are sterling silver, 14 carat gold, gold-plated and more.
Cat Luck X Silver Story (📸: Courtesy of Cat Luck)
Why is jewelry so appealing to you as a craft?
It can mean so many things. For one, I like that it can be sentimental. It has been used for so many different things since the beginning of time such as ceremonies, to show promises of love, to mourn, and to celebrate a baby’s life. Jewelry plays such an important role in all possible areas of life; it is a form of expression. Not only does it represent, it can display a unique personality and be used as a gift to show feelings for someone. People can know who you are, your ancestry, or your culture because of your jewelry.
What do you like about being part of the creative community here in Pittsburgh?
I love Pittsburgh; I am so grateful that I found this city and I never thought I would become a jewelry designer here. It’s acceptable and affordable to live with. In many other places I lived in, like Seattle, I had to take other part-time jobs for it to work. Pittsburgh is capable of holding me so tight that I could live a comfortable life just with my art. With Mon Made, PG&H and the Craft Business Accelerator, it really brought together other artists. There are many manufacturers in Pittsburgh who are very supportive. I now have a lot of friends who are doers. We come together and talk to each other about our problems and how we can grow. I feel like it’s more competitive and mysterious in other cities while Pittsburgh is very communal.
Who are some other local manufacturers and artisans that inspire you?
Some of my friends who are also artisans are Gillian at Broken Plates, Maia Leppo who also makes jewelry and lifestyle brands, Safran Everyday, Otto Finn owned by Rona [Read The Incline’s story with Otto Finn here], Flux Bene owned by Rebekah, part-time poodle owned by Lindsay. For clay, I really like Jowdy Studios, Emmanuelle Ceramics, K. Lo Rebel, Garbella. It’s just really cool to see all of these Pittsburgh makers; This city is a jewel of growth.
Where can we find you in Pittsburgh to sell your pieces?
You can find some of my jewelry at Picket Fence in Shadyside, Wildcard in Lawrenceville, Small Mall in Lawrenceville, Bellwether in Sewickley, Kards Unlimited has a few pieces, Mattress Factory, Frick Museum, and then Fallingwater for a special, private collection. I do pop-ups which really helped me grow my brand on the east coast. Follow me on Instagram to see where and when I show up! I always do the Three Rivers Arts Festival too.
Cat Luck Collection (📸: Courtesy of Cat Luck)
What’s next for your jewelry journey?
It can go in different directions. I’ve been doing it for 11 years now so I almost have a feel for what now? I’ve been thinking about opening a little shop in Pittsburgh. However, I just bought a van so I want to travel a lot; I am a traveler at heart. I want to keep Pittsburgh as my base, but I would love to have more arts festivals around the country. The other option is to expand my website for more web sales. I’m at a crossroads right now, but I think I could just drive around the country and then come back to Pittsburgh sometime to do some shopping.