While many artists and metal smiths conjure memories of exploring their mother's or grandmother's jewelry boxes as a child, it's the rare designer like Barbara Klar who recalls trips to the hardware store with her father, punk rock music breaking up the silent Midwest nights and simple clouds overhead as equally inspirational and meaningful.
Barbara Klar was born in Akron, OH, with an almost obsessive attention for details. The clasps on her mother's watch, the nuts, bolts and hinges found on her father's workbench, the chrome on her brother's '54 Harley Hog...Barbara's love of hardware and metal and "how things worked" was ignited and continues to burn bright.
Coming of age in the Midwest, Barbara was part of the burgeoning glam rock explosion making the scene, discovering Pere Ubu, DEVO, The Runaways, Iggy Pop and David Bowie in out-of-the-way Cleveland nightclubs. Cue Barbara's love of music and pop culture that carries on to this day.
Yet Barbara took quietly meaningful and deep inspiration from escaping to the hills around her childhood home to silently watch the sky, imagining and imprinting her own designs in those clouds.
New York...late 1970's, early 80's. Barbara began making "stage wear" for friends in seminal punk rock bands including Lydia Lunch, The Voidoids and The Bush Tetras, cementing Barbara's place in alt. rock history as the go-to dresser for those seeking the most stylish, the most cutting edge accessories. She certainly caught the attention of infamous retailer Barneys New York, who purchased Barbara's buffalo skin pouch belts, complete with "bullet loops" for lipstick compartments. Pretty prestigious for a first-time designer!
And it was up, up, UP from there. Famed jeweler Robert Lee Morris invited Barbara into a group show at Art Wear and Barbara joyfully began to sell her jewelry for the first time. Barbara opened her first standalone store, Clear Metals, in NYC's East Village during the mid - 80's. In 1991 she moved that store into the fashion and shopping Mecca that is SoHo, where it was located for ten years until Barbara has moved her life and studio upstate to the Hudson Valley. She continues to grow her business, her wholesale line and her special commission work while still focusing on those gorgeous clouds in the country sky.
Clear Metals is a testament to Barbara's fascinating collection, a unique presentation of one-of-a kind and limited edition gold and silver jewelry, completely designed and crafted by her in her upstate New York studios.
Barbara's work has been recognized on the editorial pages of Vogue, WWD, The New York Times and In-Style Magazine as well as featured on television shows including "Friends," "Veronica's Closet" and "Judging Amy." Film credits have included "Meet The Parents," Wall Street," "High Art" and The Eurythmics' "Missionary Man" video.
Barbara has been hailed in New York Magazine as being one of the few jewelry designers who "will lend her eclectic touch to create just about anything her clients request, from unique wedding bands and pearl-drop earrings to chunky ID bracelets and mediaeval-style chains."
photo: Franco Vogt