Originally published in Taos News in November 2014
Image taken from http://www.claireworks.com/
Claireworks Studio and Gallery has been in business for over eighteen years. Owner and artist Claire Haye works in many mediums like sculpture, jewelry and mixed media paintings.
“I make everything you see here in the store,” she said, “from small and delicate earrings to the big ceramic mural on the wall.”
Haye started building figurative sculptures in clay, bronze and steel during the eighties.
“I enjoyed making dramatic pieces, but decided to explore painting and jewelry design as well,” she said. “Then, my jewelry began to sell so much that in the early nineties I had a collector base. I was so happy that I could make a living off my art!”
She sold her jewelry line in many different places, including the Shopping Channel QVC. This gave Haye a national following and the financial resources she needed to start her own business, Claireworks Studio and Gallery, which she opened in 1997 in Arroyo Seco.
Now, she only sells her art in the gallery and through her website.
“People come here to buy something for themselves and often return with friends, or buy gifts for them,” she said. “I am very grateful to my loyal collectors.”
A wide range of design
Haye spends many hours a day creating designs that “simply look good on those who wear them.”
“That’s the whole point,” she said. “Not only to sell, but make people happy with what they buy.”
Her jewelry has evocative names like “After Matisse” (square silver earrings) and “Floating World,” “Captured Heart” and “Flowers in the Snow” —silver pedants and earrings.
Her “Astarte” pendant is a representation of the goddess of love and fertility with a small inlaid belly stone.
“Some of my pieces are very dramatic,” Haye said. “You can’t be shy to wear them!”
The Milagro necklace, also known as “Grand Talisman,” is one of such pieces.
“It was inspired by the universal theme of safety and protection, with the local touch of the milagros,” she said.
“Saints on Parade” is another massive necklace with hanging retablos (with inset stones) and silver crosses.
“It is intense,” Haye said, “the kind of piece that people can’t help but notice.”
Saints on parade: image from http://www.claireworks.com
“He loves me” is a silver or bronze necklace that can be purchased by itself or as a set, with matching earrings and a bracelet. Collectors get to choose the kind of stone they want in it.
“Turquoise is very popular,” Haye said, “but we also have amber, coral, garnet, jade and many others.”
Haye gets her inspiration from the Taos energy and landscape.
“I look at the blue sky, the clouds, the mountains…” she said. “My garden also inspires me.”
Every year Haye creates several different designs. She is currently planning the new ones for 2015.
“They are very joyful,” she said.
A great team
Haye can be found in the gallery two days a week. There are three more women who work for her.
“We have a great team,” she said.
A member of the team is Nancy Birk, who has been working at Claireworks for eight years.
“Claire is very generous and creative,” she said. “I also love talking to the people that come to the store. And the jewelry is so beautiful that it sells by itself.”
Take the high road
Haye advises aspiring businesswomen to “take the high road.”
“Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams,” she said.
She also recommends paying close attention to their clients and above all, being honest, ethical and hardworking.
“I go the extra mile,” she said. “Repairs and adjustments for the pieces people buy are always complimentary. My business has been built on a generous and friendly relationship with our collectors.”
The holiday sale
Haye believes that an important part of the holiday spirit is giving back to the community.
“Christmas is such a commercial celebration that I end up feeling sad if it is just about buying and selling,” she said. “Since I have been successful, I love sharing my good fortune with other people.”
For the last ten years, Claireworks has donated to Habitat for Humanity fifty percent from each sale of their holiday offering.
“We will also do it this year, through December 24th,” she said. “We already mailed a postcard image of one local lady wearing my jewelry designs to all our collectors.”
She always gets positive feedback on her mission and the images she mails, Haye said.
“Everyone likes the pictures of these women of Taos,” she said. “My daughter, Melissa Haye-Cserhat, is the photographer and she also does a great job.”
In 2013 Claireworks donated $3100 to Habitat for Humanity.
This year’s holiday items are the Feliz necklace and Feliz earrings, made of sterling silver and turquoise, and the Starry Night ring (sterling silver with turquoise inlay).
To order them, visit the gallery or its website.
“We credit all gallery and Internet sales,” said Haye.
Claireworks Gallery is located at 482 A State Highway 150 in Arroyo Seco.
Phone: (575) 776 5175
Prosperity necklace. Image taken from http://www.claireworks.com/