Madison Hampton started her business, Vancrafted Studio, making handmade jewelry in 2014 after graduating from college.
At the time she saw no desirable career options in the jewelry making field, so she decided to create her own path. She bought a big, white van with her partner Gage, and together they converted it into their first home together. Within the walls of the van they also built a jewelry studio. It came complete with a removable jewelry bench that gave Madison the unique opportunity to pull the bench out and create wherever she deemed inspirational. As the conversion process went on, metalsmithing tools of all kinds began to line the walls of the van.
With her smithing tools in tow, Vancrafted Studio was born!
As the trio explored the United States, Madison’s handmade jewelry became a reflection of her everchanging surroundings. Vibrant blue turquoise stones were reminiscent of the rivers Gage and Madison would flyfish; while vibrant green turquoise mirrored the lush Pacific Northwest in the spring. Slowly and naturally her pieces became these full circle works of art.
She has figured out a loophole for almost everything. To re-up on silver, supplies, and stones, she plans her route and has packages sent to friends houses, which she is lucky to have sprinkled across the US. She buys double to triple the amount one would normally buy at a time to ensure she is set to travel and create as she pleases. She has a solar set up from Goal Zero that powers her tiny crockpot that she needs to clean fire scale off of metal and charges up her portable tools.
She even figured out a way to bring her torch on the road!
She uses disposable oxygen and propane tanks that she can easily source from most hardware stores in America. While sourcing supplies and working without the conveniences of a modern jewelry studio (ie. running water, electricity, shelter) can be very, very challenging, Madison says, “it’s the way I feel most creative as a maker.”
As time passed Madison and Gage realized that their beloved van wasn’t the most ideal for the types of unkept roads and adventures they yearned to go on. With some sadness and joy, they traded out the van for a Toyota Tacoma. As for their new home on wheels, they found and purchased a Go Fast Camper. Although their adventure mobile looks a little different now the story stays the same.
Now besides the obvious fact that it’s managed from the road, there are many other reasons why Madison’s business, Vancrafted Studio is not your average Jewelry Shop…
1.) Madison has a collection in the thousands of pieces of Turquoise cabochons.
Her stone collection travels with her throughout the country, picking up the energy of certain places and gaining the good vibes of life on the road. The stones stay in their trays and do not get pulled to be made into jewelry until a certain landscape, environment, or experience in nature inspires her to do so.
2.) All of the sterling silver she uses is recycled and all of her stones are ethically mined.
Nature has given her a home and done so much for her that she feels a responsibility to only purchase from lapidary artists that have ethical business practices. She also collects every scrap of silver she has and mails it into a jewelry supply company that has the means to melt it down and recycle it into a perfect sheet of sterling silver for her to then make new jewelry with.
3.) Her studio is 100% solar powered and fully functional.
She can even fit all of her tools into a small rolling toolbox from Home Depot- making it easy to pull out when she is having a workday on the bed of her truck with her Yeti cooler doubling as her chair!
4.) All of her pieces are directly inspired by her time in nature.
For instance- this past summer she spent a good week or two on the Gallatin River in Montana, fly fishing and swimming. She had such a magical time there that she decided to make a collection of three bolo ties named; Gallatin Bolo #1, #2, and #3. The Gallatin River has some green hues to it, so she made sure the turquoise stones she chose for them were a reflection of that.
5.) When you buy a piece from her you are getting much more than a simple piece of jewelry.
It exists because of an experience she had in nature, and whatever stone(s) are featured were handpicked with purpose for that piece.
Madison and Gage are recently engaged and currently trying out a new idea of home: staying put for the foreseeable future in Bozeman, Montana. Through the years of traveling no place has given them the feeling of contentment like Bozeman has, so they are going to give it a shot at being their permanent home base for all adventures.
If you would like to purchase a piece from Madison or even just follow along, check her out on Instagram @vancraftedstudio and look out for her new website, vancraftedstudio.com. She runs her business by making small batches of handmade jewelry and releasing them to her website at an exact date and time to make it fair to all buyers. Before the release, she previews every single piece on her social media so you can have your eye on exactly what you plan to purchase. While she is currently not on the road, her work is inspired by that special time in her life that shaped her into the jeweler she is today.
Photo credits: Amber Sovorsky and Andy Austin