While studying metal at Edinboro University near Erie, Pittsburgh, Dan Jacko immediately started creating jewelry. The passion that he discovered in school allowed him to be a jeweler for the past 20 years. He created his company Harp and Hound in 2001. He worked in other people’s stores until the pandemic when he finally decided to go at it on his own.
“We sell online. We also are doing a bunch of different shows and fairs and festival-type things to try to get you to know, out there in open-air spaces and meet people and get word of mouth going that way because just doing online is kind of like yelling into the void.”
It was a big adjustment for Dan to go from Mom and Pop shops of high-end jewelry to just having his art as his competitor. He was struggling with how to get his name out there, to make a name for himself. Once he started selling in person besides just online, he discovered that making a connection with people was the key to selling his jewelry. If he could connect a person to his work, they were more likely to walk away with one of the pieces than without.
When asked about the name and logo of Harp and Hound, Dan described the Celtic influence of his pieces. He first wanted to study graphic design in school because he used to love drawing as a child. But after taking one class, it wasn’t what he expected. When creating the Harp and Hound logo, he wanted to make it personal. He was looking for a name that was unique but could also be the name of an Irish Pub. The harp was inspired by his wife who plays the harp regularly. Dan is half Irish and wanted to include that in his work so there is an Irish arm incorporated into the logo. Finally, the hound came from Dan and his wife’s shelter dogs. They were a kind of hound and when Dan put it all together, it worked.
When creating new pieces, Dan has a list. “An ongoing list that we talked about as far as pieces that I need to make at some point like that I get to that people customers have asked for or just like, that seem to fit the idea of what I do.”
Dan does a lot of drawing when it comes to creating new pieces. He draws until he finds an original piece or something that fits the ideal of his project. Dan also looks through history for ideas as well. From the Book of Kells to hundred-year-old manuscripts, Dan gets inspiration from it all. After finding the perfect design, Dan will create a prototype from a scanner flatbed printer and get the scale and proportions correct. Then a sheet of metal is transferred into the design. Once Dan was happy with the prototype, he created a rubber mold of the design to reproduce the piece with more metals.
When asked which piece was his favorite, Dan immediately thought of the shield pendant/pin that was inspired by the artist Archibald.
“The first time I made it and designed it and made it was actually for I did it as a hair clip for my wife. And she worked for it. She still wears it but like it was a good number of years. A few years back I did that and then I had to tweak it and thicken it to make a rubber mold out of it and make it for the store for everyone.”
Dan continues to create beautiful jewelry that catches the hearts of everyone and Harp and Hound has grown into a fully operating business that strives for “quality in craftsmanship”.