Girl in Shining Armor
By Sara Wailgum
Architect Tracy Belben began experimenting with handmade jewelry when she first picked up a pair of pliers and some scrap metal pieces back in 2009. After digging through her old architecture school studio supplies and using fragments of broken jewelry, she began testing out different techniques and ideas she had about wearable art. Since then, Belben has launched her own Boston-based jewelry line, T*Racy (pronounced Tee-Racy), featuring fashionable handmade earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and body armor.
The name T*Racy is a representation of Belben’s alter ego that comes out when she is creating a piece. “While working, I get into an intensely focused, peaceful trance,” said Belben. “When the piece is completed (and the sun comes up), I have a moment of shock and disbelief that I created it. It’s as though my alter ego takes over.” Despite her suburban, private school upbringing, Belben says she has always been fascinated with urban subcultures, such as punk, rock, and goth. Although this side of Belben was not particularly expressed in her professional and social circles, creating pieces for the T*Racy line has allowed this aspect of her personality to shine through.
Belben uses lightweight steel, aluminum, wire, beads, wood, and her personal favorite- mixed metal chains- in her creations. When creating pieces, Belben says she “typically gravitates towards darker metallic and eye-catching materials to create sexy yet sophisticated jewelry and body armor.” Each piece in the collection, handmade by Belben herself and unique, is often considered to be a limited edition. According to Belben, “The goal of T*Racy is to create wearable and comfortable pieces that make a statement - whether it’s a punk-inspired, ready-to-wear bracelet or a sexy, over-the-top body armor piece.”
The T*Racy jewelry line has been featured in a variety of events, including Boston Fashion Week, Latinista Fashion Week (NYC), and Brooklyn Fashion Weekend. The collection was also showcased in a fashion installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston by MLR Artist Management and stylist Kathy Benharris.
Belben has recently teamed up with handbag creator Helena Thorne Marrin Grant of The Kitchen Sink Bag (TKSB) to create a collection, Race & Grant, of handbags and accessories handcrafted in Boston by the designers themselves. The collaboration was featured at Refinery29 and Simon Malls’ “The Shopping Block” event at South Shore Plaza, Styleweek Northeast, and Fashionably Late at the Liberty Hotel, where Belben’s designs were featured with designs by fashion designer Julie Kontos.
In the future, Belben hopes to place her work in fashion-forward shops across the U.S. and wants to create extravagant pieces for the red carpet, for major high-fashion editorials, and for film. Belben’s incredible designs are currently available for purchase on the T*Racy website (www.t-racy.com).