Judy Crighton ponders. She creates. She’s got a “katrillion” things going on. She’s also barely 5 feet tall in heels. While it seemed the world had saddled the perky, irreverent artist with every nickname under the rainbow for “tiny,” it took more than three decades for someone to point out the obvious: This girl is a modern pixie.
“I’ve always been the tiniest person in the class, growing up. I’ve been called every possible synonym for small — but never pixie,” says the 36-year-old Clevelander.
That revelation led, at least ostensibly, to a jewelry line, an Etsy store and the decision to devote herself full time to her passion. Modern Pixie earrings and necklaces grace the shelves at local boutiques such as the Banyan Tree, Room Service, Vanity Lab and Three Home. But the playfulness and creativity crucial to Crighton’s success were brewing long before she topped out at her present diminutive height.
The little girl who wanted to be a roller skater when she grew up and declared in kindergarten that she was going to write and illustrate children’s books never really grew up all the way. Her jewelry reflects that. “It definitely tends to be petite and sort of dainty,” Crighton explains. “I’m such a kid at heart, so I feel like I try to take the seriousness out of jewelry.”
Her pieces are whimsical and simple with feminine lines and saturated colors. Sterling silver from New Mexico melds with vintage beads and anything else that catches her eye. “I just go and buy what I love,” Crighton says. “I just have faith that it’ll become something pretty.”
Crighton finds inspiration in the simplest things: She’ll see a new necklace in two beads rolling next to each other on her workbench. It’s a knack she’s refined over the years. As a teenager, she taught herself how to make jewelry so she’d have something affordable to wear. Years later, certified as a yoga teacher, she grew interested in the colors associated with energy points within the body, known as chakras. She started incorporating that into her designs, making necklaces that have become some of her most popular pieces. The seven chakra colors anchor long, swingy chains, forming delicate rainbows.
Last year her work was accepted into MOCA’s ARTscape show, and her pieces were a hit. She’s still a little awestruck by it all.
“I’m just making things that I like,” she says. “But what’s so cool is when you see people buying it.”