Steamboat jeweler’s art hits the big time |

Steamboat jeweler’s art hits the big time

Sarah Buckles Larner’s elk tooth originals worn in ‘Crazy Heart’

Margaret Hair

Local jeweler Sarah Buckles Larner solders a piece of jewelry Friday at her home outside Steamboat Springs. Buckles Larner’s jewelry is worn by actor Jeff Bridges in the film “Crazy Heart.”

Local jeweler Sarah Buckles Larner solders a piece of jewelry Friday at her home outside Steamboat Springs. Buckles Larner's jewelry is worn by actor Jeff Bridges in the film "Crazy Heart."
Matt Stensland

— About two years ago, longtime local and custom jewelry maker Sarah Buckles Larner got a surprise phone call.

On the line was a designer who was working on a movie called "Crazy Heart," starring Jeff Bridges. The designer had seen photos of Buckles Larner's high-end elk tooth jewelry online and wanted to know if she could convert a pair of earrings into a pendant — and if she could do it that day.

"They had decided they wanted him to wear elk teeth jewelry around his neck. … She called and said, 'You've got to FedEx them to me tonight,'" Buckles Larner said.

She rushed down to Wild Horse Gallery, which carries some of her work, picked up the pair of earrings and altered them so they could be strung on a piece of leather for Bridges to wear.

Once the initial excitement calmed down, Buckles Larner went back to making the custom jewelry she's been crafting throughout her 35 years as a Routt County resident.

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When "Crazy Heart" — a redemption story starring Brid­ges as a burnt-out country star — finally hit local screens, Buckles Larner went to see the film, finding her elk teeth resting on Bridges' chest for most of the movie.

"He has it on almost every single scene, unless his shirt is buttoned up. … There's one scene when he's laying on the bed playing guitar without his shirt on, and it's almost like a close-up," Buckles Larner said.

Originally slated for limited release at the end of 2009, the movie has picked up steam with Bridges' best actor Golden Globe win. It's up for three Oscars: Bridges for best actor, Maggie Gyllenhaal for best supporting actress and Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett for best original song.

"Crazy Heart" is playing locally at Wildhorse Sta­dium Cinemas in Wildhorse Marketplace.

It's hard for Buckles Larner to pinpoint when she first made jewelry out of an elk tooth. After more than two decades of working mostly with custom projects, she was used to customers bringing her found objects to include in a piece of jewelry. She guesses the first hunter or outfitter to bring her an elk tooth came into her office about 10 years ago.

Each piece is different, and the local artist tries to bring out the natural coloring of each elk tooth. In her other work, Buckles Larner uses precious stones in creative designs depicting mountains, cityscapes and other scenes. Her wedding rings are prominent in the Steamboat ski community, she said.

Buckles Larner got her start in jewelry while sitting at her mother's dressing table as a child, making small repairs. Her parents traveled often and brought back jewelry for the five girls in the family, Buckles Larner said.

"I've always been an artist. I've always worked with my hands," she said. She does the bulk of her work in her Routt County Road 44 studio, keeping each element separate with several work areas.

Buckles Larner also has an office in downtown Steamboat, above the Old Town Pub at 600 Lincoln Ave. in Suite 201. She's on the artist roster at Wild Horse Gallery, at 802 Lincoln Ave. Samples of her work are at

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