I’ve known Kristin for over half of my life, but we didn’t become friends until a couple of years ago. I remember it was Mother's Day weekend, and I was walking with my family around Hillsboro Village. I saw this adorable, gregarious gal with huge sunglasses and a mischievous smile. She was selling her jewelry under a large tent on the sidewalk, and I went over to take a look. Her jewelry was fascinating--nothing like I’d ever seen before. Lockets with lions and mechanical flowers and watch wheels and moonstones. I was intrigued. As she and I started talking about her jewelry, we realized we knew each other from many moons ago. We were delighted to reconnect and as the saying goes: The rest is history.
I photographed Kristin's AMAZING studio. The pictures are below and Kristin's interview follows.
*A fun side note: Soon after our reconnection we met for drinks at a local Tex Mex joint. That night was quite the night. In summary: after slurping fancy margaritas, exploring beautiful abandoned houses, and sipping a bit more wine, I brought up the idea of this blog to Kristin. She, of course, was hugely encouraging and basically told me to quit thinking about it and just do it. So I did. Thank you, Kristin.
I remember a conversation you and I had about one of the juried arts and crafts shows here, and you mentioned to me that you weren't accepted into the show because your work wasn't 'original' enough--because it's assemblage rather than completely made from scratch. Say what?
To be fair, that's the only time I've ever had to dirty up my hands in such literal dealings with the question of 'how handmade is handmade?', but it chafed me at the time because I know how much thought and especially labor I put into each piece. I think their issue was with all of the salvage I use--everything from clock gears and shell casings to metal stampings and reclaimed vintage jewelry--so I say fair enough, as there's no pretension that I made any of those things. I mix handmade metal and beadwork with salvage and found objects in an eclectic enough way that it really befuddles people who need it to be one or the other, but in the end, the loveliest things about the jewelry field is that there are just as many different styles of jewelry as there are different kinds of people.
Your jewelry is incredibly original--I haven't seen any work like it. There seems to be a lot of layers to many of your pieces...necklaces that open and have surprises inside...repurposed watch parts...What are some of the ideas and inspirations behind your pieces?
Well, thank you for the compliment! My inspiration arrives by many different routes; sometimes I visualize what I want to make and seek the materials, other times the available materials suggest the design to me (often multiple suggestions, from which I must choose but one). Every now and then I even see a piece in a dream--those are my favorites. I love the process of searching for the components that want to be made into something, and I'm always looking for new twists to make on my styles. Every piece has a story; sometimes my designs are informed by symbols, associations, and references, and other times I'll create a piece purely for its decorative, aesthetic value (I inevitably find myself making up stories for even these though). Still, I feel like everything I've ever seen or experienced in my life somehow sneaks into my designs, even if only obliquely...
Will you share a little bit about your life journey and what brought you to where you are now?
I started making jewelry about ten years ago, which is also when I first started learning what is now my other trade, stained glass. I've been an artistic dabbler my whole life, so when I decided to teach myself some simple jewelry techniques to reverse engineer an earring I'd seen on the internet, I had no idea that I was embarking on the first step of the journey to my life's work. For the first few years, I simply played and gradually built my skills as a hobbyist, giving my early creations as gifts or selling at the odd craft fair, but everything changed after I divorced my materialistic, unsupportive spouse and quit my corporate job not long after. Once I was able to focus so intently on my work, my skills sharpened even more quickly and my designs flourished, allowing me to expand into a real business, which affords me this great life in the arts. It's been such a long learning process; not only was I still learning the basics of my craft as I went, I had to learn to live outside of my old life's familiar structures in order to be independent, in both literal and figurative senses. A lot of people discouraged me from taking the leap and even I was uncertain, but it's apparent now that I did the right thing by living my beliefs and choosing to follow my dreams, even if it calls for sacrifices (of which there were many, but that's another story).
What is your favorite space/environment like?
I've been adapting to different and sometimes difficult spaces my whole life, so I'm very good at creating a zone for myself wherever I land. My most favorite sort of space is the species to which my own cozy little house belongs, with the studio as its living center, small but filled to the attic with the warm comforts of privacy and solitude.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
Business and pleasure: Vladimir Nabokov's 'Speak Memory', and an illustrated volume called 'Jewels in the Louvre.'
Your go to musical selection?
Bach and Charlie Parker. Thelonious Monk and Dowland. Pergolesi and Cannonball Adderley. Eric Dolphy and Vivaldi. The Ventures and the Kronos Quartet. Shamisen and saxophone. Early music and early 60's music. And I put it all on 'shuffle.'
Any beauty secrets? You look younger now than when we were in high school! How do you do this?
Haha, thanks! I feel like I see a new crack in my face every day, but I also know that my future self will snark at such a statement. I try to eat well and exercise, stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen, and not to do too many fussy, unnatural things to my appearance. I spent an inordinate amount of time experimenting with my look when I was younger, and though it was fun then, I'm in a phase of my life now where I want to look presentable but get out from in front of the mirror as quickly as possible.
Do you have any mottos or mantras?
I try to balance 'Keep moving' with 'Be in the moment.'
Mermaid or Forest Fairy?
Either one pairs well with a crisp white wine.
Kilim or toile?
Come on, both! I like to write my own speech bubbles where a scene is depicted...
Do you prefer a knife and plate or spoon and bowl?
This is kind of like 'blindness or deafness?'; no matter which I choose, I'm losing out on something crucial. Do you have a spork?