Aristotle's idea of nature is that it is something that has its own characteristic principles of motion and rest. When a natural thing dies, this change from living to dead is still part of its essential natural character. It is these remnants of life that my next maker, Katie re-energises into new forms of motion and rest in her unique jewellery which she sells in her etsy store HartVariations.
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I moved to Oakland, California from my hometown of Portland, Oregon with my boyfriend in the summer of 2010. My boyfriend is a writer and musician who works full time at a non-profit in San Francisco. I visit Portland often as my family still lives there and my jewelry is sold at several retail shops and a gallery in town.
I studied literature and writing in college, but took a bit of a detour from school into the tea business for 11 years. Just this past June, I took the leap out of the corporate tea world and am focusing solely on my own business. Being my own boss is proving to be pretty magical!
What do you make?
I make jewelry using natural elements encased in glass and silver solder.
What attracted you to this particular medium? How did you get started?
In 2009 I took a workshop in Portland to learn how to use stained glass tools and materials to make jewelry. A couple of months later, while trying to figure out what to make a friend for her birthday I spotted a shed snakeskin in my studio and thought, "well, that would probably look great as a necklace." After that piece, I encased a little skull from an owl pellet my mother had given me. In the beginning I experimented with various organic materials, as well as synthetic (dental x-rays, MRI film, film negatives, etc.) and discovered that the organic materials evoked more curiosity and awe.
How long have you been making?
I have always been creative in one way or another. Writing and art were my first two loves. In my twenties I began creating more sculptural pieces and started displaying my work in art shows. In early 2010 I started selling my jewelry in retail.
How does your practice fit in with your everyday life? Do you have your own studio space and when do you work and where?
I work out of a studio in our house in Oakland. The last few months I've been experimenting with my schedule. Having this flexibility is still a bit surreal and so wonderful! I've found that it varies from day to day. Some mornings I just need to sit and drink my tea and daydream a little longer than others. I also enjoy working well into the evening. My boyfriend and I have to be careful not to overwork, as we both enjoy creating so much. Reminding myself to get out of the studio, go on a walk, explore, etc. is a good challenge to have, though.
What are the best and worst aspects about working with this medium?
What I appreciate the most about working with stained glass is the history of the craft as well as the almost unlimited possibilities of form and content. Having complete control of the process from beginning to end allows me the freedom to constantly create new designs. I'm a very visual thinker and am grateful I can take an idea and create the entire piece on my own.
There are limitations with the tools and materials I use. Sometimes my work ends up being a bit of a science experiment. The application of heat can wreak havoc on some of the elements; I have to be ever mindful of the size and type.
Who or What inspires you?
I'm inspired by so many people and things...Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse are some of my favorite artists. I'm also inspired by music, literature, my boyfriend, fashion, the entrepreneurial spirit, movement, insects, animals, constellations, flowers, plants, light, aroma...and so much more.
Do you get creative blocks? If so, how do you deal with it?
I definitely get blocks, but I wouldn't say they are creative ones. Sometimes I wish that I could just sit around all day and create. My jewelry business can often feel like work more than creative fun, but I also enjoy those technical, left-brained aspects of the business. One of my most frequent challenges is just knowing where to begin. Many years ago, I read a wonderful interview of a painter from Mexico City. She said that no matter what she was going to do in the studio, she would always begin her day by filling up the paintbrush jar with water.
Every day I put on my apron. It's kind of like clocking in...but better! Another trick I employ (read in another artist's interview) is to just move something. I have several studio tables I use. If I feel like I don't know where to begin, it's usually means it's a great time to clean surfaces. That might be when I stop to look at a shape of glass or a feather, and start envisioning the next piece. Two more tricks: going on a walk or organizing my supplies.
What other mediums would you love to explore?
There are so many mediums I'd love to explore. Over the years I've dabbled in bookbinding, printmaking, transfers, clothing design, clay sculpting, encaustic, paper making, weaving, welding, photography, and so much more. It is important for me to continue to learn new skills for my art practice as well as for the jewelry. I've been learning more metalsmith techniques lately and plan on expanding my jewelry line.
What do you hope to do next with your practice?
I am slowly starting on a new body of art work. Between that and the growth of my jewelry business, I'm a pretty happy and busy lady!
Thank you Katie! Are you a collector? I am interested in featuring your passion!