Welcome to the first of my interviews with fellow jewellery makers.
One of the joys of blogging when you also craft is 'discovering' other makers on the net, and Kristin of KS Jewellery Designs has always been one my favourites.
Kristin's work is characterised by its intricate use of silver and often includes gemstones in a variety of different types. She also sells detailed tutorials of some her wirework designs.
I hope you enjoy finding out a little more about her and her beautiful work...
When and how did you start making jewellery?
I first decided to have a go at making jewellery back in 2007. I bought a cheap ‘Make Your Own Bracelet’ kit from eBay which came with materials and instructions. Using my husband’s old tools, I made a bead charm bracelet. I was very proud of it, although it didn’t last long and the charms kept falling off! It was then I decided to look into better methods for attaching beads and, following a book I borrowed from the library,I learnt how to make a ‘wrapped loop’. My journey had started.
I developed my wirework skills over a number of years and then in 2013, I attended an adult education class for one day a week in silversmithing. I challenged myself to learn a new skill or learn how to use a new tool every week. My teacher was brilliant and I tried to absorb as much information from her as possible, asking lots of questions and picking her brain about soldering issues I was having at home. She was very patient with me and, after two terms, I felt I was able to go it alone and learn from my own experiences, in other words ‘mistakes’! I am still learning and experimenting but it’s so much fun.
How did you think of your shop name and does it have a story behind it?
I started off selling my jewellery under the name ‘K S Sparkles’! I had a small stock of beaded jewellery for sale in my local post office and was delighted if anyone bought anything. However, after reading a book entitled ‘Marketing and Selling your Jewellery’ by VikiLareau, I learnt that ‘brand’ is very important and it said that ideally your company name should include what you do/sell. As I design and sell jewellery pieces and wirework tutorial designs, I ended up with ‘K S Jewellery Designs’. Not very exciting I know!
Where do your design ideas come from and what is the process that sees them through to the finished product? Do you doodle on paper or take photos for inspiration? Do your designs then evolve on paper or in your hand as you make them? Do you experiment with the metal you create finished designs in, or do you use a base/cheaper metal for experimentation?
I love using flower and leaves in my jewellery designs, so I suppose I am influenced by nature. However, in saying that, you will not find me sketching real flowers and trees. I do take lots of photos of flowers but I like to zoom into the centre of a flower with my macro lens to capture pattern and shapes.
I regularly use a sketchbook in my design process, sometimes just to draw out a quick idea that I don’t want to forget and other times to develop a swirl or a shape into a jewellery design I will then go on to make. My designs are simplified versions of nature, focusing on shapes and lines. I always say to people that the flowers in my jewellery are like the flower doodles I drew through my childhood but now I am doodling with wire.
Sometimes my jewellery designs come from playing with wire and a pair of pliers. For example, the subject of my latest wirework tutorial, Swirl Leaves, came about when I was at a craft fair looking for something to do during the quiet times. I picked up my tools and started making shapes with wire. I used to use plated craft wire to practise my designs but it has its limitations and becomes brittle with too much bending. Now I prefer to trial designs with copper wire first. It is very soft and malleable, as well as being much cheaper than sterling silver.
Where do you create your jewellery; do you have your own studio or use a kitchen table? Does your physical space affect how you work and what you create?
I am very lucky to have my workbench in our sitting room overlooking the back garden which is a step away through a patio door. We have a large open plan L-shaped room and my workspace covers one wall. I used to do all my jewellery making at a small computer table but now I have a long workbench with storage and shelving that my clever husband built for me. Working within the family living area has its advantages and disadvantages. It is good because most of the time I can get on with my jewellery making and still be aware of everyone else and not feel cut off from the rest of my family. However, as you can imagine, sometimes I would love to have a door to shut so I could concentrate without the distractions. I am quite a messy worker with tools and materials everywhere but because my workbench cannot be hidden away, I do have to keep it tidy especially if we have guests.
How do you motivate yourself to keep on creating?
In the past I have had periods when I have felt my ‘mojo’ has left me. It would often happen after a long holiday or maybe after Christmas when I had hardly thought about my jewellery making let alone created anything. I am pleased to say that motivation is not a problem for me at the moment as I always have lots of things to keep me occupied and seem to never have enough time. With the onset of Christmas, I am trying to build up my stock for future craft fairs. I get quite a lot of ring orders from my websites so I regularly have custom orders to complete. There are often new wirework designs I could develop into a tutorial, as well as new designs I want to try and make.
What jewellery making tools could you just not do without, and what tool/item is on your wish list?
My chain nose pliers are the most important tool to me, without them I couldn’t shape wire. I have had several pairs over the years and have learnt to buy the best quality I can afford. After that, I would have to say my hammer and little stainless steel bench block. Most of my jewellery gets some form of hammering or texturing at some point. I also have a little set of needle files that are in constant use along with lots of different grade of sanding pads and emery paper.
If money was no object, I would buy a rolling mill. I used one during my silversmithing class and it was so much fun and I realised it offers endless possibilities of adding texture to metal. I can only dream about that.
Do you take your own photos, and if so do you have any photography hints?
I take lots of photos of my jewellery, not just the finished article but often photos of work in progress for my records and also to post on my Facebook page. My camera is Fuji Finepix and I love the macro setting as it means I can get real close-up photos. I take all of my photos in natural light from the patio door near my workbench and use a large mirror to one side to reflect light back onto my jewellery pieces. A bright cloudy day is best. Full sunshine is impossible to take photos in, so I try and take my photos in the earlier or later part of the day.
Which social media platform do you find the most enjoyable and helpful, and how do you use it?
I am on Facebook several times a day and try to post to my business Facebook page every day, if possible. I try to vary what I post about, so as well as posting about new jewellery pieces I have for sale, I like showing work in progress, giving information about my next craft fair or maybe detailing a giveaway. I also follow lots of other crafters and designers on Facebook and love seeing and reading what they have been up to. There are so many talented people out there in this big wide world.
Thanks so much for the interview, Kristin. If you'd like to see more of Kristin's work then check her out elsewhere on the net -