Meet the Maker: Ceramic Jewelry Maker Kimberly Huestis
On this week’s edition of Meet the Maker, we’re excited to introduce jewelry maker Kimberly Huestis of Porcelain and Stone. You may recognize her from Re:Make 2013 or may have spotted her goods at Brit + Co SF. Oh, and did we mention she’ll be joining us in Austin for Re:Make next month? She’s kind of a Brit + Co. triple threat ;)
Take one look at her line of jewelry and you’ll know why. All of Kimberly’s porcelain and stoneware ceramic pieces are handmade in her Boston studio and they’re simply stunning. If you want to snag a few pieces for yourself (who wouldn’t?), join us at Re:Make on May 3rd and 4th! Be sure to register for FREE here! Okay, now read on for Kimberly’s story.
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I’m originally from Vermont. Growing up, I enjoyed hands-on activities like drawing, sculpting in clay, digging up dirt, or hammering rocks just to see what they looked like inside. Those experimental days were probably what helped shape my willingness to experiment when I design today. When I did eventually grow up, I went to Boston and studied Architecture through Wellesley College and MIT.
Why did you decide to start Porcelain and Stone?
I finally ran out of reasons to tell myself no! I used to avoid the things I found too “girly,” but surprise! I am a female. It’s important to celebrate the things you love. For me, that has been making things that are special and wearable. I didn’t always love jewelry, because I had the hardest time wearing anything that didn’t cause a horrible reaction to the mystery metals people choose to use in their products. I finally gave up and pretty much didn’t wear jewelry for 10 years. Having always sculpted (probably since around age five), creating my own things to try to wear came naturally. Creating something of a higher quality was a bit of a fun challenge for me coming from a designer’s side of things in the architectural sense.
In five words or less, tell us why you love to make.
It makes me feel wonderfully human. (Okay, six, I’m very chatty!)
How do you choose different jewelry designs that you try? Where do you get your inspiration?
The jewelry designs are based on the female body. I always design with a graceful sort of woman in my mind. Generally, this is inspiration enough, but I also love to draw from my surroundings and a lot of what I find interesting around Boston happens to be nautical or very coastal.
What does the making process look like for you?
If I’m staring off into space, I’m usually thinking about a concept in my head and if I can achieve it. If I’m having a really hard time conceiving the idea, then I’ll start sketching it out on either paper or directly in clay. I love to experiment, so getting to know if something might have the potential to work is really exciting! It definitely can take a few iterations to make a piece as intended, but I’m so happy that I can finally commit my time to exploring these ideas that I used to silently obsess over when I worked elsewhere.
You describe your jewelry as “sculptural art.” Tell us a little bit more about that.
Many of my pieces are handmade from lumps of porcelain clay that I shape, sculpt, and carve for the specific design I am after. I like to think of the larger porcelain pieces as little art installations for the body.
What’s the one maker (or creative) tool you can’t live without?
That tool would definitely be water. Best tool that I use daily in my work for shaping and cleaning up pieces. It also functions as a great reclaiming agent for when I take my dried up “failed” pieces, rehydrate them, and recycle them to have another chance at life.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
I love to experiment with food. Cooking/baking/candy making is a fun activity because the results yielded are edible and possibly delicious! Recently, I have been playing around with molecular gastronomy and making whiskey caviar.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
For makers—and anyone really—I love to remind myself that everything is a choice. You choose to say yes, and you choose to say no. You always have yourself to blame for your choices… and I like that. My conscious choice since I started (and hopefully I’m not laying on the cheese) was to always plan as if I was going to succeed. I didn’t look for short term options. I was planning for long term growth. I was investing my time and my personal savings (bye-bye, personal savings!) into something I believed in, and it was me. It can be hard to believe you might really be able to do something when you have no directions to follow, so I set myself up with achievable milestones that created steps to help me reach my bigger goals. Something that can really deplete your opinion about yourself as you blow through your personal finances, can then turn into something measurable that boosts your confidence.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do?
Hm! I’m coming from a fairly technology-focused background in my education and previous professions, so it has certainly played a big part in my life. Interestingly, my biggest love in college was sculpture, and when I discovered 3D computer-aided design it was pretty life-changing. I no longer had to plan for enough time to dust and wash out the marble from my hair after rock carving. Technology allowed me to behave (what I considered to be) more like an adult! At the same time, it really opened up creative segments of my design thinking. At MIT, we were able to print out our designs using laser-cutters and 3D printers. This was back in 2004 for me. Suddenly, the window to the world of objects seemed to open wider and pairing it with my training as a sculptor and fragmented training in casting… it gave me lots of ideas. Technology has provided me a stable backbone to push off from and always come back to if I really struggle to do something by hand. I haven’t gone back to it yet in that sense, but it is always just that thought away while I’m working on pieces.
What’s up next for you?
More controlled experimentation! I have plans to work with copper intermixed with porcelain. I love the green patina it brings and I still have plans to bring my 3D CAD background to my little analog studio.
Have you fallen in love with Kimberly yet? Then don’t forget that she’ll be joining us at Re:Make Austin on May 3rd and 4th. Stop by Palmer Events Center from 11am-6pm to check out her jewelry!