Once upon a time, on a tiny little island…there was a girl who searched for seashells by the seashore. No, her name wasn’t “Sally” as in the “Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore” fame.
Her name is Kristine.
Kristine Kennedy…yes, like “those” Kennedys….distant cousins I am sure!
Ok – back to that “once upon a time…on a tiny little island” stuff.
I wandered into a tiny little studio on that tiny little island…and my eyes were immediately drawn to the most amazing creations…seashells on necklaces…aged copper rings intertwined with gemstones…vintage beads hanging from antique brass chain…
I was having an out of body experience! I knew right then and there – I had to find the artist who created these designs.
Several weeks later, the MAN and I attended a show at the Tybee Arts Association.
As I walked among the beautiful displays…suddenly, I was stopped in my tracks….and with a little “gasp” – I said out loud – “It’s YOU!”
Quickly – the artist – whose work I was drooling over – reached for her phone ready to contact 911…to report this crazy white-haired woman.
Ok – not really, I lied…..well, I don’t THINK she did that! But – it did add a little drama to this story – don’t you think?
That was in 2013…and I continue to “drool” over her designs….as do so many of our customers who have come to LOVE the work of “KKennedy Designs” as much as I have!
This past winter….while many of your were battling sub-zero temperatures and inches of snow unheard of in recent years…Kristine was teaching me many new jewelry skills on that “once up on a time little island”!
She taught me more than I could even dream of…her eye for color…her ability to look at a rusty washer and imagine it as a necklace…her story telling skills about each amazing creation…it was all just so inspiring!
So – it is with great pride and honor that I present our first “Artist of the Month” interview!
Kristine was kind enough to answer some interview questions…Of course, I offered to head back to the “tiny little island” – Tybee Island, GA…and do the interview in person…I’m giving that way!
So…I hope enjoy getting to know Kristine and what makes her do what she does!
C: Well, Kristine….let’s start at the very beginning….since it’s a very good place to start. Tell us a little about yourself!
K: Thanks Cindi, I sure wish you were here on Tybee with me as I am answering these questions – you are just the most amazing student and wonderful person in your own right (ok, ok – I added this part…literary liberties…and I am the one typing this after all…ok back to Kristine’s REAL words)
K: I grew up in New Jersey, 50 miles from NYC and spent the first 26 years of my life in the greater NY and NJ metro area – living in Manhattan’s East Village as well as Staten Island (my commute involved a boat ride every day across the harbor, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and right to the bottom of Wall Street.
C: WOW – very cool! What a life….but now, you are in the south???
K: Yes – I live in Savannah, GA – home of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) – though I didn’t go to school there. I actually went to two different art schools – and didn’t study jewelry at either of them! I studied film, TV and radio production at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and got my MFA in Scenic Design at University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
C: Well, I must admit I have never known anyone with a degree in Scenic Design! What does one – with such a degree – DO for a living?
K: I have worked on movies – such as The Last Song – which was filmed right here on Tybee….and the HBO miniseries John Adams. Honestly, Cindi, I can’t believe that you haven’t been in a movie yourself! (ok ok, she didn’t say that either…..oops – my bad!)
It was my first feature film experience, The New World, where I started making jewelry. I had collected beads from forays onto eBay and meant to do something with them some day. And…then I got to work on a film that transported me into another world, another time, and I was so inspired by the materials (ironically copper), traditions, culture and history, that I made my first piece of jewelry inspired by the film and got to wear it to the premier in Richmond, VA. It took me a few years to figure out where to go from there but it continues to be an interesting journey.
C: It certainly sounds interesting! So, let’s get into some specifics in regard to your designs – such as what is your favorite color to use in your jewelry?
K: Blues…blue…blue…tiffany blue…turquoise blue…sky blue…midnight blue! Ralph Lauren did an entire couture line based on the blue of the night sky over the African Desert. I think I have a lot more exploration to do in BLUE! And…it looks so fantastic with so many colors. For right now, my color is blue! And yes, it is deeply incorporated into my present jewelry line and design concept. I do blue enamel on copper, blue faux sea glass…it works its way into a lot of the pieces that I do. I was originally inspired to create jewelry from pieces found along the coast of Tybee Island…so the big blue sea…it speaks to me!
C: yes…I would say BLUE is YOU! Now…how about metals? Which are you – gold, copper or silver?
K: Well, I really wanted to be “silver” – I was going to create in sterling, wanted to wear silver and blue together, but I am not…alas…silver. I am copper…rich, deep, malleable, fire-worked copper…that you can patina, hammer, form, stamp, solder…and have SO much fun with! It’s in the veins of the earth changing the color of turquoise from blue to green…it’s the base metal for the Statue of Liberty, and it’s in our blood!
C: I think that it was your copper designs that first made me “stop in my tracks.” Personally – I had been a “gold” girl – when I was more of a “goldilocks” – but when the gold in my hair turned to white – silver became my metal of choice. BUT…after seeing the work you do in copper – well, it just opened a new world for me. There is a richness to copper….and earthiness…that just calls to me!
Eternity rings one of your signature designs…which continues to be one of my favorites! It is a wear every day kind of piece – that goes with everything! I love that in a piece of jewelry!
So…I hear you say a lot about “inspiration” – so if you could take a “jewelry inspiration walk” where would it be?
K: That is toughie! Ummmm, just one place – I would probably say the Australian outback, since I have been hearing about it since childhood form when my grandfather served there in WWII…and the American Southwest for the colors and spirituality (ok, I am cheating here by listing two!)
But…if it has to be just one LONG walk about…I would have to say Paris…the light at night as captured by Brassi in his black and white photographs, the Paris Flea Market, the bridges over the Seine, the gardens, the Louvre Museum, I could go on and on…
C: Well, when you plan that walk LONG walk about in Paris – I feel quite sure you will need an assistant – and I am officially applying! So…do you sketch out your designs first or just go with the flow?
K: I have to admit, I didn’t sketch my work up for years, and still don’t for most of my pieces. I have ideas that I start off with, materials chosen, techniques that I want to try, and sometimes it works, and sometimes I ended up in a completely different place – mistakes have been some of my best friends!
I do a lot of research, pull inspiration from nature, history, architectural elements, have idea boards, books and magazines all over the place…but I am only now starting to sketch up designs in advance. I don’t know if this is because I’m doing more intricate metal worked pieces that require some thought on engineering and process before just diving in…or if I’ve come further in my design voice I used to have to draw and design everything out for the stage or film so perhaps I rebelled and liked the freeform approach to jewelry design and am not coming full circle!
C: Yep, I think you were rebelling! I’m a rebel at heart! haha Ok…let’s say you were lost on a deserted island – obviously NOT Tybee – and you could only have three two tools with which to make some of your amazingly beautiful jewelry…what would you want?
K: Ummmmm, well for sure – a Gerber multi tool (not cheating – it really is inly one tool and yet has pliers, scissors, and saw, knives, etc)
There’s already sand and water for polishing and rinsing, shells and natural fibers for all sorts of uses presumably, feathers, hmmmmm, so…a solar charger and my flex shaft tool which fortunately washed up with its case of bits, polishers, grinder, etc. I think I could do some damage with that stuff.
C: Well, it looks like you took a few liberties with with that question as I didn’t say anything about things “washing” up with you…but, I’ll let that slide! So what would say are your major influences and inspiration?
K: Definitely wabi-sabi, roaring 20’s, African Rift Valley
C: Well, I admit that I had to look up this “wabi-sabi” thing….and once that I did yes – I definitely understand that and how it influences your work. So…to those of you reading this…google it – and make it your word of the day!
C: Final Question – really, it is…speaking of “word of the day” – what is your WORD that describes your jewelry?
K: Transportive. I want my jewelry to transport the wearer into another world or story of their choosing.
C: Thanks Kristine! I would be happy for you to “transport” me back to Tybee so that I can learn MORE new skills with you! And…thank you for this awesomely cool interview!
Check out the gallery page so that you can see more of Kristine’s work!
And…remember…shop local… and support your American artists!