The Creative Maximalist

I'm Kristin, an artist and jewelry designer constantly fighting the urge to veer off one creative path and into another. This is my space to unabashedly explore all the random objects and ideas that tickle my imagination. Join me?
  • 12 Chic Halloween Costume Ideas

    October 19 2017

    Halloween is my jam, y'all. A close second to Christmas for me holiday-wise. The love is not reciprocated though, it seems that Halloween never (trick-or-) treats me right. I always have grand costume plans and then either A) there's no party to go to and it's not worth putting in the effort; B) I have no time to make the perfect costume and feel really bad about myself; or C) I try to be overly clever with my costume and it totally falls flat (i.e. when you buy a "sexy lobster" costume to be ironic, it just looks like you wanted to be a sexy lobster). 

    This year it's looking like "A" is in the forecast, so I'm not sure what my costume situation is. But just in case, I wanted to find some chic costume ideas that aren't super conceptual, but rather just pretty to look at. We'll start with some options that are on the spookier, more adventurous side, because you know, I can't help but to make things difficult on myself.

    Chic halloween costume ideas

    And here are some slightly more approachable, lighthearted options:

    chic halloween costume ideas

    Image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14

    And because the right music is vital for setting the mood on occasions like these, here's my go-to Halloween Playlist. FYI, you'll probably see the same one every year. There's only so many Halloween appropriate songs, and since I like to live my life by adages – if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

  • Signature Collection Preview: Flex Ring

    October 18 2017

    1 Comments

    Unlike the Wave Collar that I shared yesterday, both the vision and creation of the Flex Ring came to me quickly and painlessly – a jewelry designer’s dream. Like I’ve mentioned over the past few days, I’m previewing my Signature Collection of jewelry essentials that will be released next week, and this ring is now certainly one of my essentials.

    Rings have been glaringly absent from my jewelry in the past – can you believe this is the first cast ring I’ve made? Truth be told, rings are tough when casting, because you need a mold of each size, and then have to keep inventory of multiple sizes. So I wanted to design something that could be adjusted for each individual and function somewhere between a dainty stacking ring and a cocktail ring…
    flex ring inspiration process
    This may be the only piece that I’ve literally sketched only once. I had the vision, made mockups in paper to test the dimensions (wish I had taken photos but I forgot), translated it into wax, and it was done. A unicorn of jewelry making. My pièce de ré·sis·tance, if you will.

    kristin miller flex ringIt will be available in bronze and sterling silver, with four different stone options. Remember, quantities are limited, so when you sign up for my email list in the footer you'll receive first access to the collection and a surprise gift for being special :)

  • Signature Collection Preview: Wave Collar Necklace

    October 17 2017

    Yesterday you saw the making of the Ripple / Birthstone Necklaces, and today we'll continue the preview of my Signature Collection, launching next week. These will be my jewelry essentials, versatile styles that I've been wishing I had for years.

    For a while now, I’ve had a grand vision in my head to create the perfect collar necklace. I love collar necklaces. They’re the most regal and elegant jewelry style, in my correct opinion. However, when the bulk of the necklace is metal it can be a bit heavy, and if it’s one solid piece, it can be too rigid and uncomfortable.

    SO, I wanted to make something that had visual weight and dimension, but be flexible and easy to wear. Apparently I’ve been in a water inspiration phase, and had the idea of a wave-like piece that could be repeated and flow together to create the illusion of undulating movement. Easier said than done...

    collar necklace wax carving process
    Y’all, I’m gonna be honest, this piece was a bitch and a half to make. The design itself was a bit elusive to me and I couldn’t accurately sketch it in two dimensions. I had to mock up the dimensions in paper and then went through several versions of the wax itself, spending days carving one design, then completely scrapping it and starting over.

    After landing on the right design (the final is pictured in green wax), I needed to check the symmetry to ensure the pieces would flow together correctly. I molded the ends of the final wax with silicon, filled the molds with wax, and was able to place those pieces end-to-end with the final wax to replicate how they would fit together.

    After making adjustments to the final wax, I had it molded and received duplicate waxes (pictured in aqua) from my caster. With these, I was able to assemble them as I would the final piece and check that it fit correctly. The back of the pieces is hollowed out and a chain is slipped through, making it lightweight and flexible. I also added stone settings to one wax and had that molded as well.

    handmade gold malachite collar necklace
    VOILA! I really love this necklace and am relieved it was worth the trouble. I intended it to be an easy-to-wear statement piece that can be casual or dressed up, making it versatile and Signature Collection worthy. I
    f you want first access when the collection is released, sign up for my email list in the footer...and you will be handsomely rewarded :)

  • Signature Collection Preview: Ripple Birthstone Necklace

    October 16 2017

    I’m very excited to announce the imminent release of my first Signature Collection, which will be available next week. These are the pieces that I was constantly wishing I had, until it dawned on me: “Hey, I’m a jewelry designer, why don’t I make them?” Genius, right?

    While I’m now focused on one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewelry, the Signature Collection is what I consider my wardrobe essentials and will be available year around. However, styles will still be created in small batches and stone options and details will be rotating.

    This week I’ll be previewing four of these pieces and giving you a behind the scenes look at the process of creating them. Since I released the October opal version of the Birthstone Necklace last week, we’ll start there.
    medallion necklace inspiration process

    The Birthstone Necklace / Ripple Necklace (a version without the stone) is really where my idea of a Signature Collection started. Although I’m most creatively inspired to make statement jewelry, I’ve finally accepted that I just don’t wear these pieces during an average work day. The problem is, I’m not typically drawn to what’s considered “everyday” jewelry, and I end up wearing nothing 80% of the time. And for a jewelry designer, that’s just downright sacrilege. So I set out to make something lightweight, simple and versatile, yet still with enough detail and story to make it interesting.

    Nearly every day, I was wishing I had a medallion style piece, reminiscent of the ancient Romans or Greeks. They used these types of pieces to commemorate people or events – a notion that I identify with, as my parents often gifted me jewelry for special occasions. I’d also had the idea of a water ripple bouncing around in my brain for a while, it’s an image that always strikes me. Cause and effect? Eternity? I can’t exactly put my finger on what it means to me, but it just seems magical. Once I started sketching, these ideas melded together and I knew that was it.

    Here's a clip of the wax carving process (slightly sped up, unfortunately I don't have the superpower of efficiency). As you can see, I use very fancy tools like toothbrushes, x-acto blades and dental picks. 

    Stay tuned for the next previews, and if you want first access to the limited quantities when the collection is released, sign up for my email list in the footer. (There may also be a surprise involved for my Gold Circle members :)

    handmade birthstone necklace

  • fall fashion and beauty favorites

    October 29 2015

    The seasons are finally shifting here in Dallas and therefore so are my closet, beauty routine, music, and general mood. I thought I’d share my selection of current fall favorites from these categories, but first I must disclose a confession.

    To be honest, I’ve been feeling burnt out by the constant push, push, push of products, interiors, recipes, outfits, trends and everything else the internet so graciously bestows upon us. I’ll readily admit that the internet is a wonderous thing that has allowed me to pursue my passions and, more importantly, provided some priceless Ryan Gosling memes. But it’s also a slippery slope that can lead to comparison and envy.

    Trust me, I’m uncomfortably aware of the irony and hypocrisy of this statement, considering that I’m hawking my own products and social content as we speak. This is a constant internal struggle I have when promoting my business. But I think I’ve finally come to a resolution, which is this:

    I can’t control the quantity or quality of content that other (mostly) well-intentioned souls are releasing into the world. And I can’t be responsible for any detriment that this content (and technology in general) may be having on our society. All I can do is regulate my own internet consumption and resolve to create the most thoughtful, interesting and genuine content and jewelry that I can.

    So by all means, if you ever find that what you’re seeing from me doesn’t float your boat in the most perfect way, PLEASE unsuscribe, unfollow, unwhatever. I’m personally making moves to declutter the noise that doesn’t uplift me, and I encourage everyone else to do the same.

    I’ll wrap up my old fogey rant now and leave you with one more thing. Anything I feature on my blog is something that I’ve purchased, used, loved and believe in strongly enough to share. As I’ve previously mentioned, there’s an abundance of both amazing and crappy stuff out there right now. I’m just trying to help the non-crap float to the top.

    fall fashion beauty favorites

     

    BEAUTY

    Butter nailpolish in Queen Vic ($15): I don’t know if there’s anyone more qualified to judge the quality of a nailpolish than a jewelry designer. Yes, it’s pricier than average, but if chipping is a constant problem for you, this stuff definitely dries fast and has staying power. And I love this perfect shade of plum for fall.

    Bobbi Brown Hydrating Face Cream ($56): Dryness is my biggest skin problem, especially during cold weather. I’ve gone through a LOT of moisturizers, but this one seems to be the winner thus far. It’s the perfect amount of creaminess – doesn’t dry too fast or slow – and I have yet to see a skin flake on my nose (the telltale sign of an insufficient moisturizer).

    Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Palais Royal ($26): During cool weather, I’m partial to the occasional strong lip. However, I can’t handle the constant worrying about whether taking my last bite of food has just turned me into a psychotic clown. So I’ve given up on traditional lipsticks and now favor soft pencils that let you blend in the color and fade out the edges for a more natural stained look.

    APPAREL

    Rails Denim Button-Down ($138): This LA based company makes some super soft button-downs (everyone who hugs me says so). They also offer both traditional and longer length options – I have one of each. They’re not cheap, but a very fair price for a quality item that you’ll wear over and over.

    Madewell High Riser Skinny Jeans ($135): I don’t know how else to put it: these jeans make me feel hawt. They’re the perfect rise that’s high, but not overly so, and they fit tightly but are still comfortable.

    Madewell Overalls ($148): Boom, I went there. These might be my most trendy purchase in years. But, they’re the perfect example of being selective with trends you really like and having fun with them. The black color helps keep them from going too farmergirl, and they’re just dang cozy. Come to think of it, this entire collage is looking a little farmergirl...weird.

    Dear Frances Booties ($595): Alright, before we freak out on the price, know that I was lucky enough to score these puppies at half off. Even then, they’re probably the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought myself. But I don’t regret a single dime because I know that I'll treasure these shoes as works of art for many years. (In case you can't tell, the heel has a sliver of clear lucite). These are made by hand in a family owned Italian factory, and again, a high quality investment piece.

    JEWELRY

    Mayan Earrings: These stunners have been on heavy rotation for me already. I've surprised myself by how casually I can wear them, and they're actually quite lightweight. Coming to the online shop soon!

    TUNES

    Tame Impala: Their new album Currents has been on my Spotify pretty regularly. Perfect balance of upbeat and chill.

    Ryan Adams' 1989: One of my favorite musicians kinda blew my mind with his cover of Taylor Swift's entire album. Strange how a different version of the same song can just seem more...meaningful? Sorry Tay, I still love you.

     

     

  • squash blossom necklace

    May 07 2015

     

    squash blossom inspiration

    You probably know by now that my love for the squash blossom necklace runs deep and inspires pieces like the Naja Necklace. So naturally I was beyond excited to eventually inherit my grandmothers, which was gifted to her by my "step-grandfather" while they were living in Montana and Wyoming. (I also received several dresses she made that fit me like a glove and look like they could be hanging in a contemporary store. So special!) This storytelling aspect is partly what draws me to jewelry. It can tell so much about generations and eras of the past. Luckily my grandmother was a bit of a magpie, and looking through her jewelry with my mom has revealed bits and pieces of her life that I wouldn't have otherwise known. She was certainly a multifaceted woman – hunting and running a business alongside the men, while sewing fashionable clothes for herself and my mom.

    The squash blossom necklace is truly a piece of art, so I decided to display it as such in my home when it's not in use. This duality is what makes jewelry so powerful – it's a beautiful physical object with enduring personal meaning and it's a statement of identity that can make us feel confident and unique. I count myself lucky to have a hand in putting such a thing out into the world!

  • celestial jewelry

    April 23 2015

    In this post a few months ago, I explained how the Nadua Necklace in my previous collection was named for a distant connection in my lineage – Comanche chief Quanah Parker's mother. The idea for the pendant I used in that necklace was sparked by a cross motif I kept seeing in historical Native American photos. Apparently, for Mississippian tribes the cross represented the division of order between the underworld, middleworld and upperworld. I was intrigued by the idea of one symbol having completely differing meanings from culture to culture. (There's also a swastika in Native American symbology that represents the sun, the four directions and the four seasons – crazy right?).

    The otherworldly aspect of the Native American symbol made me see it as a more of a star, so I morphed the two to create an ambiguous piece – is it a cross, is it a star? Everyone can find their own meaning. With my new collection, I let my interest in astrological imagery take the piece in a more celestial direction and created the Stardust Earrings and Stardust Necklace. I recently brought a torch into my studio, so I was able to solder my cross/stars into different compositions that resemble star clusters. Reinventing old ideas with a fresh approach helps keep things interesting in other aspects of life as well – wardrobe, cooking... If I'm growing sick of something, it helps to intentionally change it up while keeping the things I like about it.

    nadua necklace / stardust earrings / stardust necklace / vintage photo / crescent moon / constellation chart

  • art deco influence

    April 07 2015

    As many of you know, my jewelry is often inspired by Native American and Southwestern sources, but the shapes in my both my new spring line and previous collection are also influenced by the dramatic geometry of the Art Deco era. While this streamlined, sleek design style of 1920s and 30s was derived from the Machine Age as opposed to the rough natural elements that Native American craftsmen draw from, there are actually many parallels in the graphic shapes of the two genres. I love to mix the refined elegance of one with the natural grit of the other.

    I remember being stunned in 2013 by the visual feast of Baz Luhrmann's version of The Great Gatsby. (Along with everyone else – it opened the fashion flood gates for Deco style, making it almost passé at this point. Almost. A girl likes what a girl likes, right?). I find the Art Deco movement so intriguing for its ability to penetrate every aspect of life during that era. Architecture, fashion, graphic design, interior decor, industrial design, automobiles...it left it's mark on everything.

    Including jewelry – the house of Cartier reigned supreme during that time. Vintage Cartier jewelry has always resonated with me from a design standpoint – long before a career in jewelry was even a blip on my radar. The book full of Cartier treasures pictured above is a constant source of inspiration that I reference for ideas regarding silhouette and structure. Their pieces are the pinnacle of modern elegance, while also borrowing from a variety of ancient civilizations and cultures – Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Asian characteristics can all be seen throughout their work. The Egyptian vibe tends to come through in my own designs, especially pieces like the Armor Necklace.

    dries van noten pattern / deco living / great gatsby / flapper dress

  • eleven

    January 08 2015

    I've mentioned by now that my jewelry is influenced by Native American style, but I haven't explained that I have a personal connection to the culture as well. Growing up, people were always trying to guess my ethnicity (I was in the sun a lot, so my olive skin was fairly dark then). Coming from two completely Caucasian-looking parents – my dad has reddish hair – I was always delighted by their exotic assumptions. And then came the less exotic and significantly more boring truth..."Well, um, not exactly sure, it's pretty varied, but I think mostly Scottish and somewhere Scandinavian?"

    BUT. I had one intriguing nugget to throw out at said guesser's disappointed reaction. "I'm related to a famous Comanche chief. On my mom's side." Boom. Although I knew this was one of those distant relation, everyone can claim they are somehow 1/16 Native American things, I was pretty proud of the fact.

    So I'd had this little feather in my cap (purely coincidental metaphor) for my entire life, and walked around sincerely believing that my "foreign" looks were attributed this lineage. Then as I grew older and wiser, I became interested in my family history and started asking more questions about this mysterious Comanche chief. "Well..." said my mom, "I actually found out that we aren't technically related to him. Our blood relative was his Caucasion mother's sister." Fantasy shattered.

    However, the story is still very interesting. The chief I've been speaking of is Quanah Parker, well known for being a fierce warrior and defender of Native American interests, who ultimately saw the dismal writing on the wall for their race and acted as a diplomat for peace relations with the US government. His mother, Cynthia Parker, was kidnapped at a young age by the Comanches, but grew up with them and became part of the tribe, even marrying the chief (who never took another wife as a testament to his affection for her.) When Quanah was still a young boy, Cynthia was recaptured by the Texas Rangers. Despite begging to be returned and making several escape attempts, she was detained and, brokenhearted, became ill from self-starvation and died. Pretty tragic stuff.

    Although my relatives are the descendants of Cynthia Parker's sister, and technically have no Native American affiliation, I still feel a certain kinship to the story and Native American philosophies. Their spirituality and respect for nature is definitely inspiring. So as an homage to Cynthia Parker, I named the Nadua necklace after her given Comanche name, meaning "someone found." That's her in the top picture (nursing covers not yet invented).

    desert collage / cynthia parker / necklace inspiration

  • nine

    November 10 2014

    3 Comments

    Native American jewelry is a major source of inspiration for me. I remember being young and eyeing my mom's squash blossom necklace with envy (although she was generous enough to let me borrow it as I got older). I find the mix of geometric shapes and earthy materials really appealing. Talk about layering to perfection – those adorable girls in the photo got it down. 

    As you can probably tell, the Naja necklace was based on a traditional squash blossom. "Naja" is the Navajo name for the inverted crescent shape, which has been used throughout history as a symbol for fertility and protection. The term "squash blossom" refers to the spacer beads with flowering ends that you see on customary necklaces (which I have modified on my version). This flower is actually believed not to represent a squash blossom, but a pomegranate, which was a symbol for Granada, Spain, and worn by Spanish men. The motif was adopted by Mexicans who came to the Southwest, and then seen and adopted again by the Navajo. 

    Navajo girls / horse print / all other images by me 

  • seven

    October 29 2014

    1 Comments

    Halloween seemed to totally sneak up on me this year. I think it has something to do with the weather  it's interesting how much that affects the mood of a holiday. While we've had a few cool days here and there, it's been a pretty warm fall in Dallas. And for some reason that's just not conducive to spookiness. Living in Florida was the absolute worst when it came to Halloween and Christmas. Something about a balmy temperature of 80 degrees accompanied by 85% humidity just doesn't scream "deck the halls." So Dallas is definitely an improvement.

    Usually I've been plotting my costume for months by now...which probably clues you in to the fact that I'm a big Halloween fan. (It's second only to Christmas. In my humble opinion). Planning came down to the wire this year though. In lieu of my usual homemade masterpiece, I went to the dark side and purchased something. I may have actually gone to the darkest side. It might involve something "sexy". But don't worry, it's going to be a tongue in cheek, isn't this silly type of thing. It's something so absurd (yet still legitimately being marketed as a "sexy costume"), that no one in any world could possibly buy it in a non-ironic way. People will totally get that...right? I'm a little nervous, truth be told.  

    So anyways, in an effort to get more in the spirit, here's a little Halloween inspired montage – strange yet beautiful, just how I like it.

    dried leaves and cobwebs / zuhair murad fall 2013 / quill bracelet / smoke / palm reading

  • three

    September 22 2014

    1 Comments

    I mention briefly on its shop page that the Kahlo Necklace is loosely based on a piece that Frida Kahlo wore in many of her portraits, which I wanted to elaborate on here. Citing Frida as a source of inspiration is almost cliche now, but unfortunately there are relatively few historical female painters to reference. And it's hard not to love her vibrancy and unapologetically self-reflective style.

    Being from Texas, I've always been drawn to Mexican culture and the amazing artisans and craftsmanship that they are known for. My mom grew up in Corpus Cristi (very close to the border), where much of her side of the family still lives. My aunt and uncle have a ranch there filled with many beautiful Mexican treasures, and they have been kind enough to send us pieces of the traditional blue and white pottery for the past few Christmases.

    We took a recent trip to San Miguel with good friends, and I'm not gonna lie, returning to our relatively bland neighborhood left us feeling...blah. It was so refreshing to be in creative, colorful surroundings – architecture, textiles, ceramics, metalworking. But that's what I love about traveling – that awakening of the senses is priceless. I'm already planning our travel schedule for the next year, any recommendations are appreciated!

    Frida Kahlo photograph / Frida print / all other images by me

  • two

    September 09 2014

    I'd like sharing the story behind my jewelry and business to be one of the main focuses of my blog. It's a profession that's foreign to most people (sometimes I feel like even my closest friends and family have no idea what I actually do all day), and I always enjoy learning behind the scenes information about other people's mysterious jobs. In my case, I'm involved in every aspect of the business and it seems like I'm actually doing 10 jobs at once: design, prototyping, assembly, graphic design, accounting, marketing...the list never ends!   

    Here's the way my design process started for this particular collection. Because I ordered custom cut stones for the first time, I needed to draw an inventory of my potential components as a way to organize my thoughts and decide on the size, shape and material of my stones. It's interesting to look back on this and see how much ended up changing during the process – many of the stones I ultimately used are different than these. This was particularly helpful as a way to visualize color and think about all of the possible combinations (especially when dealing with pieces that I don't actually have on hand.) I then drew very loose sketches to play around with shape and proportion, with most of my final designs morphing out of initial inspirations. Keep an eye out for more details in posts to come. 

    all images by me

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