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?
  • trust your instincts

    May 14 2015

    While creating my next collection, I've learned the hard way that it's usually best to trust your instincts. I'm not sure why, but lately I've been second-guessing my design decisions only to realize once it's already too late that my initial concept was best. Case in point, the wax pictured above was a nearly finished piece that I got cold feet over and rashly tore into with a file and no logical plan. A few short minutes later, multiple hours of work was ruined and I was left with a sad, maimed little wax. My choices were to painstakingly rebuild the damage (you can see the progress on the top right side) or start over. So from here on out, I'm trying to not over analyze things so dang much – something I should certainly apply to other aspects of my life and business!

    For those of you who are completely lost, all of my jewelry begins with these carvings that I sculpt from wax, which are then molded and cast in bronze. Good examples of how these pieces turn out can be seen in the Armor Necklace and Moonbeam Necklace. Anyone who's interested can watch this video for a behind the scenes look at wax casting and molding. Everything I do starts from a sketch, which is then three dimensionally translated into the wax carving. There's also a photo up there (that I'm not proud of) which shows what my work space situation currently looks like. Yikes.

  • 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 

  • six

    October 27 2014

    1 Comments

    While I eventually plan to do a more detailed blog post explaining the casting process, I wanted to do a quick preview first. I know for most people the word "casting" is pretty hazy. Whenever I go into particulars with someone, I'm faced with a glazed look accompanied by murmured "hmm's" and "uh-huh's" that don't exactly encourage me to delve deeply into the subject.

    It's pretty technical and there are many steps, but the skinny is as follows: your original piece is molded; the mold is used to repeatedly shoot production waxes (the pink pieces above); multiple production waxes are attached together to form a "tree" and put into a vial. There are a few more stages after this, but ultimately the vial is filled with your choice of metal and you are left with a metal tree that looks exactly as your wax tree did. The pieces are then cut off and polished, and you have your final creations. The instance above is a new cuff that will be available next year.

    I know all the steps are far from being illustrated here, but when handmade products are concerned it's helpful to have at least a vague understanding of where they are coming from and how they are being produced. Thanks for humoring me!

  • four

    September 29 2014

    1 Comments

    I feel like we can't go any further until I've properly introduced my dogs and partners in crime: Dixie (the goober, so named for her unquenchable lust for attention) and Dot (the gremlin, an epithet attributed to the indescribable, shrieking growls she produces while playing). They are not only the stars of my instagram feed, but an integral part of my business and daily routine, since more often than not, they are the only living beings I have contact with. The above picture perfectly captures their natural state – lounging in my office with some form of bodily contact. I don't know what people do without dogs, they're pretty great.

  • 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

  • one

    September 02 2014

    1 Comments

    For those of you who were following me at Sensibly Selfish (long, long ago), thanks for hanging in there. And for those of you who don't know me yet, thanks for visiting. I'm Kristin Miller, and while I've been designing jewelry for several years now, I've just relaunched my brand and website. It's been a lengthy, difficult process, so I'm very excited to introduce this collection that incorporates the new techniques and production methods that I've been honing over the past months – especially wax carving, which I've truly fallen in love with. I'll be going through the specifics in much more detail eventually, but to learn more now, check out the about page.

    I was surprised by how much I've missed blogging; this new-age, weirdly public type of journaling. As a former diary keeper, blogging has re-introduced me to the practice of writing out my thoughts and doodling as a creative outlet that doesn't come with (much) pressure attached. So check in every once in awhile to see my inspirations, processes, ramblings, dogs...pretty much whatever strikes my fancy. 

    You can also follow along on the adventure through instagram and facebook (which will include special deals and one-of-a-kind sales). Excuse the shameless social media plug. So I look forward to getting to know you, and vice versa. 

    fabric sample / all other images by me

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