Artist and Maker Kimberly Huestis has made a name for herself making porcelain jewelry out of Boston MA. Taking inspiration from the coastal lifestyle, Kimberly's product designs reflect her sense of being connected to both land and water.
Here you can get to know Kimberly, how she got started, her design process and what's next.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started?
My background is in architecture. I did a lot of work in rock carving, sculpting, as well as 3D design and animation at Wellesley and MIT. Much of my life has essentially trained me to work with my hands and problem solve how to create something so it will be structurally sound based on wear and use.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process?
Everything is created by hand in wet paste porcelain. I like to let it dry out and then I'll carve into it. It's quite a bit softer than carving rock in this raw, greenware stage. It's really important to have a good ventilation setup for this kind of work, which is why you don't see it as frequently. It's not healthy to create dust, especially ceramic dust. The health of your environment is just as important as the end result! I take a lot of pride in the work that I do and doing it in a responsible, thought out way. The rest is inspired by my curiosities of the ocean and things that inspire a sense of adventure and living on the water. I used to climb back when I was younger, and even won a climbing comp back in 2007. Now the adventures that inspire me have to do with traveling and exploring how humans always need to be by water.
What is one of your favorite pieces you made and why?
One of my favorite pieces I have made is this hollow structured, biomorphic piece that was inspired by the coastal erosion, tafoni. You just don't see it as jewelry and it's such a beautiful texture found along the coast. I like trying to keep elevating the world of porcelain jewelry.
How is your making process different today from when you started?
Back in 2012 when I re-branded my company from what it used to be in 2008, there just weren't any porcelain jewelers yet. I was on a mission to create something that folks would see in a new way. Something that is centuries old: I wanted folks to re-imagine ceramics as more than just a bead. Porcelain is such an amazing medium that many people just aren't educated enough about. It is as strong as sapphires and getting the word out is basically what I'm doing every day, compared to when I first started. I'm also a goldsmith and ceramicist so it helps when planning out a piece to have structural integrity, or when I'm making something that should be treated more like pearls. My rock carving background and desire to test everything for months allows me to share a lot with my buyers as well as other lovely ceramic jewelers that come to me with questions.
You recently did a collaboration with Anthropologie. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I was contacted by Anthropologie last year and they had me design a couple of hardware pieces for them. They had seen my work and mentioned some pieces that they liked. I created two sets of hardware knob prototypes for them and they attempted to re-create them. I got to see their work and passed off on the final designs. It was exciting and not something I typically design for: making it fun.
Any advice for maker's just starting out?
I have always said, just keep planning for success. You'd be surprised how many folks plan for "just in case" it doesn't work out. That means they hedge more and don't fully commit to certain decision making and that can reflect in the process and overall commitment to your work and business. If it's a hobby, it's no big deal. If this is your future... respect your time, ideas, and your investment. Only you can take yourself seriously in the beginning. Respect yourself and commit.
Where do you see yourself in 5 Years?
In five years I hope to have a design collective. Perhaps it's the ol' design architect in me, but an atelier of designers working to grow their own thing sounds pretty beautiful. I also see the offerings growing and have a very good idea about what those will be.
Photos: Courtesy Porcelain and Stone
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