Do you love antique spoons and forks? How about jewelry made from them? That’s just one of many reasons I love Kristin Ellis and her lovely work. We first ‘met’ through Kristin’s post on Facebook when she was selling some of her display pieces then we connected in person through our mutual membership in Etsy Team Columbus. We continued to run into each other: several events at 400 West Rich, vending at some of the same events, a Columbus celebration at the Cultural Arts Center,etc. Even though we don’t see each other on a regular basis we seem to click. So, I thought it would be fun to interview her and learn more about her work and recent move to Galion.
We met at Ursus, the boutique that recently closed in Upper Arlington (sad that this store that sold local artisans’ works just couldn’t make it) because the owner was selling her display pieces. After making out with some great deals for our show set-ups, we packed up our goodies and went next door to My Big Fat Greek Kuzina for lunch and a long chat.
She then attended San Antonio College where she became a permanent fixture in the metal studio that was housed in the basement of an old Victorian house. During her first semester, she learned sliversmithing, filing, inlay, soldering and polishing. She took this class 8 times (can you tell she was hooked??) to hone her skills! I think she had found her passion!!? From those skills, she moved on to casting and starting investing in molds followed by forging. While taking these classes, she met her ex-hubby who was a student assistant. Both of them were influenced by Oppi Untracht, a mid-century modern craftsman that was very involved in the metal smithing movement.
After getting married, she dropped out of college and eventually, moved to Hillsboro, Ohio because handmade was not much appreciated in Texas plus she was tired of the heat! During her 5 years there, she bought and sold vintage jewelry on eBay and repaired and made jewelry. All the while, she was improving her skills, learning and experimenting with a variety of metals.
When she got divorced, she moved to Clintonville and lived there from 2007-2010. While living here, she began teaching copper enameling at the Cultural Arts Center and got more involved in the Columbus and surrounding area art fair scene. After some harrowing experiences with her landlord/home in Clintonville, she bought a cheap mobile home and moved to Mt. Gilead and went back to school at —where?
Arts and crafts shows has pretty much been her main means of supporting herself throughout her time back in Ohio. As a fine craft artist, she designs and makes all of her pieces employing silver smithing, glass enameling, gem cutting and lost wax casting techniques. She now gives a lot of attention to found objects. This is something she has done throughout her 25 year career but now has a new focus. She uses spoons, forks and many small often mundane but pretty objects that people overlook. More recently, she has begun to carve pictures and designs in spoon bowls and has found that this really resonates with customers. Frequently, folks stop and talk to her about spoons, their families and how these objects are tied to their family’s histories and relationships. She’s even received commissions for making family silver into jewelry. Soon she plans to expand the types of found objects she incorporates into her pieces. She has also begun to do more enameling and would like to focus more on this technique. As you can see, her work continues to evolve in many creative ways.
Her schedule with shows is pretty busy. She just recently exhibited and sold her work at Hilliardfest, Downtown Downers Grove Art Festival in Chicago and The Cleveland Handmade Market. Her work is also for sale at Celebrate Local, Global Gallery, Sobo Style and Hayley Gallery in Columbus; Authenticity Gallery in Austin TX and Heights Art Gallery in Cleveland. At the Delaware Art Festival and the Lazy Daze Art Fair in Grandview her booth received honorable mentions.
In addition to selling her work, she teaches copper enameling at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center and the Mansfield Art Center. Since she recently scrimped pennies and saved enough to buy a house in Galion, she wants to teach more in Mansfield and areas closer to her home and plans on only teaching weekend workshops in Columbus at the Arts Center. New classes in jewelry making techniques and some other projects are also in the planning stage at this time. As Galion also has all of the raw materials for an artists’ colony as far as Kristin is concerned, she is hopeful that artists will begin to move to her area, set up shop and help the town, once a railroad depot, revitalize. As far as I’m concerned, that little city is quite lucky to have nabbed this creative and fun-loving lady! I hope that she can see that colony become a reality…somehow, I think she’ll make it happen!
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