When I first met Kristi Sword at Brooklyn Metal Works she had her head down at her bench, intently focused on her work. She paused for a few minutes to show me some of her finished designs. I was immediately drawn to the interesting movement and beautiful craftsmanship of her pieces. On that same trip to NYC, I made sure to stop by Love Adorned to see more of her collection. I have been a fan ever since. Get to know more about Kristi below!
I was majoring in fashion design at the Savannah College of Art and Design and a friend of mine kept talking about how much she enjoyed the metalsmithing class she had just started taking. I was not really sold on fashion design and out of curiosity I ended up taking the class. On the first day I remember the instructor saying when you learn metalsmithing you have to be focused and you can’t think about anything else except learning this skill. This process of working with metal became a very meditative act for me, and I really enjoyed that aspect the most. Some of the techniques were so delicate and precise I would have to hold my breath at times while trying to perfect them. I loved the process of making jewelry with my hands and not having to rely on a computer or drawings like I was having to do for my fashion classes. It just made sense for my hands to be working with my brain in this way.
I have also been very fortunate to have really amazing mentors throughout my jewelry making experience, that have really challenged me to push myself and who gave me confidence to do so. As well as to persevere, which has been the biggest challenge of all at times.
I sketch using various materials. I usually have a rough idea in my head, or the beginning of an idea, that I create in wax, metal, combinations or whatever material I find will do the trick. The rough sketch is always a sample, I never really allow myself to be too free even in these first drafts. I always want the execution to be as tight and as clean as possible. As I progress with the design I usually start on something else. I have a few things happening on my bench at once and shift my focus back and forth until something is complete, which is why it takes so long to finish anything but I think this pause is very important to my way of working. The back and forth and time in between gives ideas a chance to simmer and grow. I find this method works for me although I should start an idea journal. A lot of times I will have an idea while I am making that I later forget about because I didn’t write it down.
While I was in school at SUNY New Paltz we were introduced to idea generating exercises that have served me well since. 100 drawings / 10 piece project. These were quick exercises we would complete over the summer and bring the first day of class so we could begin a dialogue right away about our work. It has been a useful assignment to give myself when ideas aren't flowing as freely or when I am not around traditional metalsmithing tools but still want to brainstorm/make.
I am inspired by the visual systems that happen in nature and how these systems are mimicked on smaller scales as well as much larger scales. I am very interested in the overlapping of patterns and how all of these formulas that we use are derived from nature. How nature always provides the best methods/systems for building/creating. Above all, finding the order in nature.
I am inspired by different materials and the memory they stimulate through sensory experience. I love finding the story each holds and modifying it through breaking it down and reshaping, by dismantling the material and mending it back together in a new way.
Favorite Design: My newest work. I have been working on this collection of jewelry for the past three years and I’m finally noticing a shift in the work. It has been a slow build. A combination of my 2-d and 3-d work is starting to combine itself into jewelry form and creating an interesting direction for me to take. At the beginning I was trying to make my work really sellable and not really thinking about design as much. I feel like I am starting to embrace what I do. I love creating tiny sculptures that could or could not have anything to do with jewelry depending on the decision to put an earring back or necklace chain on them.
Personal Collection: My favorite pieces are made by friends. I love the personal memories they evoke and I really value the friendships I have with the people that created them. I have seriously talented friends!!!
Daily Jewels: My wedding band made by my dear friend Nikky Bergman. She is incredibly talented and makes really amazing engagement rings and wedding bands! Other than that I am occasionally testing out new pieces that are fresh off the bench and need to be taken out for a spin before they go into production but I don’t really like wearing jewelry for the most part. I just really love making it.
Favorite Artists and Designers: Ann Hamilton, Sarah Sze, Jessica Stockholder, Marco Maggi, Ann Wilson, Agnes Martin, Antonio Bernardo, Tone Vigeland. As well as past professors/mentors: Jay Song, Lanelle Keyes, Taweesak Molsawat, Sarah C. Turner, Jamie Bennett, and Myra Mimlitsch-Gray.
Other than jewelry: My husband and I like to take long adventure walks across the city, exploring. The great thing about New York is that everything changes so fast that all of the routes become new even if you take the same ones. That is one of the things I like most about living here and have found that I need to be in an environment like this. I am such a creature of habit it forces me out of routine through the quick cycling of people and time. I also enjoy sunbathing in the park, I have a designated spot you can find me during the summer.
Currently listening to....
Band: My husband is a musician and goes by Helado Negro, he is my ALL TIME FAVORITE! The music he makes is mellow and kind of goes off on a bunch of different tangents which keeps the sounds extremely unique and distinct. He is really inspiring because he creates in many other areas as well, making his own videos and costumes. I love being a witness to his creative process. He never stops!!!
Song: The Necessaries, "More Real" - Arthur Russell was a member of this group. I am a big fan of his solo work as well.