Designer Spotlight: Keirsten Giles

Back by popular demand! We're bringing back the featured designers and artists. Each week, we will be talking to jewelry designers and/or bead artists who enjoy incorporating leather, ribbon and cords into their work. We will get to know them, share their jewelry designs and ask them their thoughts about using fibers in jewelry.

Today, we are talking with Keirsten Giles of Lune Designs on Etsy.

So, Keirsten, Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a self-taught jewelry designer living in northwest Montana. By day I work as a legal secretary. Also self taught. People can probably tell.

A few years ago, I decided I needed a new wardrobe, but had a terrible time finding jewelry to go with it. I looked everywhere and I hated basically everything I saw. (Except for those big sparkly cocktail rings they have for $10 at Herbergers--LOVE those). I decided to try to make what I wanted, and spent a year making truly atrocious jewelry for myself. But even making bad jewelry was fun, so I thought it would be even funner if I actually knew how to do it. I signed up for some Internet tutorials (Tammy Powley at and away I went. At one point I stumbled across a Sundance jewelry catalog, and I was well and truly smitten with the jewelry bug. I carried that catalog around with me forever. I think I still have it in my bag in fact.

At the end of the next year there was too much jewelry lying around to wear or give away, so I pondered a more clever (and fiscally responsible) way to get rid of it--and my Etsy shop, Lune, was born in March 2009. I'm still hoping to achieve the "fiscally responsible" part of that plan at some point in the future (I feel devilishly clever, especially after a couple glasses of chardonnay), but for now I have learned to be content with being slightly less fiscally irresponsible.

Our house is small, so I create impromptu studios wherever I have to. I make jewelry in the living room. In the kitchen. In the bedroom. In the other bedroom. On the porch. In the driveway. At work. At the park. On a boat. At the beach. At the campground. And even in my car (but not while driving). Some of my best work was done in the driver's seat of a Toyota Yaris. I haven't yet made jewelry in the bathroom, which no doubt many of you will be relieved to hear.

I've always had strong creative urges, but I can't paint, draw, sculpt, sew, compose music, dance, or play an instrument so it's been a little frustrating. I am a damn fine actress, but I just didn't have the contacts to make it to the big time so I studied French instead (that has worked out really well). I was so relieved, at age 41, to find an artistic medium that I could practice without becoming hopelessly frustrated. I hardly ever cry or throw anything when I make jewelry. In fact I can barely remember the last time I threw a piece of jewelry.

What's your favorite type of cording or fiber to work with in jewelry? 

 I really only started using more fibers in my jewelry in the last year. I did some knotted pieces with waxed linen, and recently have been using more leather and silk ribbon. I really enjoy using deerskin lacing--it's buttery soft, durable, and easy to work with. I also found a wonderful supplier of 1/2" hand-dyed, hand-sewn silk ribbon, and I love the "organic" look of it--it's a crinkle silk that has a really natural look to it. I've used quite a bit of Greek leather and round leather cord as well, but find it less versatile because of its stiffness. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to say deerskin leather--the wonderful leather smell (you guessed right, not a Vegan and apparently not particularly sentimental--although I have it on good authority that the great majority of Bambis whose bodies were reused to make wearable art were already goners thanks to the ubiquitous American motorist), the flexibility and durability of it, and the softness against the skin is downright decadent. And there's something sort of Old West/Southwest/Edgy/Thelma and Louise about it that I like.

Why do you like working with cords and fibers in your designs? What quality draws you to these materials?

I think that's why I started using fibers--I wanted to give some pieces a different "feel." I like the rusticity or edginess that leather adds to a piece of jewelry, that you can't quite get with anything else; and the crinkly, hand-dyed silk ribbons remind me of dried leaves or exotic flower petals, and can give a piece a softer, more botanical feel than just metal chain. I also like the texture contrast of fabric with metal or hard gemstones. It seems to lend each more impact. And of course I think it feels good on.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Keirsten!

You can find Keirsten at her blog: The Cerebral Dilettante
more of her jewelry in her Esty shop: Lune Designs

Oh So Fabu!

Discovered a cool etsy store that is offering handmade printed fabric cording! When they list, they tend to go fast so it's good to favorite this shop and keep your eye on it! I love the colors they choose, so vibrant and funky, and there are lots of cool design ideas in their shop as well. Check out OhSoFabu!

Making of a jewelry book: Tools, Materials and Findings

Today, I'm going to give you a little update and a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of our upcoming jewelry instruction book due out in the Spring of 2012. Unfortunately, we can't share too much about what is going on with it right now. We should be able to share more this coming Fall, but until then here are some of the happenings and what I learned about making a beading book.

Recently, the big photo shoot for our book took place at the Interweave Press Studio. Yay! Very exciting for us! Lorelei and I didn't get to actually attend the photo shoot, but our editor, Michelle Mach was there making sure everything went smoothly. Before the scheduled  shoot, Lorelei and I had to prepare, pack up and mail out all the items for the Tools, Materials and Findings Sections to the Interweave studio to be photographed. Umm...Yeah, that was no small task! Everything from wire cutters right down to crimp tubes were packaged up into individual baggies, labeled, wrapped in bubble wrap and boxed.

The pictures below are a very small sample of what was actually sent into Interweave for the photo shoot.
A small sample of items photographed for the Materials Section.

A small sample of items photographed for the Findings Section.

Okay, hold on. I have a confession to make. I myself, am guilty of not giving much attention to tools, materials and findings sections in other books. I know, shame on me. In the past, before I even thought about writing my own book, I used to flip through my favorite jewelry-making books and I often wondered if all those items in the Tools, Materials and Findings sections were ACTUALLY the authors own personal possessions. "No, probably not." I would think to myself, as I turned the page, barely skimming them. I seemed to think these parts of the beading books were most likely "staged" by the publisher with pictures of tools, beads and findings that fit the descriptions in the section, but weren't necessarily the authors own. Where on earth I got that notion from, I have no clue, because I couldn't have been more wrong. 

The tools, materials and findings you will see in our book are plucked straight from our own studios and our own beading tables. As it should be, I think and we wouldn't have wanted it any other way. You'll know that all those items are the actual things we reach for every time we sit down to make jewelry. I have to say I was a little unprepared to be separated from my one set of essential jewelry-making tools for months at a time while our book is being created. Luckily, we have a very generous editor who let us borrow some of her own tools. Thank you, Michelle! 

Going through the book writing process myself, I now know the effort that is put into creating those tools, materials and findings sections. I know there is a more personal connection to the authors of my favorite beading books just through the images of their items in those beginning sections. Not to mention, all the time and work involved writing up those sections! But that is a whole other story. I have so much more appreciation for all the beading books in my own library and I will certainly never look at another tools, materials or findings section the same way ever again!

Bead & Button

I ventured out, all the way to Milwaukee this past weekend to attend the annual Bead & Button bead show. One of the biggest bead shows in the country! I was on the look out for artisan beads but also wanted to see if there was a large selection of cording or ribbon there.  Although I did not find a lot of booths offering much if any, of leather cording, I did see lots and lots of silk cording and ribbon. One booth, Silk Painting is Fun- had the largest selection. Here are some pictures to get you in the mood for color!


Search This Blog

Most Reading