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Katalina Klein: Featured Jewelspan Jeweler

As a jewelry artist and metalsmith Katalina Klein's goal is to create works that are an extension of her inner self and emotions and to resonate with others.

             Heartly Copper

 

Please give our readers a little bit of information about yourself (upbringing, education, where you live etc.)

 

I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. The artists in my family influenced me. My mother was creative. She wrote poetry, painted with watercolors and crocheted. She was never seen without a crochet hook.  She could crochet anything including bedspreads. My grandfather played the trumpet with one of the acclaimed “Big Bands”. He was a member of the Harry James Orchestra. I remember this was a big deal in our family. He was our star. When he left the band he honed his photography skills. His photographs of skylines were extremely popular. So I believe my talent comes from genetics and of course hard work and study. When I was a young girl I enjoyed designing accessories and clothes for my cats, although I don't think the enjoyment was shared by my felines. I attended the University of Kansas School of Business. After school I pursued a career as a florist.  As a florist for several years my artistic talents were put to use. Unfortunately I developed a chemical allergy to mums and my floral career ended overnight. Then my career shifted.  I worked in the hospitality and communications industry. I was a trainer and manager for a major hotel chain that allowed me to travel in the US and Mexico influencing my interest in the art of other cultures. Five years ago I started making jewelry as a hobby, which has expanded into a small business because of the interest people showed in my pieces. I’ve taught beading classes since 2009. I currently live in Lake Havasu City, AZ. My home is a mile from the Colorado River. The mountains skylines and deserts landscapes surround me. This area is extremely diverse and beautiful; from the Grand Canyon to the Sonoran Desert.  Everywhere I visit is breathtaking and inspires creative ideas. There is a wealth of native designs to draw from but I don't limit my jewelry to specifics, I follow my heart. 

                Sunset

You stated in your bio that your are a self-taught jeweler, and I noticed that you recently became a certified Instructor at Wubbers University, tell us about that evolution.

 

I am a predominantly a self-taught jeweler. I started stringing bead necklaces, bracelets and earrings a few years ago. I branched off into seed beading soon after. I discovered that seed beading could be meditative, but also frustrating. I enjoy challenge and spent many hours weaving a piece, just to discover an error I had made earlier. Since I am a perfectionist I would undo my work and begin again until I got it right. Although this may sound tedious, all the beaders reading this will acknowledge what a wonderful learning experience it is, too. 

        Seed Bead Indian Choker 

When I started beading I lived on a horse ranch in the middle of no-where so classes were not available to me. I bought tutorials and books and learned from them. Eventually I became good enough to teach others how to bead, we had also moved to a city. Seed beading is precise and can be intricate, if I did not understand something I would ask my husband to help me until I did. He's a scientist so his mind definitely works along different lines than mine. What a saint.  He still helps me with tasks from aligning rivets in cold connections to deciphering soldering temperatures. Speaking of soldering...I attended the Beadfest in Santa Fe last March because I wanted to expand my understanding of metals. I was adding metal to designs more and more frequently, but I lacked a comfort level I desired. I liked cold connections and wanted to take it to the next level. I also wanted to understand soldering, but I was terrified. I was concerned about playing with fire and perhaps burning my studio down. So I took classes in Santa Fe. It was my first contact with organized jewelry classes and the teachers literally took me to the next level. I took classes in soldering with Lexi Erickson, “the Queen of Soldering” a world-renowned metal smith.  This was the chapter in my life that birthed my dream to combine media. I bought an acetylene torch right then and there. I was hooked, and I still am!

 

You've asked me about Wubbers University ... I became involved in Wubbers University through my mentor, Lexi Erickson. Wubbers University is an online compilation of tutorials that reach every level of interest in jewelry design. It does not matter if you are a beginner or an expert - you will find something to learn. Lexi was involved with the University and she asked me to contribute tutorials; she encouraged me to share my knowledge and in the process of doing so I became a certified instructor for Wubbers University. I am very proud of my involvement with Wubbers University and the Wubbers line of tools. Don't you just love the name Wubbers? 

 

              Fun with Washers 

What do you usually do when you need some inspiration?

I draw inspiration from artists. Georgia O'Keefe's use of color from nature is emotionally powerful for me. I am also drawn to Mark Rothko and his "Field of Color." Each artist shares a differing perspective, but both tended to use brilliant colors. Yummy, I love color!  I pull out their paintings from time to time to get inspired. My opportunity to live in Key West, Florida fueled interest in tropical color and textures.  Lake Havasu, Arizona has provided limitless opportunities to explore monotones, fiestas, ancient spiritual ideas for color and design and rocks. I am an avid rock hound. When I look at rocks I see jewelry patterns. One of the first trips my husband and I took as a married couple was to the Buffalo Park in Arkansas. He found a heart shaped rock in a shallow riverbed and he gave it to me. He has been doing this ever since; each heart is a bit different and their uniqueness spawned a collection of heart shaped designs. I always keep the hearts in mind when my pool of inspiration is shallow, I can always start with a heart. My daughter has a great sense of style and I watch her to cue my ideas, her sense of color is awesome. Also, family, and friends will ask if I can do this or that and invariably my mind will work until a creation has evolved. My sons race cars and boats … the airbrushed artwork used on the vehicles are gorgeous… may I swipe that Tangelo Orange to make a spiral beaded necklace? Oh, and my next learning project is to learn to airbrush on a much smaller level than a racecar. So you see I keep my ideas spinning out in the future of my what ifs. Inspiration is everywhere if I keep my eyes and mind open! If I cant get inspired from the above than I try doodling a design or word associations to get me started. Lexi Erickson’s assistant, Kat, taught me to look at patterns in concrete sidewalks, now I am always looking at ways to use this idea. Try texturing metal on your driveway concrete or bricks with a rawhide mallet. Keeping a journal of my ideas has helped me create when the road seemed blocked.

         Bells and Flowers

How do you market your jewelry? 

I have been very lucky with “word of mouth” marketing. Friends and customers are the best advertising because they wear my designs and create conversations and have generated business. Occasionally I have also donated a piece of jewelry to a worthy cause, although I don’t make a habit of this. I hand out my business cards everywhere I go, I am my best advertiser. I have attended craft shows and I have been asked to participate in art shows. I am participating in show in October. I am very excited about it because my new skills with soldering will be unveiled. I have used Facebook and sold items as soon as they were pictured. Oh, and thank you so much for featuring me as Jewelspan’s Artist of the Day! Of course my Jewelspan website is a marketing tool. Wubbers markets me on their site, so that is huge. I also include my Wubbers certification badge and Jewelspan badge on my Wubbers, Facebook pages and on Jewelspan. 

Have you found your website to be a helpful tool? 

I have found my website to be very helpful. With the website I think I create more interest in what I do. I have linked my Facebook Page to my website here so anything I post on my website will also be seen on Facebook. I would encourage my viewers and customers to sign up for my email list so they are included in new listings. I want to communicate my excitement about my art to EVERYONE! 

 

Do you write a blog?

I am blogging! What a great way to talk with followers and let them know whom I am. I use the blog to offer tutorials about making jewelry and learning tools. Example “Do you want to know how to wear chunky jewelry?”  I blogged about it. I use the blog to tell people about my scheduled events. Although, I would like to see a calendar created as an addition to use on the website. Hint, hint…

What advice do you have for aspiring jewelers?

Wow, this is a big question…

Don’t GIVE UP! Start simple. I THOUGHT I HAD much more skill than I really had when I began making jewelry and I had to back up and learn basics. Each new technique is a new learning curve, but you will learn it if you persevere.  Remember you did not learn to walk in a day so how could you possibly be able to create a work of art without a stumble here or there? Focus on accomplishing one skill at a time. If you try to learn seed beading and bezel setting at the same time it will become overwhelming and you might quit; so choose one and stay with it.  Ask questions, take the advice given and try it. What is there to lose? Answers come from the most amazing sources, so be open minded. Experiment! Try taking classes if classes are in your area. Read books and watch how others do what you want to learn, the authors have blazed a path to help you. View videos on YouTube, WubbersU and other venues to understand the “how to” from experienced artists. Be confident and believe in yourself; the rewards of creating your own jewelry are amazing! Lastly, please don’t be shy; promote yourself whenever, wherever and to whomever you can! Happy Jewelry Artistry.

 

 
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