North Texas Daily

Denton metalsmith artist embraces imperfections through handmade jewelry brand, KKB Metal Studio

Denton metalsmith artist embraces imperfections through handmade jewelry brand, KKB Metal Studio

Denton metalsmith artist embraces imperfections through handmade jewelry brand, KKB Metal Studio
February 19
13:00 2023

For Kristen Kendrick Bigley, KKB Metal Studio owner and UNT CoLab director, the imperfections of her handmade jewelry are not flaws, but key artistic elements.

KKB Metal Studio, Bigley’s artisanal metal and stone jewelry brand, is her creative outlet. Through her business, Bigley strives to transform her artistic passions into a monthly collection of jewelry sold on her website.

With a family tree full of creatives, Bigley has had tactile crafting experience from a young age, whether it be knitting while watching TV or spinning wool. She graduated from Texas Christian University with a bachelor’s in fine arts with an emphasis in sculpture, which allowed her to work on a large scale and push her boundaries.

“What I really enjoy the most is when something unexpected happens that moves the piece in a different direction,” Bigley said.

Bigley’s initial medium of choice had been sculpting, due to the art’s appealing textures and forms. However, she found later in life that she was allergic to a casting material and needed to adapt to a new creative outlet.

This need for a new passion led to Bigley teaching herself the art of metalsmithing through books and online resources. She chose the craft because it gave her the ability to translate a lot of her sculpting skills to a smaller, allergen-free format. It also allowed her to work in a smaller studio and with the time constraints of traveling full time while raising a family.

“I’m very comfortable with tools through all my sculpture and studio training, but I did have to learn entirely new techniques as part of metalsmithing,” Bigley said.

She began learning the craft in 2015 as a jewelry-making hobby. A year later, the casual pastime morphed into a professional business.

“After I learned the craft, I had demand for people who wanted to purchase,” Bigley said. “Through their encouragement, I decided to go ahead and really turn it into a business.”

Some of Bigley’s favorite aspects of jewelry making are the challenges and processes that come along with the art.

“There’s always an element through the process of making jewelry things may change or shift differently,” Bigley said.

Julie Evans, market research strategist and Bigley’s best friend, is the owner of one of Bigley’s first pieces. Evans saw Bigley’s passion for jewelry making develop from the very beginning. She said Bigley takes time to think through each piece and is not doing it for money, but to be creative.

“It’s her attention to detail, and she’s like this in everything that I’ve seen her do artistically,” Evans said. “She definitely takes the time to really think through each piece. She really handcrafts each piece.”

This intention of each piece stands out to customer and jewelry seller for KKB, Kimberly Bien, who believes it is a detail the community should know about KKB Metal Studio. Bien started selling Bigley’s jewelry at Salted Sanctuary Soap six months ago, and likes how the pieces’ styles all complement one another without being crafted together as one collection.

“It is created with intention, with incredible skill,” Bien said. “She is making something that is not only beautiful, but is intended to last.”

Bingley said it is important to have her pieces worn comfortably and loved by others.

“It is sculpture that is wearable in the sense that I want this piece not to sit in a jewelry box and come out for a special occasion once a year,” Bigley said. “I really want these pieces to be worn and to be touched and fiddled with and loved.”

The use of texture and embracing imperfections is what makes KKB’s jewelry stand out, Bigley said. 

“It’s imperfect, with a balance of rustic grittiness and refined elements minimal without boring,” Bigley said. “It shows the hand of the maker. I never want a piece so perfect that you can’t tell it was handmade.”

Evans has seen how KKB’s jewelry stands out when worn and likes the idea of sculpture being made into something wearable.

“You feel noticed when you are wearing one of her pieces,” Evans said. “People are always looking at them, and a lot of times people ask where you got it.”

Bigley said she hopes to continue to share her art as a way to connect with others in her community. 

“My hope for my jewelry is that people find a connection to it and that it brings them joy to wear a unique handmade item,” Bigley said. “It absolutely makes my day when someone sends me feedback that they are wearing my pieces and enjoying them as part of their life.”

Featured Image KKB Metal Studio owner Kristen Bigley poses by her home workspace on Feb. 12, 2023. Photo by Hannah Sutherland

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Madison Brewster

Madison Brewster

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