I love cities. LOVE. There’s so much to see. Look up or down or sideways and you’ll find something interesting. I think my city love and affinity for weird bits of metal are related; I’m so intrigued and inspired by the things we make, whether it’s architecture, art, or tools. I see it as a conversation, perhaps collaboration, with the past and with people you never would’ve had a chance to meet. I’m sometimes hit with a flurry of ideas after spotting a particularly beautiful building, and even though the architect may never see my jewelry we’ve had this completely delightful dialogue. It’s funny to hear people say that everything has been done before because if you look at things a little bit differently, as a layering or branching, you see all types of creative people working together through time to make things from unique perspectives, even if that making is built on top of what they’ve seen and learned and appreciated and every aspect isn’t completely revolutionary.

When I lived in New York I enjoyed pounding the pavement to get from place to place (quickly, if you please, and with plenty of weaving around tourists and the like), and I was frequently looking down and finding strange bits of metal that I was sure had a potential future as something or other. The weird metal bits were no longer appreciated as the useful or beautiful items they had once been, but somebody somewhere MADE that thing, with thought and engineering and skill and effort. And that somebody was likely a lot of somebodies involved in a process, and if I pick up that weird metal bit because the texture is too appealing to just leave it lying there and make it into a piece of jewelry then I get to be part of the process. And so does the person who buys and wears the piece, and the person who sees that piece out in the world and thinks up something new because of it.

When I first moved to the Bay Area I had lots of time to volunteer at a local art school. It was refreshing to be surrounded by different kinds of making again, and I found some delightful scrap treasures in the steel department. When cutting steel with a torch, the heat of the flame slicing through the metal makes it melt and splatter, and at work stations for cutting steel there are barriers to catch this splatter and protect your fellow makers. As more people do this work, more steel splatters and builds up into strange and beautiful formations, and no one pays attention until it’s time to clean. These amazing little accidental steel landscapes are now part of some of my favorite work, and because of the nature of the steel formations every piece is one of a kind.


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Kate Eickelberg