I’ve been a fan of Kathleen Klik’s jewelry since I first saw her booth at the Reston Market a few years ago. Her products stood out to me as modern, chic, and beautifully displayed. The name of her jewelry company is Modern Nature Studio, which concisely describes the style of her work. It is clean, fresh, and earthy, and somehow also modern and even industrial. I didn’t even know that combination was possible, but it’s gorgeous.
Modern Nature Studio’s jewelry is highly acclaimed and has been published in several magazines and blogs. Not only are her creations beautiful, the individual beads are also lovely and skillfully collected from all over the world. Kathleen almost always has interesting stories to tell about the origins of the beads she features in each piece.
Kathleen works out of her home studio in the Lake Thoreau area of Reston. She sells her products on Etsy, and at occasional artisan markets such as the Reston Market. Crowds always fill her booths, knowing that Kathleen makes only one item of each style. If you see it and want it, you have to buy it right away. She doesn’t repeat her creations.
Kathleen recently took a work hiatus after her son was born, and now she is gradually reopening her business. To welcome her back to Modern Nature Studio, I interviewed her and took a peek at some of her newest creations:
Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in jewelry making.
I am a jewelry artist and photographer living in Reston with my wonderful computer geek husband, our beautiful son and our glorious dog. I worked as a professional photographer for over a decade, with jewelry design as a hobby. Completely inspired and exhilarated by the medium, I decided to pursue my passion for jewelry design. I spent eight months setting up a studio in my home; it is my happy place! This has enabled me to be a stay at home mom while creating jewelry when time permits.
Your jewelry manages to be both bold and understated at the same time. How would you describe your style of jewelry? How did you develop that style?
My jewelry designs are a combination of nature inspired elements with a modern twist. I gravitate towards bold jewelry that makes a statement as well as simplistic, delicate pieces. I have always been inspired by nature and love the clean lines of contemporary design.
One of the most important aspects of my studio space is that I have windows with a view of nature, allowing me to see trees, birds, water and a few woodland critters. I also find inspiration on my walks around the lake. Walking through nature sparks my creativity like nothing else! My travels inspire many of my designs as well. Each place has something special about it and I tie those memories into the designs that I create afterwards.
Tell us about your beads. Where do you buy them, and how do you select them?
Beads, oh how I love beads! My bead collection is very well curated. I purchase every single bead with intent. If it inspires me or has a unique history, I purchase it. I am especially drawn to artisan beads; they are handmade by other artists and range in materials that include ceramic, glass, polymer clay and pewter to name a few. Each of these beads are one of a kind and unique.I also love working with faceted gemstones, recycled glass, renewable resource wood and brushed metal.
Many of the beads I purchase are Fair Trade. Fair Trade beads are created by artists and metalsmiths in villages in distant lands such as Ghana and Indonesia. These artists support themselves and their families as well as their village by handcrafting beads, while being paid a fair wage for them. Most of these beads are crafted from recycled glass, metal and leather.
I purchase my beads from a variety of sources that include bead artisans, bead shows, independent bead shops and online shops. When selecting beads, I always ask the vendor what they are made of (type of gemstone, species of wood, type of metal etc.) and where they were made. If the vendor can’t provide any of this information, I do not purchase from them no matter how gorgeous the bead is! I enjoy sharing the story or origin of the beads in each piece with my customers, so having this information is very important to me. For me, each piece of jewelry I create is more than just a beautiful accessory. It tells a story through the materials used. I also take pride in buying local; purchasing from bead shops in the area as well as across the country. All of my packaging is made in the USA from recycled materials. It, ironically, costs more but I feel our planet and economy is a wise and important investment.
How did you learn to make jewelry? Can you recommend resources for people who want to learn to make their own?
I have learned some jewelry techniques in classes that I have taken at Bead Fest in Philadelphia as well as independent bead shops. Star’s Beads in Vienna offers an amazing selection of classes taught by top jewelry designers from across the country. http://www.starsbeads.com/ . I also learn new techniques through books, magazines and tutorials by other jewelry artists. Mostly, I sit at my bead table in my studio and let the materials speak to me, playing around and turning ideas into wearable art.
What are your most popular products? Do you have personal favorites?
Being as how I focus on creating one of a kind pieces (OOAK), it is hard to say that one item is more popular than another. The only pieces that I create more than one, in limited number series, are my Falling Leaves and Modern Leaf necklaces. As far as personal favorites, it is so hard to select one or even a few. Each piece has its own story behind it, making it special to me. An example is a necklace that I created using Baltic amber along with an artisan bead that has the word Family on it. I created it in honor of my husband’s Polish heritage and think of his family each time I wear it.
Where can people learn more about you and your jewelry?
I have a blog titled Modern Nature Studio: My Creative World. There you will get an inside look at jewelry designs that I am working on along with the things in life that inspire me; my family, nature, places I have traveled, bead shopping trips and the friends I have made along the way.
I also have a shop on Etsy named Modern Nature Studio. While I haven’t had time to update my Etsy shop in a while as my little boy keeps me quite busy, I am hoping to add some new work to it in the upcoming months.
The following shops also sell my work:
- The Reston Museum
- Gathered in Front Royal. Gathered is a wonderful shop that sells handcrafted goods from regional artists.
- Body Wellness Salon and Spa in Edgewater, Maryland
- The Starving Artist in Old Forge, New York (Adirondack Mountains). This shop too sells only handcrafted goods from regional artists (we vacation there each summer, so I fall into that category).
- I am hoping to sell at the Reston Market at Lake Anne this summer.
Thank you, Kathleen, for telling us about your beautiful jewelry and the inspiration behind it.
Kathleen is offering our readers a 10% discount on purchases at her Etsy shop. At checkout, enter the coupon code MODERNRESTON. The coupon code is valid through February 14, 2015. I recommend that you visit her Etsy shop multiple times, because her inventory is always changing. And don’t forget that if you see something you love, buy it right away. She’ll make only one of each piece!