Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kim Bell: A (jewelry) master in the making

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 1:51 PM

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Could it simply be a case of beginner’s luck, or sheer talent that brings us to examine the detailed and intricate jewelry designed by local artist Kim Bell? She may still be in the learning process, but she’s already becoming a hit in the salons. With her designs selling to women in two hair boutiques (Looking Glass Salon in Uptown and The Artisan Studio in Tennessee), and through her Etsy store, she doesn’t come across so much a student, as she does a passionate, knowledgeable business woman.

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Bell isn’t just beads and bangles, though, as her shop name may lead you to believe. “I want to create designs that my clients feel beautiful and special wearing. I would like for my work to have its own special style, but also have diversity and versatility. I don’t want every piece to look the same,” she explains. That could be why she’s already experiencing a following with some local brides. Bell crafts beautiful wedding jewelry for brides and lucky bridesmaids that are truly one of a kind.

Bell’s love of jewelry came to her in a very simple manner. Her sister-in-law had been beading for years, so she took her under her wing as a student in the craft. With Bell’s son becoming older and beginning to live his own life, she found herself with plenty of time to practice her new-found skills. With her main income being from her self-owned tutoring business, she was free to dedicate plenty of time to jewelry-making so that one day it could be another business under her belt.

“I consider myself an emerging jewelry artist. I am still learning new techniques and improving on those I have already learned. I am also developing my own style in my designs. I’m sure my jewelry designing will always be a work in progress,” she shares. Bell is still busying herself with classes in various forms of jewelry techniques and has begun to cherish the beauty and versatility of sterling silver. Her newest jewelry pieces incorporate bezel set gemstones, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

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The stones are used in her work carry more meaning than just how beautiful they appear. An avid collector of sea glass, Bell likes to use found pieces in her designs to remember the moments she spent finding them. She also enjoys collecting rare and unique stones in her travels, lending a little story to each finished piece. “When I travel I often look for stones or beads that will bring back memories of the trip. Recently I purchased a beautiful malachite stone from a stone cutter in Belize. I am working on a design that will remind me of that very special vacation.”

All of the careful designing and hard work paid off. Bell's hair stylist had been admiring her handiwork and offered to sell her designs through her beauty salon. Bell went the route of many amateur jewelry artists and made an online shop through which to sell her pieces, but already she was venturing into the world of actual retail. Word spread of her gorgeous design work and she was soon offered a spot in yet another beauty salon in Clinton, Tenn. Even as she continues to learn tricks of the trade, she is expanding in her new business adventure, and shining like the gems she features in her work. Acknowledging that she does not know absolutely everything and striving to learn all that is left has proven to be a very successful method to earning her respect in the field. Any potential jewelry artists should take note, and she also wants you to heed this advice: “Don’t undervalue your work. I see a lot of people selling jewelry at really low prices. Don’t be afraid to charge what the piece and your labor are worth.  It will help you build respect.”

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