Teresa Kiplinger is a studio jeweler, a poet, and a noted graphic designer. She explores themes of legacy and loss in her evocative, wearable stories and modern memento mori. She combines precious metals, humble alloys, enameled images, and original verse to create haunting and luminous elegies for unknowable souls. Inspired by personal narratives, memory, and ephemera, her expressive jewelry calls us to consider the fragility of our existence.
Her distinctive work has appeared in exhibitions, Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine (Winter 2018, Winter 2020), and the Metal Museum. She is a member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), the Enamelist Society, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). She earned a BFA in Graphic Design at Kent State University, and served on the Advisory Board for Kent's Visual Communication Design program. She works out of her studio near Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
I felt a call to become a metalsmith in mid-life after two decades as a digital illustrator and web designer. I found myself longing to create something real; tangible artifacts to be unearthed long after I'm gone.
When my teen stepson took his own life, I channeled my sorrow into my burgeoning metalwork. I forged a bracelet in his honor. I felt its weight and permanence in my hands as I formed it, and in the months that followed, I wore it every day. Each time I touched it, I felt connected with him. From within my grief, I found my voice. Soon, I was creating modern memento mori and mourning jewelry for others who were grieving and searching for ways to recall deeper meaning in everyday life.
Themes from my rural Ohio childhood often find their way into my work. I grew up on my grandparents' defunct farm, wading in waving pastures, playing in a barn full of rusty machines and sheet-covered victorian furniture. I explored my grandmother's bookcase that overflowed with family ephemera and disintegrating poetry tomes; even before I could read, the 19th-century engravings of gossamer angels and tempest-tossed boats drew me into a lost world of mortality and miracles. I studied letters from long-dead ancestors, their beautifully penned, private accounts of cares and minutiea called to my imagination. I tinkered in my grandfather's rickety workshop, its ceiling strewn with a hoarder’s cache of glass knobs, hubcaps, keys – when the wind blew, it all winked like a scrap heap chandelier. Enchanted in this dusty landscape of artifacts, I imagined all the stories behind the abandoned baubles and beds, the tintype lives, and the lost loves.
At university, I trained in the aesthetic of the Swiss school of graphic design. Though my body of metalwork does not always reflect the minimal Swiss style, its principles are ever present, from my obsessive sensitivity to typography to my attention to negative space.
But, I think the most significant influence on my metalwork is my affinity for poetry and its power to express emotion. All my life, I have analyzed, memorized, recited and written verse. I enjoy incorporating my original poetry in my jewelry work, using the visual rhythm of stanzas to create scintillating patterns that reveal, upon closer inspection, a deeper meaning.
Learn more about the memories and images that inspire my jewelry design on my blog.
I explore themes of legacy, memory, isolation, and loss in my poetic, wearable stories. Often inspired by imagined elegies, fragmented memories, and ephemera left behind after death, I combine enameled imagery and original verse to create expressive jewelry objects that call us to consider the fragility of our existence.
a day ago
I have a small collection of antique poetry books from the late 1800s that I inherited from my great grandfather. Even before I could read, the engraved illustrations of gossamer angels and tempest tossed boats drew me into a grownup world of mortality and miracles. Those images inspired this miniature scene of a tiny shipwreck about to fall upon the cliffs of an unknown land. I set the enamel into a chunky pendant and etched the bezel with the Fisherman’s Prayer: “O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” . . . “Lost at Sea”, pendant necklace. Enamel, sterling silver. Hand painted, torch fired, hand fabricated. This piece will be available in a shop update soon. Stay tuned for exact date and time. 🖤 . . Look back in my feed to see how I paint my enameled scenes using finely ground glass and water, then heat them with a torch to permanently fuse the glass to metal. . . #instajewelry #instasmithy #instasmith #silversmith #Metalsmith #goldsmith #ladysmith #RioJeweler #SNAGmember #TESmember #metalsmithing #handmadejewelry #handmade #handcraftedjewelry #contemporaryenamel #enamel #enameled #miniatures #enameljewelry #jewelryaddict #jewelrycollector #jewelryoftheday #miniature #oneofakindjewelry #contemporarycraft #artjewelry #mementomori #artisanjewelry #showmeyourjewelry