Wear my personalized memorial and narrative art jewelry as a tactile, ever-present connection to what is important – to those we've lost, to those we love, to the undercurrent of the soul.
"You have an amazing way of bringing people together, even when that's an impossible task." I was humbled to receive this note from a patron – because connecting hearts and souls is my goal, to preserve our stories in precious metal.
I felt a call to become a metalsmith after two decades as a digital illustrator and graphic designer. I wanted to create something touchable, that would outlast me.
When my teen stepson, Adam, took his own life, I channeled my grief into my burgeoning etching and metalwork. I forged a bracelet in Adam's honor, etched with a message to him. I felt its heat and permanence in my hands as I formed it, and in the months that followed, I wore it every day. Each time I touched the raised words on my wrist, I was reconnected with him.
From within my grief, I found my voice. Soon, I was making memorial jewelry for others who were mourning.
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 and tried to imitate their inky penmanship. 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 words and poetry – and their 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.
Let's not let the modern world distract us from our meaning, reduce us to a tweet, or a beauty contest or a shopping list. Wear my meaningful jewelry to remember what matters most. Place an order for my personalized bracelets and necklaces, or contact me to learn how I can create an original design to preserve your legacy in precious metal.
Teresa Kiplinger is a metalsmith, a poet, and a noted graphic designer. Specializing in custom narrative and contemporary mourning jewelry, she draws inspiration from lovelorn letters, forgotten heirlooms and ancient reliquaries. She combines handwriting and original verse with elements of graphic design such as typography, photography, and illustration in her work. Soulful women from the heartland to Hollywood wear her expressive, wearable stories in precious metal. She accepts custom commissions and offers a line of ready-to-wear as well as personalized pieces.
Her work has been featured in exhibitions and Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine, and she is a member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) as well as AIGA. Teresa earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree at Kent State University and she currently works out of her studio near Cleveland, Ohio.
LEFT: Bumble Bee sprued up for casting in silver RIGHT: Bumble bee after casting in sterling silver
Concept Sketches for a modern mourning brooch.
Etching in Progress