Krista Knickerbocker on Building with concrete and metal – JCK


When Krista Knickerbocker was an architect working in the Boston area, she was part of a wide range of intellectually challenging design projects, including an aquarium and science center in Saudi Arabia.

Exciting? Yes. Restrict ? Yes too. Of course, the projects in Saudi Arabia were professionally important, Knickerbocker says. But no one was putting her on a plane to experience her work in person.

“I knew I would never see them, and it was so distant and abstract,” Knickerbocker says. “I’ve also worked on smaller scale, more local design projects, but again, it felt like my whole life was dictated by the timeline of the projects I was working on. At that point- there, I had a baby at home, and I couldn’t understand, in this world where deadlines are imposed by early mornings and weekends at your desk, how I could advance this career that I really wanted for our family.

Krista Knickerbocker and her daughter
Having a family changed Krista Knickerbocker not only as an individual, but it also gave her new ideas about the lifestyle she wanted as an employee – and she wanted to do it her way, which supports her jewelry business. Here she is with her daughter Isla.

Somewhere around this time, her husband’s wedding ring needed a fix. The tape was a mix of metal and concrete, and the concrete inlay had eroded away. This is where inspiration met Knickerbocker’s unique background – not only did she make architectural models in grad school from fine-grained anchor concrete, but she also had a mindset to DIY set up by his physiotherapist mother and entrepreneur father in Winchester, Mass.

“Going back to the theme I grew up with, just learning to fix it yourself, I went to the local hardware store and bought a little bag of concrete to fix the ring. Since I had the whole bag left, it was like an invitation to do more,” says Knickerbocker. “At work at the time, I had access to a 3D printer, so I started 3D printing models of pendants and earrings that I would use to make a silicone mold and pour the concrete to create my first jewelry that I sold.”

Knickerbocker did what every rational person does next: she opened an Etsy shop and started making jewelry. And, like anyone who gets into jewelry, Knickerbocker has become obsessed. Concrete led to lost wax casting. This led to online and in-person classes. This led to starting Krista Knickerbocker Designs, a jewelry business that gives this mother of three a way to focus on her family while using her time, talent and skills in a meaningful way.

“I finally feel like I’m building a jewelry business that I’m proud of, and every day I feel like I’ve finally found my medium as an artist and designer,” says Knickerbocker.

Designs by Krista Knickerbocker
Knickerbocker describes her jewelry as “modern and textured,” showing the craftsmanship and skill she brings to her work. Nature, including stone, wings and other organic forms, also inspires many of her designs.

Knickerbocker never expected to work in jewelry. She is the second of five children and life was hectic. His dad also worked as a residential contractor and had a local indoor sports facility at one point, so Knickerbocker always had something to do with a sibling or an after-school job.

“I actually didn’t study freshman art until my senior year, and that was because it was a state requirement to graduate. I loved it, though, and minored in studio art in college to make up for lost time,” Knickerbocker says. “I always felt like I knew I was an artist, but I just didn’t know what my medium was.”

During her college years, Knickerbocker added a degree in economics from Boston College and an internship at an investment bank, which taught her what she didn’t want to do, she says. She earned her master’s degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and fell in love.

“The rigor of the upbringing, the studio culture, the creativity that it brought out of us, the material explorations that we did – it was truly an incredible couple of years. It was constant and demanding, and I spent many nights in the studio developing designs and preparing reviews, but it was so valuable,” says Knickerbocker.

dragonfly wing necklace
Delicate dragonfly wings inspired this Krista Knickerbocker Designs necklace, which the designer describes as a reminder that while you may not know your exact path, you were born to take flight and get where you’re meant to go ( $260).

“Architecture as a profession can be very specific, and you may end up working on one type of project and one way throughout your career. As an education, however, architecture is really broad and endless. It was rooted in design thinking, prototyping, iterating, and constantly learning new skills and techniques,” says Knickerbocker. “It really taught me not to be afraid to learn new things. skills that I may not know anything about, which has benefited me so much in my journey as a jeweler.”

Today, her jewelry work is textured, handmade, and organic — a balance between “imperfect, often porous forms created from something permanent and usually precise, like metal,” says Knickerbocker. Although her architectural life is probably not over, the jewelry part of her life is just as significant.

“In general, I love the scale of jewelry, I love its meaning to people. I love its potential to be symbolic, to carry memories of a person or a place, to be part of the world. someone’s identity and to make people a little more confident when they go out into the world every day.

“I also love the ability to iterate on pieces and find inspiration everywhere,” says Knickerbocker. “After working in architecture, where the timelines seemed icy with projects going on sometimes for years, having the ability to do a piece in a week or a day or an hour is magical.”

Above: Jewelry designer Krista Knickerbocker has gone from banking to architecture to jewelry, learning along the way that what she values ​​as much as education is time, craftsmanship and a connection to her work (photos courtesy of Krista Knickerbocker Designs).

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