When I was a young girl I found great pleasure in all things expressive and creative. I enjoyed drawing and painting and also sewing, once my grandmother taught me how. I was also obsessed with rocks from a very young age and would spend hours with my best friend collecting and identifying them, and going to gem & mineral shows with her mother. Then one day I accidentally discovered beading and realized I had found something I could really love. I spent many hours at a local bead store, learning stones and techniques from the owner. I made jewelry for everyone I knew. As chance would have it, in high school I ended up taking a year long silver-smithing class at the local community college. I immediately entered into a life long love affair with the shapes and forms and magnitude and POSSIBILITY of this amazing new medium. I had found my passion! I’ve heard it said that to find your purpose in life, go back to what you loved as a child. I vowed to make a living making jewelry.
As things happen, I was persuaded to take the more conventional road and went to college to become a teacher. The necessary equipment to get started silver smithing was just too costly, so the dream remained elusive. I did work at the bead store throughout college and continued to appease my passion by making beaded jewelry, but always, in my heart, I longed for the silver.
I moved to a small town to begin my teaching career. I continued to love beading and made a little money on the side selling my work. After 4 years of teaching, I had my first baby. I realized my career priorities had changed and I wanted nothing more than to be at home with her. I decided to get serious about making my dream come true.
After a lot of deliberate intention, it all came together. An extremely generous man gave me most of the tools I needed and wouldn’t accept payment. A dear friend loaned me a torch. A neighbor who just happened to be a former silver-smithing instructor offered to give me lessons in exchange for a set of custom bridesmaids’ jewelry. And so it began…
I remember the first time I actually began to saw a sheet of silver in my new little workshop in the garage. As the silver dust fell onto my knees I felt an extreme sense of peace, of belonging, of knowing that this is what I was meant to do, and I was finally doing it! I opened an Etsy shop in the spring of 2008, and as I began to sell my jewelry I started to acquire more equipment. (Though I have never replaced the little buffing wheel that my original benefactor made for me out of a dryer motor). Slowly but surely I gathered the necessary materials to continue my craft. A chance encounter led to a meeting with a generous woman who sold me basically an entire silver smithing studio starter kit, bench and all, and allowed me to make small monthly payments.
I joined a local artist co-op in Mancos, and then had my work in galleries in Durango, CO and San Francisco, CA. I also participated in many local farmers markets and art shows. Then I opened a studio gallery space in my home, where I also was able to teach classes. I had three separate work spaces- a studio space for all of my planning, sawing, stamping, assembling, etc., my original garage space where I soldered and did my casting, and an upstairs space where I worked with wax for the casting.
I recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest and I absolutely love it here. And I have now been a silversmith for about 15 years. I have been able to be at home with my three daughters, Hazel, June, and Dorothy, while making a living doing what I love. I have sold thousands of pieces to people all over the world, and I am just as enthralled with what I do as I was when I started. Inspired by my life experiences, travel, music, and the natural world around me, I strive to create meaningful talismans that will empower the wearer, and help them to connect with their authentic selves. I share myself as I share my work, in hopes of normalizing some aspects of our lives that can be difficult to talk about, to perhaps help people to feel a little less alone. Creating my jewelry and sharing it with the world has been an integral part of my own healing journey as I navigate the peaks and valleys of this life. A beautiful online community has grown around my Silver Sparrow Designs, and there are no words to explain how truly grateful I am for all of my amazing customers. I’m so happy you have found your way here.
~Kristi Smith, Owner, Designer, and Creator of Silver Sparrow Designs