Jewelry from the Imagination of Kristin Girard
By Savanah Mandeville
Find Kristin’s Laboratory Jewelry:
On Instagram @kristins_laboratory
Urban Art Gallery, 511 S. Main in Joplin
ArtForms Gallery, 620 N. Broadway in Pittsburg
Every Saturday at Joplin Empire Market, 931 E. Fourth St. in Joplin
For a commissioned piece, contact Kristin Girard at [email protected]
Kristin Girard’s jewelry is a beautiful example of what can happen when science and art collide.
Girard is the artist behind Kristin’s Laboratory, a quirky jewelry line that appeals to teenagers and grandmothers and everyone in between. Using a wide variety of processes and materials – ceramics, resin, copper electroforming, found objects and more – Girard can handcraft a necklace or bracelet inspired by the natural world but unlike anything ever seen before. Her creative vision has produced pieces featuring everything from natural stones, leaves and shells to funky little sugar skulls, owls and seahorses.
“A lot of what I do and the different techniques I use are about just going for it and being fearless,” she said. “Most of my pieces are affordable and meant for everyday wear, so I like to think the most valuable thing about them isn’t expensive materials but the vision and imagination behind each piece.”
Girard meticulously crafts each design, usually making everything from the pendant to the chain to the clasp. And like she said, she’s not afraid to try new things. She is currently thinking about how she can electroform an orchid that has recently bloomed in her kitchen – a process she knows is risky and will involve some trial and error. In layman’s terms, electroforming is a process where metal is chemically deposited on an object and “plates” it in the metallic substance. It’s not easy, but Girard has a background in chemistry to help her out. In fact, she had a career as a medical technologist in hospital labs for several years before she got into jewelry.
“I still use my background in chemistry a lot,” she said. “I can’t count the number of times it has helped me when I’m learning a new technique.”
Girard also does commissioned work, typically to preserve in resin sentimental items like vacation seashells or wedding flowers for her clients.
It’s that desire to help others that led to her involvement with Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission.
“Early in my jewelry-making days, a woman at my church reached out to me about helping in the Watered Gardens Worth Shop,” she said. “It was the answer to my prayers because I was looking for a way to give back.”
The Watered Gardens Worth Shop is an effort to build up self-worth in the poor and homeless through creativity. Every Tuesday, Girard helps individuals salvage scrap copper from old appliances and turn it into jewelry they can sell.
Girard is also part of a group of five artists called the Market Artisans who have a permanent booth at Joplin Empire Market, a weekly producer’s market for local artists, farmers, bakers and more. Each of the Market Artisans specialize in a different style – glass, ceramics, fibers, basket weaving and jewelry – so each brings something different to the table (literally).
“We are each other’s biggest fans,” Girard said. “Their support really inspires me to keep going and trying new things. Plus, there’s always a new challenge around the corner!”