Meet The Maker: Porcelain and Stone
About Porcelain and Stone:
Artisan made, nautically inspired, porcelain jewelry. Porcelain and Stone focuses on ceramic jewelry in pairing with fine metals. Founded by Kimberly Huestis in August of 2012 after she began sharing her sculptural work in 2008, the jewelry is minimal and classic drawing inspiration from nautical and organic elements with a graceful woman in mind. Meant to be worn as sculptural art, it is frequently flaunted as statement jewelry. All porcelain and stoneware ceramic pieces are hand-crafted out of Boston, Massachusetts. Porcelain and Stone is a woman-owned business dedicated to the coastal lifestyle and is all Made in America.
Porcelain and Stone focuses on ceramic jewelry in pairing with fine metals. Founded by Kimberly Huestis in August of 2012 after she began sharing her sculptural work in 2008, the jewelry is minimal and classic drawing inspiration from nautical and organic elements with a graceful woman in mind.
Meet The Maker
Q: What inspired you to begin your collection?
I wanted to create jewelry in unique shapes that I wouldn’t react to in an allergic way. Knowing that I wasn’t reactive to clay as I had been working with so many varieties while growing up and on through college, I felt very comfortable working with water-based clay. When I started, there wasn’t a space for porcelain jewelry to the level I thought it should be showing at, and I wanted to elevate it beyond the normal and beautiful beads people were making almost as a default after-thought. I felt porcelain jewelry should belong in a perceived space much more akin to its historical legacy.
Q: Describe your creative process. Where do you start?
Often times, I start with a sketch and try to problem solve around what I see as an issue. So, sometimes I am trying to solve a mechanical issue, or escape what I consider to be an idea that is too simple. I’ll circle around an idea for days or up to a few years. Even just sketching things out doesn’t always convince me so I’ll create the concept in porcelain and even wear it around to test out the comfort and wearability. The more I know about a piece and what it does with movement or daily habit, helps inform the overall design and final decision when I am putting together a collection of pieces. I love just sketching directly into clay as it challenges me and allows me to immediately see what I’m going after. The design no longer is a concept but an object with scale and almost has a sense of wearability though it still hasn’t been fired in the kiln.
Q: How do you maintain your creative drive?
To maintain my creative drive I explore other areas of life that interest me. I enjoy working to run long distances or researching baking concepts to just make-up something new-to-me. My friends and I also hold a cocktail competition about once a year, so I try to hold my winning title in the creative category because making things up that are weird but fun to experience as a flavor is kind of the whole fun of making things. I kind of think that’s why you might find so many ceramicists that also do a lot of cooking and baking: we love to make things with our hands… but we also delight in the ability to eat something we made.
Kimberly Huestis in her Somerville, MA studio.
“When I started, there wasn’t a space for porcelain jewelry to the level I thought it should be showing at, and I wanted to elevate it beyond the normal and beautiful beads people were making almost as a default after-thought. I felt porcelain jewelry should belong in a perceived space much more akin to its historical legacy.”
Q: What materials do you love to use?
I love porcelain. Hopefully I’m not being too obvious! It’s a material that is so versatile and so often misunderstood as something fragile simply because folks are used to interacting with it in a different form and scale. When I break down the strength map for folks and compare it to other stones they are used to touching or seeing, they really start to understand what I’m doing with porcelain jewelry. Because I am kind of a research obsessed individual, I have come to know this much about porcelain. But this is fairly normal when it comes to anything you love. You’re bound to know the science behind it. I’m the same with a lot of materials I work with, including gold. It’s impossible to work with something every day for ten years and not have a deeper interest in learning not just the high level stuff, but the really close-up, in-depth detailed science of it.
Q: Every product has a story. Is there a story behind one of your pieces that stands out to you?
One of my collections, called the Lava Collection, has a very personal meaning for me. It represents a bit of heartbreak and healing as I slowly lose my mother to Alzheimer’s. I also see it as a piece of celebration of life and strength. The crackles of gold light that break through the piece to reveal themselves are both unique and beautiful. They can look broken, but if you look closer, you’ll see how the gold binds it all together and makes the piece almost seem as if it is woven together with this bright light of cracked gold. I adore this collection for the way it highlights this sense of inner-light breaking through the darkness. Life will always be what it is, and learning to embrace it as beautiful in all the emotional growing experiences is one of the things I have learned from my family and how I choose to live my own life.
Lava Drop Necklace from the Lava Collection
Q: Do you have a dream collaborator?
I try very hard to not place one single human on a funny pedestal! But I kind of love working with a lot of people. Sometimes collaborations fall into my lap that I had never considered, and those are kind of lovely because they push me to do something I might not have done before. So, that’s a bit dreamy when those happen. I’m always open to working with folks, but I think the challenge is finding the time for both parties to come together. When it’s right, it will work and you’ll make it work. In the past, I loved working with a candle making friend of mine, Kirsty Allore, because her candles were so unique in their combinations and 100% Essential Oils. So that was really lovely when we worked together a few years ago to have her pouring into my Porcelain Wave Vessels. Right now, my current dream is to integrate my jewelry with the home wares collection of PS in a seamless way.
Q: What are some of the challenges that you face as a maker?
As a maker in an area that is both so old and yet so new to many of the learning crafters entering the scene, I struggle to engage those folks that don’t quite know the medium yet. I come from a mixed ethnic background, and have always grown up with the idea of a master craftsperson being one that works to create something that takes patience and many decades of practice. I have only been working with ceramic clay for about 30 years, and probably only seriously focused on it for 18 years. Much of my training has been in aspects of sculpture like rock carving, direct wax sculpting, architectural model building, concrete casting, 3D animation and graphics, learning fresco painting, charcoal sketches, life studies, and of course clay sculpture. So, the challenge for me as a maker is to not get so impatient, but to keep working to always be steadying my hand, or applying a skill perhaps from baking, etc. I try to stay creatively agile, but also wrestle to stay focused on being disciplined and it’s beginning to show more predictability.
I am always learning, reading, or experimenting to answer questions I’m not finding answers to yet. I get excited if I get a chance to reach out to Material Scientists, Jewelry Art conservationists, other metal jewelers, etc. Their lens is always different from your own, and asking questions is how you will keep learning and trying things. I challenge myself to fully attempt to understand a material through and through. It’s partially a function of my background in architecture to do so much research on materials…and partially because I’m really annoyingly curious! Because of my severe allergy issues to certain metals, I am easily putting this through a personal lens as I love to learn about chemistry and the body.
Porcelain Wave Vessels
Q: How do you use social media and blogging to promote your work?
I’m not sure if use it in the traditional way folks might try to promote their work. Perhaps I do? But, I tend to shoot from the hip because I’m genuinely so excited if I get to another milestone. I’m always wanting to share things right away! So, I guess I can safely say I’m just sharing on social media to get the word out. That’s how I use it, so perhaps that’s some sort of strategy. I really don’t like when a post is obviously trying to be “salesy.” I get that we are all trying to survive at what we do, but at least if I feel I must, I like to poke fun at myself because my followers are not foolish. I think, or I hope, they enjoy my inflated sense of humor.
Blogging is perhaps sometimes a bit more intimate and on the other side of that same coin, a little bit applied and forced since I do it consciously because I know it helps my website stay relevant. I always try to make the blogs worth reading by sharing things that might matter. That makes me feel better about creating an intentional time piece on a blog. If I know I might be doing a “fluff” post, say to get images up on Pinterest, then I’ll call it out so folks can look if they want to but not waste their time if they somehow wound up on my site while also trying not to waste their time! I’ll try to share a bit more than you might see on say, Instagram. I love Instagram because I can interact directly with followers that are interested in the pieces, answer questions if I’m not too late, and in that way, I have always been focused on the pieces themselves. I love to celebrate the work itself, not so much that it was my hands that made it, but hopefully that isn’t forgotten. People don’t want to see my face I have learned, and I don’t actually want to show them my face!
Q: Where do you see your shop/project going?
I can see my studio growing in the future. I have always had a very clear vision of where I saw things headed and this year it’s beginning to make some moves now. It’s very interesting to me because I have never considered myself a long-term project person until I started re-learning how to run longer distances while I was in architecture. I considered myself a sprinter, which I was, I played lacrosse in high school and college…. and that was always the same in studio life: in architecture. I could sprint and get things done. Staying up to finish a project? Done. Not a challenge, time is easy, nothing is impossible. It’s all just busy work.
Now, growing Porcelain and Stone over these past six years, I’m trying to stretch out my pace because I do still like to sprint ahead. But, it’s unnecessary and not any less enjoyable to try to celebrate things a bit more slowly because it may all just be “busy work,” but it’s the kind that I really love and enjoy. I continue to see dancing in the studio to music at all hours of the day, and perhaps soon, I’ll have a team to share all the same happy feelings I get out of it.
Blue Splatter Porcelain Perfume Bottle
Q: What are you working on right now?
Currently, I’m working on a couple of projects, but my favorite one right now is a custom screw-top perfume bottle with an atomizer. The project was really an obsession about in-house perfecting and manufacturing by my own two-hands. I sat on a problem I had for weeks and it turned out that I just needed to attempt it one last time using slightly different material and it’s always in these projects where I can’t see the end, that I learn so much about how I visualize problem solving. This was a case where it truly paid to be stubborn and keep working on the piece because I knew it wasn’t impossible. I left time for running into roadblocks, and I am pretty pleased because I beat my timeline by one month! I love the challenge of being human and being limited by what I know and what I think I don’t know.