About Karen Krieger
My metal work is inspired by the Moorish architecture of southern Spain,
the floral imagery of William Morris, French and English formal garden
design, and the lyricism of Asian art and calligraphy. Choosing
patterns from many cultures, I try to blend these influences into quiet
and spiritual objects that reflect my fascination with botanical forms,
ruins, sacred places and hidden doorways.
My jewelry is made of sterling silver and 14k
gold. I begin by hand-sawing small "frames" from sheet silver, then I
saw and file etched pieces of patterned silver sheet to fill the voids
in the frames, and then solder the components together onto a back
piece of silver. The process is analogous to marquetry or inlay but I'm
using metal instead of wood.
My pewter "tabletop" work— coasters,
trivets, candlesticks, napkin rings, etc—are cast from molds of
our hand-made prototypes. My aluminum wall pieces—clocks,
mirrors, and decorative panels—are built in a manner similar to
the jewelry, though woodworking tools are necessary to fabricate those
I've recently begun an entirely new line of paper jewelry (paperjulep.com) which I'm very excited about.
How I Got Here
(more than you need to know)
A Pittsburgh native, I majored in architecture at
Yale. I wasn't a very good designer of buildings; I was a much better
critic (and still am!), but the training stayed with me and has found
its expression in my metal work.
I later worked as an art teacher and athletic
coach at a prep school in Connecticut, and eventually earned a Master's
degree in regional planning at U. Mass Amherst. That led me to a job
with the Arts Extension Service at UMass, helping communities plan for
cultural development, teaching arts management skills, and helping all
the towns administer a local arts granting program. In the process I
also met my husband, though it would be fifteen years before we started
The seeds for a career as a craftsperson were sown
when I became business manager for (what was at that time) a small art
glass studio called Josh Simpson Contemporary Glass. At Josh's I was
responsible for everything, and learned to wear all the hats at once
and how to quickly put the correct one closest to my head. After five
years I decided I could work just as hard for myself, making and
marketing my own work. Classes at Penland and Haystack Mountain taught
me just enough metalworking to get started, and one of the first
products I designed, the Change of Heart picture frame, was a complete
and unexpected hit. Its success subsidized my jewelry business and gave
me time to improve my metalworking skills. When a cheap copy of my
frame showed up at Target stores, I knew I had a good product, but I
also knew my frame business was over.
The Garden Wall Series, which is how I refer to
all my patterned work, began with a piece of Sterling silver pattern
sheet which had been sitting on my workbench for five years. At last I
combined it with a small silver tree, later replaced with a gold leaf,
and a frame around the whole. The leaf and the pattern has become my
signature look, and I'm extremely proud that my work doesn't look like
anyone else's, and that it seems to be appreciated for this quality.
I live on a hilltop in Pittsburgh, PA with my husband David Montgomery, (a craft artist, and also a professional modelmaker),
our daughter Janet, cats, and a growing collection of children's books
and tea sets. I love playing tennis, and despite work and motherhood I
manage to play just enough to maintain my 3.5 USTA rating.