Color Style Kyle

Combining art, creativity, design, family, health, humor and books.

25th Anniversary of Kyle Design & 100th Blog Post – A Retrospective

Posted by Kyle Design on October 9, 2007

Fireworks Celebration OrnamentThis month marks the 25th Anniversary of Kyle Design and this also happens to be my 100th blog post. What a reason to celebrate! Set off the fireworks! Twenty five years of designing gifts, jewelry, scarves, home decor – and I feel fortunate to have made it this far. I started my business while a senior at U.C. Berkeley – majoring in business, by the way – but what I really wanted to do was be an artist, be creative and design my heart out.

So, has my business evolved over the years? Yes!! From painting silk to designing in metal, from working crafts fairs to blogging – what an evolution!

Hand-painted Silk Scarves Created Using a Modified Batik ProcessI started out painting silk scarves and wall pieces using a modified batik process I learned from Ina Kozel, a nationally recognized fiber artist here in the United States. Hanpainted Silk Wall DecorI took what I learned from her and ran with it, figuring out a way to do what I was told couldn’t be done. I had a tiny studio in Berkeley then, and could only paint three scarves or one wall piece at a time. I had to wait a day for them to dry before I could start another batch.

I was desperately needing to increase my output and realized I needed to make smaller items: Jewelry, earrings, bracelets. Still using silk, mind you, still working with color. Color has been a continual theme in my work over the years.

Handpainted Silk Bracelets and EarringsI moved out of the tiny Berkeley studio and into my old bedroom in my parent’s house. Didn’t exactly feel like I was moving up in the world, but it was a stepping stone and I knew that. Affordable, spacious (by comparison). Hanp-painted Silk and Metal Jewelry - Earrings in 23K Gold Plated FramesI started making silk-covered bracelets and earrings made from button covers. I had a huge button kick press about the size of an anchor for assembling the earrings that I bought from Eisen Brothers. (I tried to find a picture, but kept getting instructions from a Mortal Kombat II manual. “To kick, press button….”)

Hand-Colored Niobium Earrings with Etched Brass Design AccentsBeing creative and getting bored with the same old shapes for earrings, I came up with the idea of combining the silk with etched metal frames in unusual shapes. Anodized Aluminum and Niobium EarringsFrom there it was on to all kinds of mixed metal jewelry in unusual shapes. I created unique pieces which used combinations of etched metals, niobium and anodized aluminum and were embellished with glass beads, wire and turned parts. A body of work that ranged from brightly colored, very contemporary to pieces with more subdued colors and an ethnic feel. Ancient Images Mixed Metal EarringsThat was just the first eleven years! Before I had kids! (I’ll save the next 14 years for another post.) My work continues to change and evolve, but I think I retain elements from all past work in my current collections.

And that is just the creative side – there is a whole other story when it comes to running the business, developing my line (what would sell??), keeping up with trends, working out production methods, finding reliable suppliers, learning how to engrave, managing my money, marketing, hiring help, exhibiting at up to 25 shows an year. (A partial list, to be sure….)

It was quite one thing to start my business and choose not to interview for a “real job” about a year later as I was approaching graduation. (My friends at the business school were quite aghast that I was NOT interviewing, as they all were!) It was quite another to actually be ready to support myself from my art, and those early days really were a struggle. But I can proudly say that, aside from babysitting in junior high and working for my parents (also artists) throughout high school and college, I have never worked for anyone else. Determined, I was.

The very first retail crafts fair I was accepted to was the 1984 Sausalito Art Festival and my first wholesale show was the 1985 Baltimore A.C.E. Crafts Fair, both considered prestigious events, and from there it starting falling into place. (That is frightfully simplistic, but at I’ll save all the true details for another blog post.) And speaking of blog posts…

This 25th Anniversary just happens to coincide with my 100th blog post. Blogging is new for me, obviously, but even 100 blog posts feels like a milestone. I never considered myself a writer and I still agonize over every word more than I should, but I have to admit I’ve come to enjoy it. Guess I’m more opinionated than I might have thought. Or at least I realize how much I have learned over the years.

Contemporary Milano Modern Light Switch PlatesIn the beginning, blogging felt like something I had to do, but now I appreciate having a forum where I can introduce my new work but be chattier or less formal in how I present it. I feel like I have to stick to the facts on my website Kyle Design, but on my blog I can loosen up, add personal details, elaborate on the inspiration behind designs, talk about my family, or even what life is like for an woman artist in general. I’m not just crafty in my work, but in my personal life as well. Where else would I share my creative party ideas, favorite recipes or my elaborate Halloween costumes? It’s all good….

To see my more recent work which includes light switch plates, engraved business card holders, flasks and holiday ornaments among many other unique items, please visit Kyle Design.


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