About Karen Christians
Karen Christians is a jewelry educator, maker, and writer in the metal arts. Karen teaches and lectures nationally, and is published in many professional and technical magazines. She is the author of two books Making the Most of Your Flex-Shaft, and recently, Jewelry of Burning Man.
Karen holds a BFA in Metals "97 from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She has been attending Burning Man since 2006, and teaching in her theme camp, Oasis 47 Pendant Project.
Karen founded the nonprofit jewelry school and community studio Metalwerx in Waltham, MA. She also founded the Hot Craft Studio for Jewelry at Artisan's Asylum MakerSpace in Somerville, MA. She is now working on building a Jewelry Teaching Shop at MakerSpace Thailand in Chiang Mai.
Currently, she is working on her third book, "Jewelry of Star Trek." Karen teaches at her Studio in Lowell, MA and lives in Waltham with her husband Dave and two excellent cats. She divides her time between the US and Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Learn more about Karen and take a virtual tour of her studio at Western Avenue Studios & Lofts.
It started with a fire. In 1989 while attending a Halloween party, a drunk partier decided to flick a Bic and set my costume on fire. I landed in the hospital for a month, with 30% 3rd degree burns and skin grafts.
Six months later I took my first jewelry class and was horrified to learn that I needed to torch to solder to join my ring.
With help from my teacher, I watched in utter fascination as that little slip stream of solder flowed across my silver band ring. That moment marked the first major transformation of my life.
I became a jeweler, entered Massachusetts College of Art and Design and graduated with honors in 1997.
In 2006 I attended Burning Man. This marked the second great transition of my life. And yeah, watching my first Man Burn was kinda difficult.
My Art and Life: A Celebration of What If's
The works I create are inspired by archeology, geology and time surrounding life altering events. I meticulously encapsulate various natural elements into repurposed, wearable jewelry. The rich story of how these materials have lived and how they were collected is rearranged in new and compelling ways, capturing its very essence from novel transformative phenomena.
Upon receiving my BFA in Metals '97 from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, I decided not to pursue the conventional fabrication path. Instead, I founded a non-profit jewelry school, Metalwerx: School for Jewelry and the Metal Arts and discovered my other calling as an entrepreneur and educator.
It's the paradox of the two professions and mindsets that allow me to slip between two worlds of giant and oh so tiny. I think my middle name is "What If". Over the years, I've learned to trust the "What If" in my head and shoot for the opportunities so many fear, but wish they could reach. This has led me down many beautiful and creative paths in my life.
What if there was a school that highlighted jewelry education, honored the best teachers and lured them to spill their knowledge for 23 years? What if after watching countless hours of Star Trek, you got to meet the jewelry maker of all those cool resin jewels for the breastplates of Sarek, and assemble your findings into another in-process book, Jewelry of Star Trek? What if you decided to visit Chiang Mai for 4 months and work in a temple learning traditional Thai chasing and repousse or build a jewelry teaching area at Makerspace Thailand?
What if from another death of a jewelry manufacturing company, you purchased 400 spin casting molds and are installing them in underutilized hallways of museums? What if there was a book on The Jewelry of Burning Man, encapsulating the stories and visual adornment of a groundbreaking event? What if you could teach jewelry to others and inspire them to follow their dream of creating? I can answer all of those. The answer is: you become something better each time.
I'm stymied when people ask me, "what is your art?" For me, it is a celebration of What If's. It is engagement for both rites of passage and the very jewelry that is part of a grander ceremony, unique and referential. My art voice is a choir for the "What If" and then having the guts to pull it off.