Artist highlight: Kelly Tinker

It’s Thanksgiving. So, it’s a time to reflect on what to be thankful for. I am grateful for a bounty of experiences, people and things. One person in particular has made such a difference in my life this year, that is my Frost Finery sidekick, metalsmith extraordinaire and creator of many things, Kelly Tinker.

She’s been a huge help, especially while I’ve been pregnant and trying to keep up with a business that can be physically demanding. She is also just a breathe of fresh air and one of the most talented and capable people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I’m very pleased to share an interview with Kelly and some of her personal works of art below.

Q: What draws you to metalsmithing?

A: I have always had a love for working with metal in any capacity as metal has a timeless nature that I prefer over materials like glass, wood, or ceramics.

I embrace the duplicity of metal: it can be softened or hardened, added to or subtracted from, polished and bright or dull and expressive, light and delicate or heavy and substantial.

Metalsmithing specifically gives me the tools to transform and explore the boundaries of  representing forms with metals; it has endless capacity to represent your ideas and turn them into timeless pieces of art.

Q: Do you have a favorite piece or favorite story behind a work you’ve made?

A: My favorite piece is probably “I Crave a Crumpet”. It started out as a simple lost wax casting of a kangaroo rat I had carved from wax.

On display at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum

Unfortunately part of my mold failed during the casting process and he ended up with a deep hole in its head.

I personally love brainstorming creative fixes instead of simply repairing the damage so I opted to build him a hat to cover it instead.
Well, the top hat I made him was very dapper and it only felt proper to also add a monocle, a hat rack, and a scarf.

Adding to this piece really got me experimenting with creating more three-dimensional shapes that I had never done outside of carving and casting before.
A single casting mistake transformed a simple kangaroo rat sculpt into one of my most whimsical pieces.

Q:What or who inspires you?

A: I can’t say I was ever inspired from anything specific to start working with metal, it always came directly from myself. It feels like a pure representation of me and my work is fueled by my own curiosity and whimsy.

I value metalsmithing as part of my life so much because it has always been an inescapable part of me.
Since my Freshman year in High school I was desperate to take the metalsmithing class, even before I really understood the sense of of what metalwork can do.
I patiently waited until I was an upperclassman and as soon as I had my chance to experience the tools and the materials myself,  I was in love.

No other art form inspired me like metalsmithing. Every part of the craft is deliberate and takes patience, planning, and sometimes tedious work. That time-consuming work ethic makes you fall in love with your piece by the time it has finished.

Q: What do you do when you have creative block?

A: I feel like my brain is running on all cylinders at all times and silly ideas pop into my head all the time.

Instead of letting those ideas get away from me, I make myself sketch it out on scrap paper or write out a note that I hope I can understand again.
That way I have captured my thought without trying to use it right away or have it distract me from what I’m currently doing.

Some of these ideas are good, others don’t have much hope, and some get lost all together.
However; this practice makes it so I have a hundred ideas at my disposal if I’m ever feeling lost for inspiration.

Even silly thoughts can trigger me to go down a creative path of thinking and could ultimately lead me to an idea miles away from the original thought.
Looking through my notes and sketches is almost like a reminder that I am a fountain of creativity and then I avoid feeling like I’ve lost all my ability to be creative.
I recommend making note of the smallest bursts of ideas that get you excited even if they are no use to you in the moment, its a nice back-up for a rainy day.

Q:If you could have one super Power (and there are no limits) what would it be?

A: I always super strength would be the most helpful and useful in everyday life.

Its also a good discreet superpower and you could hide your talents pretty well if you wanted to.

Can you imagine a life where nothing is too heavy, you are never tired from physical exhaustion, and you can get all your groceries inside in one trip without dying?!
You could even kinda of be able to fly because you can power jump! You could probably be a pretty confident climber as well. It opens so many possibilities!

So, yeah. Its helpful, makes so many things easier, as well as expands on the possibilities of your everyday life. I guess that’s what all super powers should do.


honeycomb silver cast with citrine cabochons


hang forged knife

Taken from Kelly’s drawlloween 2017 collection

See more of Kelly’s work




Breaking Panic Production Mode

Several times a year I go into panic production mode = WORK LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW AND DO MUCH AS YOU CAN! DEADLINES, AHHHH!

It’s a slippery slope – the takeout food boxes pile up, the gym calls about how long it’s been since you were last there (because they’re worried they won’t get a payment next month if you’re not alive) and you only see friends or family if they’re willing to help because they’re concerned. Ultimately, this ends in some debilitating infection or complete fatigue. Right now it’s the latter + some bio freeze pain gel, an ice pack and $$$ to the chiropractor.

During these episodes I start questioning myself – was the corporate overlord job possibly the better deal? Then I snap out of my bio freeze fever dream. Hell No. Work and life balance has always been a struggle.

I think for a lot of artistic people it’s even more of a struggle, especially if you’re a one person show. Work hours are spent running the business and not in the fulfilling art flow. Wouldn’t we all want to only do the things we like to do? I’m sure people in medicine would like to spend their time healing people instead of dealing with health insurance policies. Alas, those administrative tasks are oh so necessary. So we caffeinate ourselves in order to manage orders, expense receipts, detail estimates, deal with damaged items, wrangle inventory, book equipment time, organize supplies, etc etc etc. With day time business hours tied up in admin land, the artistic endeavors get pushed back. Those late nights, when the notifications stop flashing and your glowing rectangles stop buzzing, is the only peaceful time to get back to the sketch from the other day and take it as far as you can to physically see it realized.

One of my biggest struggles is finding a routine that accounts for these moments of fabrication and play, because this time is essential in helping me grow in my craft.

I certainly don’t want to complain. I have the great privilege of getting paid to make jewelry and I am beyond grateful that people want to adopt it into their daily lives. However, both personally and professionally, my current work and life situation is not sustainable. So, what to do?

There are many possibilities to a solution: hiring help, taking on different kinds of work and clients.. but before diving deeper into those areas… it seems that a clear, open mind to assess this broken repetitive thought and action cycle would be beneficial.

Maybe getting back to basics is the first step. Why have I been in denial of eating 3 healthy meals a day, getting 8 hours of sleep and having set work time boundaries? How can I expect to not experience some kind of cognitive dissonance if I’m sprinting head down on auto-hustle?

The answer I’ve landed on is aligning my mind, body and spirit in order to get clear on what my own definition of balance, success and happiness looks like. From there, I can work backwards and set specific attainable goals. Maybe the most important thing to do is plan for hiccups. When we adopt a new flow it’s easy to envision ourselves meditating on a cloud, happily producing our work in perfect harmony. Perhaps a change in attitude to see our mistakes as an opportunity to make improvements is a healthy iterative approach.

I’m so interested to know how other people manage their time. Please tell me! Share! But seriously, someone please slap me if I pull another all nighter, eat pizza more than once a week and send a yoga search party if my asana is missing from the studio for more than a week!

Breathe and innovate as you go.
Here’s to getting a head start on New Years resolutions. Slay.

Frost Finery on Instagram

A bit of radio silence ? Taking some time off with @brad_frost in South Africa. Woke up this morning to this Baboon!! #holiday #baboon #southafrica #waitforit

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Frost Finery on Instagram

Frost Finery on Instagram

️These vintage national parks postcards!A reminder of the American beauty that we can unite around #americanbeauty #nationalpark #shenandoah #kobukvalley #smokymountains #denali #hawaiivolcanoes #biscayne #unite #america

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Frost Finery on Instagram

Frost Finery on Instagram

Ready to ship these beauties! #smokyquartz #rings #handmade #handmadejewelry #frostfinery #crystals #makersgonnamake #handmadeisbetter #madewithlove #friyay

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Frost Finery on Instagram

Frost Finery on Instagram

️ the geometric wood texture in this collaborative painting by @nicole.gray_ and @todayslinspiration #supporthandmade #beauty #makermovement #painting #inspiration #mood

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Frost Finery on Instagram