You can see the feeling of peaceful ease with which Katy Froeter of Solder & Sage imbues each piece of jewelry she makes. The forms and materials convey a sense of movement or solidity, always simplicity. It’s buying handmade at it’s finest; learn more about her process and experience working in Chicago, IL.
As a jeweler, I focus on lost wax casting, which is carving design in wax and then casting, where the wax is lost and replaced with metal. I accompany the cast items with hand-formed and solder pieces.
2| Why do you make/design things?
I make things because to me, it is one of the truest forms of meditation I experience. It is one of the rare places that I am able to completely focus on what I am doing – creating little bits of beauty for beautiful people.
3| What do you love about the jewelry making process?
I love the entire process of jewelry making. Soldering and casting are probably my favorite parts. The idea that I can heat metal and form something completely different always amazes me.
4| Describe your aesthetic. Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
My aesthetic has been described to me as Scandinavian design. I love creating clean lines in large shapes with a focus on minimalism, so I can easily see correlation. My inspiration comes from my experiences ranging from traveling, spending time in nature, and the silence of daily life.
5| What do you love about your job?
That even after 5+ years, everyday is different.
6| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?
Being an artist was always in my in blood, although I didn’t think that it was a possibility to become self-sufficient at it. Eventually I realized that life is tough, so I decide to accept the struggle and choose to struggle at what I want most in this world and be willing to let everything else go. Getting laid off from my dream job, fired from a part-time restaurant gig and quitting a bunch of okay jobs because they weren’t the right fit also helped me be able to take the plunge from part-time to full-time.
7| How do you work, and where?
For years I worked in a collective metals studio that was beyond helpful in getting going. Now I have my own studio, which is instrumental in getting production work done. For me a big part of the creative process is creating empty space/time for something creative to grow. So the solitude of working independently greatly helps to facilitate that process.
8| Describe a day in the life.
Every day is different. Although there is an outline that I like to adhere to.
Wake up and meditate for about an hour.
Followed by a protein shake and vitamins.
Next are emails and any other computer work I need to get done.
Then I will head to my studio and do my best to check out from email/social media, etc.
If I am really on my game, I take a late afternoon run. (Typically I am not on my game.)
My nights are often filled with classes from metalsmithing to ceramics, movies with friends, or family dinners.
9| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?
No one! My work is an expression of my life, so having to live in someone else’s place seems sad and lonely. Although I would be best friends with Banksy in a heart beat! Banksy – if you are reading – I promise to keep your secret safe!
10| What makes a handmade object valuable?
The intention put into that piece and the atmosphere around it. I think that there is something special about buying something made with love. It helps to remind us where, who we were with and what we were feeling when we got it. It’s those memories that are the most valuable, so the work needs to last a long time!
11| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?
A beat up 1969 Montgomery Ward: Retail and Catalog Store Facilities map, I brought it with my oldest sister at the Randolph Street Market in Chicago. It was of one the first pieces of “art” that I ever purchased and well before I had any serious intentions of striking out on my own. Now I look at it and see all of the places that I have been able to travel for work and think of all the lovely people I have met along the way. Even my small hometown of 15,000 people somehow made it on this map; it couldn’t be more perfect to track my life.
12| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.
I’m shy. Which always receives a hard, “No you’re not!”
13| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.
- I am the youngest of 4 girls.
- My sister just older than me was in some sort of non-fatal (or very serious) swimming lesson incident when she was learning to swim at the park district. So my mom never took me to get swimming lessons because she didn’t feel as though it was safe enough.
- When I was 5 years old at a family vacation in North Carolina at the pool, I got tired of only being able to use floaties to swim. Without telling anyone, I proceeded to the deep end of the pool, took off my floaties and pushed myself from wall to wall at the corner of the pool until I figured out how to swim. That pretty much sums up my life.