ARTIST INTERVIEW: Kelci Potter
We spoke to jeweler Kelci Potter about her background and creative journey. Her elegant, earthy designs become even more lovely knowing the story and the passion for nature that lie behind them.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now.
I have always had a close connection to the natural world, and am continuously inspired by that connection. I was born and partly raised in Hawaii. I grew up with sand and salt in my hair and hiking barefoot in the mountains above Honolulu where my grandparents live. We moved to New England when I was eight and spent every summer on a lake in New Hampshire. Like the sea, the lake held me. These early memories left an imprint, and are influential in my life’s work. We later moved to California where the rugged coastline of Carmel and Big Sur became my sanctuary and inspiration.
I first fell in love with jewelry making one summer in central Oregon. I began making beaded earrings and necklaces out of turquoise for myself and my friends. For a long time after that I made earrings with sea shells I gathered, and then with scraps of Koa wood my uncle in Hawaii sent to me from his saw mill. I took a lost wax casting class and was captivated by the process of turning a piece of wax into metal. A couple of years ago I felt drawn to work with gold. So I invested in my first bit of recycled 14k gold. I felt like an alchemist melting and forging golden adornments late into the night in my little kitchen studio making magic as my children slept. And my first line, shepherdess, was born. It sprung from my heart in a time of great beauty and an awakening of my spirit. My new collection comes from a place of discovery of self, of strength, of courage, of deep knowing. It comes from finding my breath. My voice.
What is the first memory you have of encountering art or the artistic process?
My first encounter with the artistic process was grandmother teaching me to paint with watercolors en plein air . I was 10 and she took me to the beach I grew up on. We sat beneath a tree and painted together. I painted the waves and the sky. I will always remember the feeling of sitting next to her, salty sea air on our skin, nestled in the sand beneath the soft shade of the tree, the sound of the waves and the paint flowing from my brush onto the paper. She was a painter and a dancer. She designed her mountain home and art and dance studio. She inspired me to paint and to dance. She inspired me to create art in it’s many forms. To live art.
What are your most important artistic tools?
My hands, beeswax, my old flea market hammers, my ring mandrel.
What do you do, or where do you go to seek fresh ideas or renewed creative energy?
I go to nature. I am inspired by the mountains, the wind in trees, the shimmer of the sun upon the sea. The sound of the lapping of a lake. The feel of the water on my skin, the sun on my skin. I am enlivened and inspired. I come back to myself in nature and am endlessly inspired and renewed.
What do you hope to share with those who purchase your art and bring it intimately into their lives?
I hope to share my love. I hope to share beauty, grace, and intention. I hope to share the warmth and healing properties of gold. My pieces are intended to be worn. To work and create and dance and dig in the earth in. The gold in all its softness takes on scratches and scars of the wearer’s unique journey, and becomes, like the wearer, even more radiant with time.