My name is Therese, and I’m a metalsmith and sculptor based in Chicago. My business is called Therese Kuempel Jewelry.
I studied sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and found my way to metalsmithing a year into my studies. I first learned traditional metalsmithing, sheet metal fabrication, and basic soldering. Then I was introduced to the lost wax casting process, which I have been absolutely infatuated with since.
The lost wax casting process works by creating prototypes in wax and making a mold. The next step is putting the mold in the kiln and burning out the wax. Once this process is complete, I melt down my metal of choice (usually brass or bronze) and cast my designs. My favorite signature design involves taking molds of quartz crystals and casting them in brass. I’m extremely passionate about this process – it allows me to experiment with metal in ways I never thought possible.
The natural world has always been a source of inspiration for me. My jewelry is influenced by a juxtaposition of organic formations and geometric shapes. Working with metal has become the perfect catalyst for capturing these temporal organic moments. There’s something about casting crystals in brass and bronze that feels monumental; when I do so, I feel like I’m paying homage to a fleeting natural moment and object and venerating it for an eternity.
I graduated from school in December, and since then my jewelry line has become my full-time job. I do retail, wholesale, and craft fairs throughout Chicago, but Etsy has brought my dream of being a full-time artist to fruition. Etsy provided me with an engaged, international audience. I’m currently working on a new line of designs which I will release in July 2014. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates and inspiration!
Photographs by Therese Kuempel and Danielle Sepanik.