Kenneth Kase makes beautiful jewelry, and his fans agree. Some buy his pieces for the different twisted metal patterns. Others buy several of the same pattern but with different colors and styles of beads. The leader of the Lupulin Ladies (a women's only beer tasting, education and social group sponsored by Terrapin Beer) played with her Kenneth Kase necklace throughout this month's meeting, stating that she loved it and had her eye on a pair of earrings next.
Kenneth puts a new twist on old jewelry - literally - by taking antique beads and working them onto metals (brass and silver) that are twisted into modern designs. Most of the beads are from the Czech Republic and are more than 100 years old. They're nailhead beads, a precursor to sequins and intended for clothing such as flapper dresses. The colors come in a dazzling assortment.
Another twist: he started making jewelry when he was 10 years old in his home state of New York. (And hometown of Sleepy Hollow, which this writer thinks is even cooler.)
"I'd taken every children's class possible they were offering," says Kenneth. "And I saw they were offering [a non-children's class in] jewelry, and I thought, cool. So I signed up for it, and the woman in the office knew me and she was like, yes, alright. And the teacher came out and said, 'What's he doing in there?' and the woman in the office basically said, 'Just go with it.'" He laughs.
So he learned how to solder silver and copper when he was 10.
"It's not that hard," says Kenneth. "Doing it well is hard."
How to solder, how to cut, how to bend. The basics. He learned on silver and copper because at the time, silver was as cheap as copper. Shortly afterward, when the silver price skyrocketed, he switched to sculpture, influenced by his mother's work as a potter.
Kenneth's work in sculpture took him from high school through college, working in bronze, iron, glass, aluminum, paper, fabric, concrete, plaster, wood, paint and installation.
"I just tried everything," he says. "That's why I chose sculpture. I didn't have to pick a medium."
But he loved his after school jewelry classes and eventually fell into the University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy. He was then asked to come to the University of Georgia as a graduate assistant.
"So I went from New York to Italy to Georgia," he says with a smile.
His jewelry evolved from designs such as miniature hinged coffin broaches to the beaded necklaces, earrings and broaches he's currently making, to the delight of his customers.
"When it comes to new ideas, instead of doodling on paper, I doodle in wire," he says. "I just play with it and see where it takes me."
Kenneth's jewelry is available in Athens at Frontier, Homeplace, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia gift shop. He'll also be selling his work plus additional silver pieces at the following markets: Holidaze Artist Market at the Farmington Depot Gallery (Dec. 1 and 2), A World Away in Winterville, Georgia (Dec. 8), and the Big City Bread Holiday Market (Dec. 13 and 14). In addition, The Circle Ensemble Theatre Company invited him to set up a table at their December 5 production of Broadway on Main: A Christmas Cabaret.
He can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.