This is Angela. She is one of our favorite neighbors here on Capitol Hill. She is also one of our favorite Seattle jewelry vendors.
Nube: How did you get your name?
Knuckle Kiss: Before I had a line of jewelry, I used the name “knuckle kiss” for miscellaneous web accounts, like my Xbox live membership and avatar. I was reluctant to co-opt the name for my jewelry line, but I was won over by the alliteration and how nice it feels to say aloud. It also has contrasting meanings: a “knuckle kiss” is a punch in the mouth, but also a courtly kiss on the hand. The name Knuckle Kiss is a guideline I try to work by: to make striking, edgy pieces with the softness and warmth of handcrafted work.
N: How long have you made jewelry?
K: I’ve been making jewelry here and there since about 1999. I didn’t make jewelry again for a long time. I reconnected with the craft while attending an MFA writing program in Madison, Wisconsin. I took an Art Metals class as an elective and it was like a homecoming. My work began in earnest after completing my MFA and returning to Seattle in 2010. I feel really good about the work I’ve created in these past few years and I look forward to seeing where it goes.
N: What interests you in this photo?
K: This image shows a Kalinga girl from Northern Luzon in the Philippines. What draws me to her image, in addition to her beautiful finery, are her tattoos. Her arms are adorned with batek— traditional tribal tattoos practiced by indigenous groups in the Philippines’ mountain regions.
Certain symbols and patterns were thought to have a talismanic effect, such as protection against enemies or enhancement of fertility. I’m trying to learn more about batek because I’m in the nascent stages of designing pieces inspired by it. I’m drawn to the tattoos’ graphic, geometric patterns and corresponding meanings.
N: How does this photo serve as a source of inspiration and motivation?
K: This image shows a Navajo silversmith posing with his work. It reminds me of dedication to craft. The life of a professional, full-time artisan is difficult to sustain in our culture, but I hope it can persist for those who feel compelled to live it.
N: Can you walk me through your creative process when designing a new piece?
K: No matter where I go or what I’m up to, I try to pay attention to the lines, textures, and shapes around me. I imagine how an element of what I see might be interpreted as a piece of jewelry.
I’m regularly mesmerized by other jewelry designs, though I'm equally captivated by work in other mediums, such as visual arts, sculpture, architecture, street culture, product and fashion design. The modern, natural, and spiritual worlds are also an endless source of material. So is fiction. Sometimes I’ll pause a show or movie I’m watching to take an image of the screen. I did this most recently while watching Game of Thrones. Khaleesi has an inspiring jewelry collection!
DIY culture is also a point of inspiration. I was a teenager of the 90s and very taken by the DIY ideals cropping up at that time. It’s complementary to today’s handcrafted movement. You don’t need permission to create something; you can do it in a way speaks to you. When I feel stuck or self-constrained in some way, I try to nudge myself back into that frame of mind.
N: What about Seattle do you think comes through in your work?
K: I can’t quite define how the city has influenced my work, but I do have a hard time seeing myself making Knuckle Kiss jewelry elsewhere. Seattle and surrounding areas contain astounding natural beauty while remaining a creative urban hub in many different industries and disciplines. Maybe this intersection of realms influences what I do.
Also, Seattle’s desire for sustainably made goods influences some of my choices as a small-scale maker— from using local services and US-made materials to finding less toxic ways of running my workspace. Many Seattle folks champion independently produced products. This support and appreciation helps to keep me going.