The Short Version
I live in Austin, Texas, and I like to fabricate and design jewelry in sterling silver. I also do CAD training for jewelry and woodworking. I have a husband and two dogs. Gosh, that sounds pretty boring.
The Long Version...the History of Kat
I'm Kat Kramer, a glass artist living and working in Austin, Texas. That's me...looking quite sporty in my "Team Glasskatz" cycling jersey in front of some beautiful aspens after mountain biking. That was back in Colorado. I miss living in Colorado. But my glass homies and lots of creative folks are in Austin. Austin, Texas, a city rich in art and chock full of talented glass artists. That's where Glasskatz was born. But I'll go back a little further...there's more to the story.
I've been melting things since I was a kid...when asked how long I've been fusing, I usually tell people "since I was five." I was born in L.A. (East L.A., to be exact), then we moved to New Orleans. I figured out that an Easy Bake Oven would melt Mardi Gras beads, and I made beautiful suncatchers for family and friends. In hindsight, it looked just like fused glass.
I was blessed with creative parents, who were always exploring something new. A new photography hobby for my dad would include converting a closet into a darkroom with running water and custom cabinets. He's still not sure where all of his photo paper went (hint: exposing crawfish exoskeletons and keys on the enlarger to make cool prints!) My mom, the biology teacher, was always casting bugs in resin, and taught me to sew, crochet, and knit, among many other things.
During a family vacation to YMCA of the Rockies (which was heaven compared to Houston, with its bugs, humidity, and hurricanes), I learned to enamel. You guessed it...melting glass powder to metal. I was hooked! Mom and dad gave me a small beehive kiln, and I would fire it in the bathroom with lead-based enamels. I only recently learned that Thompson Forsythia Yellow and Burnt Orange enamels contained depleted uranium...but I had pretty cool parents that never micromanaged my artistic endeavors...they were very encouraging and provided us with endless activities. And after a breakup with a boyfriend, they bought me a vacuum casting setup, and another love—the love of jewelry making—was born.
I did have one dream, though—to sweep the floors of a popular Texas jewelry company, James Avery. My grandmother gave me beautiful necklaces and charm rings for every occasion, and I’ve probably spent the better part of my life trying to figure out how to cast jewelry. I figured out if I were able to meet actual designers, I could eventually become one!
Meanwhile, I got sidetracked and went to college to be a Chemical Engineer. Then a computer programmer. Then Advertising & Communications, of all things. My father—recognizing what I wasn’t able to comprehend about what made me happy—told me that I needed to go to the Art Institute of Houston. So I started out at UT Austin as an engineer.
Still, creativity became a common thread in everything I pursued. I'd go to Astroworld, an amusement park in Houston, and camp out in front of the glassblower's booth, ignoring the fact that there were other exciting things to do. Renaissance Festival? Yep...I was camped out in the glassblower's booth. Visit to the Oregon coast? Glassblowing studio near the beach...I brought home a very cool perfume bottle. And dreamed of being a glass artist. The depth and complexity of the encased glass was magical.
I started dabbling with silver fabrication around that time, although I was apparently overheating the metal and "frying" it to create a wrinkled appearance. Now I know that there is a name for that, and people do it on purpose! Reticulation is quite beautiful.
In 2000, I took up "lampworking," which is making glass beads. I KNEW that this was my key to fame and fortune. The truth is that I really sucked at making beads. However, in the process, I bought a kiln...a kiln that could be used to fuse GLASS. I soon got bored of making beads...and moved on to the next project.
I was self taught with glass...out of book so bad that I won't even share the name. But around 2008 I had the good fortune to find a kiln glass studio in Austin...on a fluke. I decided to try and avoid Austin's traffic one morning, and on the side road I found Helios Kiln Glass Studio. I met Paul and Karen Tarlow...and my life was changed. Paul is truly the MacGyver of glass.
The story goes on, but after a layoff, I got up the courage to put myself "out there," selling my glass jewelry at festivals, a couple of local farmer's market, and in a gift shop. My parents had always urged me to do something with it, but you know how that goes...you can't ever believe your parents when they tell you that your work is wonderful! I got over my fears, and built the successful brand Glasskatz, selling fused glass pendants and silver jewelry in Austin and the Southern United States.
In 2012 we decided on a whim to move to Colorado, and I learned that a well-known jewelry teacher lived about a half-mile down the road. I finally signed up for some help to iron out some soldering issues, and my style evolved. Since then, I've built a great following with my made-to-order spinner rings on Etsy, art glass pendants, and rings. I also spent some time working with jewelry instructors, putting detailed tutorials on the web and editing how-to videos.
In 2013-14 I worked on a project with a company as a narrator and help system video creator for the 3D CAD program, SketchUp...click here to view one of my Toolbar videos.
And in 2016, I started working with a program called ZBrush to design CAD jewelry and print it in 3D, then cast it using a variation of the lost-wax casting process. If you're interested in this technology, check out my blog post on 3D printing. I have also created some ZBrush tutorials on YouTube under the name Kat Adair. Maybe it’s time to see if that floor-sweeping job is still available?
So as I embark on the next phase of my life, I do so with passion and creativity. I finally figured out how to package my skills:
Although it may seem that I have a wide range of interests, there are common threads: the need to teach, the desire to learn, a love of technology, and a passion for art and creativity.
Thanks so much for stopping by! – Kat