I am a solid believer in serendipity. In that one event or chance meeting with someone, it leads to something good and an opportunity with a positive outcome. Last year I had the good fortune to meet Kristen Lamkins at Watch Hill Designs while shopping for a Christmas gift for a friend who had just lost her dog of 13 years and her sister was very sick with terminal cancer.
I wanted a memento to give to my friend that would be a special uplifting force for her to draw strength from during this dark time in her life. Kristen was so patient as I took forever to make up my mind and she was there to assist and help me pick out a beautiful piece of jewelry and during the retail transaction, we got talking. I discovered the artist within her radiated a creative spirit. That lead me to think why not write about other Westerly artists and their inspiring stories.
Ever since she was a little girl, Kristen has found beauty in all sorts of things whether its clothes, jewelry, or rocks. And not having too much money in the family she learned to make beautiful things herself.
“I was the oldest of six so naturally there was no asking for things or expecting people to give me things. Having less you work to make more,” Kristen said.” I would look at something and say I can do that.”
At six years old she taught herself how to sew and made a dress with rainbow lace and galaxy designs fabric of space and stars on it. And even though she said it wasn’t that well-made and not anything someone could really wear, she felt creatively inspired and was on her way to becoming a true artist. She continued making clothes and then expanded her talent to blankets, exploring her artistic world and building confidence.
“My art made me broaden how I look at things,” explains Kristen. “In school, I passed art with little or no effort, I loved everything about school, writing and poetry.”
She doesn’t limit herself to one genre of art either. At Watch Hill Designs, she displays earthy jewelry such as wrapped charm bracelets and necklaces she has created out of gemstones, copper, and silver. She loves using natural material she finds while out in nature using shells, rocks, twisted vines, and moss to inspire her creations.
“My best work is when it’s for someone else,” she said. “I look at something and say this could be that. I like earthy things.”
You can find her happily displaying her artistic wares at the College Mart Flea Market in Jewett City every Sunday where she engages customers with her healing rocks, crystals, medicinal rice packs, homemade goats milk soap and dream catchers.
“I do whatever I want and don’t let anything hold me back,” she said. “I don’t sit on one concept; there is so much to be learned. It’s a lot of fun.”
Her grandmother, who recently passed away, was a source of stability in her life and an inspiration spiritually for her creative outlets. She was into healing and reiki and introduced Kristen to energy healing through crystals and rocks.
“All the efforts she put into my art, that has always been the piece,” says Kristen.
A love for all animals has also been an artistic motivator in Kristen’s work. She loves Luna Moths and raises them from the cocoon stage to adult. Their colors and beauty are a muse for her and she paints multimedia acrylic drawings using watercolor and sharpies to depict a stained glass image with the shadow of the multicolor Luna Moth woven into the design.
“What is so beautiful about them is they spend their caterpillar lives to become bigger and nourish themselves,” says Kristen. “And they transform into beautiful things and create life and find love, mate, and die, all that creation and mating process and it’s all for that moment.”
And when she is not raising Luna Moths she is taking care of her seven ferrets that have their own bedroom, six cats, two snakes, two rats, and a dog.
Serendipity has been a prominent presence in Kristen’s life and she is grateful for being in the right place at the perfect moment and meeting people who introduce her to that next art venue. “I meet certain people and I’m in this place.” That was how she found the College Mart Flea Market and Watch Hill Designs, by networking and hearing about these venues to sell her art through a friend of a friend who knows someone.
“Its old school communication and it’s amazing how you happen to meet people. The owner of Watch Hill Designs is kind enough to showcase local artists. And the flea market has been my bread and butter; it’s a really nice environment.”
Being in the right spot worked for her again when she recently met someone who admired her tattoo on her hand and asked her if she could design something similar for him for a t-shirt, her reply? “I think I can.”
To see Kristen’s creations, visit her at the College Mart Flee Market on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or check her out at Watch Hil Designs (www.watchhilldesigns.com)