Our students are the lifeblood of our Studios, and it is a continual joy to see the lineage of craft continue through new skills learned and creative projects completed. Last month, we shared the first of our quarterly features highlighting one of our instructors, and this month we’re happy to share the first quarterly feature highlighting one of our students!
Up first is Krystal Hammar. You can frequently find Krystal renting time in our Studios and taking a myriad of workshops. We’ve all loved getting to know Krystal and learn about her journey to making, and we know you will as well! Read on to learn more about Krystal and check out some of her amazing art (including stained glass patterns she designs herself!).
It’s magical to see the array of treasures created in a room full of people with the same materials and instruction. One of the best ways to spend an evening or a Saturday afternoon is in the company of other creative people sharing that kind of experience.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in craft.
In the studio, I’m in the habit of identifying myself as “just a regular person.” I’m not an established artist; until last fall, the only class I’d taken was a college course on contemporary art. I like to draw cartoons. My mom taught me how to sew. I love the challenge of short form poetry.
While the demands of modern life made developing creative hobbies difficult, I’ve long been captivated by the world of makers and handmade things.
Before taking workshops, did you practice any crafts?
Years back when I did long periods of call for a job, I got into geometric sewing. I enjoyed figuring out how to create 3-dimensional or 8-bit designs without patterns, something I never had a knack for. When I realized how easily geometric designs translated to perler bead art, I had some fun dabbling in that too.
For most of the last decade, my life was consumed by work and travel, but I have enjoyed the occasional project like a homemade snuffle mat and tree accessories that my cats assure me are the pinnacle of human achievement.
What inspired you to start taking workshops?
A year ago, my life looked really different. I’d reached an unexpected degree of professional success, but the work was taking everything I had, and I couldn’t enjoy it. I made a decision that most in my orbit didn’t understand – to let it go and commit to spending time seeking new experiences and doing things I couldn’t before.
The workshops at Contemporary Craft fit that goal so well because of the amazing diversity of options they offer and formats that didn’t require me to “pick a lane” and let me try whatever captured my interest.
Why did you choose to take workshops with CC?
An experienced acquaintance who knew I was interested in metals recommended CC as a good place to learn. I was thrilled to find so much more, offered in ways that worked with the other things I wanted to do. The incredible variety keeps me coming back, and I love the novel experiences that weekend workshops offer without conflicting with multi-week series.
What workshops have you taken at CC?
I took my first workshop last fall and have done a lot of interesting things since! Some of my favorite one-day workshops included botanical dye, lino carving/ block printing, and pyrography. I’ve completed two metals series (Cold Connections & Metals 1), and this summer I’m taking a mosaics series and Metals 2.
Workshops are added all the time that sound fascinating and I’d love to do. Even as I build skills in areas that are becoming more familiar, I still really enjoy trying new things.
What has been your favorite part about taking workshops at CC?
CC is an amazing community of people, and they get it right with adult learners, preparing participants with what they need and respecting their agency as creative individuals to apply what they’ve learned their own way. It’s magical to see the array of treasures created in a room full of people with the same materials and instruction. One of the best ways to spend an evening or a Saturday afternoon is in the company of other creative people sharing that kind of experience.
We often see you in our studios working on your stained glass work. Can you tell us a bit about your stained glass work?
Stained glass is something I’ve wanted to learn since I was a kid playing in my grandma’s basement, where my grandpa had built a workshop for retirement that he didn’t get to use. After starting last fall, my knowledge and abilities have grown immensely. I’m a familiar sight/sound at CC during open studio, working with my portable kit.
Stained glass has fundamental similarities to quilting, with its own rules and limitations. I find the combination of that familiarity and the challenge of working in a very different and (literally) inflexible medium so satisfying and rewarding. I now create original designs and especially enjoy adapting compelling imagery from animated films and television. I love animation and believe in the transformative power of storytelling; it’s amazing to be able to honor what inspires me in the things I create.
When we talked, you mentioned that you’ve taken classes across several mediums – how have those workshops impacted your stained glass work/ how have the mediums complimented each other?
I’ve found that things learned in different mediums don’t stay siloed. Cold Connections challenged me to think differently about lines and space when creating designs for metal. Something about that ignited my imagination and inspired me to start creating my own designs for glass.
When I have a design idea, I think about how it might be adapted for different art forms – a design that would be hard to execute in stained glass might make a wonderful pyrography project. I like to try new things and find my own way, and practical skills like patina methods and finishing techniques expand the possibilities of what I can do with the things I create.
As you’ve taken workshops and practiced new crafts, what has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned?
There’s a small placard displayed in the studios that states CC’s organizational values, starting with the belief that “art has the power to change lives.” When cleaning up, I often find myself considering that. I think, even knowing that I was giving something up with the hope of gaining something different, it is still remarkable how much and how quickly art has changed my life.
What are your goals for the future in terms of your practice?
I’ve never been a person who knew where I wanted to go and planned how I would get there. My life has been strange and improbable, and I wouldn’t change it. I want to keep learning, experiencing the joy of making wonderful things, and sharing them with people who connect with what I’m doing.
While I rarely know what the next thing will be, I’ve learned to recognize it. This month I’m joining a new collective of stained glass artisans, which will give me exciting new avenues to develop the craft, connect with the community and sell my art locally.
If you’re interested in taking a workshop, you can check out our full list HERE.