Dear Readers: Appreciation for the natural beauty that surrounds us in Rusk County is a theme that runs through the work of many area artists, from painters and photographers to sculptors and carvers. Today in this column we’re going to meet Kitty Mitchell, a Rusk County resident who works with natural materials to create jewelry that reflects the colors and textures found in nature.
Although born in Eau Claire, Kitty lived on a farm in the Holcombe area during her growing up years, which helped develop her appreciation of natural beauty. After marriage, she and her husband, Steve, now a self-employed dairy nutritionist, moved to Rusk County and farmed in the Sheldon area where, relates Kitty, she devoted herself to rearing the couple’s four children and being a “working farm wife.”
Kitty says that she’s been interested in crafting all her adult life, beginning with sewing for herself and all four of her children, then branching into the creation of decorative pillows, book bags, and appliquéd items and also trying her hand at acrylic painting. She relates that her jewelry creation started in 2011, when a daughter began making jewelry and got her interested. She says she made herself a pair of earrings and “got hooked” on the process of creating her own jewelry.
From the beginning, Kitty has designed jewelry with what she describes as an “earthy” feel and particularly enjoys working with natural stones such as tiger eye, agates, and sea sediment jasper. She tries to incorporate earth tones and colors into her jewelry, and her designs, even when complex, remain uncluttered. Because she uses so much stone in her designs, Kitty says a long-term goal of hers is to acquire the tools, including a rock slicer, drill and polisher, to personally cut and polish the stones she uses in creating her jewelry.
Though at first Kitty studied the jewelry making process through on-line tutorials, now, she says, she mostly figures out her designs on her own. Ideas for her handcrafted jewelry come from studying fashion trends in stores, on the Internet, and just by closely observing what people are wearing.
She specializes in creating matching necklace and earring sets, and also designs a variety of bracelets. Because they aren’t being worn much today, Kitty says she doesn’t design pins, but she is beginning to design intricate wire-wrapped rings, since attractive and unusual rings are a timeless fashion accessory. She adds that she also does minor jewelry repair, such as clasp replacement, if requested.
Kitty says she accepts commissions for custom jewelry design and looks forward to doing more commissions in the future–particularly designing wedding jewelry. Currently her creations are on view and available for purchase at the RAAA Gift Gallery, 711 Lake Ave. W. in Ladysmith; at the Fine Arts Center and Gallery, 105 Miner Avenue W., also in Ladysmith; and by appointment at her home. She notes that during the summer months she also exhibits her jewelry at the Ladysmith Farmers’ Market located at Hwy. 8 and 4th St. Kitty can be reached by phone at 715-532-7223 or on her Facebook page at KM’s Jewelry Design.
by Pegeen Snoeyenbos