MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.
Katie: Like every good mermaid, I fell for a Sailor. We both grew up in a super cute little town in Illinois and have been married for 13 years! Our duty stations have included Norfolk, Pensacola,Tampa, Okinawa, Hawaii, Quantico and back to Hawaii with two 7-month deployments and a 15-month I.A. sprinkled in that mix. We’ve taken advantage of every station and have traveledeverywhere from Europe, the Mid East, The Maldives, and Bali. We call Hawaii home for now with our 8-year-old daughter.
MilapoFAN: How did you become a jewelry artist?
Katie: I recall about 20 years ago I was working in retail, and I would make little bracelets or anklets and get approached to sell them. I really didn’t think much of pursing it at the time. It wasn’t until we PCS’d to Okinawa in 2012 as a new Mom with a lot of extra time on my hands. We would spend many hours at the beach,and I was enamored by the colorful shells and pottery shards I would find. I started creating pieces for my friends and family and, with some encouragement, started my business selling at local gift shops and craft fairs.
MilspoFAN: Describe for us your creative work and the aesthetic of your pieces?
Katie: My work has been described as raw but radiant, colorful and whimsical. I like to leave sea glass and pottery as it’s found, just slightly refined. I draw much of my inspiration from the colors of the sea. The beauty of sea glass is that it’s been softened and gently wore down by years of tumbling in the sea. Each piece is so unique. It’s incredible to think that it was once something we discarded such as an old bottle. The sea smooths it out and, over time, it turns into what many consider a gemstone. Working with these beach finds always tests my creativity because each piece is so unique.
MilspoFAN: How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work – creatively, logistically, or otherwise?
Katie: Each new duty station brings changes both creatively and logistically. For me, it is easy to say that most my inspiration comes from what I am surrounded by. So, when we moved from Hawaii to Northern Virginia, and hadn’t experienced a winter in almost nine years, it was huge adjustment. My husband was assigned to a 10-month school at the Marine Corps War College, and we weren’t sure where we would be going next. I felt like we had just unpacked and figured out the flow of life and we were packing up again. Logistically, I have had to change how I source my materials (based on our geographic location), and my processes (based on our living space). It feels amazing to come back to a place we have already lived, but there are changes in your spouse’s job. The Military typically wants each new job to expand in responsibility. That usually means the spouse bears more responsibilities and has less time to work. So, while I may not be working as much as I’d like, I am trying to take advantage of where we are and soak up all the inspiration around me.
MilspoFAN: What’s next for you?
Katie: To be honest, I don’t know. Some days the real challenges of life as a Mil-spouse seem too hard to overcome. There are moments where I don’t want to continue with my business. Then there are moments of tremendous inspiration and motivation -That sweet spot where the magic happens! So what’s next? Who knows?
MilspoFAN: What is the most practical piece of advice that you would give to other artists?
Katie: Something I have to remind myself of and can really apply to any military spouse “ you are right where you are meant to be”. Not all duty stations will be your favorite or exciting but there is always something to take away from the experience. Make the most of your time there, connect with like minded spouses, take a course in another aspect of your art, craft or business.
MilspoFAN: Where can we see your work?