Bast & Baetyl
Alchemy (Kimberly walker)
Sometimes art and science meet to make something pretty incredible. For Bast & Baetyl Alchemy, that’s exactly what happens when she uses copper electroforming to create wearable art that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Kimberly uses elements found in her own backyard and brings them into her at home studio where the magic begins. She creates incredible pieces like earrings, necklaces and other wearables that incorporate stones like onyx, amethyst and others. Many of us can collect art that never leaves our homes, but Kimberly wants to create art that we can take with us wherever we go. You don’t want to miss her latest collection that will be on display this year at DEVIATE.
Can you tell us some information about your art? How would you describe it? The process I use for most of my pieces is called Copper Electroforming. It is a series of chemical reactions fueled by electrical current that breaks down a solid piece of copper and deposits it onto a piece of art. It is heavily science based, but the process can be a bit unpredictable and happens slowly enough that you can't really watch it, so it always seems like there's an element of magic to it. It really feels like I'm an alchemist, trying to turn lead into gold, hence the name.
As for my pieces themselves, I like to think of them as art that just happens to be wearable.Each piece is unique, and no two pieces, even if made the same way, will come out the same, due to the nature of the process. My aesthetic tends toward natural elements and darker vibes. Think of a mildly neglected Victorian house: weird overgrown plants, tarnished gothic arches, maybe slightly haunted. Add some sparkly stones, and you're there.
Where do you find the inspiration for your pieces? My art is essentially an assemblage, so I like to think that the parts themselves inspire me to put them together in the way they were meant to be. I sit with a bunch of bits and pieces, and move them around, grab new one, discard others, until the piece just "feels" right. Otherwise, I'm an avid reader, spend most of my social time among other creators and artists, and my house is full to the brim with wall art and statuary. I'm sure all of that influences my style as well.
How long does it take for you to do a piece from start to finish? How do you make your pieces? If a piece is straightforward, I can assemble it in a couple of hours. The application of the copper takes a minimum of 48 hours, and antiquing, polishing, and sealing can be done in an afternoon. So, start to finish, a simple piece could be done in about 3 days. Many of my larger or more intricate pieces take much longer. Sometimes the composition doesn't work, and I have to set it aside for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. If it's delicate work, there may be periods of time where I have to wait for adhesives or resins to set before I can work any further. Large pieces may need to plate for 4 days instead of 2 or need to be plated as separate pieces and assembled afterward. Each piece is different, and each one takes its own amount of time.
Many of my pieces include natural elements, such as leaves and seeds, and almost all of those are hand foraged, and sometimes home grown, by me locally. My Ginkgo leaves came from Belvidere Park. My maple seeds are from mine and my mother's yards. The Poison Hemlock collection came from real poison hemlock I found growing in my front yard. I have bought a few things from time to time, like mushrooms from Valli Produce, but locally sourced native plants are an important part of my work.
What are your future goals for your art? I seem to just keep making larger and more impractical jewelry, so I'll probably end up making copper armor or something equally ridiculous at some point. I don't have any hugely ambitious goals for my work. I just love making weird things, and making other people's weird little hearts happy when they wear it. I'm constantly adding new things to my process that I picked up in my meanderings through the art world and hope to continue learning and expanding the definition of jewelry far beyond its current bounds. Who says I can't wear copper-coated lichen epaulettes?
What are you most excited about for DEVIATE? Why should people come to DEVIATE? This will be unlike any other show I have ever done, and I'm simultaneously excited and intimidated. My work is small in scale compared to a lot of the other artists, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of making it stand out in such a vibrant collection of art.
Why should people come to check out YOUR booth at DEVIATE? I love weird and original art; my walls at home are lined with it. But you know who sees all the amazing artwork I've curated? No one but me and my husband. My work is art you can bring with you, art you can adorn yourself with, not just your walls. Each of my pieces is a one-of-a-kind piece of art you can use to express yourself, and they are meant to be worn. Copper loves to be touched: it polishes itself the more often you wear it, and picking out pieces that speak to you should be done the same way, by touching them in person at my booth.
How did you find out about DEVIATE and why did you want to be involved? I found out about DEVIATE last year, before it happened, but it was too late to apply. We also used to live very nearby, and my husband and I actually got married in the Ironworks Hotel back in 2015. When I saw that it was back again this year, I was so excited to apply. It's unlike any show I've seen, more an experience than an art show, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.
What is your background? How did you get into art, did you go to school for it, etc. Give us a little history! I have a degree in Photography, but that turned out not to be the right path for me. I struggled for years to find what I wanted to do, as I think many do. I've always been "artsy", and have tried a million different techniques and avenues, but didn't find my niche until 5 or so years ago. I bought a necklace at a show, and, despite my wide array of mediocre art knowledge, couldn't figure out how in the heck the artist had made it.
I went down an internet rabbit hole and came out the other side with a desire to learn how to electroform. At the time, there was very little information available about it, hardly anyone had ever heard of it, and most of the learning was trial and error. It's seen something of a boom in the last couple of years, and now there are kits and how-to's everywhere. Anyway, I have no formal training in jewelry making, and calling me a jeweler would be an insult to jewelers everywhere. I've never soldered a thing in my life. I make art that just happens to also be wearable.