Today we’d like to introduce you to Krysta Collins.
Krysta, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m an East Coast transplant, living the California dream….ok well maybe not dream, but close enough. I’ve been on the West Coast for 12 years, I’m a mother of two, employee of the VA Health Care System and a habitual creator. In one capacity or another, I have always found a way to fulfill that desire to learn a new craft. One challenging endeavor after another to keep my busy mind occupied. With metalsmithing, I had met my match. A perfectly imperfect unpredictable process that consumes my mind and has taught me much more than just the craft alone.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
If it were smooth then it wouldn’t be challenging. When I decided to pursue metalsmithing, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It can be the most frustrating process some days, and other days I can get lost in my work for hours. On the days I struggle, I have learned to just walk away because when something goes wrong it could mean that I’m staring the piece over from scratch. Not to mention the times I’ve burnt myself with my torch, filed off nails, sawed into my fingers or inhaled a hot pot of salt and vinegar straight up into my nostrils. Literal blood, sweat and tears go into my work.
Milky Metals – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Milky Metals was born in May 2018 after months of planning, curiously looking at every detail of my boyfriend’s native sterling jewelry collection, collecting a ridiculous amount of supplies, reading, and watching tutorials. I am self-taught by total trial and error, or trial by fire. Metalsmithing is a slow craft and takes patients that I honestly didn’t think I had. Every step is intentional and precise, every step sets you up for the next. Put on a good podcast and I won’t look up from my bench for hours. In the process of learning, I had to throw away the idea that in order to be “good” at metalsmithing, I had to be perfect. I soon realized that uniqueness is in the imperfections.
Every aspect of Milky Metals is brought to you by me. I design, plan, source materials, stones (cabochons) and shape sterling silver wire and sheets into rings, cuffs, earrings, bolo ties, pendants…with my two hands and a lot of tools. Each piece consists of at least 20 separate steps from conception to the final polish. I also package, ship and manage all my own orders. I try to keep a good balance of creative work and custom work. When I started, I never imagined the interest Milky Metals would get, especially from my own local community. 90% of my sales are from my community, nothing beats that.
When I was still very new to metalsmithing, but confident enough to put my work out there, I participated in many vending events. It wasn’t until COVID19 and vending events weren’t happening that I realized that I do not thrive in an in-person vending atmosphere and in fact would feel drained mentally and physically after a vending event. I’m incredibly introverted and very much like being behind the scenes and oddly enough Milky Metals has grown with just an Instagram presence. Which means I get to stay moderately behind the scenes creating in a small safe space.
I still have so much to learn as a metalsmith and as a small business. I honestly don’t know exactly where I fit in in the metalsmithing community, but im ok with that. I’m still finding my way, experimenting with different styles, looks and techniques. Really just doing what I like, whatever is inspiring me at that moment.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
In this particular craft, there can be many proud moments……it seems like just seeing a piece through from start to finish without giving up one of the 20 steps can be a “proudest moment”. But for the sake of the question ill say, the first time I had a repeat customer. It was incredibly validating for me that someone loved and trusted my work so much that they would invest in another piece. It still hits me every time……”wow, you like my work, you really like my work….”
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @milkymetals
Photo of me taken by Kiana Medina