Watch out: Kareen Kjelstrom is a girl with a blow torch. She uses it to melt and shape glass and sterling silver into jewelry designs that also build bridges between cultures. Born in Hawaii and raised in California, Kjelstrom grew up on the Pacific Ocean. (Her mother is Tahitian). Kareen's 2007 Titaua (Tee-tao-ah) collection features fine Italian glass beads and sterling silver that echo the artist’s Polynesian heritage and bring it into a sophisticated and breezy European sensibility.
The French have noticed: Since the spring, her necklaces have gone on the air, sported by Marie Drucker of France 3’s "Soir 3." The French television personality is a big fan; Kareen's designs have also been showcased in the U.S. on Home & Garden Television.
Established in 2000, “KbyKareen handKrafted” jewelry works are one-off creations and limited series pieces. Working with glass beads from Effetre (Italy) and hand-formed sterling silver settings, this self-taught jewelry designer makes her magic happen under the steady blue glow of an oxygen/propane mix torch.
"I moved back to Paris at the end of 2004 and have since been trying to get everything I need to make jewelry here," she says. "Do you know how hard it is to find propane in Paris?" Lalande has been working with Kareen for nearly two years, producing the artist's signature square promotional cards and a "look book."
Kareen splits her year between studios in Paris and Los Angeles, and travels extensively in search of cultural nuances. "I'm something of an archeologist looking for the meanings – as well as the fashions – of contemporary jewelry round the world. My work is really a personal sculpture, a synthesis of a personal history and, of course, femininity."
With representatives in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Amsterdam and Barcelona, exclusive boutiques in the Marais, as well as the VIA Gallery in the Viaduc des Arts, Kareen is fashioning her brave new world out of brilliant glass and silver. Check out Kareen's newest pieces here.