Growing up in rural Connecticut haunting thrift shops with her grandparents, Kiersten Crowley always knew cubicle life was not for her. “Since childhood, I knew I was going to become an artist. I just didn't know what kind,” she remembers. After trying a few other mediums, she picked up jewelry-making in the early aughts, fashioning her first creations out of gemstones and silk cord. Encouraged by a friend, she joined a holiday sale and sold out of pretty much everything on the spot—and promptly signed up for metalsmithing classes in her adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon. A visual learner through and through, she took those lessons to the next level by way of her tinkering—sawing, soldering, and drilling her way to a loyal following.
But Kiersten truly hit her stride when she started dabbling in wax-casting, which allowed her to create gorgeously globular brass and silver pendants and rings. As she says, it totally changed the way she designed: “The process opened up a whole new world, allowing me to incorporate new shapes like the ones I saw in nature.” One of those pieces had a spiky exterior, and after a stumbling upon a fascinating article about sea urchins, she dubbed her line Uni and took it official in 2013. The collection gets shaped by magazine clippings, the sounds and sights of the outside world she catches from her attic studio, and, of course, the visual memory bank she’s been compiling since she was a kid. —leah bhabha