June 21 2017

In the Studio with Kenya Chester


An an alumni of the UrbanGlass Bead Project 2014, Kenya takes inspiration from the sustainable nature of glass. Her background in industrial design lends itself to her process as she makes unique and up-cycled jewelry pieces from pre-existing glass products.
So Kenya, what made you begin the process of up-cycling glass to create the beads in your line of jewelry?
I have a Bachelors Degree in Industrial Design. While studying, I took a class on sustainability and that forever effected the way I saw and used materials. When I started the Bead Project, I was immediately interested in the sustainable properties of glass as a material and I was eager to experiment with that element in my jewelry. 
The color of your pieces are so eye-catching! How do you decide which to use in your collections?
I source glass from a lot of different locations around the city and the colors always vary. The glass that comes from ready-made objects that I up-cycle (glass dishes, candle sticks, etc.) are more bright and playful. The glass that I salvage from Dead Horse Bay is more muted and reminiscent of the more traditional " recycled glass" colors.
Your "drip" and "bubble" series' have been quite popular in the UrbanGlass Store. What inspired these designs?
I was inspired by my process of breaking glass down to its original state to re-form it. I go through a lengthy process to recycle the glass and I want it to be celebrated. I like to use organic, repetitive forms that people know to engage them. This repetition is not only a representation of the recycling process, but the cycle of life as well. I want my jewelry to help create a fun and receptive way to educate people on how recycling is not only easy but important for our environment.   
Are you experimenting with any new techniques?
I'm still trying to perfect my recycling process and flame working skill, but I try to reserve some play time whenever I'm in the studio. 

What is your idea of a fantastic day in the city?
My fantastic day in the city would be spent outside exploring. Going out to local galleries, authentic restaurants, and experiencing all the culture that the city has to offer. 

You can see our full collection of Kenya's work at UrbanGlass|ware and click here to see select pieces from our store. Additionally, Kenya is scheduled to teach a class this Summer called Bottles to Beads: with Kenya Chester.


--Bianca Abreu