For over a century, metal has been part of Kirsten Muenster’s family heritage. A fourth-generation metalsmith, her great-great-grandfather was a coppersmiths in Austria. The tradition continued to her great-grandfather and grandfather who were both sheet metal workers in New Jersey. The women in her family worked with their hands too: sewing, knitting, crocheting, and lace making were crafts Kirsten grew up with, so it seemed only natural that she’d combine metal and design at a young age.
“My grandmother had a beautiful collection of belt buckles and buttons—glass, metal, mother of pearl—and I played with them when I was a child,” she says. “On rainy days, my mom would pour the bag out on a big table and I'd play for hours, arranging them by size, color, by my favorites. I’d make interesting groupings and often sew them on to handmade cards as gifts for my family and friends.”
These early life experiences, led to her current beliefs in the “slow fashion” movement. Kirsten’s process is thoughtful and never rushed; for each one-of-a-kind piece, she arranges the elements and carefully considers the design for weeks and months (however long it takes) until she is satisfied. Every detail, from the handmade clasp to her hand scribed signature, is handled with care and intention, and makes Kirsten’s pieces unique, modern heirlooms.
From her San Francisco studio, Kirsten works with 100% recycled precious metals and purchases stones from small, family-owned mines who hand collect, cut and polish the materials themselves. She knows the story behind each element, whether it’s a copper-flecked firebrick from an old furnace, recycled metal, or her grandmother’s glass buttons.
“My intention is to create timeless pieces, pieces the collector will reach for day after day, year after year—something they will cherish, take care of, and eventually pass down to future generations.”
Up next for Kirsten: she’s working on a collection of bold statement necklaces that combine the beauty of her handmade metal chains with organic beaded elements - another study in finding the perfect pairings.
1000 Ideas For Creative Reuse by Garth Johnson, Quarry Books
Style, Naturally by Summer Rayne Oakes, Chronicle Books
The Eco Chick Guide to Life by Starre Vartan, St. Martin’s Griffin
Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano, Harper Collins