SparkleSwap is pleased to introduce our featured ‘Artist of the Month’ for September, 2019: Kim Van Antwerp.

Kim is originally from the Dallas area and studied Studio Art at the University of Texas at Austin.  Today she lives in California, at beautiful Lake Tahoe, where she is a rabid snowboarder and also enjoys mountain biking with her partner of 10 years. She enjoys reading, traveling and listening to live music.  She and her partner have a Siamese cat named Clio who is a very helpful studio cat. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Kim at the Bead and Button Show this past year.  My jaw fell to the floor when I saw the beautiful pieces of art she was exhibiting.  Her style is both elegant and playful, and I’d never seen an artist who combines techniques and materials as wonderfully and creatively as Kim does.

Kim, thank you for generously sharing yourself and your beautiful creations with us!

Kim Van Antwerp

SparkleSwap: Please describe your artistic style and medium?

Kim:  I will use anything that appeals to me in a piece of jewelry: crusty things from the beach, gemstones, plastic, ribbon, glass, wool, buttons– I am especially drawn to things that evoke memory or curiosity, so antiques and vintage finds are special favorites. I try to create a sense of tactile pleasure, a dreamlike quality.

SparkleSwap: How did you get started in your craft?

Kim:  I started with polymer clay in the 1990s, making elaborate pictorial canes that fit together to create intricate patterns. A local beadshop owner was supportive and invited me to join the monthly bead group. That’s where I learned beadweaving and then started making lampwork beads. I sold my lampwork for about 12 years.

SparkleSwap: From where do you draw your inspiration?

Kim:  I love history and literature, and my imagination can take off without much prompting. Nature is a constant stimulant, and I have music in my life at all times. Travel memories and dreams of the next trip are always somewhere in the back of my mind.

SparkleSwap: What is your favorite tool right now?

Kim:  My Shrinkets molds from artist Julie Haymaker have been a real game-changer. They have given me a way to create components that are large and colorful, but lightweight. I think she is a genius.

SparkleSwap: What is your favorite place to shop for supplies and why?

Kim:  You can’t beat the Tucson gem shows for basics and stones. There’s always something there I haven’t seen before.  Several years ago I found gorgeous tiny geodes. I had no idea that existed.

Otherwise, thrift and antiques stores, fabric stores are great sources of inspiration.   All-time favorite place to shop is Paris. The flea market, the jewelry district, the local markets, all fantastic. 

Kim at work in her studio under the watchful eye of Clio

SparkleSwap: What trends are you excited about these days?

Kim:  I’m encouraged that people are becoming more open to the idea that value in jewelry lies in the conception and care taken in construction rather than being hung up on the idea of ‘intrinsic value’.  

SparkleSwap: What kinds of materials do you like to work with?

Kim:  High quality materials of any medium are always a pleasure to work with. Finding the vintage or original versions of things that are out there today is a real education in quality. Those pressed glass beads you have may be nice, but check out the ones made on the same molds 50 years ago–big difference! It’s always worth it to me to get fewer of something if it’s the best quality, whether that is fabric or gemstones.

SparkleSwap: What is one of your biggest challenges as an artist and how do you overcome this?

Kim:  Confidence is the biggest challenge for me. I struggle to assert myself and tend to shy away from making my voice heard. Instagram has been an interesting tool for me in that it seems to reward an investment in making a clear, quality image, which I feel comfortable doing. I haven’t figured out how to translate that into dollars quite yet, but I enjoy the feeling that I am making contact that resonates with people.

SparkleSwap: What are you working on these days?

Kim:  I returned from 7 weeks in France this spring with a giant suitcase full of supplies. I’m slowly working my way through them, gathering ideas and making new work. Painting fabulous ribbons, assembling vintage components, it’s a real treat!

SparkleSwap: Do you have any tips or recommendations for new and aspiring artists?

Kim:  Think hard about what you are doing, and always do your best work. It’s worth it, and you’re worth it.

SparkleSwap: How can we contact you if we are interested in purchasing your products or would like additional information?

Kim:  My email address is, and I have a webshop at

SparkleSwap:  We also wanted you to know that Kim teaches her unique projects at venues around the country (including at one of our favorites:  The Bead and Button Show, as well as Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley, CA), and is currently at work on a series of video tutorials.  The first tutorial will be available later this month.  Keep an eye on her Instagram account (@kimvanantwerp) for more information and announcements where and when you can access them.

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