T.E.S.T. Interview: Keir Dahlke

We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 95th in our series and is with Keir Dahlke.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself and the inspiration behind your jewelry line Keir Dahlke?

I have had a fascination with chainmaille, since seeing it in historical images and in movies with recreations of chainmaille armour. I have a very mechanical brain that likes to take things apart and rebuild, so from a young age I would pay close attention and try to take it apart in my mind. With chainmaille, it’s so intricate and complicated and mathematical to construct, I just fell in love with it. The structure of it all, to make a piece is to make a sculpture and a fabric and a work of art. I love it.  

Your necklaces look beautiful, and it does look like complicated work. What is your process like? And what are some of your favourite materials to work with?

What I primarily use is a silver plated, enamel coated, copper core wire. The enamel coating provides an array of brilliant colour options, as well as protecting the wire and the silver. The enamel coating on the silver wire is clear, so it doesn't cloud the silver colour at all while protecting it from tarnishing the way an untreated silver would. I also work with pure silver, brushed silver, bronze, and aluminum. I get spools of wire directly from the factory, and then I wind and saw cut all of my own rings. This gives me control over all of the sizing and colours so that I can create without limitation. I then take each ring and, using pliers, link them together. I tend to obsesses over each and every ring, making sure it looks just right.  

What are you working on currently? What can we look forward to from Keir Dahlke this summer?

I've been inspired to use brighter colours this summer. The heat and all the beautifully coloured flowers are making me want to make lighter based coloured (silver or white) pieces with bright colourful accents. This summer has inspired me to mix the industrial chainmaille with a light feminine feel.  

That's great to hear. And you also make lovely travel and cosmetic bags. Do you have a preference between designing your jewelry and bags?

I love doing the chainmaille first and foremost, but every once in a while it’s nice to do something a little bit different, and that’s when I like to sew. I love making the bags because they’re a great way to utilize and display beautiful fabrics. I love fabric, I can easily spend hours and hours just browsing any kind of fabric store. I also sew other things such as quilts, pillows, aprons and more (which I haven't put up on my etsy shop). I love getting requests for custom sewing projects, it’s so fun to search for the perfect fabrics and make the item just right for the individual.  

Where can we see some of your other work (pillows and quilts)? Do you sell any of your work locally in Toronto?

When I’ve sold quilts in the past, it’s all been through word of mouth and commissions for custom work. I have a queen size quilt that is for sale right now, but I haven't posted it anywhere - I think I love it so much that subconsciously I’m struggling to part with it haha. I have a gallery on my website - KeirDahlke.com - which shows a lot more of my work than is available on etsy. I would very much like to reach out to some galleries and vendors. I have a neurological condition which can limit my mobility, and has kept me from reaching out in the past. I’m doing well enough now that with the help of my service dog (who acts a very cool cane), I’m ready to branch out, which is very exciting.  

That sounds exciting indeed. Well, it's really great to hear you're doing well Keir, and ready to branch out. We wish you great luck with everything, and look forward to seeing your beautiful pieces in local Toronto shops.

You can find more of Keir's creations here:

Etsy Shop: KeirDahlke
Website: KeirDahlke.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/KeirDahlke

Interviewed by Binta Bah of BBTresors in Toronto on June 26, 2016.

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