She found an outlet by working with Preserved Petals in Minot. She would dry flowers, maybe from a funeral arrangement or wedding bouquet, and put them between glass as a keepsake. “Then I told my husband I would like to incorporate metal with the glass pieces and he figured out what tools I needed,” explained Guidinger. “I got my first set of metal stamps and began making pieces that could hang on the same cord as the petals. I started enjoying the metal work more.”
She begins with large, 3×3 foot, pieces of metal and cuts them down to manageable pieces. Guidinger uses sterling silver, copper, brass and bronze since the cost of gold is just too prohibitive. Her garage studio is meticulously laid out, the tools of her trade scattered between work spaces – metal shears, disc cutters, hammers and more.
After she cuts the metal into the shapes she wants, she begins stamping. Each letter is stamped individually, she has alphabet stamps in various fonts as well as design stamps. “It is really fun as I go along and add more letters to the pieces,” Guidinger said. “I am very much a perfectionist and when I first started, if a letter got just a little bit off I would wonder if that was ok. I have learned that imperfections are part of the hand-made craftsmanship.”
She really likes giving a boring sheet of metal texture. “Putting texture into my pieces, giving them life, is probably my favorite thing to do,” she explained. “After I finish stamping, sulfur oxidizes the metal and adds detail and definition to the stamps.”
She is self-taught through this whole journey – trial and error, looking online and reading books. She began in 2006 and her first show was Art In the Park in Mandan. During her many shows she has had people ask if they can have her jewelry in their retail locations. Keeping those stores stocked ensures she is always creating. “This was a hobby and has turned into more than that now,” she said. “I am telling myself that after the holiday rush I should take some time off. I think it is good for the creative soul to rest and regroup.”
Even Guidinger’s husband, Guy, has an artistic streak. He has a woodworking shop and has made several pieces for their home. They grew up on farms in the Mohall/Lansford area and were high school sweethearts. That farming background may have prepared her for this artistic step. “I was a hands-on farm kid,” says Kara. “If I was pulling wire, during a free minute I would take the scrap wire and make rings and just mess around with it.”
Those that follow Guidinger know she is constantly evolving and trying new things. The next thing she is looking at pursuing is wall art. Her creative soul may never be at rest.
To see more of Kara’s creations, find retail locations and for information on ordering, visit her facebook page at facebook.com/klgdesigns.
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Here is a link to a television story on KLG Designs, also!