One of the most difficult things about being an introvert is settling into a new space among strangers. This being my first job, I was genuinely surprised how well I could get along with my coworkers. The last person I met at the studio was Kris Carlos, the Metal Etching Workshop instructor. She was a little intimidating at first, but it didn't take very long for me to see that there really is no warmer, funnier, and easygoing person than Kris — who arrived that day completely prepared for two different instructor photoshoots with two drastically different outfits, hairstyles, and make-up looks.
(Above: Kris Carlos, instructor at Soul Flower, Co. and Studio 925)
(Above: Retail items under Kris' handcrafted jewelry brand, Thingamabobs.)
When did you start teaching Metal Etching classes at Soul Flower?
"I think it was early September or late August last year."
(Above: Metal etching projects made by our students.)
What got you into drawing and sculpting?
"I came from a family of artists and I've been drawing since I was three years old. With sculpting, I started when I was in college because I really like dolls. I wanted to make my own ball-jointed dolls. I started sculpting mermaids. Even though I took advertising, I could choose what kind of thesis I could do, like an ad campaign, book illustration, photography, fashion, textile design, corporate identity, or advocacy. I really wanted to push myself with sculpting for my thesis, so I did 32 dioramas of mermaids for my book illustration."
What subject matter do you usually use for your pieces?
"Growing up, I was really into fairy tales. (laughs) Back in those days there was no internet, so what we had was books. We had one big book of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Most of my art is based on books, fairy tales, and fantasy. I also grew up watching lots of Jim Henson movies and shows. The creatures in 'The Storyteller' segment of Muppets Tonight were my inspiration. I'm also fascinated with religious art and vampire movies, so I like sculpting faces that I call 'saints and brides.'"
How did you decide to turn your sculptures into jewelry and start your own business at Thingamobobs?
"Thingamabobs started when I resigned from my first job in 2010. It happened by accident because my friend had a booth at a cosplay event. If the things I want are not available in the market, I make my own. My old motto was, 'Kung kaya mong gawin, ba't mo bibilhin?' So I started making the kinds of things I couldn't buy, like little faces."
How do you translate your art into your metal etched pieces?
"What I like with metal etching is that you have a bit of freedom with the design. I don't really recommend that my students use prints, I'd rather they draw whatever design they want. Like my personal art style, if I can't find it in the market, I make my own. If they can't find what they want in the prints we provide, they can do whatever."
Do you have any dream projects?
"I've been dreaming of it for a long time, but until now I still haven't done it. I want to make my own porcelain dolls. My biggest influence is Marina Bychkova, and my dream is to be like her someday. But I still want to incorporate my jewelry with the dolls. That's why I started with faces, body parts, boob rings."
While I had initially thought of Kris as just a fun-loving person with a contagious laugh you could hear from two rooms away, I've come to genuinely love and admire her spirit. Hearing her talk so passionately about her creative journey and her craft made me really miss drawing again. I wonder if I can get back into it by making a few pretty metal etched pieces of my own?
If you want to learn from Kris as well, you can take Metal Etching yourself!
Chuu is an illustrator and graphic designer who loves drawing food and plants. She enjoys trying out new art styles and likes the color pink a bit too much.