The Pacific Northwest has long been a haven for forest enthusiasts, and its natural splendor has inspired generations of explorers and creators alike. For artist Kira Fitzpatrick, the forest has served as a continuous source of inspiration.
As the owner of Woodland Teatime, Fitzpatrick creates an assortment of woodland-themed jewelry and designs that are like a treasure trove lifted from the forest floor. The fauna captured in the Pacific Northwest native’s whimsical jewelry and embroidered sculptures are recognizable for any Washingtonian. With designs depicting everything from mushrooms to maple leaves, Kira’s work pays tribute to her northwest upbringing and the enchantment she finds in the woods.
Woodland Teatime is an outgrowth of Kira’s interest in metalworking and fiber arts, as well as her love for the forest. Her intricate designs, which span from jewelry to felted sculptures, all celebrate the solace she found in nature growing up in the Pacific Northwest. For Kira, the draw to create “forest floor-related things” is rooted in her woodland upbringing. Raised off of a gravel road in Battleground, Washington, she remembers, “I was pretty much always outside by myself in the woods.” Through her work, she aims to “recreate the sense of comfort and familiarity” she found in the forest, where she always felt at home.
In order to render natural objects into three-dimensional forms, Kira uses a number of innovative techniques. When she began Woodland Teatime a year and a half ago, Kira debuted a series of felted sculptures – some freestanding and others embroidered onto hoops. Soon, she was stocking her goods at the Nearsighted Narwhal, which gave her the opportunity to bring more ideas to life. After they offered her a studio space, she was able incorporate more metal and stonework into Woodland Teatime’s repertoire.
Focusing on metal work was always part of Kira’s vision. She became hooked on the art after taking a jewelry class in college 10 years ago. While she signed up for the class on a whim, Kira remembers she took to the art form right away. “It was like a light came from the sky – that had never happened to before,” she remembers. “I’ve been in love with it ever since.”
From the start, Kira was interested in creating natural forms. Her first metalsmithing projects included flowers and leaves. “Then I hit on mushrooms,” she explains, which continue to be one of her favorite shapes to create. These days, they are a central theme in Woodland Teatime’s designs, and have found their way into everything from rings and pendants to embroidered pieces and wall hangings.
When creating for Woodland Teatime, Kira always starts with a concept in mind. In her free time, she enjoys sketching and photographing mushrooms and other plants, many of which end up in her work. “It’s always in my mind how can I fit something into jewelry in a different way,” she explains.
In order to translate her photos into jewelry form, she uploads them to Illustrator before putting them into metal. Some of Kira’s designs incorporate real lichen and moss gathered from the forest, such as her resin sterling silver rings and studs. And she’s constantly brainstorming ways to bring new concepts to life. “My favorite idea that I’m working on is to take a stone [and make it look] as though it had fallen into the ground in the forest,” she shares.
Being based in Tacoma has allowed Kira plenty of expansion and opportunity as an artist. Besides her appreciation for the “unsaturated” feel of the city, “there’s a lot of space and opportunity for artists.” The city has provided multiple outlets for her art to flourish. “The Nearsighted Narwhal has been amazing,” she says. In addition to offering her studio space, it’s allowed her to make great connections with other artists who sell their goods there. Her work is also carried downtown at Stocklist Goods, as well in the gift shop at newly opened McMenamin’s.
Tacoma’s markets have also been a boon for Woodland Teatime. Kira has frequented larger markets like the Tacoma Night Market and La Paloma, as well as participated in one-time events such as Tacoma Is For Lovers and UPS’s Fieldhouse Flea Market. For Kira, “Markets create invaluable spaces for artists to get their work and their stories out and connect with the community.”
And besides the opportunity to sell her wares, her presence at the markets has given her a unique opportunity to connect with people who purchase her work. It has also opened the door for her to link her work to stories from her childhood. “In the beginning… I made these things and didn’t connect them to different stories,” she says. But hearing others share their childhood stories about the plants in her designs has given her another angle from which to understand their significance in her own life.
You can find Woodland Teatime’s designs at the Nearsighted Narwhal, Stocklist Goods and the gift store at McMenamin’s, as well as online. Woodland Teatime also frequents Tacoma-area markets. To see more of Kira’s designs, follow Woodland Teatime on Facebook and Instagram.