MeritMade Commentary - So, you want to be a maker, eh?

Author: Terra Butler

Kelly is a maker, through and through. While metalsmithing is how you know her, this woman is CONSTANTLY making across a broad range of crafts and mediums. Her wedding thank yous were handmade, featuring a carved stamp of her and her husband. She has been kitting the same gold shawl with the tiniest yarn for at least 7 years. She built the table that is the center piece to our workshops. She welded the steel displays that we use at shows. She loves any excuse to gift wrap. She has started AND finished multiple quilts. I could go on for a long time.

kelly in studio.jpg

To say Kelly loves to work with her hands is a massive understatement. When we meet people at shows or in workshops, often they will express a wish to be a maker of some sort. She is immediately excited and encouraging. If you haven' been privvy to one of her gushing recommendations to use your hands,  I give to you Kelly’s tips to becoming a maker. Enjoy!

  • Find something you love to make. What do you want to create or improve? Many people are drawn to specific types of materials. Perhaps getting your hands dirty is an important component or maybe you absolutely must work from home. Before you get started, it is smart to consider what sorts of things are important to you. For example, if you hate computers, maybe robotics shouldn't be your thing.
  • Get educated. There are so many workshops, in-person class, online videos, and educational resources out there. Searching YouTube is a great way to get started. When you are ready to pay for education, sites like Craftsy ( do a great job of providing a more thorough online education for a small investment. Don’t forget about your local guilds, clubs, libraries and schools. Often these places are wonderful for learning.
  • Buy some tools and materials. This can be a bit daunting. How do you know which tool is right? Do you get the expensive one or the cheap one? It is really all about budget. Determine what works best for you. I started out with the cheapest tools and materials, because that is all I had the money for. Some of them are still operational today, and some I have upgraded and replaced. It is always a work in progress. That all said, great tools can really make a difference in saving time and making a task much easier.
  • DO IT! Don’t be scared, you have nothing to lose. Besides, how will you know if you like it if you never try? Seriously, you have to start somewhere. Dive in head first and don’t be afraid to change your mind.
  • Find and Expert, and become their best friend. Plan a visit to their studio/shop/home/company, or take them to coffee to pick their brain. Most are happy to share and pass along the knowledge they have. You could also offer to help them. I don’t know a single maker who couldn’t use an extra set of hands. In exchange for your help, you would be getting valuable hands on training and experience.
  • Support other makers and get inspired. Go to a craft fair. Go to meetups. Join a Facebook group. The maker community is a welcoming place full of knowledge and inspiration. Support it with your presence and if possible, your dollar. These people work hard, and by supporting them you are fostering an environment where makers are respected and can continue creating.
  • Remember, a maker is simply a person who makes something. Have fun, explore, and most importantly create what YOU want.

Sounds like pretty legit advice to me! I would add be patient; you will not be instantly amazing at your new craft and that is perfectly okay. In fact, it is the process of learning, trouble shooting and perseverance that makes being a maker so awesome.
Now get to it!


(maker of mixed media, painting, collages, baskets, textiles, wall-hangings...)

MeitMade Commentaries - I Got Married!!

MeritMade Wedding

Hi Friends! I'm so excited to share with you that I got married last month. It was a heck of a roller coaster ride. That said, it was wonderful!!!!!!

Brad makes my wedding ring MeritMade Merit Made Wedding ring simple wedding ring
handmade wedding rings wedding bands meritmade merit made

As you can guess, I made Brad's ring. It is a simple band with both 14K white gold and 18K yellow gold. What you might not have guessed is that Brad made my wedding band. He spent a whole afternoon with me in the studio filing, sanding, forming, and soldering. I'm so proud of him and am super happy that the rings where made by us, for us.

I want to send out a giant thank you to all of you who sent love and words of encouragement our way. The photos of the wedding that I posted on social media received the most likes and comments of any photo I have ever posted. I am so truly overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation. You all, my MeritMade family, are the best. Thank you!! - Kelly

MeritMade Commentaries - MeritMAKE Private Parties!

Did you know MeritMAKE throws private Make a Ring parties?! WE DO!

Make a Ring Sterling Silver Ring Ring workshop metalsmithing workshop kansas city merit made meritmade kc handmade jewelry art jewelry unique jewelry

MeritMAKE private workshops offer an awesome excuse to get together with your friends and family and make cool stuff! It's an awesome alternative to birthday parties, bachelorette festivities, family events, even corporate team building!

Private parties can be held at our studio space, Bonfire, in Mission, KS or at almost any place you can get the keys to! We have been hosted in living rooms, garages, maker spaces... anywhere that is okay with housing festivities and a little fire. The set up of the party is the same as a Make a Ring workshop; it's a 4+ hour engagement where each participant leaves with a handcrafted, sterling silver ring with stone that they designed! We are there to help and guide at every step.

In order to host a private party, you will need 3-6 confirmed attendees. Pricing depends upon where you are (do we have to travel to you?) and how much of the hosting you want to take on (do you want to handle food and drink on your own?). 

If you are interested in getting a quote for your own Make a Ring Workshop, please reach out!

- Kelly & Terra

MeritMade Commentaires - Our first photo shoot with Whitney Smith!

Last month, we teamed up with the the fabulous and talented Whitney Smith to capture the collection for Art Westport.  By teamed up, I mean Kelly dropped off the goods, and Whitney took care of it from there. What we got back are stunning images that feature MeritMade in a way that we never could have dreamed of. I wanted the backstory, so if you want the juicy details, keep scrolling after you have enjoyed these beautiful images!

Here's the dish from Kelly's side:
I found her somewhere on Instagram, probably through our mutual friend Tarrah Anderson of Whiskey and Bone. We then met IRL at The Pitch's Crafts and Drafts event, and I recognized her immediately as someone whose face I'd seen in my instagram feed. Pretty sure she bought a pair of earrings that day.

As time progressed, I just felt compelled to work with her. The way she captures people in her photographs inspires me. Each image is very intimate, and highlights what makes the person unique and individual. Her photos also possess a sense of timelessness. It is hard to tell if they were taken in the 20's, the 50's, or now. I love that! That sense of timelessness is exactly what I'm trying to accomplish with each piece of MeritMade.

Art Westport was the perfect excuse to contact her. So we did a consultation and discussed various ideas about the shoot. The whole process was super easy and natural from the start, and I really let her run with it. Needless to say, I couldn't be happier with the outcome, and am excited to see what we do next together.

I let Kelly sneak by with her short answer, but Whitney wasn't getting off the hook so easily!

How did you discover MeritMade?
I discovered MeritMade on Instagram. I fell down the rabbit hole where you have somehow ended up on someone's 37th cousin and 4 years deep in photos! Ok, not that far down the hole. But yes, somehow I stumbled onto Kelly's page and had to follow to see what's new and to see her create those jewels. I actually met her in person at The Pitch's Crafts & Drafts event they put on this past spring. She yelled out, "I recognize those eyes!" Haha! She is so adorable!

I asked her about her inspiration for the shoot:
Inspiration for the shoot was pretty easy after seeing the jewelry and asking a few questions. Kelly said she wanted me to just do my thing pretty much, but everyone always has a few thoughts. She said she was attracted to the little bit darker stuff I was doing, which I usually do in nature. It can be easy to lose jewelry or accessories in photos, especially outdoors or with a lot of clothes, hair, and makeup. It's about finding the right balance. So I guess my inspiration in words would be: modern, clean goths in nature!

And her favorite part?
My favorite part of the shoot was getting everyone together to meet, get ready, and pick out the jewelry. I knew all of them from different things and have worked with them on shoots too, but it was the first time any of them had met each other. In about 1 minute it was like everyone knew each other forever and was totally comfortable. Coffee was drank, cupcakes were ate, and art was made.

Of the pieces you photographed, what was your favorite?
If I had to pick a favorite piece we photographed that day, it would probably be the Sonora necklace. It is a showstopper! Since I wear earrings more than anything I'd have to go with either of the dangly earrings too!

Anything else you want to share?
I hope when people see the photos that they can visualize maybe a new side of MeritMade they haven't thought about. Modern, edgy, and looks great with a sexy black dress. But it is still classic and still looks great with jeans and a white tee. When something is beautifully made and has such interesting stones and designs, it transcends into all genres of personal style.

Whitney, I think that you nailed it! Thank you for sharing your talent with us and allowing us to see MeritMade in a new light!

When I sat down to put together the information for this post, I went to find Whitney's website...nowhere to be found! Despite it saying/not saying so on the internet, this talented human IS for hire! Whitney's favorite work is editorial with a conceptual edge. Additionally she loves to shoot fine art nudes. "I feel like clothes can be a distraction in photos a lot of the time. If people would just pay me to shoot jewelry and/or headpieces on nude bodies in the forest everyday I'd be a happy camper!". She would love to hear from you via email,, and be sure to check out her beautiful Instagram feed @wooinwonderland.