How One Chicago Creative Turns Industrial Ball Chain Into Fine Art

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Portrait of artist Beth Kamhi

A lifelong creator and maker, Beth Kamhi found her current medium by combining her backgrounds in fiber, fashion and interior design. “I got hold of some industrial ball chain and started using it as a textile, weaving and draping it,” she says. “Soon I was creating pieces that looked like fiber art from the ’70s—they’re very tactile.” Luxe sat down with Kamhi to learn about her inspiration and what it’s like to work with the heavy metal material.

Where do you find inspiration? I frequently collaborate with art consultants, architects and designers. We look at a space and its parameters, which helps determine weight, size, scale and material. I just finished a recent commission for the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara, Mexico. It’s a brand-new building, and I made my largest piece to date to fill the volume.

Tell us about that commission. It’s 16-by-8-by-10 feet, so it’s big but airy. I’ve made smaller pieces that hang from the ceiling, but this project amped it up. 

What do you love about industrial ball chain? Not how heavy it is! I have works that are 75 pounds, but I do love the versatility. Some of my pieces reference jewelry, others textiles. I’ve been working with it for almost 14 years—I’ve tried other mediums, but they don’t feel authentic.

What’s next? I have three pieces going into the newly renovated Bernard’s in the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. They have an elegant, elongated look. I think it’s going to be a terrific addition to the decor.

Wall hanging made of gold industrial ball chain and metal hoops.

PHOTOS BY BIRKENHEUER PHOTOGRAPHY