Kristin Bauer van Straten’s love for this world and all its critters has resulted in an exclusive necklace that combines the symbols of the issues that are closest to her heart.
Together with jewelry designer Janet Cadsawan, who made several pieces that were used in True Blood, Kristin created the Care A Little More necklace because she firmly believes that if we would all care a little more we could make this world a better place.
I Skyped with Kristin on the Sunday before Christmas. She wore a pair of dark rimmed glasses “not very glamorous on a Sunday” she said. I wore a similar pair of glasses and she noted smiling that we looked like sisters. I’ll take that compliment every day of the week.
It’s been a busy year for Kristin: with shooting True Blood, designing jewelry, her art on postcards, a newsletter, her websites, Facebook, Twitter and not to mention all the animal rights work she does so tirelessly. She agrees immediately when I suggest that she must be the only True Blood actor who fully understands how hard we fan site owners work to keep on top of everything.
Husband Abri van Straten is working on a new album that will be released in 2012 and while we’re talking about the symbols of the necklace Kristin designed, he walks in and stops to say “hi”. I had met Abri at the first Bitten fan con in the UK. The Bauer-van Stratens have never been to my adopted homeland Italy and Kristin immediately asks if there are any fan cons in Italy next year. It would make a great stop on the way to Africa where they are planning to spend their next summer vacation. No grass grows under Mrs. Van Straten’s feet and in the meantime she has signed up for Itacon in Bologna.
After Abri went back to his recording studio, Kristin confesses to me that she picked her 10 favorite songs from his new work and they are all going to be on the new record. “Great, classic Abri music. I’m his groupie”, she jokes and takes a sip of her coffee.
During the Skype conversation I had with Kristin she explained why she chose to design a necklace.
“I think probably it’s because selfishly I love necklaces. So I wanted to design something and have it made so that I could have one. [laughs] I don’t wear rings and earrings as much, I just love necklaces.
I met Janet [Cadsawan] through True Blood because she did jewelry for the show, Audrey [Fisher, True Blood’s costume designer] introduced me to her. She also designed a whale tail necklace for IFAW that both Abri and I wear. When I met her in New York during Fashion Week she said “Why don’t you design a necklace?”
Why Kristin Bauer? I asked that question to Janet Cadsawan.
“Other than being the sexiest and snarkiest vampire on TV, Kristin is also a very accomplished artist”, Janet explains. “I am a huge fan of her paintings. The Tails for Whales campaign we did together with IFAW was a success, but it was an accidental campaign. We all came together after Season 1 of True Blood like the perfect storm. The next time I wanted to do a charitable piece, I wanted it to be a little more planned. So, I thought of Kristin first because she has an impeccable eye, but also she has a kind heart for giving.”
Kristin explains how she chose the elements for her necklace: “From when it first started to what it became, it really morphed. Basically I had too many elements. In the first design I had all the elements that I’d ever seen and that I liked in one necklace and it looked like a charm bracelet on a neck. [laughs] So I started thinking about the elements that are most symbolic to me and simplify my life’s mission statement and then figure out what images represent that and make that into something that looks good around the neck.”
What kind of suggestions did Janet Cadsawan make to Kristin regarding designing?
“We went through about 10 versions”, Janet explains. “I would say that my biggest contribution to the piece was knowing the material, i.e. the metal. As I said, Kristin has an impeccable eye, so I suggested the material and in some cases whether a part of the piece, like the Tree of Life should be more organic, oxidized or shiny. Otherwise, it was all Kristin!”
Kristin chose for the well-known symbol of The Tree of Life, a blue gemstone that represents Water, an equidistant cross and a circle toggle with the words Care a Little More.
“The tree is such an amazing symbol of life”, Kristin explains. “The height to which it can reach into the heavens is determined by how deep the roots go into the earth – also symbolizing the circle of life. I have this unbelievable admiration of trees, when I want to restore myself I go to a forest. That symbol to me is so beautiful and says so much about love and life and spirituality.”
And the water of course, no life without water.
“That’s right! We’re water, the Earth’s mostly water. It’s astounding when I read books written about a time 60 or 80 years ago, this Earth was so plentiful nobody could possibly conceive of the last elephant, the last rhino. It seemed completely inconceivable that we could pollute a body of water the size of the oceans. With reckless abandon we’ve filled the Earth with people, making permanent plastic, putting out waste and just sending it where ever because this place was so vast. Well we have reached a point of limit. It doesn’t matter where I look it’s all the exact same statistic: we’re at a tipping point, this teeter totter of the number of people we have to the resources we.
The cross was a little harder for me to understand. Kristin explains why she included this cross.
“I wanted it to be that particular cross because I didn’t want it to be a religious statement”, Kristin explains the equidistant cross. ”I was raised Christian, but I am not really any religion, I am more all religions and probably closest to Buddhism.”
“An equidistant cross symbolizes so many things”, Kristin continues. “It’s a crossroads. Earth is at a crossroads. I feel like we are pushing this thing further and further with the resources that we have, what we’re consuming and what we’re polluting out. We passed the 7 billion mark and it would be very prudent to figure out how to be more efficient with this Earth. Earth will be fine, what we are really fighting for is our right to exist. It wouldn’t hurt our chances to survive to pick a team and care a little more about the things we buy, the things we throw away and the actions that we take and how it affects another living being that we will never see or meet. In this world of Google it takes me seconds to find out if a company uses slave labor or if a cosmetics company tests on animals.”
The circle on the necklace says “Care a little more” and on the back, next to the person’s heart are the words “Compassion” and “Kindness”. “You really just want to make a pretty piece of jewelry, but in order to do that I had to think about the symbols way more than anyone will have to looking at it.”
“It feels in a way spiritually we’re always in time because we’ve done an enormous amount of damage, if we went back to horse and buggy tomorrow we really can’t undo the damage that we’ve done. But it’s like any relationship where two entities have grown apart and it’s gotten into unethical animosity, but it is never ever too late to start a conversation to get on a better road towards repair. That is a universal truth.
How do we get people to unite? How do we get people to care about another person that they’ll never meet? I really don’t know, but I do everything I do not because of the result as much as it’s just the right thing to do. Some scientists argue that we are creating global warming and as many qualified scientists will argue on the other side that we are not and that this is just a cycle that Earth goes through to balance herself. And I say: “Who the F cares?! It’s not nice to litter!”
“I recycle because it’s the right thing to do, and also because it is character defining. All I have is who I am now and in eternity. I really don’t want to harm others. I don’t want to live with that and I don’t want to die with that. For my soul I want to know that I did what I could, not just for the people I know and love, but for people I will never meet in a place I will never go. If I saw a puppy being kicked I’d run across the street and do something, everybody would! But when it’s happening “over there”, out of sight, due to people buying puppies in stores for example, causing huge suffering unknowingly where we can’t see it – it becomes more of a personal choice to ‘care a little more’ and find out where that doggy in the window came from. Be curious about what we can’t see but can know in about 3 clicks of a keyboard so it’s character defining for me.
Care a little more, enough to ask questions and wonder how that burger lived and died or where the neon blue laundry detergent goes when it leaves your washing machine or if I really need that rabbit fur trim. We have to start thinking about these things if we don’t want to go extinct. Earth will be fine!
I have a long way to go and I struggle with wants vs. the right thing to do every day, but I think that struggle is a better road for us than not thinking about it.”
As to put extra weight to Kristin’s words, cat Samuel jumps in front of the webcam and looks at me with curiosity. Kristin scoops him up and kisses his fury cheek repeatedly, Samuel runs off with her leftover toast.
How environmental friendly is the True Blood set?
“Stephen [Moyer] and I are always asking for a recycle bin. [laughs] They tell us that on the Lot we shoot in that they go through the trash before it goes to the landfill and pull out all the plastic water bottles. I am believing that because at 5 cents per bottle they can make a lot of money doing that. It’s a really caring group and almost everybody has a charity that’s important to them. I am getting good in this one area, but others are amazing in other areas that I am not aware of. Stephen is really amazing – he’s doing the Facing the Atlantic charity and Brentwood theatre – which I feel is ridiculously important to have the arts alive on Earth. Alex is amazing too, anything I ask of him he is always there to help his progeny.”
There are several True Blood fan sites who work with various actors to raise funds for charity.
“It’s so amazing! I can’t even tell you and the Vault has been incredible. Absolutely incredible. It’s the greatest thing to me, because if nobody ever watched True Blood I would still be having the time of my life being “Pam”, but the fact that there are people who are enjoying it and participating and Face booking and blogging and the fan fiction, all of that makes it even more incredible. And on top of that, that they want to help us help the groups that are actually make the world a better place is just rare and a gift.
I feel so grateful. With all the work I do, I see so much of the downside of humanity, but to see the upside is so incredible. And of course I get to be Pam!”
And you get to wear all these fabulous dresses.
“Wait until you see season 5”, Kristin teases. “OMG I just had four wardrobe fittings for one scene because Audrey just had to make it perfect. Wait until you see what the heck I am wearing this year and we’re only on episode 2 now. With season 3 I thought this is the best, it can’t get any better and with season 4 I was like WOW, it actually got better and that’s what I’m feeling about season 5. We’re really getting it down, we know what we’re doing, we’re a group that works well together and the kingpin of the entire thing rests on the writing. And the writers are on fire, just like they have been.”
Do you have any scenes with Chris Meloni?
“I don’t know yet, I hope so”, Kristin answers enthusiastically. They just give us what we’re shooting that week, but wouldn’t that be fun! I have to look online to see who is cast. I saw Joe [Manganiello] last night and I was trying to get him to tell me all about what’s happening with his character and he doesn’t know either.”
At this moment Samuel jumped on the desk again and blocked my view by putting his big red tail in front of the webcam.
And conversation moves on to Eric and Bill.
“Of course I have to side with my maker! But I love Bill and I love Stephen. My favorite scenes are the ones with Anna, Alex and Stephen, we’re buddies now. I love branching out and doing scenes with other people, but that’s my home base. We have so much fun, we laugh so hard, we cry. The sequence we had in episode 11 last year, the 5 nights we had in La Puente the director Michael Lehmann said we were now going to shoot being pulled into the force field, we were fighting it but we were losing. “Are you ready?” He asked. And I said “NO! How the hell am I going to do that?” We just laughed through it, mainly at me! Deborah [Ann Woll] laughed so hard that her neck was wet with tears. Alex and Stephen were standing next to the camera laughing, basically at me. They are awesome guys, they are both just awesome human beings. One of my favorite things to do is laugh even if I am the joke.”
For the fourth time since we started our chat, I see cat Samuel passing by behind Kristin carrying around something, when I ask her about it she answers: “That’s daddy’s sock.” And she starts laughing.
We all know about the wonderful portrait Kristin drew of Alexander that was auctioned off for the Amanda Foundation. So when can we expect a portrait of Stephen?
“I am going to paint Stephen. I meant to do it on hiatus, but I wasn’t in L.A. in my studio. I am going to do a painting of Stephen and I hope to start it in January. I have a picture in my mind from when he meets Sookie in Merlotte’s for the first time and he is sitting there in the booth and it’s is the most beautiful lighting. I love that scene.”
Stay tuned for more info about Kristin’s Stephen Moyer painting, the auction for the Amanda Foundation and the selling of the prints. We’ve teamed up with Kristin to help spread the word.
How will you spend the Holidays?
“We’re going back to Wisconsin for a week or so, hopefully we’ll get snow. Abri loves snow, he’s only seen it twice. Hang out with the family and try not to eat too much because I go back to work right when I get back. Those Pam outfits are a very good incentive to stay fit.”
What’s your wish for the world for 2012?
“My wish just really is that we care a little more. We don’t have to completely change 100%, we just have to try a hair more with other lives. 2 % would be transforming to Earth. I’m trying to think about the other guy that I will never meet and that’s being affected by what I am buying.”
And a wish on a personal level?
“True Blood is the main priority in my life and I just know we’re going to have a great season. I think it’s going to be even better than last year and I would love to add to that more discipline so I can paint and write more because I love doing both.”
You also write?
“I do. I’ve been writing a book. I’ve been writing it for many years and I would love to finish that. It is fiction, it’s fun and it’s about an actress in Hollywood. It reminds me a bit of the Janet Evanovich books that I used to read. The lead girl is an actress who gets into all kinds of shenanigans and I am weaving in my actual true Hollywood stories, changing the names so I don’t get sued [laughs] and create a totally fiction story around it. Half of it will be true, but I won’t be able to tell you what half.”
“On one hand it’s much more boring that you would ever expect and on the other hand … OMG there’s some odd things that happened, and some celebrity and fan encounters are just totally bizarre. It’s both. More boring and more exciting than one would think. When I am sitting on the couch in my “beauty mask” and pj’s Abri and I often joke about the Hollywood glamour.”
It’s time for Kristin to go check on the handyman who is finishing up the new gate. Also home-improvement is something that Kristin and Abri try to do as environmental friendly as possible. From Ed Begley Jr.’s book Kristin got the idea to insulate the garage not with fiberglass but with leftover blue jeans. “I am trying to expand my level of caring throughout my life. I’ve got a long way to go. Thank God for people like Ed and Michael Pollan who write books!”, Kristin concludes.
Kristin is an inspiration and if we all add “Care a little more” to our new year’s resolution list, I believe we could make this world a better place.
Buy Kristin’s Care A Little More necklace from the Cadsawan website.
Kristin’s art on postcards is available on Amazon.