Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Linda Lewis: Artistry In Gold, Silver and Stones

Linda Lewis With Her Dog, Napoleon

I stumbled upon Linda Lewis Jewelry in cyberspace and was so impressed with her distinctive, unusual lines, symmetry and use of silver and gold with stones. A California girl from San Luis Obispo, Linda has been creating jewelry for 30 years. One of her signature features is the use of unusual, stunning stones:

I do use some unique stones in my work, not necessarily the most expensive, but the most interesting. I use alot of jaspers and agates which come in a wide arrange of colors and look like small abstract paintings created by nature. They sort of tell me what they need and my job is to frame them in a way that brings out their beauty. My favorite stone cutter is Eidos, he is from the Bay Area in San Francisco. When I see him at a gem show, I cannot resist, his knowledge and craftmanship and the way he brings out the best in his stones is amazing.

My designs have the feel of Asian and Egyption cultures, which I admire the ancient religions such as Hindu, Shintu and Buddhaism. I also love the jewelry that was created for the Pharoahs of Ancient Egypt.

I think every mature artist reflects what they are truly feeling when creating that work of art, no matter what the medium is. Jewelry is definitely a form of expression, and my hope is that someone who buys one of my pieces feels the same way about it that I do when they wear that piece.

Where I live is a beautiful place between climbing the mountains and the beach, I am inspired by their beauty and pristiness. At the beach, I collect sea glass and started making jewelry out it. It is very popular because it usually reminds people of the good times they have had on our California shores. Our community is a great tourist destination because there is so much natural beauty here.

With 30 years of success as an artisan designer/creator, I asked Linda what has been most important to her ongoing ability to sustain a career:

I would say the top 3 things that have contributed to my success as a jeweler would be, excellent training by my teachers and mentors. I had the privilege of studying with Arline Fisch and Helen Shirk at San Diego State University and my mentor was a woman named Sheila Hollingshead who was actually Arline's first Graduate student in the 60's. The second thing that has contributed to my success is perseverance, and that is because I love what I do. I was determined to be able to do this everyday, so I have found my market which is not easy in the Art Jewelry world. I was determined not to work in a jewelry store and not set tiffany diamonds rings all day. Being able to create one-of-a-kind jewelry has been a rewarding career choice. The third thing I would say is good, old fashion hard work. Spending many hours in the studio, creating, making, especially before a show or working on commissions.

I started teaching because there were no jewelry classes in our area and there was a large demand. I love sharing what I have learned over the years in the school of hard knocks. But what I have learned from them is that I am energized by the fresh look that they give me in mastering of the materials and techniques of jewelry making. I also cherish the friendships I have made along the way.

The business of jewelry making is the thing I struggle with the most. Over the years, I have had good shows and bad. I have tried the wholesale market and it was not for me because my pieces are one-of-a-kind, galleries did not know how to reorder and since I work alone, it would be hard to reproduce a line. I prefer making one-of-a-kind pieces anyway, so I do a few select shows a year in California and have a retail outlet in my home town where I sell most of my work. When times are hard, people tend to cut back on things such as jewelry and art which are not a neccessity. But an artist friend of mine once said, for some people it is a necessity when times are tough to make themselves feel better.

The price of gold and silver does affect when I buy. I have been using less gold in my pieces lately due to the high prices and I have been very resourceful in using every bit of scrap and incorporate it into my designs. This happened once before in the early eighty's and things will change again hopefully.

My advice to new jewelry designers is, learn as much as you can, take classes, workshops, go to conferences and find a technique that excites you and work on it to develop a style that reflects the way you feel as an artist. Your passion will show in your work and the rest will fall in place, but not without a few bumps in the road. Remember that the struggle is part of the journey as an artist and makes you want to try that much harder.

My work can be seen at and at the Gallery at the Network, in San Luis Obispo, California. Also, various high quality art shows around Calfornia and Arizona.

I enjoyed my time with Linda. Her work is beautiful and, to me, reflects a spirit of inner peace. I wish her well!

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Beth Lauren: Fabulous Fibers!

Beth Lauren

I found Beth Lauren on one of my favorite stand by sites, metalcyberspace. Her work jumps off the page from the others partly because her focus is the use of fiber to create eclectic, fabulous pieces. I asked her about her interest in fibers:

I think fibers add a less refined quality to jewelry. Traditionally jewelry is only hard metals, so I’m drawn towards shifting that perception to something a little more organic.

I hope to achieve a style of jewelry that can be worn casually or with higher end pieces. Something that translates and conforms with what a person is wearing.
I would say my style is certainly eclectic and a fusion of different genres just as you said. And that way the jewelry itself can translate and work on different personal styles including bohemian, high fashion, hipster, preppy, or whatever it may be.
-what appeals to you about combining fibers with antique pieces?

It’s just the fusion of styles and materials. I think the rich vintage pieces juxtapose nicely with the use of soft fibers which then also contrasts with the use of 14K gold filled metals.

-your use of stones in your diamond shaped pendants and earrings almost appears to be woven. Does that come from your focus on fibers?

That came from an attempt to frame the vibrant colors in gold, which I think elevated the colors, giving them a richer quality. But it does also transition back to the woven and soft fiber pieces.

-when did you first begin designing jewelry and when did you know it would be your career path?

I first started designing over my summers off from college. I knew I wanted to do something artistic, and there weren’t too many of those opportunities in Washington DC that also involved making money. I did that for two summers, selling to local boutiques in the area, and then after graduation I simply grew tired of searching for jobs and started it back up again. It was pretty soon after that I was accepted to have a trunk show at a high end New York department store, and I then realized that this could possibly work as a career path.

-what was the most important thing you learned from your studies in Italy?

In Italy, I worked with hard metals in jewelry design class which is probably what pushed me to begin working with softer elements. I was actually pretty frightened of working with all of the sharp tools, and machines, so now I tend to do everything by hand without soldering, sawing, etc!

-you have been extraordinarily successful getting your product in magazines and retail outlets. What has been your path to get to the level of success you experience now?

I would just say taking risks, and investing back into the business.

-how important is it, do you think, to showcase in magazines? Cost versus reward?

It really depends on the magazine itself. But it certainly all helps to brand your company, and get its name out there, so that you can become more recognized and established. However, I certainly feel that I’m still a long way off from becoming a more recognized brand.

-how has the economy affected your business?

It has influenced me to create lesser expensive jewelry that isn’t in precious metals, since people don’t want to spend as much on jewelry these days.

-what advice do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

Just to follow your own creativity, and what you’re attracted to. And to research the market and competitors, and know who you’re up against!

Beth makes the most extraordinary pieces and has the marketing savvy to put herself out there ahead of the pack. My hat is off to her!

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Joyce Roessler: Glass, Glorious Glass!

Joyce Roessler

I first saw Roessler Glass through the Smithsonian Craft show website where Joyce Roessler was a new exhibitor with some magnificent entries. All her pieces are created from her own glass work. I asked her about the allure of glass:

What I find particularly special about glass is it’s gem-like qualities, such as color, refraction, transparency and fluidity. It lends itself very easily to jewelry making. It has a sensual tactile feel and I enjoy the weightiness of it. Glass can be drilled, sawed, tumbled, fused together, painted, carved and much more. The imagination is unlimited.

I have always tried to stay true to my personal style. I am always in some way building on the piece I conceived before. But still I’m influenced by everything around me. I am also painting and my paintings feel like my glass jewelry. It’s interesting how this happens automatically in some naive way that is subconscious. The material itself also lends its own feel and style. This is probably another reason I chose it. It’s suitable to my sensibilities. These things combined with who and what I am are what make my work stand out from others.

I continue to push color use. I am always striving to find new colors by using glass overlays. This might mean taking an opal lilac and overlaying a transparent peach color glass to get an end result that is more interesting and unique. Becoming more technically proficient allows more creative freedom.

When and where did you first become interested in working with glass?

I had just completed my second year of art school and decided to take some time off to apprentice at a stained glass shop in Louisville, Ky. This was my initial introduction to the material. I went back to art school, this time at Ohio University and studied painting, sculpture and glass blowing.

Jack Schmidt, my glass instructor while at Ohio University, was responsible for pressing me to try hot glass and I was hooked! My biggest influence in jewelry design is my good friend, Michele Mercaldo, here in my community in Boston where I work and live. Mimi is a real "jeweler's jeweler" and has helped me immensely with metal work and is a sound board for ideas.

I knew it would be my career when I left Art School in 1978 and began working in a hot glass studio full time. My studio partner and I at that time were taking our work to New York city to sell. Doug Heller of Heller Gallery saw the work and asked to purchase everything we produced.. We were thrilled and they supported the studio for years. It afforded us a space to develop and grow.

You teach and make beads as well as finished jewelry. What do you enjoy about each of these parts of your business?

Making something with your hands is so intrinsically primal and nurturing, satisfying to the soul.. I love to teach to see others experience this thing I love so much. Some will leave the studio euphoric. It’s satisfying to experience. The beads and all glass parts seen in my work are conceived and executed by myself.. This gives my work a unique signature and style.

What challenges do you have combining the business side with the artistic aspect of running your business?

I am not good with money and have had a hard time in this area..Running a business is a constant struggle and you do have to work it. Discipline and delegation of responsibilities are important. I will always still be learning.

What do you think are the most effective ways to market and sell your product?

The most important ways to sell my product is to stay focused on what I do best, making art. Being as good as I can be as an artist gives me the best edge. I need to keep developing and staying abreast of the ways to market my product.

How has the economy affected your business?

Overall everyone seems to be selling less, so of course this affects us all. The craft markets are doing poorly.

What advice do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

Find your own voice and develop it. Persistence will get you everywhere!

Where can your work be seen?

Here in my Boston studio showroom my work can be seen. I also sell my hand blown glass beads here and in Boston also at Mercaldo Gallery. On the west coast the de Young Museum at Golden Gate Park. Symmetry in Saratoga Springs, NY, Corning Museum gift shop also in NY, Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA and Alaska Glass Gallery in Anchorge, Alaska. My work can also be seen at

Joyce's glass is extraordinarily beautiful and graceful. It was a pleasure meeting her!
Thanks for stopping by!