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!


1 comment:

Nicole said...

linda, your work is beautiful and each piece certainly has a story to tell. congratulations on committing to living your dream everyday, i hope you continue to find inspiration in nature and life.