One-of-a-Kind, Unusually Unique — The Handcrafted Jewelry of Andrea Lyman

Handcrafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman
Handcrafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman

In the adroit hands of Andrea Lyman, there is no such thing as dross. Found items, vintage beads, dice, glass, metal, buttons, fabric trim, even seeds and nuts, find their way to new life and unusual expression in one-of-a-kind jewelry that genuinely lives up to that description.

Jewelry by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman.
Jewelry by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman.

“I’ve been making jewelry for, man, decades,” Lyman says. “I have always loved anything slightly worn with its own natural patina, and I have always loved creating beautiful things.”

Lyman’s inspiration began early, watching her mother and grandmother transforming fiber into embroidered pillowcases, crocheted doilies, table coverings, and curtains.

“I remember how much time went into making the most mundane of household items into a thing of beauty for our family to enjoy,” Lyman says, recounting how she followed the matriarchal steps of creating with fabric before expanding her scope to hand-made art cards, large bags crafted from new and vintage textiles and trims, and encaustic, or hot wax, painting.

When she turned her attention to jewelry, at first she just made things for herself, then as presents for holidays and birthdays, then — at the urging of friends, family, and other gift recipients — for sale at craft fairs and festivals, gift shops, and galleries. What started as a hobby and a means of expressing herself soon grew into a second career, one pursued concurrently with her day job as a music teacher in both public and private schools, a position she held for more than 40 years.

Jewelry by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman
Jewelry by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman

“I am no longer teaching in a school, but nearing retirement age (notice I didn’t say ‘retirement’ — whatever that means!), I now travel and mentor other music teachers in Waldorf schools throughout North America and a couple in South America,” Lyman says.

Presently residing in Cuenca, Ecuador — where, in her non-retirement, she serves as artistic director for the 45-member Cuenca International Chorale — Lyman incorporates exotic elements, like hand-woven basket beads from Ecuadorian artisans, into her bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. Another favorite design element is the tagua nut, nicknamed the “vegetable ivory,” and prized for its ivory-like color and texture.

Earrings by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman
Earrings by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman

“I love making beautiful things — period,” Lyman explains. “I thoroughly enjoy creating something artistic, colorful and unique, and especially for the jewelry, making someone else happy or feel special.”

Through the years, many people have experienced this happy, special feeling, as Lyman readily takes on commissions for life’s important occasions — a necklace and earrings to match the mother-of-the-bride’s dress, or a birthday gift incorporating colors and items meaningful to the recipient.

“I love making things specifically for others.

“I think of them all the while I am working on the piece, so the piece ends up being imbued with my attention and good intentions for that  person.

Jewelry by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman
Jewelry by Wenaha Gallery artist Andrea Lyman

“I like to think that it is similar to an amulet or ‘medicine’ piece for them, bringing them luck, good fortune, peace, or whatever good things can come their way.”

Because she has an eye for the unusual and distinct, Lyman finds signature raw material wherever she goes, and every flea market, antique store, community market, or even yard sale is an opportunity to discover hidden gems that most people overlook. Back at her studio (“a space that is my own, filled with all of the things I need and the things that bring me delight”), Lyman pores through the drawers of her bead cabinet, which she has organized by color and shape and size.

“Something calls out to me — perhaps a color or a certain bead. I kind of let the materials tell me what they want to become.”

Part of any artist’s dilemma is that, after investing so much of their soul in a work, an eventual good-bye must be said if the artist is going to make a living at selling it.

“I only make things that I would love to wear, so I either wear all of them or none of them!” Lyman exclaims. That being said, there are pieces that, upon completion, never leave her possession, having been created for her own special occasion or specific outfit. It is at these times that Lyman feels the joy her clients experience upon possessing the perfect piece of jewelry.

“I love to play with the colors, shapes, and textures of the materials until a piece begins to create itself, guiding my hands, thoughts, and visions.

“My jewelry is truly wearable art, and each piece is unique.”

Wenaha GalleryAndrea Lyman is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Monday, August 10 through Saturday, October 3.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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Beautiful Lizards — The Pottery of Roberta Zimmerman at Sun Lizard Studios

Hand thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
The shape, form, glazing, and decoration of Roberta Zimmerman’s hand thrown pottery pieces is inspired by Native American design

Even the most urban-based child manages to find enough dirt and water to create mud pies at least once in their lives, but for Dayton potter Roberta Zimmerman, three out of four of the sacred elements — Earth, Air, and Water — were an integral part  of every childhood summer. (Fire, she added when she was an adult.)

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

“I was born in Arizona, the first-born daughter of a real cowboy and a homemaker,” Zimmerman says. “We lived all over Arizona on cattle ranches and movie sets, as my father worked on all of John Ford’s western movies shot in Arizona.”

While Zimmerman’s father attended to the stuff of legends, Zimmerman focused on that legendary childhood stuff — mud pies, baked under the scorching Arizona sun. When it got too hot for inedible culinary production, Zimmerman did what any sensible child would do and ran around barefoot.

“We found Indian arrowheads just laying all over the land. Another favorite pastime was chasing lizards — it was a challenge to be fast enough to catch them!”

Such is the stuff of memories better than legends, and in Zimmerman’s life, those memories have shaped the art that she does today: hand-thrown, hand-painted pottery designed to endure (because of that Fire she added, pushing the temperature in her studio kiln to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as be used for the cooking and serving of food (definitely not recommended with mud pies).

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

The lizards she chased and the arrowheads she admired factor strong in the decorative inspiration she adds to her finished work, expressing her reverence for and respect of Native American art and artists.

“The works I create reflect my love of the West and the ancient people who came before us,” Zimmerman explains. “Each and every piece is thrown on the pottery wheel, so there are no identical pieces — no molds.

“The paintings are free-hand paintings, no stencils. All the glazes are lead free to be safe for dinnerware.

“It is my deep wish that folks will enjoy using these pieces I create.”

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

In between childhood mud pies and adult work with clay, Zimmerman’s residence in the art arena took a break as she ceded to the demands of the work world, serving 11 years as a police dispatcher and 11 years as a correctional officer at Washington State Penitentiary (she and her husband, Ralph, who also worked as a correctional officer, like to tell friends that they met in prison).

When severe back surgery in 1999 resulted in an earlier retirement than Zimmerman had initially envisioned, Ralph’s practical, yet encouraging, nature propelled her forward when he asked,

“What do you want to do?”

Pottery. The answer was out before the question was finished.

“I just always wanted to do that ever since I was a little girl,” Zimmerman says. “So I started taking classes at community college, Ralph bought me a wheel and a kiln, and I was off and running.

“I bought every book I could get my hands on and highlighted and highlighted, and just tried and tried.”

Through the years, in addition to working with white stoneware, Zimmerman has explored Raku, pit-fired, black smoked, and horse hair pottery, and she has sold her work through art fairs, regional shows, gift shops, co-ops, and at Sun Lizard Studios, the brand name for her work which she creates from her Wolf Fork home.

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

An inveterate learner, she has added the Internet to her repertoire of information resources, communicating online with artist colleagues in Germany, Israel, and throughout the world. Ralph, ever the encourager, owes gratitude to the opportunities technology offers, remembering the five-hour driving detour they took once in Nevada so Zimmerman could visit a potter’s studio she had heard about.

“It turned out to be a fascinating place,” she remembers.

But just as fascinating is Sun Lizard Studios, named when Zimmerman’s daughter playfully observed, “Well, Mom, you are just an old sun lizard!” In this mountain retreat, where a bear swimming in the pond or turkeys strolling through the yard replace lizards darting underfoot, the child who spent her summers slapping mud seamlessly picks up where those joyous days of abandon left off.

“Making pottery has been the fulfillment of a dream for me.”

Wenaha GalleryRoberta Zimmerman is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Monday, July 13 through Saturday, August 8.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

Rock, Paper, Scissors — Cheri McGee’s One-of-a-Kind Cut Paper Paintings

Colorful Spheres original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee.
Colorful Spheres, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee

Most people, even if they flee at the mention of a fabric store, have met a quilter. Those unfamiliar with the craft marvel at the concept of taking yards of intact fabric, cutting it into smaller and disparate pieces, and reassembling those pieces into one planned, designed, and cohesive unit.

Blue Cat, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee
Blue Cat, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee

But a quilt seems like a simple thing when placed side by side with the cut paper art of Cheri McGee, an Enterprise, OR, artist whose palette consists of thousands of snipped, scissored, and punched out pieces of paper — some of them smaller than a tick. Practiced throughout the world, paper art can be as basic as a silhouette, those portraits in profile that we associate with the Victorian era, or insanely complicated — as  is the more intricate traditional work from China, Indonesia, Germany (Scherenschnitte), and the Philippines.

McGee does a little of everything, embracing a style that ranges from a timelessly nostalgic folk art village scene to a sinuously flowing, almost curvaceous abstract mixed with realism. And then there are the mosaic works, consisting of itsy bitsy (think back to that tick, in company with sunflower seeds and some orange pips ) squares and circles and triangles and diamonds meticulously arranged to create a paper version of something you’d expect to find in a Turkish marketplace.

African Dancers, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee.
African Dancers, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee

“Painting with oils may be easier,” the artist comments, explaining how, in the process of cutting and layering card stock into a cohesive image, weeks fly by. But it is this very detail and intricacy, in addition to the uniqueness of the medium itself, that is the attraction.

“I have been working in paper for 30 years,” McGee says. “It began as both an experiment and a need for wall art when the phrase, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ kept echoing through my head.” Faced with a new home of blank, white walls, McGee’s eyes turned to her young daughter’s supply of construction paper, her hands picked up a pair of scissors, and a passion was born.

City Scene, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee
City Scene, original cut paper art by Wenaha Gallery artist Cheri McGee

In short order, one pair of scissors grew into more than 25, and the cache of paper multiplied to, well, the equivalent of a quilter’s stash, as McGee kept an eye out, everywhere she traveled, for unique, unusual, textured, exotic, patterned, and colored stock. A spare room in her home functions as her studio, where creativity reigns and portable desk fans, even on hot days, do not.

Every finished artwork is unique, and while McGee may work on multiple projects simultaneously, there are no (no pun intended) short cuts. While in the early days she pre-cut and stored in drawers images and shapes as a means of speeding up future artworks, McGee found that she never used them, preferring, instead, to custom cut exactly what was needed precisely when the moment called for it.

It’s a build-as-you-go process, and the artwork itself makes its own demands. But when it comes to subject matter, anything goes, depending up McGee’s mood and inspiration, both of which are influenced by her interests, a childhood background in traveling as the daughter of a military family , and marriage to another artist, sculptor and flute carver Roger McGee.

“Being a self-taught artist, I find inspiration in that freedom, to create what strikes my fancy,” Cheri says. “I have recently begun a series of images and designs from the ’60s. I am also inspired by Moroccan designs, having lived there as a child when my father was serving in the Air Force.”

Lucky Charmz, original cut paper art by Cheri McGee
Lucky Charmz, original cut paper art by Cheri McGee

McGee’s works are in the homes of collectors from California to New York, as well as in Japan. She has shown and sold her work at the Kalispell Art Show and Auction in Montana, Spokane’s MONAC Western Show and Auction, and the Western Art Association Show and Auction in Ellensburg.

But the best place to find the artist herself is in that studio, scissors in one hand, paper in the other, as eyes, soul, and psyche focus on creating a work of art that has no twin of itself, anywhere, in the world.

Wenaha GalleryCheri McGee’s cut paper art is on display at Wenaha Gallery through Saturday, June 27, 2015.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.