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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Andrea 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.