Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at email@example.com. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What kind of mediums do you work with?
Ellen Lyons: My business officially began in 2002 when I moved to Seattle from San Francisco, but my artistry started way before as a child. My parents were both very talented artists as well as three of my four grandparents, so I inherited mega art genes. I also visited a lot of artists' studios, who were my parents' friends. I work with silver, gold, reticulated silver and colored gemstones. Additionally, I throw porcelain on a potter's wheel. I'm also an avid knitter. I'm probably going to go to Italy as soon as it's safe to study the granulation technique with a master.
Can you tell us about your process and how the different stages work into it?
I have several different ways. One way is with a shape or a piece of tree bark that I want to feature. A thin piece of birch tree bark can be used to texture a piece of metal with my jeweler's rolling mill. Another way is with a gemstone that I want to feature, then choosing the best metal to show off the color and the setting that will protect and enhance the stone. I might use my own alloy of reticulated silver or another piece of metal, either silver or a combination with others like reticulated silver or Mokume Gane, a Japanese mixed-metal laminate technique. It means "wood grain." I also have a muse who wakes me up with a design, and then I go and make what she demands.
Tell us about where your inspiration comes from.
Being in nature that includes sailing on my sailboat, travel and antiquities. I love tree bark textures, the patterns of leaves and sand. My travels to Israel, Istanbul, my favorite beach in Mexico and this Ottoman Era Mosque wall in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, are continuing sources of inspiration.
Do you have a specific type of jewelry you like creating best – rings, necklaces, earrings, etc.?
In 2005, I exported over 500 pieces of Roman glass shards with beautiful iridescent colors from Israel that date back to 2000 years BCE. I love taking each piece and making a pendant to showcase what it might have been. Perhaps, the rim of a bottle, the bottom of a goblet or perhaps part of perfume bottle. During the presidential election in 2016, I had an entire collection of hammered earrings and rings that served as therapy to get my anxiety and anger out.
Do you have one piece that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I have a special line of jewelry that consists of pearl-knotted gemstones with and without pearls. My customers purchase them for anniversaries, "push" presents for new moms, and for brides and bridal parties. I love celebrating these life passages with my customers. I also love taking an old piece of jewelry and reinventing it into something new. This is challenging, but it's also a way to get something out of the depths of a jewelry box and out into the light.
What experiences have affected you the most?
Growing up within a community and a family of artists to start. My travels to Israel, Turkey, my favorite beach in Mexico and living in Oaxaca, Mexico.
If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
My website is www.ellenlyonsjewelry.com, Instagram is @ellenlyonsjewelry and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I make "house calls," which is to say, I will personally make a curbside delivery of any jewelry purchased within Seattle.
Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
Yes, I'm designing a new line called my Elegant Whimsy Collection. I love puzzle pieces, and my favorite gemstones will be featured; colored sapphires, colored garnets and some tourmalines. All of the metal and gemstones in this new collection will be fair-traded and sustainably sourced.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
Turkish coffee with ground cardamon and a tiny bit of sugar.