Sunday, July 22, 2012

A life’s voyage cast in precious metals

Metalsmith Lynell ( is a new member of the Chatham Artists Guild ( Visitors to her studio, just south of Chapel Hill, during the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour, will enjoy her eclectic garden and lovely nature-inspired jewelry.  Lynell’s art in precious metals captures the diverse experiences of an unexpectedly adventurous life.

Lynell in her Chatham County Studio
Photo: LD
Lynell grew up on a farm near Asheville North Carolina in the 1950’s, the third of four children. “It was a simple life – I enjoyed doing farm chores with my brother, exploring the streams and woodlands, and just being outside,” she recalls. Her father ran the farm, and her mother was a housewife and later became a beautician. Lynell worked in her mom’s beauty shop after school. Lynell was always attracted to art, but there were no art classes in school. “The closest thing to an art class was mechanical drawing, and girls were not allowed to take it,” she notes

Lynell worked in a factory and took some art classes for a time, but her life made to an abrupt change for the better, when the Winnebago Company moved into town, and opened a van conversion facility. “I heard that they were hiring artists, she states, “And I went to talk myself into a job.” Winnebago gave two weeks to prove her skills, painting murals on vans. Prove herself she did. “It was the best job!” she emotes. “I was actually getting paid to make art.” The company even paid Lynell to take art classes at UNC Asheville. “I realized that I was an artist, and always would be,” She asserts.

This period in the early 1970s was a wonderful time for Lynell. She met Denny, her now husband of 30 plus years. “He supported my art and recognized how much it meant to me,” Lynell contemplates. “We have been partners in adventure ever since.”

Artists and adventurers
Photo: LD
In the mid70s, the Winnebago plant closed because of the gas crisis. Lynell went full time into her painting – landscapes, nature, some life drawings. She began to participate in art shows.

In 1982,  Lynell and Denny moved to the Pittsboro area, and opened an upscale shop “The Vintage Gourmet” in Cole Park Plaza. They offered good cheeses, good wines, good coffee, sea food – things that folks couldn’t get in supermarkets at the time. Lynell continued to paint and did “crafty projects”. They ran this business for 9 years. Their daughter and son went on to college, and they looked for a new adventure.

Lynell and Denny learned pottery from well known potter Jim Pringle, and worked with him for a time. To help out a friend, Lynell took a job in a local dental lab, and learned the very precise skills of metalsmithing.

Denny had always loved sailing, and Lynell wanted to learn. “We rented a little sailboat at Jordan Lake, and he tried to teach me,” she smiles. “We fought all day.” Lynell decided to go to a women’s sailing school in Chesapeake to learn the basics, and after that the couple got along fine. They began talking about an extended sailing activity. Denny began studying for his captain’s license. Lynell helped him study. Denny encouraged her to take the captain’s test too. They each passed the Coast Guard exam, bought a 27 foot sail boat, packed up their belongings, rented out their house, and launched a 7 year voyage all up and down the Eastern seaboard. For a time, they ran a marina in the Florida Keys. They later took a 3-month road trip across the US.

Lynell's creation in precious metals
Photo: LD
Upon returning to Chatham, they continued to explore various art media. They became interested in working with metal. “One day we took the Chatham Studio Tour, and visited Monnda Welch,” Lynell explains. Lynell said to Welch, “You’re going to teach me how to do this.” She worked under Welch’s tutelage for 3 to 4 years. “I am still learning from Monnda,” she stresses.

In the mid 2000s, Lynell established her own metalsmithing studio. She creates artful jewelry that reflects the many facets of her life’s adventures. “My work reflects a love of the rich cultural heritage and environment of not only North Carolina where I grew up, but also as a result of traveling across our beautiful and diverse country.” She notes. Monnda Welch says, “Lynell paints with metal.

Lynell is one of the many regionally and nationally recognized artists and fine crafts people who will open their studios the first two weekends in December at the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour ( Visitors from all around enjoy Chatham’s rural beauty and share with the members of the Chatham Artists Guild in the creative process. It is a holiday tradition, and an opportunity to purchase unique original art.

1 comment:

Kate Ladd Art said...

Nice article! Lynell also shows her work at the Joyful Jewel.