Sydney Lynch occupies the intersection where jewelry meets true sculpture. From the distilled essences of landscapes, to a suggested tribal layout of gems and patterns, Sydney manages to fully express an aesthetic purely her own.
Sydney’s fascination with jewelry began as it has with a few jewelry artists I know: with her grandmother’s jewelry box. Each piece in the treasure trove of costume jewelry told a story. Sydney, driven by the need to create (potholders, clay, painting) discovered silver, and she found her calling. Now she works with three assistants in her studio in the heartland of Nebraska with materials like 18kt and 22kt gold, oxidized sterling, and one-of-a-kind gemstones.
I love the juxtaposition of the more organic gems, sometimes even pearls, with slightly sharper, almost industrial design. There is often negative space in her jewelry, where the wearer becomes part of the design. There are lots of layers: from the bimetal sheets of 22kt and silver; to textured, blackened silver the color and texture of shale; to the gemstones precisely set in bezels of 22kt gold. Sydney builds strata of landscapes not unlike the prairie she works from.
Sydney Lynch Interview
I had a chance to speak to Sydney about her impressive career in jewelry design. This is an excerpt from the full interview I did for the Contemporary Jewelry Design Group, where Sydney is a member and I am an editor. You can catch the full interview here at cjdgjewelers.org.
idazzle.com: Ok, so tell me about your studio in Nebraska.
Sydney Lynch: I have lived in Nebraska since 1982. I live in a neighborhood in Lincoln, NE, with a studio behind the house. There are photos of it on the website. It’s a great studio: great size, lots of windows, and we all enjoy the backyard wildlife. It’s a nice place to work.
Are there challenges to your location? Do you feel you miss anything by not living on a coast or in a major city?
I grew up in Connecticut, and while I’m certainly more of a coastal person, the cost of living here is very affordable and allows me to pursue an artist’s life. My husband also works here with me, living here also probably allows us to both work in my business.
All of your pieces are quite distinctive, what is the difference between your Designer Line and your One-Of-A-Kinds?
The Designer Line is my production line, which means that they can potentially be reproduced. This was a way for me, especially early on in my career, to actually make a living making jewelry. Doing wholesale was a very practical decision: in 1983, I started doing American Craft Council shows, and had my daughter in 1989. I knew people who traveled literally all the time to sell directly to collectors, but with a daughter, it was important to be able to not be on the road constantly. Everyone wants to make amazing one-of-a-kind pieces, but it’s harder to predict how and when you will sell those pieces.
Also, when I say production line, that actually equals everything made by hand in my studio. I might have a couple of elements cast or fabricated for me by a trusted source. This allows me to make certain pieces more affordable for my collectors. There is always that problem-solving challenge: how do you make great jewelry design that doesn’t overstep what people are willing to pay.
I see a common thread in your Designer Line and you One-of-a-Kinds, there is a consistency of aesthetic.
I love the colored stones in the One-of-a-Kinds. I’m really inspired by interesting stones. They are lots of fun to work with. I probably get more pleasure from that since it’s so satisfying: I still have to be conscious of the cost of materials, but a little freer to make decisions. It’s more fun because you’re less constrained.
How do you think your work has evolved since 1981, when you started?
Actually I’ve been making jewelry since 1973! After I graduated from U of CO, I was making jewelry but had no business background. I was a good hippie in those days: business classes would have been considered defeat! When I moved to Nebraska and was living in the middle of nowhere, I met a women involved with the American Craft Council shows, and I put together my entry into the shows.
I started getting orders, and then had to learn how to run the business part myself, on the fly.
My craftsmanship has evolved, certainly. Although my textures are sort of raw, it’s very intentional and I’m very precise about how that is executed. As part of my studies in Colorado, I was in independent study, working as a teachers aid at a Navajo Indian reservation. That’s when I got exposure to making silver jewelry. I started out doing pieces that were very influenced by that silver jewelry I saw as part of their heritage.
Thank you, Sydney, so wonderful to talk to you!