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Susan Lenart Kazmer

Published:

I build big, bold jewelry. It is of no concern to me what my adornments are made of or how they are worn—I actually expect many of my pieces to be displayed on the wall, and I feel that’s where they can live comfortably. My adornments reference history while being directly influenced by global cultures.

Susan Lenart Kazmer

My handmade collections have been sold at Henri Bendel, Banana Republic and Nordstrom and shown at numerous galleries and museum exhibits. I have authored several books on jewelry making, including RESIN ALCHEMY (Interweave 2013), which made Amazon’s Best Seller list. My talismans, prayer boxes, amulets and adornments can be seen in a variety of fashion publications such as ELLE and Ornament magazines, as well as couture fashion show runways throughout Europe.

I have been a maker of jewelry for a number of different markets for over thirty years. I’ve created work for everything from museum exhibits to commercial lines of jewelry for the industry. At the moment, I am involved in an exhibit in Milan, Italy for Fashion Week. It is such an honor having been chosen by an incredible jury made up of editors from Vogue and Vanity Fair as well as various other fashion journalists.

Susan Lenart Kazmer's Jewelry

Throughout my life I have been continually inspired by ancient cultures, elaborate adornments, artifacts, and architecture; it continues to this day. I grew up on the South side of Chicago with four sisters. Because of this I feel I have a deep love and understanding of women. I do volunteer work for young female entrepreneurs just getting started. My sisters and I were always encouraged to be independent and explore our options in life. The south side was a rough playground back then, and one series of figurative jewelry I created was based on some of the vaudeville-like characters I remember from the old neighborhood.

In college, I realized the thing that fascinated me the most about jewelry and objects I am drawn to is the cultural history behind them. I studied adornment, talismans, relics and amulets for 10 years. I was a part of a group that traced how and why these pieces were made and worn to discover the significance behind the art. So much can be traced back to religion or spiritual belief. At the core of all cultures is spirituality. Pieces are made and worn to induce prayer and create abundance, riches or love. The idea behind a talisman is that by seeing it over and over it becomes embedded with a thought such as love, working in a positive way, to ward off evil or unwanted attention, like the sacred eye from Turkey or the handsa from Ethiopia. Jewelry history is so rich.

My life is about being balanced and centered. In the past I have worked very hard and way too much. I built companies and raised my children all while teaching my art around the globe. It was during this time I created an online store called Objects and Elements. I sold and marketed a product I called ICE RESIN®, a jewelers grade two part clear epoxy resin which became a staple in my jewelry. I still love it and it’s incorporated into my work on a regular basis. I created a very successful line of jewelry components exclusive to the craft and hobby chain store Michaels Corp. called Industrial Chic. The concept was based on my museum work and brought a talisman to a craft level, easy to put together and work with. The line was produced for five years and won an award for the best-selling line to date. From this experience I realized how much I love building an affordable, wearable line. I am thinking that is where I’m headed next.

Talismans by Susan Lenart Kazmer

Now I am in a strange and unfamiliar position of having time on my hands as both kids are in college. I sold my company ICE RESIN®, although I continue on as creative director and consultant. I am sitting here in the charming city of San Miguel de Allende in North Mexico as I write this. This particular trip is simply to gain a new perspective as I work with a friend in his silver studio. There is so much inspiration here—just before I sat down to write I pulled out my sketchpad to draw some of the gorgeous old hinges, wood finishes and chandeliers that I see.

“I have always had an affinity for the odd and unusual.”

I like to incorporate meaningful bits such as sand from a beloved beach, or ashes from a fire ceremony I experienced in Bali into my talismans. I have become a huge fan of yoga and love the positive energy, power and strength I get from each session. My vision is to emulate in my jewelry the feeling I have when I’ve performed yoga.

Susan Lenart Kazmer's Tools

With my life temporarily in flux, I’ve had time to reflect on what my initial attraction to building jewelry was all about. I remain forever excited and inspired by this craft. My next jewelry-building trip is to Guatemala. Their culture and history is still intact, and they’ve done things the same way for hundreds of years. Besides building jewelry for five days, we will be exploring markets, jade carving, taking a chocolate cooking class and fitting in plenty of yoga as well. I find that when my students create and explore other cultures together they undergo a shift. It becomes an energizing experience for mind, body and soul as they form lasting friendships by the vibe that is created.

Looking to the future, I intend to create that wearable, affordable jewelry line I spoke of earlier. I am super inspired by a jewelry line from the 1960’s called Lou Zelds. The jewelry truly creates a tangible “vibe” and that’s what I’m after too. This time, as I delve into new beginnings, I vow to be more balanced, find time for myself, yoga, love and being creative. This is what is real in life.

Susan’s Metalsmith Process: This procedure is forging heavy gauge wire such as 10 or 12 gauge. I hand hammer, forge and anneal. Repeat this process about 3 times until my wire is shaped like an hour-glass on each end. This enables me to drill holes in the “paddle” ends. Separately I draw a bead on an 18 gauge wire, insert it into the hole and draw a bead on the second side of the wire. This way I am able to attach ring closures. It looks cool and works well as an attachment. This is a basic process for all the rings and attachments that I use in my work.

I build big, bold jewelry. It is of no concern to me what my adornments are made of or how they are worn—I actually expect many of my pieces to be displayed on the wall, and I feel that’s where they can live comfortably. My adornments reference history while being directly influenced by global cultures.

Susan Lenart Kazmer

My handmade collections have been sold at Henri Bendel, Banana Republic and Nordstrom and shown at numerous galleries and museum exhibits. I have authored several books on jewelry making, including RESIN ALCHEMY (Interweave 2013), which made Amazon’s Best Seller list. My talismans, prayer boxes, amulets and adornments can be seen in a variety of fashion publications such as ELLE and Ornament magazines, as well as couture fashion show runways throughout Europe.

I have been a maker of jewelry for a number of different markets for over thirty years. I’ve created work for everything from museum exhibits to commercial lines of jewelry for the industry. At the moment, I am involved in an exhibit in Milan, Italy for Fashion Week. It is such an honor having been chosen by an incredible jury made up of editors from Vogue and Vanity Fair as well as various other fashion journalists.

Susan Lenart Kazmer's Jewelry

Throughout my life I have been continually inspired by ancient cultures, elaborate adornments, artifacts, and architecture; it continues to this day. I grew up on the South side of Chicago with four sisters. Because of this I feel I have a deep love and understanding of women. I do volunteer work for young female entrepreneurs just getting started. My sisters and I were always encouraged to be independent and explore our options in life. The south side was a rough playground back then, and one series of figurative jewelry I created was based on some of the vaudeville-like characters I remember from the old neighborhood.

In college, I realized the thing that fascinated me the most about jewelry and objects I am drawn to is the cultural history behind them. I studied adornment, talismans, relics and amulets for 10 years. I was a part of a group that traced how and why these pieces were made and worn to discover the significance behind the art. So much can be traced back to religion or spiritual belief. At the core of all cultures is spirituality. Pieces are made and worn to induce prayer and create abundance, riches or love. The idea behind a talisman is that by seeing it over and over it becomes embedded with a thought such as love, working in a positive way, to ward off evil or unwanted attention, like the sacred eye from Turkey or the handsa from Ethiopia. Jewelry history is so rich.

My life is about being balanced and centered. In the past I have worked very hard and way too much. I built companies and raised my children all while teaching my art around the globe. It was during this time I created an online store called Objects and Elements. I sold and marketed a product I called ICE RESIN®, a jewelers grade two part clear epoxy resin which became a staple in my jewelry. I still love it and it’s incorporated into my work on a regular basis. I created a very successful line of jewelry components exclusive to the craft and hobby chain store Michaels Corp. called Industrial Chic. The concept was based on my museum work and brought a talisman to a craft level, easy to put together and work with. The line was produced for five years and won an award for the best-selling line to date. From this experience I realized how much I love building an affordable, wearable line. I am thinking that is where I’m headed next.

Talismans by Susan Lenart Kazmer

Now I am in a strange and unfamiliar position of having time on my hands as both kids are in college. I sold my company ICE RESIN®, although I continue on as creative director and consultant. I am sitting here in the charming city of San Miguel de Allende in North Mexico as I write this. This particular trip is simply to gain a new perspective as I work with a friend in his silver studio. There is so much inspiration here—just before I sat down to write I pulled out my sketchpad to draw some of the gorgeous old hinges, wood finishes and chandeliers that I see.

“I have always had an affinity for the odd and unusual.”

I like to incorporate meaningful bits such as sand from a beloved beach, or ashes from a fire ceremony I experienced in Bali into my talismans. I have become a huge fan of yoga and love the positive energy, power and strength I get from each session. My vision is to emulate in my jewelry the feeling I have when I’ve performed yoga.

Susan Lenart Kazmer's Tools

With my life temporarily in flux, I’ve had time to reflect on what my initial attraction to building jewelry was all about. I remain forever excited and inspired by this craft. My next jewelry-building trip is to Guatemala. Their culture and history is still intact, and they’ve done things the same way for hundreds of years. Besides building jewelry for five days, we will be exploring markets, jade carving, taking a chocolate cooking class and fitting in plenty of yoga as well. I find that when my students create and explore other cultures together they undergo a shift. It becomes an energizing experience for mind, body and soul as they form lasting friendships by the vibe that is created.

Looking to the future, I intend to create that wearable, affordable jewelry line I spoke of earlier. I am super inspired by a jewelry line from the 1960’s called Lou Zelds. The jewelry truly creates a tangible “vibe” and that’s what I’m after too. This time, as I delve into new beginnings, I vow to be more balanced, find time for myself, yoga, love and being creative. This is what is real in life.

Susan’s Metalsmith Process: This procedure is forging heavy gauge wire such as 10 or 12 gauge. I hand hammer, forge and anneal. Repeat this process about 3 times until my wire is shaped like an hour-glass on each end. This enables me to drill holes in the “paddle” ends. Separately I draw a bead on an 18 gauge wire, insert it into the hole and draw a bead on the second side of the wire. This way I am able to attach ring closures. It looks cool and works well as an attachment. This is a basic process for all the rings and attachments that I use in my work.

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