Although art imbues our lives, few of us realize how the richness of an artist’s experience benefits what that artist creates. Horton’s past experiences as a botanical researcher, a pastry chef, a traveler, and a nature-lover show us how all those experiences inform the jewelry she creates today. She says, “Overall, my jewelry retains the natural texture of the medium while still reflecting the work of my hands and my influences.”
Horton's work relies on texture as an essential component. She introduces texture into sheet metal by forging (hammering) and building up layers through cold connections and soldering. Metal clay techniques offer her options for adding surface interest including impressions of plant materials. Leaves, petals, wood grain, twigs and seed pods leave distinctive marks, as does her carving directly into pieces and utilizing a water-etching technique.
Texture reflects the powerful influence of Horton’s rural Arkansas childhood near the Mississippi River. Women there gardened; social visits mandated yard tours, speculation about this year’s plants, and unanimous agreement that the hostess’s floral display was “so very, very special.” Horton toddled after the ladies, absorbing plant names and gossip. She says, “My mother soon introduced me to a much deeper level of observation. She pointed out that each plant’s leaves were specific in their shape and occurred in predictable arrangements.”
Horton’s nose-in-the-flower inspections revealed the marvels of nectar glands, umbrella-like leaf scales, and subtle markings that attracted pollinators. A magnifying lens changed her life, and her childhood fascination with plants grew. She now uses the plant kingdom’s textures and forms in all her jewelry pieces, “If I sound like a botanical missionary on a crusade to convert the un-seers into plant believers, then perhaps I am.”
Her fascination with plants led to a University of Arkansas B.S. degree in Bacteriology, an environmental research position in Chicago, and a M.S. degree in Plant Anatomy. However, cutbacks in science research and fewer job opportunities, along with, in her words, “the impeccable logic of twenty-somethings,” led her, with her husband, to open a restaurant.
After six years, they sold the cafe, and Horton moved to Paris to study pastry at the Hotel Ritz Ecole de Gastronomie. Although travel marked her stay, she eventually found her way back to the U.S., working her way west in short-term food-service jobs, eventually landing in Ketchum, ID, to run a bakery.
This jewelry artist is quick to say that she fell in love with Idaho and never intends to leave. The Western elements in her jewelry – bold colored stones, mixed metals, and leather– arose with her move to Idaho. Her Lisa Horton Jewelry combines silver, bronze, copper, and brass, along with gemstone cabochons and leather, all with handmade clasps.
Horton’s jewelry journey had begun years before when she taught herself to repair vintage flea-market jewelry finds. Before bead shops and how-to videos, she discovered that she could do much with a hardware store’s copper wire. When her fragile mends broke beyond her repair skills, she refashioned the bits into other wearable creations. She notes, “It was the 80’s after all!”
In Idaho, she discovered metal clay techniques and began sculpting silver, bronze and copper pendants and earrings. Over the last seven years, she has moved towards traditional metalsmithing, adding sheet metal and wire to metal clay pieces, exploring the mysteries of soldering, and flirting with enameling. In addition to her own self-discovery, she has studied with well-known jewelers, including Terry Kovalcik, Holly Gage, Hadar Jacobson, Pam East, Kim St. Jean, and Nicole Ringgold.
Ten years ago, Horton began teaching jewelry-making classes locally and a year ago partnered with another jeweler to form 2Gals Jewelry School. Their classes include metal clay, cold connections and fabrication, leather macramé, beading, and torch-fired enameling. She teaches regularly for the Sun Valley Museum of Art’s Craft Series and at Fire Fusion Studio. She also was selected by the Idaho Commission on the Arts to participate in the inaugural MAP workshop series in Coeur d’Alene.
Horton’s work is available at Wyoming Outfitters (Jackson, WY), Maude’s Coffee & Clothing, and Tribes (both in Ketchum). She participates in the Artists’ Studio Tour of the Wood River Valley, the Ketchum Arts Festival, the Western Design Conference and Art on the Green in Coeur d’Alene.
To see more of her work, visit her website: www.lisahortonjewelry.com or go to Facebook (Facebook/LisaHortonJewelry) and Instagram (@LisaHortonJewelryID)