JEWELRY AND METALWORK
In the depths of the Great Depression, Stuart Nye bought some secondhand tools and a little silver. Without any experience in jewelry or metalwork, but with good taste, an eye for beauty, and faith in himself, he began to make a few simple bangle bracelets. Through trial and error, he learned the nature of his materials and began to fashion silver into the leaves and flowers so characteristic of jewelry today. From that day in 1933 when Mr. Nye began, our shop has changed in many ways. It has moved from an attic room through a series of additions to a garage to the rustic building built in 1948 especially for our use, which we now call “The Shop.”
The range of products has changed, too. The original work was in sterling silver, and this continues to be our most popular product. Copper was added during the metal shortages of World War II. Brass was added during the silver price explosion in the winter of 1979-80.
Over the years we have invented many of our production methods. We have refined them and shared them with one another. Our workers are trained here and seldom have had prior training or experience in metalwork or jewelrymaking. We are still learning, and there is much we still do not know.
Perhaps our ignorance has been an asset. Our jewelry is “fresh” and “different,” and our prices are fair. Perhaps with our crude homemade tools and our continuing effort to be efficient, we have done a better job than had we been more knowledgeable. Perhaps we would have copied the designs of others along with their production methods and become lost in the general confusion. The tools of our trade are still simple ones. We make chisels from old files and punches from nail sets or common nails. We make cutting tools and chisels from tool steel and use hammers and anvils large enough to remind one of an old blacksmith shop.
The beauty of our jewelry does not come from the tools. It comes from the inspiration that nature can give to an artist who will take the time to look and from the skill and dedication of our craftsmen. We are mountain people with a heritage of craftsmanship.
We are producing works of art. Jewelry of a quality that only a handcraftsman with a sense of pride in his work can produce, but we try to produce it at a modest price so that ordinary people can own and enjoy it. This was Stuart Nye's goal. This is still our goal today.