Simple Elegance that Gets Noticed

Argyle Artisan Offers Unique Jewelry

Story by Sarah Naron

 When Leah Johnson, her husband, and two children welcomed twins to their family 12 years ago, she left her job as a speech pathologist to take on the role of being a stay at home mom.

“While their early years were wonderful, they were also a little crazy and all-consuming,” Johnson recalled. “I was in need of something that filled a creative side of me.”

Deciding to give jewelry making a go, Johnson purchased a variety of beads at Hobby Lobby and turned to YouTube for help in getting started.

“I started putting together some basic jewelry. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn, and I soon took a class to learn to solder,” Johnson said. “I was hooked! I took many more metalsmithing classes and spent a lot of money on tools.”

Soon, Johnson’s friends took interest in the pieces she made and began purchasing them, and her business – LJ Artisan Designs – was born.

“Many of them are still customers,” she reported. “I’m so grateful to them for giving me the confidence to continue.”

When asked where she derives ideas for jewelry, Johnson cited textures found in nature – such as the “rough, sandy beaches” after which her Skyler necklace is modeled – as a major inspiration.

“My love for travel definitely influences my designs,” she added. “The Alys necklace and earrings were inspired by Alys Beach, FL. My upcoming collection was inspired by a trip to Colorado.”

Johnson has also previously enjoyed traveling to Europe, and among the items in her Gratia Collection are “beautiful, hand cast medallions” that were influenced by cathedrals she saw there.

“My kids will laugh at me, because I’ll see a beautiful piece of artwork and say, ‘Oh, that would be beautiful as a cuff bracelet!’” she said.

Of course, even the most enjoyable job has its challenges, and for Johnson, the biggest obstacle is lacking a larger amount of time to engage in making jewelry.

“I don’t have enough time in my day to accomplish all the things I’d like to do,” she explained. “There are so many business tasks like writing emails, ordering supplies, keeping track of inventory, and staying on top of my business financials, among other things. I wish I had more time at my jewelry bench, just creating jewelry!”

Johnson described metalsmithing as “such an interesting process.

“I think it’s incredible that a piece of sheet metal or wire can be transformed into something beautiful that is wearable art,” she said. “Some of my most popular pieces – like the Presley necklace and the Blythe necklace – are made by forming wire into different shapes and adding a beautiful hammered finish. Both are mixed metal necklaces that go well with just about anything.”

Each month, Johnson introduces “new, one-of-a-kind” pieces of jewelry, which she reported “sell out quickly.

“They are typically items that require much more time and detail work,” she explained. “I love incorporating natural, semi-precious gemstones into these pieces. They often take several hours to create and involve multiple soldering operations and detailed finishing work involving sanding and polishing. It’s time intensive, but I love it!”

The most rewarding part of what she does, Johnson said, is receiving positive feedback from her clients, as well as being able to help them look and feel beautiful.

“When a customer tells me that she loves her jewelry and that she always gets compliments when she wears it, it makes my day,” Johnson said. “When I was a stay at home mother, I noticed how easy it was to feel invisible. I also see this with women who are taking care of aging parents. As women, we take care of everyone around us, but it’s so easy to lose a sense of yourself and your style.”

Johnson described the jewelry she creates as something which possesses “simple elegance that gets noticed.

“I create jewelry for women who refuse to be invisible,” she said. “And if I can help them look and feel beautiful, it is incredibly rewarding to me.”

For more information or to purchase jewelry, please visit www.ljartisandesigns.com.

LJ Artisan Designs is located at 2405 Winthrop Hill Rd. in Argyle. Johnson may be reached via phone at (940)-295-5523 and by email at leah@ljartisandesigns.com.

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