Jeweler’s Joyful Work Featured at Oct. 14-15 Festival

DEDHAM — The Lucerne hills are starting to put on their fiery show. Ash, oak, birch, sugar maple and other deciduous trees are slowly changing color. The golden, red-orange and crimson standing out against the evergreens is a visual feast for motorists traveling Route 1A.

Suzanne Anderson is among those travelers. Tuned in to her natural surroundings, the Lucerne artist soaks in the fall foliage, sparkling ice in winter and budding flowers in late spring. Those seasonal shades, forms and patterns surface in the joyful jewelry that she creates at YIKES! Studio overlooking Phillips Lake.

“I guess I just love the outdoors — nature and the variety that you have in Maine,” she reflected. “I like the contrast of the coast to the interior and the intensity of the seasons.”

For over five years now, Anderson has been fine-tuning and expanding her jewelry line sold through her website, Maine stores far and wide and at the annual Beads, Baubles & Fleece Downeast show being held Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14-15, at the Ramada Inn in Ellsworth.

At the juried show, Anderson will have her polymer clay, precious metal and enameled copper pieces on sale along with over 40 other artisans whose work ranges widely from Bangor fiber artist Jodi Clayton’s graceful felt jackets to Islesford jeweler Barbara Fernald’s elegant silver and beachstone necklaces and other pieces.

Glacial boulders, festooned with deep brown shavings, flank the steep driveway leading to the lakeside home of Suzanne and Anthony Anderson. The couple produce together the free, 146-page “Maine Gallery and Studio Guide.”

In her lakeside studio, Anderson takes child’s play — think of modeling with Fimo and Sculpey clay — to a fine art. Like a chef, with her cooking ingredients at the ready, she manages to produce three distinctly different forms of jewelry in a very small work space. One corner is devoted to polymer clay. Metallurgy with powdered precious metals occupies one side while tools and material for copper enameling absorbs another.

To make her vibrant polymer pieces, Anderson selects from a rainbow of Premo clay bars — ranging from fuchsia to wasabi — that serves as her building blocks. She then slices off a piece of the polymer and warms and softens it — called conditioning — by rolling the pliable compound through a pasta machine. She also creates her own rich colors — like periwinkle and alizarin gold — by stacking clay hues and running them through the machine.

Depending on what piece she has in mind to make, Anderson may roll up the long, thin strip like a jellyroll. Cutting the end of the tube — called a cane — reveals a spiral pattern.

A 1986 graduate of the Portland School of Art, Anderson earned a bachelor of fine arts. Her focus was largely on painting, but she also studied jewelry and metalsmithing. In Maine, she has managed to make a living as an artist, but often chose work enabling her to stay at home and be available for her daughter. For a decade, for instance, she painted lighthouse scenes on buoys.

Five years ago, it was her daughter Dylan, in fact, who first taught her how to make polymer canes. Creating and artfully combining beads into pieces engaged all her artistic skills and sensibilities.

Anderson has been on a roll ever since, expanding her knowledge and refining her techniques. The breadth, diversity and polished quality of her jewelry shows just how hard she has worked.

At YIKES! Studio, Anderson singlehandedly creates one-of-a-kind pieces in a broad spectrum of styles and prices ($22-$400). Her bold cuffs — she calls them arm candy — come in striking color combos like pink and brown and red and vanilla. A mosaic of raised circles forms the surfaces, making the bracelets sculptural and give them added depth.

On an earring tree, a sweet pair catches the eye. Red polymer birds perch on sunset-colored pendants. They are accented by tiny freshwater pearls and peridote-colored Swarovski crystals.

Whether it’s cuffs or earrings, all of Anderson’s work shares a joyfulness similar to the French painter Henri Matisse or the famed Finnish textile Marimekko.

“She caught my eye years ago,” said Peter Stremlau, owner of New Cargoes in Blue Hill. The store carries Anderson’s creations. “I carry it because I really like what she does with color and design. There’s something very warm and pleasing.”

As a self-employed artist, Anderson says she works pretty much all the time to keep her work fresh and inventory ample. Sometimes, though, she steals away for a mini vaca to one of two lounge chairs on the float a stone’s throw from the house. There, she can close her eyes, feel the sun’s warmth and the wind’s rustle.

“I wish I didn’t have to sleep,” she mused, “because I want to make stuff all the time.”

For more arts & entertainment news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

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