Inspired by Nature
~by Paige Langenderfer
Upon first glance at Amy Greely’s handcrafted jewelry, one might think that her creations are merely beautiful necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. But, look deeper and you will see that each piece is a stunning, meticulously hand-crafted interpretation of the beauty she sees in the world.
You can almost hear her sighing as you read the description of one of her collections on her website .
“As the heat of the day wanes and dusk begins to rise, petals unfurl in the gloaming and serve as the inspiration for the Evening Primrose Collection,” she describes. “This sweet offering is hand cut, hand formed, hand textured, and hand colored from sterling silver and 22k gold/sterling silver bi-metal. With a soft brown patina contrasting the rich glow of gold, you can hear the hush as dusk settles in and the blossoms open to embrace the moon. Breathe it in.”
Her pieces, as unique as each leaf on a tree, are sold in stores across the country, and in New Leaf, her store in Nashville, Indiana. Recognized as an Indiana Artisan, an acknowledgement reserved for only the top artisans in the state, the path to a life of self-expression was not always clear.
Amy always loved art, but being the only artistic member of a science-minded family made the idea of a life of art seem unrealistic. After following in her siblings’ footsteps and attending Purdue University for a year, Amy knew she had to follow her heart.
“It just wasn’t the right fit for me,” she said.
She transferred to IU’s Herron School of Art and Design to study sculpture.
“After I graduated, I couldn’t figure out how to make a living at it, so I just started working other jobs,” she said. “I did a little bit of everything, waiting tables, sales, and telemarketing.”
Things started falling into place when, on a whim, Amy and her husband bought 15 acres and a crumbling farm house in Brown County.
“We wanted to get out of the city, so I started a business growing and selling cut flowers to florists,” Amy said. “It was so cool to be in nature every day. I could feel the seasons changing. I was spending so much time on my hands and knees in the dirt that I started paying attention to the details and really started connecting with the beauty of nature.”
The flowers that didn’t sell were hung to dry. One day Amy tried making a wreath out of them.
“That was when we opened our first store,” she said. “It was a garden-themed store. It was so much fun, but we had a lot to learn.”
When searching for jewelry to sell in the store, a local jewelry artist invited Amy to attend a wire wrapping workshop.
“A light bulb went off immediately for me,” Amy said. “It was like, ‘Oh, this is how I connect all of the dots.’ Sometimes when you aren’t looking, life smacks you in the face.”
She enrolled in metalsmithing classes at Indiana University and began designing and crafting her first line of jewelry.
In 1998, Amy began selling her first line of jewelry at her store. Her inspiration came from her years spent in the dirt with the flowers, and from her childhood spent enjoying nature.
“Time spent among trees always teaches and inspires. These lovely, woody perennial plants with their elongated stems or trunks…play host to a myriad of forest creatures,” Amy describes on her website <www.AmyGreely.com>.
“As a metalsmith, my mind wanders to the challenge of translating these forms into wearable art that will share this peaceful experience with the wearer.”
Her expertise and customer following have grown every year since. One of her proudest moments was being juried into the Indiana Artisan Program.
“It changed the way I looked at my work because all of a sudden there was a much larger group of people looking at my work,” she said. “I started expanding my thought process. It was like the wildest design I could think of would be exactly what somebody was looking for.”
The artisan program also allowed her to expand her sales territory. Today, Amy’s jewelry is sold in more than 30 stores across the country.
“It’s really cool. I love being able to build relationships with customers at other stores,” she said. “It’s just been trial and error, and taking classes, and pushing boundaries since the day I started. There is always something new to learn and to be inspired by.”
And while she could likely make jewelry anywhere in the world, Amy said she is proud to call Brown County home.
“The richness and beauty of this place is remarkable. I am still sometimes amazed that this is my back yard. It’s just so beautiful and there is such a supportive and welcoming arts community. This place is special.”