By Gina Malone
Sometimes the marriage of two lives creates a partnership of artistic vision as well. When Jerry and Linda Hunter met in 2008, she was a senior real estate paralegal at a law firm in Macon, GA. Jerry had moved back to his home state some years earlier after living and working in Denver, CO, for 20 years. When he did, he brought with him the art—silversmithing—he had learned out west. While there he had owned several galleries and booths, supplementing his income by working as a computer consultant and programmer, a magazine travel editor, a freelance writer and an escort for national authors visiting Denver to promote their latest books.
After the two married, they set up a jewelry studio in their home and Linda began assisting Jerry with his jewelry making. “It began slowly with my doing simple tasks like wire wrapping,” she says. “The more I got involved, the more excited I became about learning all of the processes. I wanted to be a full-fledged silversmith.” She worked for several years with Jerry’s guidance, studying silversmithing manuals and working at techniques such as soldering.
Jerry’s jewelry had already found its way to WNC galleries and he and Linda often vacationed here so, in 2012, the couple retired, moved to Henderson County and gave themselves full-time to their art in a place they decided would be more conducive to growing a successful handcrafted jewelry business. “Retirement is a difficult time for anyone,” Linda says. “We need to feel that we have a purpose and a way to fulfill it. Freedom from a lifetime of having to prioritize profit over artistic dreams enriches our lives in a stage of life when we need this. Working on creating beautiful pieces of jewelry lifts our spirits, gives us a sense of well-being and a place in the local community of artists.” The couple calls their creative enterprise Two Silversmiths.
Jerry did not find the support and encouragement for becoming an artist in his native Georgia, but a simple act by his father became his first memory of art and a life-affirming concept for him. He and his father often walked the hundred acres of their farm and one day, when Jerry was five, his father chose a piece of corn stalk and asked his son if he saw anything in it. When Jerry responded “No,” his father took out a pocketknife and began to carve the stalk’s pulpy interior and hard exterior. When he was done, he had created a dog. “That experience made me realize, at the age of five, that even in a corn stalk, there is art just waiting to be,” Jerry said, “or as I said that day to my dad, ‘I guess that the dog was always there, but he couldn’t get out until you helped him out.’”
The couple’s materials include Argentium sterling silver, 14K and 18K yellow gold for accents and stone cabochons (unfaceted polished stones). “Most of our ideas for jewelry begin with the stone,” Linda says. “After getting some idea of where we want to go, we will do some sketching of patterns or shapes. We take our sketches into Photoshop to fine-tune them. Once we are satisfied with our design work, we can actually construct the piece.”
Their focus at present and in the near future is to continue to work within the design elements of Art Deco as they have been doing for years. Both admire the architecture and furniture of the movement and its influence on the fashion and jewelry of its time. “Art Deco relies on bold designs, clear lines, vibrant colors and patterns,” the two agree. “It’s about elegance and simplicity.” It took them three years of experimenting with laser toners, heated transfer presses, electrolytes and other elements of electro-etching to find the predictability they need for the process of creating the surface decoration for their pieces, which they call “Art Deco Moderne.” Their aesthetic captures the timeless style of Art Deco while simplifying the overall look for today’s jewelry wearer.
“Working together every day, bouncing ideas off of each other, working on a jewelry project and then seeing our collaboration turn into a beautiful piece of jewelry is inherently inspiring for both of us,” Linda says.
To learn more, visit twosilversmiths.com. To set up an appointment for a studio visit, call 828.393.7920. Find their work at Number 7 Arts in Brevard. Upcoming exhibitions and events include Bring Us Your Best XV, September 1–14, at Blue Ridge Community College Conference Hall in Flat Rock; Art on Main in Hendersonville, September 29–30; and the Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festival, October 20–21, in Lake Lure.