Labor of Love
By Brett Levine//Photo by Beau Gustafson
Writers, readers, and editors can continue to argue about whether or not you can go home again, but for Laurey Glenn one thing is certain—when she started making jewelry again after 30 years, “I loved finding this lost part of myself.” What had been missing was a passion she had discovered in high school when she walked into a store that sold, among other items, a bead loom, sparking her love for this fascinating yet at times frustrating art.
Glenn grew up in Oklahoma, where she bought her first loom and started doing beadwork then. About two years ago, she decided to pick up where she’d left off. She became inspired to include additional materials in her designs, particularly since she had always been inspired to create with silver.
“I took a silversmithing class, but when I tried to use what I’d learned in my studio at home I just couldn’t get anything to work. I decided to enroll in an online class, and after that everything was fine.”
Now, Glenn meshes her patience and focus on beadwork with her love for smithing and gemstones. “A lot of my work is inspired by Southwestern styles and motifs,” Glenn explains, “but it is by no means traditional. I’m using familiar materials and techniques to craft pieces that I think of in modern ways.” This means combining chunks of bold turquoise set in sterling silver with loomed seed-bead chokers patterned with geometrics in delicate shades of creams, or rose. “I take commercially available weaving patterns, then modify the tones for composition. I think the juxtaposition of the beadwork with the gemstones can be a little unexpected.”
Simply finding the focus to settle in and do loom work can be challenging at times, which reveals in part why it took Glenn so long to find her way back to something she loves so dearly. “I think that when you are creative,” she pauses, “you go down a lot of rabbit holes—and while some are successful, some are not. When I think of a creative idea I’d like to explore in the studio, I’m not afraid to give in and try it.” Case in point—Glenn shares her creative journey via an Instagram account, @azureskyshop, where her excitement is palpable: “Sooooo excited!! Just finished this. Can’t wait to try some more!!” accompanies a photograph of an early silver-and-turquoise ring, with “I think I’m finally getting somewhere!!” captioning another image. This type of enthusiasm coupled with self-deprecation exemplifies Glenn’s modest approach, which could be described as skill meets commitment. In conversation, she speaks often of striving to make better and better work, a core value that keeps her in the studio making and learning. In her words, “It’ll get to your version of perfect, but it’ll take a very long time.”
With a capacity for self-reflection, her commitment to a dedicated studio practice, an ongoing desire to innovate, and a body of work that falls well within the accessible range, Glenn is a jeweler whose future is just beginning to be hammered out. For now, she is content to slowly build a collection, to make her pieces available through her etsy shop, and to consider how she would like to grow as an artist over the coming year. “I believe people are drawn to make what they do,” Glenn says. “I don’t always know if people are interested in what I am making, but I almost feel like I’ve rediscovered myself and remembered how much I love to do this work.”
Clearly Glenn is enthused by her art. Given the attention required to pattern and pull tiny beads through a loom, or to sit at a workbench and work silver with fire, what else could it be but a labor of love?•