The passion and energy jeweler Angela Lensch has for her pieces and craft radiates from her like sunshine. She smiles as she tries on her unique, sculpture-like necklaces, created from weaving precious metals with any variety of colorful gemstones, beads, pearls, vintage pendants and buttons, even wood, bones, and shells.
“I started with four little shelves,” Lensch says, gesturing towards a corner of the gallery in Plum Bottom Pottery, where she is currently jeweler-in-resident. “My work was developing, developing,” she continues, and now she has her own display room showcasing a variety of her handmade necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings – though there is a plethora more in her studio space in the back, which she shares with owner and potter Chad Luberger.
“Chad is a fantastic potter,” Lensch says. “He uses bright colors, unique forms – it’s what I’m doing in jewelry. We inspire one another.” And she enjoys her accessibility to customers in Plum Bottom Pottery. “The necklaces aren’t complete until they find the right woman. It’s part of them,” she says. “It gives me chills; it’s so rewarding.” She describes her pieces as “incredibly versatile – can go with jeans, with a dress. I make them adjustable.” Like many visual artists, she signs her name, adding a signature tag to her jewelry. “Gives it authenticity,” she says.
Though Lensch has been “in the jewelry umbrella for 17 years,” as she puts it, she left high school in her hometown of Decorah, Iowa planning on pursing ceramic or fiber art. “Those were my mediums in high school,” she says. But jewelry was in her veins from the onset. “I visited an arts and crafts store when it first opened [in Decorah] and bought my very first gemstone,” she recalls. She first began by creating macramé jewelry. That store – Agora Arts – has now moved and expanded, and features work by Lensch.
After graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where she earned her BFA in Sculpture and Furniture, Lensch made her way to Door County, where her art was accepted to show in several galleries. “I loved [Door County],” she says. “ I never left,” adding, “I was feeling anxious and feeling rushed in the city – I grew up on a farm. Door County is the best of all worlds in regards to who I am as a person. I love the beauty, the seasons – the art community welcomed me.”
When asked ‘how long a piece takes to create,’ Lensch regards all of her learning experiences as essential to the process: “All of my experience, with macramé, sculpture, working with my hands, metal experience, building – if I hadn’t experienced that, I wouldn’t do what I do,” she says.
Lensch creates her pieces working off a spool with strands of 14 karate gold, sterling silver, and/or copper, which she weaves into intricate designs. “It’s time-consuming,” she admits, adding that pieces can contain up to “25 feet [of metal] in a necklace, or 50 to 60 feet, sometimes 80 to 100 feet.”
“The medium is perfect for me,” she continues. “Every piece is different, different personality. Every piece is handmade. Two pieces will never turn out the same.”
Lensch explains the she “goes in short runs,” buying a series of specific beads and gemstones. “I explore within those, mixing and matching with a new palate, though it’s sporadic.”
Her color choices are also inspired by the seasons and holidays. For spring and Easter she says she plans on unveiling a line of jewelry featuring “yellows, pinks, blues – bright spring colors.” Though she is “always trying to incorporate new objects and themes – unusual, unique, and symbolic,” she says. Recently, vintage glass buttons have caught her attention.
Lench also specializes in creating custom work. For Mother’s Day, she encourages clients to custom order pieces featuring birthstones or heirloom items, such as pearls, broken necklaces, and other family treasures. Her custom work can be done for any occasion: weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and more.
Lench’s goals for the future include “taking a business trip to a different place, around the country, every winter.” Though she hopes to expand her line and showcase her work across the country, she also wants to “continue to develop work out here. Door County is a little piece of heaven,” she says.
Plum Bottom Pottery is located just south of Egg Harbor at 4999 Plum Bottom Road. The gallery/studio is open Friday and Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm; they will be open daily May through October. For more information visit http://www.plumbottompottery.com or http://www.angelalensch.com.