Sterling Treats with a Southwestern Flair, Sandra Logan adds her own spin to a centuries old trade
Sterling silver jewelry and turquoise go together like milk and cereal.
Since it's origin as a Navajo art form in the mid to late 19th century, to it's booming popularity in the Southwestern states during the 1960's & 70's, the trade of silversmithing has taken on a life of it's own. Veering down many paths of inspiration, the delicate and time consuming method of taking sterling silver and combining traditional jewelers skills of soldering, stamping, casting and stone setting is a distinctive wearable art form finding a new surge in mainstream popularity.
One such artisan putting her own style stamp on the trade is Sandra Logan, the one woman team behind LittleHoboBird.
By combining old school techniques, a love of a wide variety of stones, and a killer sense of humor, she's created a brand that has captured the eye of everyone from an Instagram cult following to FreePeople.
We had the pleasure of visiting her studio and asking her a few questions about the trade she's helping keep alive and flourishing.
When did you start metalsmithing? What inspired it?
In 2009 I took a beginner's silversmithing class at a local art academy. It ended up being mostly a class of older women who used the time to socialize, so fortunately I was able to move ahead pretty quickly with projects. My teacher ran out of beginner projects so she taught me how to bezel, which was what I really wanted to learn anyway. At the time I was working at Anthropologie as an Ops Manager, which isn't the most creative position. I was feeling pretty down and realized I was missing the creative piece of me I was able to explore pretty freely when I owned a vintage store. When we closed Selvage Boutique I was blue for a long time so I dragged out this crazy assortment of vintage knick knacks and broken jewelry and started creating simple pieces held together with wire and glue. A ring I had hastily crafted from an Anthro knob caught the eye of my District Manager and she asked to see more. I was excited but also pretty embarrassed. I didn't have the tools or skill to sell Anthro quality jewelry so I started searching for a way to make my own findings from scratch, that's how I found Art Academy of San Diego.
What's your favorite type of piece to work on?
My favorite pieces to create are the ones that challenge me to try something new. I love when after 75-100 convos with a client my design ideas are enthusiastically received despite terrible illustrations, and they trust my ability to pull off something I've never tried before. When they get their custom piece in the mail and send me an excited message that they LOVE it, that drives me to continue to take part in the bespoke world of jewelry making. That's where I find joy
You do repairs, too - what's your vintage jewelry collection like? Enviable? Do you have a favorite piece?
Let's just say I'm a hoarder. Haha! I have loved jewelry since I was a kid and would sneak things out of my mom's jewelry box. Sorry mom! She referred to me as a crow once in exasperation. Having a vintage store didn't help at all, the hoarding continued from there. Now I buy vintage I can resell otherwise I can't justify owning more. (That's how we convince our husbands to deal with our jewelry obsessions, right?) my favorite pieces are a dime store locket my grandpa gave his mom when he was 12 or 13. It's so gaudy but there are two pictures of my granddad all spruced up as a kid. The other is a 14k gold ring I bought at a swap meet. It was a total steal! It's a Native American design, a spearhead inlaid with turquoise. It's one of the smallest pieces I own but I love the bright turquoise popping against warmth of gold.
Where do you find inspiration from when you're creating new pieces?
I make a lot of cactus pieces and that stemmed from a road trip in October 2014. My husband and I packed up our '64 Chevy truck and drove out to my Grandma's house in Texas to pick up our canned ham trailer. It was ridiculous fun, we took our time exploring everything along the way. Driving through New Mexico was the best part, and we saw so many cactus it became a game to find oddly shaped or pristinely perfect ones. I drew a lot in my journal, I wrote a song about our trip. I took notes and tons of pictures. I came back totally inspired by the landscape and the first thing I did was make a cactus piece. It wasn't my first but it was more developed than my previous designs. I also saw the Milky Way in its full glory for the first time but I haven't figured out how to incorporate that into a design.
What is your favorite material to work with?
Sterling silver first and foremost, but put any chatoyant, shimmering, or metallic stone in my hands and I'm like Smeagol from Lord of the Rings, ha!
Anyone you look up to in the creative world?
C.Carl Jennings' blacksmith work/art was on display for a spell at the Mingei Museum here in San Diego. The collection of ironwork they borrowed from his home was incredible. He built everything in his mid century home, it was like a mid-century medieval creation made of stone and iron. Every latch was forged in his workshop. They had these amazing doors, gates, light fixtures... Anything that could have been made of iron was. I took a million pictures, bought a pamphlet, and tacked up pictures of his workshop in my workspace. He's my metal working hero.
One of my friends got to take photos on site for the exhibit and he gave an excellent write up:
Most creative people are pretty blessed to have an artist intrigue about other mediums. Say creatively you could choose a new trade to learn overnight - what would you want to be able to do?
Hands down I would make lighting. I collect (ok, hoard) fixture parts, and anything I find that could be made into a lamp is fair game. Rewiring lamps is like meditation. Most of the lighting in my apartment I either rescued and rewired or made from scratch and scraps. Now that I work full time for myself making jewelry I've picked up lamp making again as a hobby, I hope to continue with that. I'll just give them away whenever someone visits, haha!
What would you saw your 3 main wardrobe must haves are?
Skinny jeans I can tuck into boots in the winter, a cropped western theme cowichan sweater my best friend gave me years ago, and my bright red Samantha Pleet x Wolverine lace up short boots, and preferably all three in the same outfit!
Quick, FIRE! What 3 things do you grab???
My laptop, whatever jewelry I can gather, and my husband, haha. Everything else is replaceable for the most part.
What does working with your hands, being an artist, mean to you?
I think finding your voice and staying true to yourself is important as an artist. In the last year I've been able to nail that down pretty well, but it doesn't stop me from trying something new- it's important to keep evolving and learning new techniques. Above all I want my work to stand apart, for people to see it and recognize it as Little Hobo Bird.
Check out more of Sandra's work on the daily on her Instagram page https://instagram.com/littlehobobird/
Shop her pieces at https://www.etsy.com/shop/littlehobobirdwares