Liz Bucheit: Telling Stories In Gold And Silver

On Saturday, October 6, from 10 to 2, Liz Bucheit  of Crown Trout Jewelers will be at Ingebretsen’s for Strut Your Sølje: Repair and Refurbish Your Silver Jewelry. Liz will help you to identify your jewelry, and provide information on how to care for it. She will also give estimates on repairs. At noon, she will give a talk on the history of sølje, a fascinating story that speaks to trade networks in Viking times and the surprising mobility of medieval merchants and artists.

 Liz will also be offering Sámi-inspired bracelet classes on October 20 and November 3 at Ingebretsen’s main store. Click here for more information.

Liz Bucheit’s favorite quote is from Austrian composer Gustav Mahler: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

Liz Bucheit

It took studying the designs and jewelry of other cultures for Liz’s own fire for Norwegian metalworking tradition to ignite. It’s now burning brightly as Liz creates remarkable jewelry born out of her Norwegian heritage and using time-honored techniques. She has won awards, grants, and international recognition for her mischievous Huldra Wear, fantastical tiaras and filigree work, and contemporary takes on wedding crowns.

Liz’s interest in jewelry-making started her freshmen year at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History. “The program required students to try out different media. I took metalsmithing and it was the cat’s meow,” she says. Jewelry and metalsmithing incorporated all the art elements that Liz loved – drawing, sculpting, painting, and design – under one umbrella. She completed an M.A. in jewelry and metalsmithing, “studying jewelry and design from all different cultures except my own,” Liz says.

“I began studying Norwegian metalsmithing pretty much because I was shamed into it,” Liz says. Born and raised in Decorah, Iowa, home of the Vesterheim Museum and a flourishing Norwegian-American community, Liz’s mother raised her children with all the Scandinavian traditions. It’s hard to see your own family and hometown as having a “culture” or as anything special. Over time, however, Liz acquiesced to the to the continual suggestions to make traditional Norwegian jewelry. “I finally decided it was time to go to a folk school and study my own stupid culture,” Liz says with inflection of an exasperated teenager. She contacted the folk school in Rauland, in the Telemark region of Norway.

Since Liz had a degree in metalsmithing, she was placed with an advanced instructor. “I thought I’d sail right through the class. But nooooo, it was so difficult,” Liz laughs. Every piece of traditional jewelry has its own rules, techniques, and design elements. “As I learned to work within those parameters, I was humbled and appreciative of those who could do it,” she says.

A solje with filigree in progress

While the class at Rauland caused Liz some days of real frustration as she worked to master a different set of techniques, she relished the opportunity to be part of an unbroken chain of teacher-to-student, guild-style transmission of learning. “That hasn’t been lost in Norway and it’s a living tradition,” she says.

Liz firmly believes in learning the traditional techniques and methods. Once the techniques are mastered, it’s time for artists to draw inspiration from the past, but to make their art their own. “Each generation has to reinterpret the tradition and let it grow under the individual artist’s hands.  Ever refreshed, the traditional aspects will never die and the art form will  continue,” says Liz.

Liz is ensuring that Norwegian metalsmithing and Sámi-inspired bracelets continue with her classes and with her remarkable body of work.  With her soldering torch firmly in hand, Liz is ensuring that the fire of Norwegian metalsmithing continues to burn.