By Anna Hoeschen.
All photos by Caitlin Cooreman.
I’m listening to my favorite Johnny Cash song, Hey Porter, as I write this. I’ve just watched the trailer for Easy Rider. Suddenly, I’m thinking about that trip I took to Abiquiu, New Mexico in college. Flat mesas the color of burnt sienna and an inky black sky netted with stars. What incited this rambling attitude? What sets a mind wandering down the open highway? Maybe it’s a place, a person, a favorite film, or a treasured object.
My brain’s momentary lapse into the past and its brush with adventure have been incited by a visit with Nick Lundeen. Nick’s work evokes feelings of movement, like you’re traipsing down a rusty red road or, maybe, ambling through a rich memory. This could be attributable to the fact that he enjoys slower and older processes of making. In the same vein, his work is rough around the edges, exuding grit and vigor. So, if we’re looking for something that’s equal parts history and adventure, we need look no further. The train, fellow travelers, stops here.
Walking through Nick’s shop on a balmy night in Minneapolis, we see remnants of the day: stone jewelry molds and bits of warm, shiny copper. There are well-worn hammers and pliers and a blue stone-cutting machine. The jewelry is markedly unpolished, with tarnished finishes, faceted surfaces and the occasional spot of stone. It’s not overly refined and that’s what makes it alluring. You experience something that is beautiful and captivating, because it is refreshingly tough and spirited.
A just-opened can of pale ale sits on the worktable. A gracious host, Nick offers us one after we’ve had a chance to chat and snap photos. We’re talking custom bolo ties, because who doesn’t want one of those?
Sometimes, it’s best to kick it old school.
Tell us a little bit about your background. My grandfather opened a jewelry store in Minneapolis in the 60s called Lowell Lundeen Jewelry. My mom inherited the shop, and still runs it today. She carries my work, as well as a variety of local and national handmade jewelry, and contemporary and vintage southwestern jewelry. I started an apprenticeship when I was 20 at a local shop called the Silver Toolbox, and from there, I went to New York to study fabrication at Studio Jewelers. After moving around a bit, I came back to Minneapolis and set up a studio here.
Why jewelry? I have always been attracted to stone and wood, and I used to do a lot of wood carving with my grandfather when I was younger. From there I moved into small-scale stone carving. Jewelry, having been the family business, was a natural extension. I still work with wood and stone, and I like working with different materials day to day. With jewelry, I can carve the mold, cast and finish the metal object, and cut the stone for the piece. So it is really satisfying to me to create a piece from start to finish.
What inspires your designs? My parents have collected ceramics, carvings, textiles, and jewelry from the Southwest my whole life, and I get a lot of inspiration from all of those objects. I’m constantly buying jewelry, sculpture, and history books for inspiration. I like really rough and irregular looking things, and texture is the most important element for me in my work. Most of the bracelets I make are carved out of tufa stone that I get from Arizona. I carve a relief in it and shape it from there. It’s a bit of an older, lost process. But I enjoy it because it’s hands-on and provides an organic texture.
Favorite metal? Silver is my favorite metal to work with. I cast into tufa and cuttlefish bone with silver, and it lends itself to that process really well. I love that I can oxidize silver, and polish the raised areas to enhance the texture, and I love the color.
I’ve seen that poster before. What is it? That’s Easy Rider. Have you seen it? You’ve got to see it. It’s awesome.
2nd St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Lowell Lundeen Jewelry
430 1st Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55401