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Metal Maniacs

‘Quattra 4’ prepare for annual
metalsmithing show in Louisville

The four women share
a love for metalsmithing work

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

PROSPECT, Ky. (October 2012) – As children, we are told not to play with fire. But for four local jewelry artisans, playing with fire produces some spectacular artwork from metal that can’t be found anywhere else.
Being a metalsmith is “something that gets in your blood,” said jewelry artist Roxy Lentz. For the past 20 years, Lentz has handcrafted jewelry from recycled or repurposed metals such as silver plate, copper and brass.

Roxy Lentz, Lesley Rahner-Ewald and Lena Northener

Photo provided

From left, Roxy Lentz, Lesley Rahner-Ewald and Lona Northener pose at Butterflies and Bling art show at the Henry Clay building in Louisville. Sharon Majors is the fourth member.

“I like to use silver plate trays,” said Lentz. She used silver plate in the beginning of her career because she couldn’t afford silver at the time and “I liked the results. I like to use what others do not find useful, and turn it into a useful item.”
Lentz participates in ten to twelve shows each year with her jewelry. She is a member of a group of four artists, Quattra 4, who will display their metal smithed works of art from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Louisville Boat Club.
Quattra 4 holds two shows at the boat club annually. “I like the venue,” she said.
“We are a group of four women metalsmiths,” said Lentz, who was born and raised in Montana and now resides in Clarksville, Ind. Each has her own distinctive way of looking at metal. The other three members of Quattra 4 are Lesley Rahner-Ewald, Sharon Major and Lona Northener.
Lentz is mostly self-taught in her artwork. She did take classes from Northener, as did Rahner-Ewald and Major. The women decided they wanted to do a show together based on their common interest in metalsmithing and decided to hold it at the Louisville Boat Club.
“Some artists like to work in clay, some like to work in fabrics. For me, metalsmithing is very satisfying,” sad Lentz. “Others can look at a piece of sheet metal and not see the potential that I see.”
Tarnished and marred items that others have cast aside have been turned into wearable art, producing one-of-a-kind pieces by Quattra 4. Each member brings their own unique concepts to the group.
Rahner-Ewald has always been fascinated with design and the way everything needs to balance in order for it to make a visual statement. By taking a flat sheet of metal and cutting it, hammering, forging, joining and embellishing it with color, a new piece of high quality, handcrafted wearable artwork has been created.
Rahner-Ewald was born in Australia and raised in Hong Kong. She had a long career as an airline executive but also a creative side. She studied gems and jewelry design, obtaining certifications in gemology. She opened her own business in 1995 and began extensive training in metalsmithing.
In an effort to relieve stress, Major took a metalsmithing class and fell in love with the chance to manipulate metal to create works of art. Many of her designs are inspired by nature, and she is one of the few artists in the area to work with corrugating silver and to practice the ancient art of chasing and repousse.
A former science teacher, Major has her own full-time jewelry making business, Frog Hollow Creations. She has studied with nationally-known artists such as Valentin Yotkov, Cynthia Eid and Ann Hollarback.
Northener described her jewelry as “contemporary and sometimes very organic and other times it is very geometric. But usually the designs are abstract and people tell me that it is very sculptural.” All members of the group have been metalsmithing students of Northener, who learned her craft from Mary Lou Lingle.
Northener had been crafting porcelain jewelry when she attended a metalsmithing demonstration at the Louisville Water Tower. She was intrigued as she watched Lingle make a pendant in one hour by sawing, filing and soldering.
“When I saw that solder flow, I was hooked,” said Northener. She took classes for about two months from Lingle, then “I bought some books and read whatever I could get my hands on and experimented and taught myself to fabricate jewelry.”
When Lingle moved to Florida, Northener took over her classes and began teaching classes at home as well. “The most fascinating thing to me is working with the metal and doing all the things to it that we do,” she said.
Metal “it is very malleable and can take impressions from organic things or even paper using the rolling mill. It can be stretched and compressed, formed in almost any way you can imagine. It can be soldered to lots of other metals as well as to itself. It can be hammered and riveted. The list goes on and on. It is just a wonderful medium to work with,” said Northener.
Quattra 4 will donate a portion of the sales from this show to the Shamrock Pet Foundation. “We decided we would like to partner with a non-profit organization, and we liked the Shamrock Pet Foundation. The pets are not wanted, just like the metal materials I work with,” said Lentz.

• For more information on Quattra 4 or the upcoming show, visit: www.Quattra4.weebly.com.

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