POLLARDS PASSIONATE ABOUT JEWELRY ART

September 24, 2003 12:00 am
Linda Pollard wire-wraps a lapis cabachon. (THE PILOT/ANDREA BARKAN).
Linda Pollard wire-wraps a lapis cabachon. (THE PILOT/ANDREA BARKAN).

When Bill and Linda Pollard started a jewelry-making business five years ago to help care for Linda's ill mother, it was labor for love.

In the years since it has become a labor of love for the two perfectionists who are openly passionate about their craft.

Linda's Christmas present to her husband two years ago was two buckets of Montana agate, which she traded for 15 pieces of her wire wrap.

The couple, who have lived in Harbor about seven years, now sell their wire-wrap jewelry on the show circuit.

"We go to art and craft shows or rock and gem shows," Linda said.

The Festival of the Arts at the Port of Brookings Harbor is the only home show they do, Bill said. "It's our best show of the year anywhere," he said.

The couple moved to Brookings to fish, but two years of fishing to their hearts' content left them hankering for a new hobby, they said.

Bill, a retired airline pilot, remembered how his father worked with stones in his old age.

"I expressed a desire to be able to find out what was in the stones," Bill said.

So they went to the Richardson Ranch in Jefferson County, where they got the first piece of their education in harvesting and shaping gemstones.

After the Richardsons showed the Pollards how to cut and polish stones, they bought enough equipment to get started, they said.

"By then we were so enthralled," Linda said.

She said they practiced their respective crafts and stockpiled inventory for about a year before their first show.

Linda, a retired cattle rancher, found she didn't like making cabochons (smooth, finished gemstones).

During their first trip to the months-long rock and gem show in Quartzsite, Ariz. Linda said she spotted some wire-wrap jewelry.

She set about learning the craft from books, videos and two mentors.

"It's not exactly an easy art to learn," Linda said. "I messed up my share of wire."

She wraps Bill's cabochons with gold-fill and sterling silver wire.

"I love her wire wrapping," Bill said. "I love the simplicity of it. I know that she values the stone first and then tries to do justice to the stone with the wire."

After Bill's initial training at the Richardson Ranch, he said he joined a club in Quartzsite that offers workshops.

"That's where I learned to do opal (work) and silversmithing correctly," Bill said.

He also belongs to a gem and mineral club in Central Point, which he said has helped him learn to fine tune nearly finished stones.

The Pollards said they seek out unique and high quality gemstones.

They recently mined pink opal in Spencer, Idaho. Bill said he regularly picks up Mexican fire agate at gem shows.

His favorite right now is Ammalite – fossilized squid shell found only in Alberta, Canada.

In finished form, the shell beams a myriad of brilliant colors, from red to green to aqua.

Bill identifies patterns within the raw stone and finishes them with that in mind.

"The most fun I can have is to take a stone and find a pattern," Bill said.

Linda said her favorite aspect of wire wrapping is "the layout and design of patterns."

Linda also likes offering a wide price range, she said.

The Pollards' pieces range in cost from $20 to $1,000.

Linda said she remembers being in her early 20s with a couple kids and no money to spend on beautiful things. She makes a point of creating unique, high-quality jewelry that is accessible to people of all income levels, she said.

To contact Bill and Linda Pollard for a list of upcoming show dates, call (541) 469-0355.