Jun 02, 2017 12:11PM
Looking for a unique piece of jewelry for that special day? Lynette Ambruch has enjoyed embroidery and jewelry making since she was a little girl. It’s an activity that she calls “relaxing” and likes to do in her spare time, but more than a decade ago she did not know then what she knows now—that her preferred way of relaxing would turn into an almost full-time creative business.
Lynette, who lives these days in Canton, specializes in making necklaces, bracelets, and earrings with embroidery and wire beading. She displays her creations at many juried shows and events alongside other talented vendors, but it’s her use of embroidery techniques and harder-to-find materials, such as Shibori silk, that sets her pieces apart. Shibori, she explains, is a Japanese dyeing technique that often produces a pattern on fabric. “I get the Shibori silk from a friend in California,” Lynette says. “It’s an ancient art.”
The Shibori silks used in her designs are vibrant with color—the necklaces and bracelets include hues of pink, purple, burgundy, blue, green, and red. Several of the pieces have a center section made of a polymer clay bead that has been molded into the image of a face surrounded by hair created with the Shibori silk. The faces have an almost cherubic, ethereal quality to them, giving them a vintage-inspired look.
As a native of the Northern Tier, where opportunities for outdoor activities are abundant, Lynette enjoys spending time outside and knows that this influences her style. She describes herself as “not an office person—if it’s blue jeans and outside it’s me.” Many of her pieces incorporate metal leaves, Lucite flowers, and the vivid greens, reds, and oranges of autumn and spring seasons—versions of what she sees outdoors. She mixes the animal world into some of her creations, too—a necklace she made recently included the replica of a grizzly claw.
Lynette, born and raised in Watrous, a tiny community along Pine Creek in Tioga County, credits her mother, along with the natural world, with sparking her creative interest. “When we were little, there was no iPod, so my mother taught me to embroider. I learned when I was six or seven. at’s what you’d do in the winter.”When she got a little older, her friend Lisbeth Martin invited her to stay with her in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and train in jewelry making. “I still have the first pair of earrings I made,” Lynette says. It was at this point that she realized there is “a whole world of beading and embroidery.” She studied the works of well-known bead and embroidery jewelry makers, such as Jamie Cloud Eakin and Sherri Serafini. She began traveling—as a military spouse, she moved around the country several times—and making jewelry in her spare time.
Lynette spent a few years in Europe, and her time overseas would greatly influence her work and help make it unique. The experience opened her eyes, she acknowledges. “It was seeing other cultures and realizing everything isn’t just blue jeans and T-shirts,” she says. “When you’re standing on top of the Eiffel Tower and you’re overlooking France or when you’re standing on top of the Swiss Alps, you realize there’s so much out there. It’s surreal. It really opens up your creativity.” She also saw a variety of different fashions in Europe, and one popular European material she uses now is soutache, a flat decorative braid that is often used in trim. It can be found as trim on official uniforms and also was used on Victorian-era garments, she explains.
All of this contributes to the one-of-a-kind quality of Lynette’s pieces, and, as a result, folks come to her when they are looking for something extra-special for an event or wedding. She’s often commissioned to create gifts for brides or wedding parties—color coordinated if necessary. To her, it’s not so much work as a way to unwind. It’s this, and the fact that she loves meeting and talking with people at events and through selling, that keeps her wanting to create.
“I love the people. Sometimes they will get back to me with a picture and say that they wore it to an event.”
Lynette still travels, exhibiting at juried shows in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. She can be found locally at the Athens ArtsFest, Wellsboro’s Dickens of a Christmas, and the annual Apple & Cheese Festival in Canton. She also teaches every year at the Women of the Wilds show at Mt. Pisgah State Park in Troy, with this year’s event scheduled for August 12. This summer, too, she will be teaching at a fiber college in Maine and also has been asked to teach in Texas.
And although her experiences in Europe were remarkable, Lynette has affection and appreciation for Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier. The region has an abundance of artists and artisans, she acknowledges. When asked why she thinks that so many creative folks live and settle here, she cites both the economy and “the quietness and how beautiful it is here. I think all of that helps create an artist,” she says. “Artists here are supportive of each other.”