San Diego Home Garden & Lifestyles 2003
A Passion for Collecting
LYNNE MERCHANT’S MANY TREASURES ENLIVEN A SMALL SPACE
By Phyllis Van Doren • Photography By Carol Peerce
The first thing you notice about Lynne Merchant’s North County house is how small it is — 700 square feet, at most — with tiny rooms. Then you become aware that every square inch of wall and a lot of floor space is covered with collections. Merchant, a jewelry designer and teacher, does not collect in just one or two categories. In a fast calculation, she documented 35 categories. A thorough count might approach 50. She is fond of quoting an old Afghan saying: “Drop by drop a river is made.”
A PASSION FOR COLLECTING
If you alphabetized Merchant’s collections, under the letter A would be antique purses of Victorian needlepoint, beads and such. B is for boudoir dolls, Borneo burden baskets, Balinese masks and buttons of all kinds. C is for cloisonne, corsages and candlesticks. At the end of the alphabet there are whistles, wooden spoons and whiskers from tigers, domestic cats and other animals.
As a child, Merchant, a San Diego native, collected skate keys, which she turned into necklaces. She studied printmaking at the California College of Arts and Crafts, traveled extensively and lived in Africa for two years. As a sort of itinerant artist she made leather sandals, then leather jewelry and buttons.
“I began collecting fabric and beads,” says Merchant. “I ended up with boxes of weird things and put the pieces together with leather.”
A six-month sojourn in Nepal and India led to Merchant collecting ethnic jewelry and soon her leather jewelry turned to working with twisted wire, a technique she uses today in her hand-fabricated jewelry designs.