The San Diego Union Tribune
Tuesday, June 25, 1996

Like Maker, Jewelry is One-of-a-Kind

By Barbara Fitzsimmons, Staff Writer

As a girl growing up in Pacific Beach, Lynne Merchant created jewelry out of pipe cleaners and skate keys.

In her 20s, living a Gypsy-like life in Afghanistan, she sat for long hours in the marketplace, absorbing the secrets of the jewelry crafters there.

Today, at 50, Merchant combines her own whimsical style with what she has learned to produce a distinctive brand of artsy jewelry that is becoming known across the nation.

Locally, most beaders know of Merchant and line up to pay $120 to take one of her classes. Others fly in from the East Coast to learn the Merchant Technique.

“She is incredibly charismatic,” said Marcie Stowe, owner of the Shepherdess bead shop in old town, where Merchant teaches many of her classes. “We have waiting lists from around the country for her classes.”

Merchant is best known for the wire she uses, which is thick and heavy, unlike the dainty wire used in most bead work. She uses the heavy stuff expertly to wrap around unusual beads and make exotic connections between beads.

She also uses wire to create beads—one of her funkiest designs is made from thick wire and copper tacks.

“My work is substantial and sculptural,” said Merchant, who lives in Leucadia. “I want to make something that will last after me.”

Merchant sells her work from the Cedros Trading Co. in Solana Beach. When she has spare time, she goes into the store, so she can fit pieces to wearers. “Jewelry needs to fit the bodyand feel good to the wearer,” she said. “I also like to tell people the history of a piece of jewelry, such as, “I made this piece in Sedona, and this is how.”

Merchant believes reasons people like making jewelry her way is that, “Bending heavy wire makes you feel strong and powerful.” She is always open to using just about anything as a bead—from rocks to snake vertebrae.

That makes some of her pieces odd and quirky, and she loves them.

“I remember going to school as a child with a note from my mother pinned to my skirt, saying, ‘I’m not responsible for the way she’s dressed,’” Merchant said. “I have always been an original.”