Betty Helen Longhi, Jeweler

Betty Helen Longhi, jeweler in Lexington, North Carolina, creates jewelry fabricated from 18K gold, sterling silver and a bimetal which is made by fusing a layer of 18k gold to a layer of sterling silver.

This technique is ideal for large-scale jewelry giving it the color and richness of 18K gold without the limitations of gold.  Niobium, a metal which can be colored by an electric current to rich jewel tone hues, is also incorporated into some pieces.

All of the jewelry is fabricated from flat sheet metal and wire using techniques of shell forming, die forming and forging, allowing the jewelry to be strong yet quite light.

Betty Helen Longhi

I am fascinated by the qualities of light, color and reflection that are possible in metal and the sense
of preciousness and celebration these surfaces impart. Forming and forging the metal are my preferred ways of working as these methods best allow me to make fluid lines.

There is great satisfaction in producing a flowing graceful form from a hard flat sheet of metal or a stiff straight piece of wire. More recently I have been embellishing the surfaces by carving.  This gives a rich complex pattern which is pleasing to the touch as well as to the eye.

My inspiration is from nature: the curve of a branch, the crest of a breaking wave or the texture of stone.  For me the line is everything – whether it is created by light reflecting from the curve of a polished surface, the edge of a form or the contrast of the intersection of two surfaces, it must be able to generate a sense of excitement and energy for the piece to work for me.

There are three interconnected activities I love: sailing, dancing and creating in metal.  The forms of sails and waves show up in my designs and when I move on the dance floor I have been told that my dancing looks like my work. I like the idea that our creations come from our inner self and expressing them is only a matter of choice.

There are two ways in which I hope my work will speak to people.  The first is the expression of beauty and the way in which beauty can uplift the human spirit.  The second comes from my study of Buddhism and my strong wish to create work which will give an aura of peace as an antidote to the troubled times we are living in.

I am pursuing this through my most recent pieces which are Miniature Zen Gardens and are intended to function as objects for meditation.  I feel a strong sense of commitment to this direction.  This to me is the gift we as artists have to give.