Lindley Gray’s mom says she was permanently covered in magic marker as a child. The only visual artist in a family with diverse interests, she was not only encouraged but aided by private classes beginning at the tender age of 6. It made Lindley feel special to study in the teacher’s home. Happily concentrating somewhere between patience and stubbornness, she’d sit at the kitchen table entire days drawing, painting, or making things.
A few years later, her paternal grandmother showed Lindley a costume jewelry and bead collection garnered from years of travel. It was not only an introduction to the craft, but also exposure to diverse ethnic origins. She added working with beads to a roster of creative endeavors. While an Industrial Design major at Pratt Institute, Lindley had the opportunity to work with metal for the first time and found herself drawn. “Metal is such a resilient material. You can do so many things with it, the smallest can be interesting.” She switched majors to Fine Arts Jewelry. Interning at fashion jewelry companies like Alexis Bittar the young woman observed not only the design process, but the business of the business. The idea of making a career in the field seemed not only appealing but possible. Upon graduation, she freelanced at organizations including Madewell (by J. Crew) and Stella and Dot until going out on her own.
Stendhal Jewelry was named for the Stendhal Syndrome, a term coined in 1979, but described by the 19th century French author of the same name after taking in so much extraordinary art during a visit to Florence, Italy, he became dizzy and sick from the experience. Known for psychological examinations of his characters in an otherwise romantic age, Stendhal’s scientific mind seems to have suffered from an overload of affecting visuals. Lindley says she never feels as connected to life as when she’s experiencing good art and design. “The actual syndrome is an exaggerated version of what I think many artists feel when researching and creating.”
Asked for her influences, Lindley names Art Deco (industrial closures and geometric forms), the Middle East, India (fine detail and “balling wire,” a procedure that connects two pieces of metal by passing wire through a drilled hole, then using high heat to make a ball on either end, thus fixing it in place) and Africa (rustic effects.) Egypt and Byzantium are cited in regard to hand etching. Scroll through the web site. Impressions of all these can be seen. Stendahl pieces show especially well when worn in multiples, differently proportioned with mixed textures.
The designer is “ethnically inspired.” Textiles, textures, and patterns permeate the rest of her aesthetic life mostly in black and earth tones. (Interestingly, Lindley researches methods of producing textiles for possible adaptation to metal.) She reads fiction involving alternate cultures and technical manuals exploring technique. Books on printmaking, fabrics, sewing, sculpture and metalsmithing line her shelves. Visits to Morocco, Turkey and India are on the not too far horizon.
Lindley Gray’s aspiration is “the opportunity to create collections that fascinate others the way jewelry first captured me and to make an honest living off of that work. I would love to collaborate with clothing designers, participate in fashion week every year for presentations–really make a mark. To be nominated for a CFDA someday and be mentored by someone I truly admire is the biggest dream.” All in all, not so farfetched.
The work is all produced/handmade in the USA. Prices currently range from $75.00 – $400. Every piece is made to order-allow up to 2 weeks plus shipping time. Repairs are complimentary up to a year. Custom work is available including clip earrings rather than the post on her site.