My name is Lynn Straka, DVM. I am a mixed media jewelry artist and practicing small animal veterinarian. I began making natural and glass crystal beaded jewelry in about 2000—helping me through a tumultuous time. Jewelry-making quickly became a second vocation and I began selling my jewelry at craft shows. Ten years later, I expanded my work and began to transition from stringing beads to creating my jewelry by letter and word stamping on sterling silver and copper. I opened an Etsy shop, making and selling personalized pendant necklaces, bridal gifts and other unique pieces. At that time, I was self-taught, researching and learning technique and materials use on my own. I’ve always felt comfortable using small hand tools in these techniques, because the tools are similar to the tools I use in my veterinary surgical practice.
In 2008, my husband and I moved to East Tennessee. I had always wanted to take my jewelry art more three-dimensional and I wanted to learn to solder. I quickly realized that these techniques weren’t easily mastered by a simple video or book. I discovered Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and began taking yearly classes to develop my skills as an artist and metal worker. Having personal instruction reinforced my base knowledge and encouraged me to ask questions and trouble shoot subjects that have challenged me. I currently volunteer at Arrowmont regularly which allows me to take courses regularly from a variety of expert instructors.
The jewelry I make is adornment – created to produce joy to the wearer. Designs influenced by nature, they may evoke a memory, affirm a belief, or be an extension of the wearer’s personality.
The common denominators of my work are texture and exercise in technique. Whether it is hand stamping designs or words, forging, creating three-dimensional forms, or impressing texture onto metal, each piece has its own one-of-a-kind, individual personality. The materials I use most are sterling silver, copper, and bronze, with semiprecious stone accents. Some of the materials are recycled or repurposed metal items that I have altered and incorporated into my jewelry. Typically, they are finished with an antiqued or aged patina to highlight their texture.
I have been involved in the jewelry industry for over 50 years. I am a native of New York City, and began learning the skills of making jewelry from my father, who owned a jewelry manufacturing company in Manhatten. As a young person, I learned to use some of the basic tools and materials used in jewelry making, and was immediately allured into the craft.
After graduating with B.F.A. and M.F.A. Degrees from The School for American Crafts, Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in metal and jewelry arts, I taught special education for four years in upstate New York. From there I joined the faculty at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee. After building a M.F.A. Program in metal arts, I left the university to pursue a career in my own jewelry business. Opening a manufacturing company in Sarasota, Florida, I learned the skills necessary in production, business and marketing. After a successful 19 years in this business, I decided to return to the beautiful mountains and lakes of East Tennessee. I bought a beautiful 10 acre land site on Douglas Lake near historic Dandridge and spent 4 years building my home and studio, mostly by myself. During this time, I also renewed my love of creating individual jewelry pieces.
After 7 years at the lake, I decided to move to Knoxville, Tennessee. I have continued my jewelry arts career in my well equipped studio at the west side of town. Through the years, I have exhibited extensively in exhibitions and juried shows and have been included in several private collections in this country and abroad. It has been written, "Clearly evident in Kroll's work is a keen sense of inventiveness, craftsmanship and sensitivity of design." The intent of my jewelry is to create a functional art form. My goal is to explore form, shape, texture and color, incorporating the vast "pallet" of techniques and materials available to the precious metal artist.