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Seen and Heard: ‘Wearable and soft’ metalwork wins award

July 15, 2018
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Liz Bucheit crosses cultural boundaries in her creative metalwork.

Goldsmith and jewelry designer Liz Bucheit, of Lanesboro, recently won the Grand Award in the wire category of the Metal Jewelry Artistry Awards, a juried competition with international participation.

Liz’s piece is a Saami-inspired ruff collar; the combination of pewter wire and reindeer hide pays tribute to her own Scandinavian heritage and the indigenous people across the Arctic border. Her contemporary collar “pays homage” to the thread between traditional Saami culture and present-day aesthetics. While the piece “looks constrictive, it is wearable and soft,” Liz said.

Her initial studies and artwork were anything but Scandinavian. Born in Decorah, Iowa (home to the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum), with maternal ties to Norway, Liz initially studied “artistic adornment from every other culture but my own.” She has a master’s degree in metalworking and jewelry from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. But after studying at a folk art school in Norway, Liz’s art began to reflect connections to her own heritage.

Her jewelry incorporates elements of the Saami culture with her own modern artistry. To describe the blending of old and new, Liz shared Gustav Mahler’s words, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

She and her partner Michael Seiler (also a goldsmith) own and operate Crown Trout Jewelers in Lanesboro. In addition to her art, Liz is a teacher at folk schools in the region, including the Vesterheim in Decorah, North House Folk School in Grand Marais, and the newly-opened Folklore Village in Dodgeville, Wis.

Lodge kin

Mary Haggerty, of Goodhue, was named “Fraternalist of the Year,” receiving her honor at the Minnesota state meeting on June 23.

The Western Fraternal Life Association has more than 36,000 members nationwide. About 100 of those are members of the Austin, MN “Lodge.” Founded more than 100 years ago by Czech immigrants, Mary’s grandparents were instrumental in the beginning days of the organization, which aimed to provide support to those new to the country. Of today’s membership in the Austin Lodge, 25 percent are Mary’s family, including siblings, children, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren.

One of 13 children, Mary grew up on a farm near Austin. After retiring as a home health care worker, she became active in the Lodge. She presently serves as the co-secretary with her husband.

It is her acts of service that led to her nomination for the award. Whether she is running a garage sale to raise money for scholarships for young people in the Lodge, collecting clothing for the Dorothy Day House, or organizing a drive for school supplies for local students, Mary is giving to her community.

Of her award, Mary said, “I was humbled and honored. It made me think of the hardships my grandparents endured.”

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