The great beauty of mountain leaves and flowers, hammered into silver
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Stuart Nye arrived in Asheville in the 1920s as a patient at the Veterans Hospital in Oteen in east Asheville where he participated in craft therapy, working with his hands. In the depths of the Great Depression, he bought second-hand tools and a small bit of silver.
Inspired by blooms outside his window, he made his first sterling silver dogwood pin in 1933, completely by hand. Through trial and error, he fashioned silver into the leaves and flowers that grow in the southern Appalachians. Although the original work was accomplished in sterling, copper was added during the metal shortages of World War II. Both metals have remained popular and Nye’s original designs have become nationally known and loved.
Today, a handful of full-time workers at the shop on Tunnel Road turn out a variety of pieces in silver, copper, and brass. You can tour the facility, hear a about its history and talk to the makers. The working artisans use cutting tools and chisels made from tool steel and anvils reminiscent of an old blacksmith shop. As quoted on the Stuart Nye website, “We are mountain people with a heritage of craftsmanship.”
The Stuart Nye Hand Wrought Jewelry shop continues to produce some of Nye’s original designs, while adding new ones. Their Calla Lily jewelry line is one of the most unique and popular designs ever made. They have a timeless appeal that’s sustained for over 80 years. The original Dogwood design can be purchased as earrings, necklace, pendent, or pin. A variety of floral motifs include Pansy, Trillium, Galax, and Thistle. Leaf forms include Maple, Oak, and Willow.
For more details about the shop and its pieces, go to https://stuartnye.com/