Lloyd Powell: jeweler
Lucky for Lloyd Powell that he’s hyper and gets bored if he’s just sitting around.
Otherwise, he might not find time to work a 40-hour week and then attend civic-oriented meetings at least one night a week.
Powell, 52, is the jewelry designer at Northern Mines Gold Works in Grass Valley.
The Nevada County resident of 18 years is also a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
“The Indian movement has affected my work,” Powell said. “What I do personally on my own time leans toward that, with a lot of work on silver and turquoise.”
Powell feels he has a responsibility to mentor Indian youth.
“Indian children today need to know they can have a cultural identity and still walk in this world of today,” Powell said. “Even though they don’t believe that yet, they can maintain that balance.”
For the last five years, Powell has chaired the parent committee for the federally funded Native American Education, Nevada County, which often works with the county Superintendent of Schools Office.
In addition, he is an advisory member of the Nevada County tribe of the Mountain Maidu and a member of the California chapter of the national Indian Education Association.
Powell taught Indian arts at Grizzly Hill School as an elective two years ago and hopes to free up a few hours each week so he can return to the classroom.
The bulk of his time, though, is at Northern Mines Gold Works.
That’s not a complaint. Powell loves his work.
Before becoming a silversmith and then a metalsmith 25 years ago, Powell did murals and drawings for Sacramento businesses and homes as a graphic artist for 10 years. He switched careers because he considered jewelry to be an art form similar to sculpture.
He studied jewelry extensively at Pratt School of Fine Arts in Seattle. Powell also has a two-year degree in fine arts from American River College and has taken other college classes in three-dimensional design and stone-setting.
Powell’s specialty is creating rings, pendants, bracelets and earrings made of gold quartz and nugget, and colored stones, including tanzanite, sapphires, ruby and diamonds.
“I’ve always appreciated stones,” he said. “What I love is, these are from the earth; they’re natural. It’s like a gift.”
To him, each piece has its own life.
“My philosophy is, you’re only as good as the last piece you did,” Powell said. “You can’t say, ‘I used to’ or ‘I was this years ago.’ What are you doing now?”
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