February Featured MCA Member: Lynda Rasco
Co-Founder of Harvest Gold Gallery
Twenty-five years ago, on the night before Christmas Eve, Lynda Rasco and Bill Rudd unlocked the doors to their jewelry studio in Lovell Center, Maine. The following spring, the spacious space would become Harvest Gold Gallery, a generous, seven room gallery and studio with views of Kezar lake and the spectacular White Mountains.
The pair’s own fine jewelry is showcased alongside the work of other craft artists hailing from around the United States. Over the years Lynda and her husband have grown to know artisans working in a variety of craft media through their participation at Rosen Group’s American Made series of craft fairs (formerly Buyers of American Craft shows). Many of those relationships have contributed to the Harvest Gold Gallery’s reputation as stockists of some of America’s finest craftspeople, paired with American fine art on the gallery’s many walls..
Before opening her flagship studio and gallery, Lynda spent 10 years building a wholesale business with Bill in their Fryeburg basement. In order to open wholesale accounts with potential jewelry stores and galleries, potential buyers would visit the home-base of Harvest Gold- their home- to select pieces for resale. One of Lynda’s favorite memories of that time-period in the growth of her business is when the owners of Springer’s jeweler came to her home and picked out pieces from the dining room table while on a Maine vacation.
Lynda’s favorite metal to work with is gold, hands down, and her favorite gems happen to stun the senses when set in lustrous yellow metals. Harvest Gold jewelry is known for specializing in gemstones native to Maine including Aquamarine, Tourmaline, and Maine Amethyst. Tourmaline is Lynda’s favorite stone due mostly to its rainbow of available colors and limitless options for designs. Over the course of their time in business, Lynda and Bill have collected an incredible and diverse selection of Maine gemstones to choose from when creating new work. They considered the purchase of Maine Tourmaline to be an investment, one Lynda never tires of. Maine is an astonishingly mineral rich area- the perfect home for a jeweler with never-ending ideas.
When Lynda is not running a gallery or creating new designs with Maine’s precious natural offerings, she helps customers redesign their old family jewelry into contemporary pieces that can be enjoyed for generations to come. This is an intimate process that Lynda does not take lightly; and one she is familiar with on a personal level. In the early stages of her endeavors as a jeweler, Lynda milled the gold from her late grandmother’s dental work to craft her wedding band.Families put a tremendous amount of trust in a jeweler when they ask them to craft beautiful heirloom jewelry from the relics of their loved one’s pasts. With Lynda’s dedication to excellence, they can expect nothing less.
Visit Lynda and Bill at Harvest Gold Gallery, 1082 Main Street, Center Lovell, Maine or learn more at www.harvestgoldgallery.com
Q & A with Lynda Rasco
Q: How did you first become involved with the MCA?
A: I first became involved with MCA when my friend’s Mom started it way back when! I was making and selling jewelry wholesale and thought it would be a good thing.
Q: Where did you grow up? Why did you decide to live in Maine?
A: I grew up in Lincoln MA when my Dad got the great job in Boston we moved from GA. Everyone I knew in my town came to Maine in the summers. I started babysitting for families that vacationed in Maine. It was love at first sight! I moved to Maine as soon as I was old enough at age 20!
Q: What are the most important elements you consider when designing your forms?
A: The most important elements I consider when designing a piece of jewelry is wearability and durability and beauty. So many times folks bring me jewelry items that have not stood the test of time and are worn out and broken.
Q: What materials are your favorites to work with currently and why?
A: My favorite materials are gold and Maine gems! Since the beginning Harvest Gold Jewelry Co. specialized in Maine tourmalines, amethysts, and aquamarines. And I have always loved gold, it is so versatile and has a fantastic life span if properly made and worn. Many of my items have been worn for decades and will be passed on to the next generation.
Q: How do you go about planning and making you items?
A: When planning a piece of jewelry I first examine the gem. What will work best for it, a bracelet, a ring, earrings, or pendant? What does the customer need?
Q: What type of projects do you want to be working on in the future?
A: I hope to be working on beautiful Maine gem settings as well as helping folks re-imagine their old family treasures. I have found a great connection to my customers when I can help them take “stuff” in the drawer from their Great Aunt and make it into something they can wear everyday. It helps them remember their loved ones and pass on stories to the next generation. My own wedding ring (of 40 years) comes from the gold in my Great Grandmother’s teeth! It’s such a fun story to tell!
Q: Did you have any mentors or major influences?
A: I am very fortunate that my first jewelry teacher I had was a master jeweler from Italy here in the states fabricating a sterling cross for the cathedral in downtown Boston. He was teaching at Decordova Art Museum in my hometown of Lincoln MA. I started taking Saturday classes from him when I was just 12. He was very strict about craftsmanship. I continued until high school when I could take jewelry making all 4 years at Lincoln Sudbury. We had a wonderful well-equipped jewelry studio there and I was really able to grow as an artist. Mass College of Art accepted me on the spot and I continued there until transferring to Portland College of Art as MECA was called, back in the 80’s. In Portland, I met my husband and partner, and Harvest Gold Jewelry was born.
Q: What advice would you give to emerging artists in your media?
A: I always advise emerging artists to use their best craftsmanship. In my art gallery I see so many with great ideas but in a hurry they don’t tend to the craftsmanship. I remind them that I can not sell an item that is not created with the best possible craftsmanship no matter how cool it is. Currently we have over 200 American artists on display throughout the gallery. We are always looking for new folks. Our customers are very appreciative of beauty.
Learn more about Lynda Rasco at her website.
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