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Conversations with Lauren Holman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Holman.  

Hi Lauren, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Exploring the neighborhood ravines and networks of shallow creeks dominated my Cincinnati childhood. Hunched over for hours, I’d scour these rock beds for ancient treasures such as trilobites, crinoids, and earthy stones that piqued my interest. My collection was extensive, well organized, and dearly prized. Although I outgrew regular “creeking,” the love of nature and geology had been planted in my soul.

Art was the passion and forefront of my high school experience, along with friends, sports, work, service, and a myriad of school subjects depending on the year and teacher. I was typical. Eager to begin adult life and vacillating between career paths, I found myself in the foothills of Appalachia, at Ohio University, as an education major. The reality of paying off student loans with a fine arts degree felt daunting, so I promised myself to keep art in my life and to never stop learning while I pursued a more practical career.

My years in the classroom were spent teaching in Title I schools. Starting in Columbus, Ohio and later Washington, DC. Many of the students were Somalian refugees who entered with poor English reading and writing skills. Their tribal culture had been completely uprooted, and life dumped them into the pits of America. Helping these kids and their families became my life’s main purpose. The hours and intensity of this job left little free time, but the desire to create nagged at me, so I enrolled in a nighttime silversmithing class. As I wearily entered the school on my first evening, I spied advanced students setting gorgeous stone cabochons the color of the earth – I felt an energy, a flicker. I knew I wanted to do that.

Life eventually spit us out in San Diego, where my husband and I completed our family. In a new city, two young children, no longer in the workforce, and elbow deep in diapers it was easy to lose oneself – I believe I did for a minute. So, I started to search. I put myself out there. I met strangers who became friends. I explored and investigated what resources were out there for someone like me, still thinking of those earthy stones I saw being set years ago. I wanted to create. This is when I discovered one of San Diego’s most incredible resources, The Gem and Mineral Society. They offer volunteer-led classes from beginning to advanced lapidary and silversmithing. The collaborative and creative energy of SDGM enlivened me, and I knew this was where I needed to be. After a few years of classes, endless YouTube videos, and countless failed projects, my silversmithing skills sharpened, and I could make most anything I could dream up. Solder and Stone was born.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Some challenges along the way have been time management and wearing many hats. Often spread thin by family life and obligations, it can be difficult to put in the amount of time necessary to building a brand. Photography, website design, sales, social media, marketing, and communicating with customers are essential facets, some of which I have little experience. Additionally, making jewelry by hand is in itself extremely time-consuming. Many hours are spent on each piece. I’m learning along the way and staying true to my promise to remain a lifelong learner. There is still a lot of work and growth necessary for Solder and Stone, but I believe the foundation will always be hand forged quality jewelry, old-world methods, and ethically mined stones of the earth.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
Solder and Stone is an evolving brand with truly unique jewelry. Each piece is lovingly made by hand, using old-world methods such as silver fabrication and lost wax casting. Often, I visit US mines and hand select each stone myself. I only order the highest quality metals from well-established and trusted US wholesalers.

Making jewelry by hand, knowing that it will bring tangible beauty to the world, invigorates me. It’s thrilling to see pieces I’ve made cherished and worn for special occasions, or an everyday heirloom accompany someone throughout their life. Solder and Stone bring purpose to my drive to create.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
The qualities that have been most important to my success are perseverance and willingness to collaborate with others. Working with metal is a slow process that requires much patience. No one is good at it when they start – this is frustrating. With much persistence you keep at it and eventually see growth. Many of the superb individuals I’ve met on this journey have generously shared their knowledge and experiences. We’ve experimented together, we’ve failed together, we’ve created together. This collaboration has kept me motivated and inspired.

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