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Area artist Souther creates fine jewelry in his Ox Lake home

Web posted July 15, 2014
By Kate Perkins, Northland Press Correspondent

Greg Souther has been making jewelry in his (rather mobile) studio for around 44 years. While he does much of his work at his home on Ox Lake in Crosslake, he has traveled the nation making and selling jewelry.

Souther purposely has a limited amount of equipment to allow him to travel to shows. All of it fits into the back of his van so he can head to the next show. Though he attends fewer art shows now, for many years he attended 25 a year.

Souther makes high-end sterling silver, 14-karat gold and copper jewelry, occasionally inset with natural stones. He makes “basically anything that can be worn or jammed in a pocket,” he said happily, saying he makes rings, pendants, pins, cufflinks, money clips and even metal bowties.

Souther’s jewelry career began when he was just 15 years old. His high school offered jewelry making classes.

“I was a delinquent child,” Souther said. “I didn’t function in the normal environment.” He recalls one social studies teacher offering him passing grade, so long as Souther never set foot in the teacher’s classroom again.

Where Souther did excel was in the arts. His school offered numerous art classes - ceramics, sculpture, jewelry making and more. A few of his first pieces were put into a student art show and were well received.

He believes that one of the reasons people take on pursuits is because of the rewards they receive for those efforts.

“I don’t know how much of your ability is natural and how much is nurtured,” Souther says. He believes he has an eye for design, but isn’t sure if it was naturally there or taught to him over the years.

Souther’s studio is in a small room on the ground floor of his Ox Lake home. He has a couple of tables, some marked with the signs of his acetylene torch, and all worn and coated with a grayblack patina from working with the metal. Scattered across the desks are scraps of fine metals like sterling silver and copper, cut stones and nearly finished pieces.

He’s used several methods for making jewelry. Starting with sheets of fine metals, he creates jewelry by forming and soldering pieces together with a torch. “Everything comes from a flat sheet of metal,” he said, but it’s hard to tell that the shapes in Souther’s jewelry came from a sheet of metal. By raising, tapping, forming or inlaying the metal, he creates dynamic, intricate and artful fine jewelry.

He’s also used lost wax casting, which involves carving a design from wax, then creating a mold around the wax and melting the wax out. The mold is then filled with molten metal to take on the original shape of the wax.

Souther describes his work as geometric. For a while, he said, he used very few natural stones in his work.

“Whatever I was producing,” he said, “I wanted it to be from me.”

Souther has earned spaces in many of the top jewelry shows in the nation and has traveled across the country to shows in Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and numerous other cities. His work is also sold in fine art galleries.

For 10 years, Souther spent his winters in Mexico. Driving his studio across the country, he spent the winter making jewelry and teaching the process to neighborhood children.

Renting a house in a typical Mexican neighborhood, Souther said he met some of the area children on his first day there as he sat on his balcony. They asked his name and he told them it was “Spiderman.” Their friendships grew from there.

“They were very curious and hungry for knowledge,” Souther said. “Great kids.”

Finding he enjoys teaching, Souther began substitute teaching at Pine River and Brainerd school districts this last school year, while continuing to create jewelry.

While Souther grew up in the Twin Cities area, his family owned a cabin in the Crosslake area for many years, and his grandfather owned Oscawana Cabins resort. When he graduated from St. Cloud State with a degree in art, he came to Crosslake and got to work making jewelry.

To learn more about Souther’s work, contact him in his studio at 218 692-3016.

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