Artistic craftsmanship; Candid Closet: Jeweler Lauren Schott might wear materials from chain mail to puppy teeth.


Lauren Schott is a jeweler as intrigued by craft as design. Her wardrobe and home reflect a fascination with the way things are made. For Schott, the last, a form used for making shoes, is as much an object of beauty as the knee-high, black Lucchese, cowboy boots that rest on their own shelf above her dresser.

Schott once apprenticed to a cobbler, and the experience led to insights in her jewelry work. For one thing, "My color palette has changed from multi-colored stones to more muted grays, blacks and greens," she says.

Schott has also devised intriguing ways to organically combine ancient coins, South Sea pearls and industrial diamonds with "classic" techniques to make extraordinary necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Her work is on display at the Gomez Gallery through Dec. 5.

She has a way of crossing classic looks with traditional comfort. In her North Baltimore studio, Schott, 42, wears a "Lauren-green" aquamarine knitted top that matches her eyes, a long black skirt and a "figure eight" chain she made graced with yet another found object: her American bulldog Sprocket's puppy tooth.

What did you wear to your gallery opening?

I made a chain-mail and leather dress that weighs 10 pounds. The chain stretches; it's shimmery, form-fitting and very flattering. Baltimore designer Ann Wells made the eggplant-colored slip from stretchy nylon to go under it.

How did you find chain mail for your dress and shoes?

It's fine machine chain mail used for gloves and overalls by butchers in slaughter houses.

Do you wear your own jewelry?

I will rotate one of two pairs of earrings. And I wear pieces to see if they will hold up. Everything is torture tested.

Do you tend to wear slacks or skirts?

I wear a lot of dresses, which are safer to wear in the studio. If something hot falls on my lap, I can flip it on the floor. Also, if I sewed, I would wear lots of lace and frilly things. I love textures. Luckily, I don't sew.

What else have you made?

I learned how to make glasses last summer at a Maryland Institute, College of Art class taught by Brian Adam. I made several, including a pair of acetate frames, but it's expensive to get lenses custom cut to fit.

Shoes aren't just something you wear?

I love shoes. I have a ladder of shoes. I love the shapes and the tools used to make them. I'm fascinated with the lines that make something wearable.

How do you keep your shoes from Sprocket?

The shoes are in cages under the bed. Most people cage their puppy. We caged our shoes.

How did you learn to make shoes?

I apprenticed at an English riding boot factory, and I ordered a 27-hour video from a guy in Utah. I had to buy a TV and VCR to play it.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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