February 2017

Beyond Ordinary:The Silver Garden Forges Wearable Art

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Sterling Silver Wire Wrapped and Coiled Carnelian Stone Bracelet- $275.00
Jim and Linda Saylor being silly in their location off of Palmetto Bay Road

Everything we do is with hand tools, and saws, and hammers, and a big torch,” said Linda Saylor, of the work she and her husband Jim Saylor share at their charming cottage-like shop, The Silver Garden in the Village Exchange on Hilton Head Island. Making it sound rather industrial, and potentially eardrum-rattling, visitors to the Saylor’s bitty workshop and showroom quickly learn that while the square footage may be limited, there is no limit to the wearable art that this creative couple is putting out, sometimes with hardware sporting some serious heft and fire-power, and sometimes with the aid of tiny saws, tools, and hammers. Specializing in hand-crafted jewelry and accessories created primarily from pure sterling silver, Argentium sterling silver (more tarnish resistant), and copper, it is the customer’s creativity and input that most significantly influences their work.

Heading into their fifth year in business, the Saylors often find themselves huddled over a sketch pad, brainstorming design ideas with customers. “A lot of the creativity that we both have comes from our customers, because they are so willing to share what they see, what they know, and ideas they have about things,” Linda said. “Sometimes their ideas are rock-on; they’re just absolutely so good. We even name our jewelry after people when they give us the idea, like the Angela earrings.”

Creating and casting custom jewelry pieces was never really part of the plan. “It was an unlikely path from what we did in our prior life to what we do today,” Jim Saylor said. “We could never have imagined.” It was Linda who had planted the seeds of what would become their Silver Garden.

Sterling Silver and Copper Hammered Cuff Bracelet w/ Dogwood Flower- $369.00

“I was making simple kinds of jewelry, which was fast becoming a hobby,” Linda said. “I was buying every piece and part I could get my hands on and making things—taking classes here and there. Then we found ourselves retired, and I starting buying large lots of jewelry from places like Neiman Marcus, Macy’s—large department stores—nice jewelry that had something wrong with it.” After much encouragement, Jim joined Linda in repairing the pieces and reselling them online. “He [Jim] was better with tools at that time. I always thought he had skills way beyond what he gives himself credit for.”

Hurricane Matthew Meets Hilton Head Island Earrings- $199.00

Moving from Internet sales to a retail location was never really part of the plan either. “A friend suggested we open a little shop,” Linda said. The Saylors took the suggestion literally and signed a lease on a very small, dilapidated building that was being used as a storage shed. What was once a space filled with seven-foot-tall weeds and a sad little shack is now a welcoming studio with a charming brick patio, and a shop with the motto: “Life is too short to wear department store jewelry.”

An original selection of custom-designed and cast pieces, along with hand-selected jewelry and accessories are always in-house, including their own charms, earrings, pendants, bracelets, cuffs, and more. Most are designed by the Saylors and their customers, and built (think, crafted like magic) by Jim. “The island charm came first,” he said. Hurricane Matthew inspired one of his most recent designs: a hurricane-shaped charm where a customizable stone is added as the eye of the storm, and hanging charms can be added.

Larimar 2-sided Sterling Silver, Black Onyx and Fire Opal Necklace- $525.00

“Jim cut out the original design for the God cuff,” Linda said. Made of sterling and 14 Karat gold, it is one of The Silver Garden’s signature pieces. “We don’t want to be known so much as jewelers as we do as craftsmen.” And crafting custom pieces is where The Silver Garden shows their mettle. Memory cuffs made from meaningful images cut in sterling silver and applied to a copper cuff allows the customer to personally design a piece that speaks to their heart and experience. “It can be images, coordinates, mountains, dogs, sayings—really anything you want.”

“The greatest source of our continuing education is our customers,” Jim said. “It forces me to get out of my comfort zone and push beyond what I know. I kind of take a MacGyver approach to jewelry; there’s always a way to figure it out.”
“Jim made a piece with a shell collected from a customer’s favorite beach,” Linda said. “He built a bezel around it, put blue sapphires and an opal in it for the moon and the water.” Stunning. Jim also makes custom pendants including house pendants. “He takes a picture of the house, creates a line drawing, cuts out the pieces and parts [to be used as a template], lays it on a sheet of silver, cuts it out, and starts building, shaping, soldering, and filing it down.”

The Silver Garden is located in the Village Exchange

The Silver Garden also has a shop on etsy.com, as a member of the Beaufort Art Association has about 70 pieces on display at their Bay Street location in Beaufort, and has a permanent display at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.

Working in their shop six days a week, the Saylors find ways to give back by donating to charities like Play for PINK, the Humane Society, PEP, Live to Give, along with being members of the Art League of Hilton Head. Linda also visits TidePointe where customers enjoy the opportunity to learn about what they are doing at The Silver Garden, and can arrange for jewelry repairs or make purchases.

Making custom jewelry for charitable organizations is another way the Saylors donate their talents for good causes, like Cincinnati’s (their hometown) Flying Pig Marathon and Queen Bee Half Marathon, and Hands 2 Love. Looking to the future, The Silver Garden is bringing inspiration and unique marketing opportunities to fellow businesses, designing custom jewelry using corporate logos.

There seems to be no limit to the wearable art this creative couple can produce from their charming cottage-like shop with their tools, and saws, and hammers, and a big torch.

The Silver Garden is located through the red doors in the garden behind Delishee Yo in The Village Exchange at 32 Palmetto Bay Road,Suite 2A Hilton Head Island. For more information, please call (407) 595-2119, or visit thesilvergarden.net or their Etsy shop, TheSilverGardenHHI.

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