Chicago Looks: Raw and Feminine

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Jewelry designer Leah Ball ( was walking back to her home/studio in Logan Square.

When and why did you decide to become a jewelry designer?
I have been metalsmithing off and on for years, but after a year working in a metal foundry (West Supply), my vision solidified. It began by my repurposing pieces of bronze slag I found on the floor of the foundry after bronze pours. I felt confident in these pieces and decided that I needed to put energy and time into launching a jewelry line.

What’s it like to create your own accessories? 
Well I think that’s why all of us start. You imagine some amazing piece in your head and then you set out to make it because you need it. It is very rewarding and educational to try to make a reality what you envision in your imagination. You problem solve along the way, evolve and eventually come up with a wearable piece of art. That’s addicting.

What do you love most about your own line?
The fact that it is both gnarly and feminine, raw and antiquated. I set out to produce above my current skill level so that each collection is a tangible marker for some personal triumph I had in the artistic process.

Can you name a few other local jewelry makers whose work you admire?
Meghan Lorenz, the designer behind Cities in Dust, is so great with color and interesting shapes. Dallas Maynard is super skilled in her sculptural abilities. Her work is imaginative and also dark.

—Interview and photograph by Isa Giallorenzo

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