How Greta Lutman Uses History & Science in Jewelry Making.

Posted May 1, 2020

A necklace made by Greta Lutman.

Greta Lutman’s style can be summed up in these words; eclectic, unusual, and archeologically inspired. Lutman first explained how she is inspired by nature through the beginning statement, 

“How human beings affect nature, that is what is interesting to me…How we interact and affect nature and not always for the best.” She is inspired by both human made elements as well as biological matter that can only be closely evaluated with a microscope. 

Lutman’s statement may be perplexing at first glance; however, her inspirations simply have a visual and tactile range and are connected through human use and especially how shapes are echoed from what is naturally formed and what is created by humans. It is quite exciting to delve into Lutman’s mind in terms of how she uses archeological discoveries, ancient cities, aerial views of earth, and “microscopica” as inspiration in her jewelry. Please view some of Greta Lutman’s work below.   

The repetition of patterns from something natural to something created by humans can be seen through the comparison of two images, that are some of Lutman’s personal visual stimulants in art making. Introduced below is a microscopic image of zebrafish scales to a stone wall in Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca fortified structure.  Notice the shapes of the scales and how they are closely and naturally situated against each other, creating an organic pattern of wedged sections. Compare the zebrafish scales to that of the shapes and lines created with stones that were built during the 15th century. 

Zebra Fish Scales (Left) and Ancient Inca Fortified Walls (Right)

 There is no historical or even literal connection between the two compared subject matters, there is simply a distinct familiarity in pattern which is what inspires the artist. Lutman comments,

“…it’s inspired by something specific but it is not a literal picture of that thing… The science interest is really about the visual culture. It’s about shapes and is about how everything is connected.” (Lutman)


Jewelry by Greta Lutman having a similar pattern to that of the fish scales and Inca Wall illustrated earlier.

Notice in her jewelry that was created during her time at Haywood Community College while studying under Robert Blanton, HCC’s Head of Professional Crafts Jewelry/Metals Program, the patterns in her work are reminiscent of the fish scales and stone wall. It’s not a direct replication but rather mimics the repetition of forms from the previously shown images. 

Much of Lutman’s jewelry can be compared to images that are her muses. Please see the images below to have a full understanding of how one can draw from life, whether it be scientifically or historically. I leave it to the reader to study these images and see the similarities and differences between Greta Lutmans fine art jewelry and how the “microscopia” and archeological wonders she is attracted to influence her work. Notice the shapes, colors, hues, and assemblage of the comparable imagery. The images on the left are of Greta Lutman’s Instagram Page and the images on the right are of Greta Lutman’s Pinterest Page.

Being inspired by these elements is not a form of being connected to ancestral heritage for Lutman such as Deanna Lynch but rather it is the mystery that draws her eye to these forms. 

Organic life is not Greta Lutman’s only form of inspiration; fine art from the mid-century is quite favored as well. Lutman’s favorite painting is Night Flight of Dread and Delight by Skunder (Alexander) Boghossian, painted in 1964. Boghossian was an Ethiopian artist who was inspired by surrealism and literature, specifically the writings of Amos Tutuola, a Nigerian novelist. Boghossian was fascinated by supernatural forces and mysticism. Lutman makes the comment, “It’s beautiful, mystical…it tells a story of spirits and I love it.” Greta continues to state when discussing the painting the following, 

Lutman’s charming and challenging Belgian Malinois, Oso.

“What humans create? What artifacts do we create? How do we interface with the planet we live on? What’s true that we can’t see?” The statement is a series of questions, devoted to the idea of understanding further as to why he or she creates art or structures. The answer is possibly to satisfy the need to further understand the mysterious or rather to delve deeper into the unknown or at the least why it is intriguing in the first place.

Lutman continues to explain her work through introducing to me to her fascination with Gobekli Tepe. Gobekli Tepe predates Stonehenge, archeologists believe it to be the most ancient temple in the world standing at 11,000 years old. Gobekli Tepe is in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. A youtube video below illustrates it’s beauty and historical significance, brought you by the show Ancient Aliens. 

A video about Gobekli Tepe, an example of a mysterious and historical man made structure that captivates Greta Lutman.

Greta Lutman and her husband, David.

A work of art by Greta that symbolizes the captivating mysterious structure, Gobekli Tepe, is a necklace that Greta actually wears on a regular basis. At first glance the pendant appears as a simple geometric shape but when you see the jewelry laying on skin it is obvious there is something much more at play visually as well as conceptually. The necklaces, which I am personally drawn to, naturally center in the chest, acting as a fine art frame very similarly to how a wall holds a painting. A pendent that lays over the heart so easily is surely a treasure one unknowingly views as necessary in accenting where we hold emotions so tightly, in our hearts. 

The pendant to the lower left is the same pendant referenced earlier that Lutman is also wearing in the photograph previously listed.

The pendant was created using Lutman’s preferred jewelry making method beginning with paper or another flat surface that has an impression such as cut out manilla paper shapes. Those shapes are then placed under a soft metal and pressed together through a rolling mill. Greta cuts the top layer of metal after rolling her designs on a sheet and then begins to layer two different metals, moving the top layer around the bottom layer until she sees a pattern that is visually reminiscent of the image on her mind. Notice how the jewelry image above resembles Gobekli Tepe from higher point of view.

Please press play for a visual idea as to what a rolling mill is.

Lutman’s inspiration being scientific and archeological references how humanity uses the earth; how we use natural components and in using components we leave a trace element of human consumption and this intrigues Lutman and in a way I see as part of her sense of being, not only in art but also in her day to day in her profession.   

Lutman is a counselor and assists members of the public psychologically. A person that is able to work in the medical field and the art world illustrates Greta’s true individuality. Lutman states, “I can do the science thing, I do have a brain that can go there…the counselor brain and the artistic creative brain, one gives relief from the other.” 

Lutman explains that when she reaches a point of frustration in her work is when her ability to help someone else relieves the tension. The act of assisting someone in a private matter in which they find freedom in Lutman’s leadership allows her to remove her creative block and finish a step in her jewelry making process. The act of making jewelry or being a leader does not affect either activity negatively, there is simply a balance between the two. The balance Lutman has in her life, her work, her creative process is how she is able to create such a fluid line of work, which is further illustrated by the closing gallery below.

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