Lyn Lyndall makes it possible to keep a pet dragon by your side. The artist’s hand-tooled leather bags are sculpted with the bodies of entire creatures or just the suggestion of them, with soft, richly colored folds suggesting scales, the side of each bag punctuated by a piercing glass eye.
“I just don’t think stuff should be boring,” says Lyndall. “Everything should be unique and beautiful.”
This philosophy is evidenced in her multi-faceted, fantasy-themed pieces comprising jewelry, bags, and accessories. Earlier work, namely her photorealistic paintings, usually focused on animals, albeit with an otherworldly edge.
A third-generation artist, Lyndall helped her mother paint sets for community theater. That early touch of the dramatic, combined with a love of wildlife and magic, helped hone a sensibility equally informed by the real-time richness of the natural world and the equally endless possibilities of myth.
A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Lyndall also studied and taught sculpture at Johnson Atelier Technical Institute (now Seward Johnson Atelier) in New Jersey. Her interest in creating three-dimensional pieces was further advanced by her participation in events themed around Native American culture. At one, she took an interest in boxes of tanned deer feet and elk feet, and fashioned her first handbag around the latter used as a clasp.
“There’s a fine art to leather work,” she says. “And in the beginning, I was so excited by the simple fact that I had made it.”
Lyndall traveled to Asheville for a vacation and almost immediately felt its call. “I knew that I fit. It was a true Goldilocks zone for me,” she says. “The art here is just off the scale. All the painters, poets, actors, and potters. This is truly the pearl in the oyster of the East Coast.”
In Asheville, as well, Lyndall befriended a group of leatherworkers who taught her new techniques including vegetable tanning, tooling, and how to create a wider array of decorative and wearable items — hanging bat ornaments and ornate corset belts, for instance, all of them imbued with enchantment.
The hard work, though, is no fantasy. The artist does everything herself, from the first steps of the very physical leatherworking process to fulfillment of online and gallery orders. This means art making is a full-time job, thanks to regular commissions, shows, and membership in the Southern Highland Craft Guild since 2017.
“It’s a leap of faith,” she says, “and it takes a will of iron to make it work. But I wouldn’t trade it.”
Lyn Lyndall, Asheville. Lyndall will vend at the upcoming Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands happening Thursday, July 21 through Sunday, July 24 at Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville, 87 Haywood St. (Thursday through Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 10am-5pm.) Lyndall’s work is also carried by the Asheville retail shops of the Southern Highland Craft Guild (at 930 Tunnel Road and at The Folk Art Center, Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, southernhighlandguild.org); at Gallery of the Mountains (Omni Grove Park Inn, 290 Macon Ave., Asheville, grovewood.com); at Mountain Nest Gallery (133 Cherry St., Black Mountain, mtnnest.com); and online at her Etsy shop: LynLyndallArt (etsy.com/shop/LynLyndallArt).