My name is Lenore "Lennie" Poitras. I have always had and interest in art, plants and making things. My jewelry business Botanica Bead and Jewelry is the culmination of all three of these passions. My work began when I took a jewelry making class and wanted to make leaf and flower jewelry. I wanted the leaves that I made to mimic real leaves with intricate textures and flowing forms, something I couldn't achieve with sheet metal. I discovered a relatively new product at the time, Precious Metal Clay. This wonderful material comes as a finely powdered silver in an organic binder with water and works like a clay but when fired in a kiln or with a torch it "sinters" into pure, 99.9% Fine Silver. To get the texture, shape and form of a leaf I added water to create a paste and painted 8-10 layers of paste onto the back of the leaves. After drying, the leaves and silver are fired and I have a beautiful, faithful image of the leaf in silver. Almost a tiny fossil.
But being a curious person I have always been interested in expanding my skills...I was already working in the challenging field of traditional fabrication and metalwork and I added enameling on both silver and copper and of course, beading and weaving Viking Knit chains to complete my focal designs. Then I discovered the wonderful colors available in recycled aluminum cans leading to my Eco Ears line of earrings. You will find all these and possibly more as I am ever challenged and inspired to create.
I grew up on a little, dryland wheat farm in Northwestern North Dakota where we grew all our own food. I remember working hard in the garden or haying for my horses then going out and tending my flower garden for fun. I also painted and drew. When I went to school I studied art at the University of North Dakota. I transferred to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and ended in Horticulture working in the chile fields and the Peach Orchards. I loved it and gave up art, afraid that it wasn't "practical enough".
Many years later after a plant breeding job in Texas, a Master's Degree in Washington State, stints as a Botanist and nursery worker in Corvallis, Oregon my new husband, Steve and I went into the Peace Corps in Panama where we lived in a little jungle village in the rain forest and taught agricuiture. Then on to a few more things where I found having kids and practicing my profession just didn't work for me. Wages were too low, flexiblilty was non-existent and I became an artist again, the more practical job. I was director of our little art center and made this jewelry which reflects my interests in the specificity and beauty of plants. I know the species and generally the cultivar of every leaf. I grow it and I choose many of the plants for the form they will add to my jewelry.