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Earl Anders: A local gem

Aug 31st, 2012 | Category: Crafts

by Samantha Schuller

Earl Anders has got a lot of gems. And not just the sparkly kind; he’ll keep you rooted on the sidewalk in front of his farmers’ market booth for an hour with his stories, snippets of advice, and commiserations.

Earl Anders at his jewelry booth. PHOTO BY SAMANTHA SCHULLER

Anders, 83, has been an artist for 65 years. His stand at the Snohomish Farmers Market displays the work of a full-scope jeweler. “I can forge, cast, cut stone, bead, set jewels—just about the only thing I can’t mend is a broken heart,” he said smiling. Even that is doubtful—there are myriad hearts mixed in with the slew of tokens on his table. From delicate bow brooches, to old coins dangling on chains to charm bracelets tinkling with hand-cast animals, the collection of pieces Anders has ammassed seems to stretch the length and breadth of every aesthetic style.

He learned the trade of jewelry-making as a teen in high school, forced to take a crafts class to graduate. “I got bit by the bug,” he said shrugging. “It helped that the jewelry-making class was full of girls.”

Anders had found a life-long calling, following it in one capacity or another all of his adult life. After a decade in the military, the GI bill enabled him to attend UC Santa Barbara, a “hokey little new place,” where one day he sat in on a lecture by the visiting Albert Einstein. “I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I sure wasn’t going to miss it,” Anders laughed.

After earning an undergraduate and master’s degree in fine arts, Anders put his well-rounded jewelry skills to work, teaching his art form to high school students like the one he’d been—some boys forced there by counselors, no doubt, but also many teens over the years with a passion and talent for the art. “I’m proud to have taught the trade to so many females in the early days—it used to be that the big firms in New York were closed to women or to anyone they didn’t want to invite into their club,” Anders said.

Just a few of the many jewelry pieces Earl Anders has made in his 65 years as an artist. PHOTO BY SAMANTHA SCHULLER

This kind of renegade spirit, with frugality and determination, has served Anders well over the years. “When you work for yourself, you know what industry is. You have a vested interest in seeing success, and no one’s going to make it for you. We need more entrepreneurs in this country right now.”

Indeed, Anders has been the proprietor of more small businesses than just his jewelry. After retiring, he and his wife raised pigs for 10 years, then owned a nursery for another decade. “It’s important to diversify. You have to find interests to keep you busy and happy. They give you a reason to live.” Anders smiled, saying he has enjoyed all of his occupations. “I get paid for my hobbies. Why gripe about hating your job? Go do something different,” he urged.

Anders has advice for wannabe entrepreneurs: “Plan well, educate yourself, and remember to be adaptable. Work hard, and stay with it long enough to get good.” He places a lot of stock in luck as well, but says, “I believe that you make your own luck. Keep your attitude positive and send your good intentions out there every day. I can’t prove it, but I believe that good things are bound to come back to you.”

Meet Earl Anders and see his work at the Snohomish Farmers’ Market on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to dusk, in downtown Snohomish at 1st and Cedar.

Published in the September 2012 issue of Grow Northwest magazine.

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