Some of My Nashville Story

I am from upstate New York and moved to Tennessee about 3 years ago after a devastating breakup. I moved in with some family and was given a shed to make jewelry in. My first studio. I cleaned all the mouse poop and snake skins out of it and shop vacc-ed for what seemed like days. It was neglected for a while. I took that space, that light, that desk my grandfather built, that mean barking dog and crunching leaves...and I ran with it. My first favorite piece was made in that tiny shed. Sam Doores, for the band the personal favorite band. I just messaged him on Facebook and was like "hey! let me create something just for you." And he agreed. It ended up being a big piece of tigers eye in a double bottom sheet metal (that was a super weird way to build it from a technical standpoint of silversmithing) and a super wonky shaped band. But I think he liked it.

Music has always influenced my life and I admire most of the musicians I meet…Some of my story

I moved into Nashville proper, on my own, from where I was staying with my family. I got a job as a Stabilization Companion at a recovery facility in the boonies and started to fall for Nashville.
I started laying some roots. Making life long friends.

I learned how to garden, look after horses, take care of chickens, and listen to country music. Which was not my upbringing as much as I'd like to remember that one time my step-grandmother played Patsy Cline in the van. It was more Metallica and The Eagles in our household growing up. Camping music.

I learned a lot my first few years in Nashville while honing in on my craft. Posted up in various studios throughout town and taking random lessons at different schools. I learned a ton about jewelry making but also learned this place…Nashville. It is entirely different than NY.

And I was in. 

I tried to learn the banjo, bought my first motorcycle and learned “bless your heart” is bad. I also learned Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger”, Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee”, John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind” and of course, Dolly Parton. Dolly’s song “Games People Play” was on repeat in my car for about 8 months. I moved onto her duet with Emmy Lou Harris called “Wildflowers”. Bringing us to today. My new collection “Wildflowers” dropping on Black Friday 2018. Shameless Plug.

Anyway, I’ve been making jewelry for the artists and awesome humans of Nashville (and all over, really!) since that little shed. Now, I share a beautiful, big, creative studio with 1767 Designs and Lockeland Leatherworks in Old Hickory, TN.  My dreams are happening here. From the cold back of the building, to the front, where a sleek black walled, sun soaked design sprung from an old grocery store. Now housing 5 businesses, shop dogs, plants, antique furniture and people working their asses off. It is an inspiring space.

I’ve had the opportunity to create for a few my favorites being located in Nashville. A beautiful butterfly cuff for miss Dolly Parton, intricate bolo designs for Clare Bowen and Richard Bailey from the Steel Drivers. Margo Price, Andrew Combs, Erin Rae, Emily Nenni, Lauren Morrow, Zach Schmidt, Jay Bragg, and Logan Ledger are just a few more Nashville musicians I have admired over these last few years and made jewelry for.

I have been pushed to make these one-of-a-kind pieces with the best quality I am capable of as a silversmith. I will only present my favorite musicians with “Heirloom Quality” work, straight from my heart, inspired by them. 

Leah Cunningham