“My boyfriend bought me a wood lathe for Christmas,” says Kelli Fisher. In any other relationship, that purchase could signal impending doom. For Fisher, founder of jewelry line Lynne&Lucille, it’s a dream come true—never mind that she doesn’t know how to use it yet. A copywriter for Amazon.com for nearly eight years, Fisher was moonlighting as a bartender at Southgate House when she first came across a bag of used guitar strings. A lifelong “collector of everything” who’d already dabbled in making spoon rings, Fisher took the strings home. Eventually, she turned them into earrings. When she started wearing her finished pieces to work, “people would compliment me,” she says.
In February 2013, she quit her job to pursue jewelry-making full time. She was already working with vintage flatware, scrap leather, and copper pipe. But after receiving her grandfather’s old saxophone as a gift (she didn’t take it apart but admits “all I saw was pieces”), Fisher decided to start turning parts from other broken instruments into jewelry too, like cymbal pieces and flute keys.
“That first year I was scared,” Fisher says of venturing out on her own (the business name comes from her and her mom’s middle names), but City Flea gave her a huge break, hiring her on as a monthly vendor in Washington Park. Soon she was selling her wares at more local art and community shows, and by 2015, business was booming. Among her most memorable moments so far: making custom jewelry from a deceased man’s guitar strings for his daughter, and spotting a stranger in a bar wearing one of her pieces.
Guitar strings are still a huge staple for Lynne&Lucille (the lightweight earrings sell quickly at $16 a pair), as are cymbal pieces. But Fisher has begun making jewelry from other materials, too: drumsticks, antlers, porcupine quills, coyote and mink vertebrae—even bullets and feathers. She’s still a mainstay at City Flea, but she also sells her wares on Etsy, at the merch table during local musician Noah Smith’s shows (he is one of her guitar string suppliers), and at other shows and festivals throughout the Midwest (from Northside Art in the Park to Bunbury).
She’s suffered, in her words, “a few minor finger and hand injuries” using so many power tools over the years, but she says it’s been worth it. As the business grows, she’s thinking of experiment with metalsmithing. Oh, and she should probably look into some lathe lessons, too.