Lisa Carlson brings “found object” jewelry making to Las Cruces Arts Fair

February 9, 2019 Carlos Arreola

The first year Lisa Carlson brought her jewelry to the Las Cruces Arts Fair, she won best of show. The next year, 2018, she earned best in the jewelry category. It’s really no surprise because she has been making her living creating beautiful jewelry and selling it at juried art shows around the country since 1987.

Lisa designs earrings, brooches, and necklaces out of re-cycled “found objects”, like antique buttons, crystals, and vintage beads.   She will be one of over 90 artists that will exhibit at this year’s Las Cruces Arts Fair, March 1 – 3 at the Las Cruces Convention Center.

Lisa Carlson’s fascination with finding cast-off pieces of jewelry began in the 1970s when she was a young visual merchandiser for the women’s clothing company Casual Corner. Part of her job was finding antique items for store displays and while she was shopping for the company, she discovered there were often bags of single earrings, broken pins, or necklaces with a stone missing. “I’d go and find miraculous things just for nothing,” she said. Now it’s more difficult to find high-quality jewelry at bargain prices at antique stores, but she spends time shopping at garage and estate sales to find what she needs to create her artistic jewelry.

Her first jewelry pieces were mounted on FIMO polymer clay, but eventually she began working with metal as a base for the designs. With over three decades of experience in jewelry design, she says, “You can see how sophisticated the designs are now compared to the early days.”

Lisa’s travels keep her on the road much of the year, working and traveling with her husband from their base in Utah.  They have become one of the “family” of artists who are staples at the California-based Harvest Festivals, an arts and crafts show that travels the state over two months. The Carlsons have taken part in 156 of the shows over the years. They also participate in juried art shows in places like New York and Texas.

A recently designed piece that Lisa especially loves is a hummingbird with a ruby eye that she has worked into a type of bolo tie. She explains, “This past year we were on three TV stations in LA promoting a Harvest Fair. I showed a large piece with 18-karat gold hummingbird with a ruby eye that is brilliant red, which is the hardest color to find in vintage jewelry because it is highly sought after. The piece I designed with that is stunning, and it’s in my private collection because I just can’t part with it.”

Lisa says of her work, “Everything is hand-made. It’s the real deal and nothing is commercial. My jewelry is collected nationwide and I have a celebrity following.” She has major markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles; she adds, “We are known for the couture designer series, with pieces selling in the $500 to $700 range. At the Las Cruces Arts Fair, we’ll have pieces starting at $25 and going up to hundreds of dollars.”

See examples of Lisa’s jewelry at

The Las Cruces Arts Fair kicks off Friday evening, March 1st, from 5 to 8 p.m., giving collectors the first opportunity to see and buy work directly from the artists. The fair opens on Saturday at 10 a.m. with a special “Quick Art” competition from 11 a.m. to 12 noon.  The fair is open on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and continues Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. There will be entertainment by flamenco guitarist Jake Mossman Friday evening and Saturday and food and beverages will be available to purchase.

Tickets are $10 for adults at the door or $15 for a two-adult pass when purchased in advance. Children aged 12 and under are admitted free.   Ticket holders may reenter the event one additional day at no charge. Children aged 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased in advance in Las Cruces at the DAAC offices, 1740 Calle de Mercado; Cutter Gallery, 2640 El Paseo Road; Frame & Art Center, 1100 S. Main St.; in El Paso at the Hal Marcus Gallery, 1308 N. Oregon Avenue; and online at

The Las Cruces Convention Center is located at 680 E. University.

Proceeds from the Las Cruces Arts Fair go to support the Doña Ana Arts Council’s many arts education programs in the community.  For more information, go to or call the DAAC office at (575) 523-6403.

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