LEIGHA CLEVELAND | Master Silversmith Interview

Christine: Who taught you to make jewelry?

Leigha: My parents taught me little and easy things like cutting bezels for stones and setting the stones. My Aunt Brenda Jimenez taught me the rest.

Christine: Was Learning Fun

Leigha: In the beginning as a child, I was forced to help finish the jewelry. So that wasn't fun for me. Even if we got rewarded. I would be sick in the back seat because I was setting stones on the way to turn in our work before the place closed. Parents promised a good place to eat and toys if we helped finish. LOL. Now I'm sick and can't eat so it's my fault we ended up just getting McDonalds or any fast food. It's really a funny story. But we (my siblings and I) helped our parents finish orders every week. After high school i got a job at Nakai Trading as a stone setter where Brenda, my Aunt was the silversmith. Then she started asking me to help her with little things from there I just learned and picked up quick. That's when it got fun for me.

Christine: Wow, How old were you when you helped your parents?

Leigha: I started helping them when i was around 9 years old.

Christine: How many generations before you made jewelry?

Leigha: From what my parents told me i'm the fourth generation silversmith. They don't know if there great grand parents did or not.

Christine: That's amazing? Who's your favorite silversmith currently?

Leigha: My favorite artist has always been my Aunt Brenda Jimenez. I've seen her make wonders. She would just build up with out trying to think of how and what she wanted. Brenda was never scared to fix or try to make something someone wanted. Her pieces always came out better than we thought it would. From her I got the confidence in my self to not be scared of trying new things. She showed me tricks and easier ways to make my pieces look better.

Christine: Hmmm, and what would you say is one of your master creations?

Leigha: I don't have a favorite, but I love the animal and butterfly stuff. I love making those.