Jewelry artist Toos Roozen-Evans of Tulip Design lives in Lyon Mountain, a hamlet in the town of Dannemora on upper Chateaugay Lake.
Once a bustling, prosperous mining site, Lyon Mountain had fewer than 500 inhabitants at the last census count. Until 1967, Lyon Mountain iron ore, ranked top quality, was mined by Republic Steel and used to build the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Today, the mines are abandoned, and there is little traffic in the hamlet. While the Adirondack solitude has its charm for Roozen-Evans, she does not base her jewelry business at home, but travels to other Adirondack towns, from Lake Placid and Saranac Lake to Lake George and Old Forge, to display and sell her work.
(Photo — Martha Allen)
"An artist," she said, "is not a stationary figure."
Toos (pronounced "like the toes on your foot") Roozen (pronounced Rosen, "like the flowers - it means roses") left her home in Holland to come to the United States when she was 24 years old. Her father was a tulip bulb grower and exporter in a family business, which has been passed from generation to generation.
What made her go so far away? Did she feel, being young and restless, that she just had to get off the tulip farm and see the world, or was there some other motive?
"Dutch people travel very easily. Borders don't mean much because the country is so small. Holland has a history of trading all over the world," she said.
Michael Pollan, writing about the history of tulips in his book, "The Botany of Desire," echoes her words: "Land in Holland being so scarce and expensive ... Dutch gardens were miniatures ... the Dutch thought of their gardens as jewel boxes ... dreams (of diverse, unusual and colorful flowers) could be indulged as never before in seventeenth century Holland, as Dutch traders and plant explorers returned home with a parade of exotic new plant species."
True to her roots, Roozen-Evans traveled to foreign shores, and later named her jewelry business Tulip Designs, after the Roozen family business.
She first came to New Mexico and lived in Las Cruces for five years. There she fell in love with traditional Native American jewelry, made with silver, coral and turquoise.
Later, she married and raised a family on a horse farm in Pittstown, New Jersey, on the Delaware River.
In New Jersey she made leather clothing, trading on leather-working skills learned in Amsterdam, and remodeled homes while her children were growing up.
Roozen-Evans also spent time in Ashville, North Carolina, which she calls "an artist's paradise," where she had contact with jewelers and took classes in jewelry making.
"We came up (to the Adirondacks) summers every year, looking for a camp to buy. We ended up with a house, and sold the farm."
Tulip Design is now 10 years old.
"I'm just having a lot of fun in this period of my life," Roozen-Evans said. "I can do what I want to do. I feel privileged."
Working with stones and soldering copper to makes chains, beads and sculptural jewelry pieces, Roozen-Evans uses imagination to create original work. Brass and copper are burnished and burnt to achieve various colors and patinas. At one point she went to copper instead of silver because silver had become so expensive, she said. Now that silver prices are going down again, she may take it back up.
"Looking at these," she said, indicating a collection of earrings, bracelets and necklaces, "you would think you were looking at the work of three different artists." She appeared concerned that her pieces are so individual, ranging from bold to delicate, that they do not show a unifying overall style; but the style is there.
Roozen-Evans will participate in the High Peaks Arts and Antiques Show on Marcy Field, Keene Valley, Aug. 23-24, and in the Artists at Work Studio Tour for Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Jay.