Alice was living in Biggerville, Pennsylvania, and had been teaching art for 10 years, when a friend invited her to come along to a meeting of artists in the area. During the meeting each person in attendance was asked to introduce themselves and tell what their media was. When it was my turn I told them I wasnt sure -- that it might be pottery, weaving, or jewelry, Landis says. When I learned there were 12 potters, 13 weavers and no jewelers in the group, the choice was easy.
She began making jewelry with the intention of doing a few shows. Initially, she worked in both pewter and silver, but after discovering that pewter wasnt as popular, she began working exclusively in silver.
Landis left the classroom to pursue her craft and did her first show in 1974. Several years later she moved to Traverse City and went to work on Front Street, at a shop called the Silver Exchange. When Traders Alley antique center opened at Chums Corners south of town, she worked there for a brief time and recalls using roller skates to get around the large building.
In 1980 she joined NMAC (Northern Michigan Artists and Craftsmen) and opened a gallery in her Traverse City home. Landis admits to not being a morning person and says, I stayed up well past midnight many times and sold my jewelry late at night, while wearing my pajamas.
When her niece Jill Jeffers and Melody Litwiller, a family friend, expressed an interest in working with silver, the teacher in Landis took over and she began teaching them the craft.
With the passing of her mother, Landis inherited the family homestead in Alden. In 2003 she moved her gallery from Traverse City and opened Grandmas Parlor in the house, which is located adjacent to the parking lot of Aldens United Methodist Church.
The home once belonged to her great-grandfather, John Armstrong, and the fact that she now creates her silver jewelry in the same house, holds a certain irony for Landis because, in 1880 her great grandfather was blinded by an explo-sion while working in an Idaho silver mine. Several years later, her great uncle, Benjamin Armstrong, subsequently lost his life in a silver mine accident.
Landis always enjoys trying new things and for the last couple of years, has been doing her own lapidary work. She polishes a variety of semi-precious stones which she incorporates into her jewelry and often collects Petoskey stones in and around the Alden area. After polishing the stones, she cuts them in half for use in her reversible, Petoskey stone pendants. The pendants feature a silver backing with a cutout in the shape of Michigan, thus allowing the stone on the other side to show through.
Over the past 20 years, Landis has become known for her signature line of jewelry. The delicate, hand-crafted floral design still proves to be as popular today, as it was back when she started.
Both of Landiss students mastered the art and became silversmiths as well. This enables Landis to keep Grandmas Parlor open during the summer months, and to also do about 20 juried shows
On Saturday, August 23, Landis will be one of 86 artists participating in Aldens Annual Art Festival. The juried show will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Depot Park in Alden.