BURNT HILLS – Jewelry designer Burnt Hills native Sarah Lewis has hit the road this summer to follow Dead & Company on tour, which includes a stop at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Wednesday.
Lewis is not only jamming out to the music but also selling her Grateful Dead jewelry collection called Rose & Bolt. Featuring everything from rings and necklaces to pins and chains, the collection is officially licensed and made in partnership with Warner Music Artist Services.
“It’s such an honor to partner with the band,” Lewis said.
The artist launched the collection last year, amid the devastating losses of her partner and a good friend, both of whom died from gun violence. She credits her work on the collection and the music that inspired it for helping her through.
“The music is super healing for me,” Lewis said. “Tied into the tragedy, I’ve created this beautiful thing from the ashes . . . It’s what’s saved me. The Grateful Dead has saved my life. It pulled me from the darkest moments.”
She’s listened to the jam band’s music since she was a kid, thanks to her parents. The first live show she remembers going to was at SPAC in 1996. Since then, she’s gone to hundreds of shows and seen most of the side projects the band members have done.
Lewis also got her start as an artist in the Capital Region. While attending Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School she took glassblowing classes in Ballston Spa.
“That really set me on the path to jewelry making,” Lewis said.
After graduating high school in 2002, she went on to study art at Arizona State University and then honed her jewelry-making skills at Savannah College of Art & Design, earning a BFA in metals and jewelry and product design.
Over the years, she’s owned her own jewelry collections and run brick-and-mortar locations in Philadelphia as well as Northern California. She made the move to Colorado a few years ago and it was there that she first had the idea to create Grateful Dead jewelry.
“[I’d] seen like all these other brands and product categories have licensing deals, but I hadn’t seen any jewelry brands with it. And being a jewelry designer and someone so passionate about music, [that] dream popped into my head and I couldn’t shake it,” Lewis said.
After a few years of cold emailing Warner Music, her message got through and they were able to work out a licensing deal. Each design has to be approved by the company and usually includes Grateful Dead imagery in the form of a lightning bolt, rose or skull. Some of the pieces include crystals, opals and other stones.
During the initial stages of creating the collection, both her partner and friend were incredibly supportive of her work.
“It’s been really hard doing it without them but I still feel like somehow they’re a huge part of it,” Lewis said.
Her friend always encouraged Lewis to pour her energy into the collection and to use it as an outlet for healing, and that’s exactly what she’s done.
“I have channeled it into my work; that’s what she always told me to do,” Lewis said.
There’s plenty of work to be done too.
“This is a one-woman show so I’m very busy shipping orders all the time and doing the design work and all the marketing social media,” Lewis said.
This summer is the first time since Rose & Bolt launched that she’s been able to get on the road for an extended period and sell across the country.
“I’ve been really able to blow it up online and so that’s what I’ve been focused on and then now combining it with these in-person events is awesome because people are walking by the booth already wearing the jewelry,” Lewis said.
Meeting some of her online customers has been rewarding, and being in the Deadhead community has been helpful too.
“It’s incredibly heart-working to see how my pieces can mean so much to Deadheads because we’re all so passionate about this music, and my jewelry pieces are talismans that embody the love for this music that we share, that bonds us as a community, and allow Deadheads to express their love of the grateful dead, through the piece that they choose and wear,” Lewis said.
She has sent the band members pieces from the collection and drummer and Grateful Dead founding member Bill Kreutzmann has worn one of her lighting bolt pieces on stage.
Over the last few weeks, she’s been to shows in Colorado, Michigan and Indiana, and plans to continue following the tour into mid-July.
Wednesday’s Dead & Company show at won’t be the first time she’s set up shop at the venue but it will be her most elaborate set-up yet.
Alongside the Rose & Bolt jewelry, she’ll collect donations to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control and against gun violence. She also encourages customers to contact their representatives about the issue.
For more information on the collection, visit RoseandBolt.com.