Business Spotlight - Juniper Metal Works
Amber Landolt is living her dream.
While a student at Iowa State University, Landolt realized she had found her passion when she dropped an interior design class and replaced it with a metalsmithing class.
“I walked in and it was like instant, ‘This is where I need to be,’” she recalled. “Throughout college, I was there doing all-nighters – just working and creating things.
“When I got to the end of my time there, it was kind of like you create your own class within the metalsmithing area so I focused on jewelry making.”
Landolt, a Council Bluffs native, earned a degree in fine arts with an emphasis on metalsmithing at ISU. Before she had even graduated, she was already selling her sterling silver-based line of jewelry – Juniper - at art festivals. Her talent and creativity led to some internships and eventually some jobs working alongside seasoned goldsmiths.
She landed jobs at a couple shops and gained valuable experience while expanding her jewelry line she was selling at art fesitvals.
Landolt was working a jewelry shop in Omaha and also doing some portrait photography work when she and her family moved to Glenwood. That’s when she began thinking “how cool it would be” to own a building on Town Square. During a discussion about her photography businesses with former Glenwood Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rachel Reis, Andolt was encouraged to approach longtime Glenwood jewelry store owners Dave and Janet Warren (who were considering retirement) about acquiring building space from them.
The pieces fell into place and Juniper Metal Works opened on the southwest side of Town Square, at 4 N. Walnut St., in December 2019.
Landolt does her silversmith and goldsmith work - whether it’s creating a custom-order piece of jewelry or a design of her own - from a shop in the back of her store.
“Basically, it (silversmith, goldsmith) means you’re really comfortable working with alloy, so like casting, forming, forging. You kind of know what you need to do to the gold to get it to the final product,” she said. “I’m a bench jeweler because I actually set the gemstones in the rings myself. Everything is done here.”
Landolt said she utilitzes both traditional and contemporary metalsmith practices into her work.
“In the goldsmith trade, you use techniques that are hundreds of years old but I also have the new technology – a microscope that’s brand new and a laser welder, which allows me to work on some things that you wouldn’t be able to do with a torch,” she said.
The most common custom orders at Juniper Metal Works are for mother’s rings, engagement rings, wedding bands, necklaces and memorial pieces, often created from jewelry a client inherits from a loved one who has passed away.
“Instead of having jewelry sitting in a drawer not being utilized, let’s melt it down and create something useful,” Landolt said.
It’s clear, Landolt is driven by the creative aspects of her work.
“I love to just create,” she said. “I kind of turn my brain off and just make whatever I feel like making. I turn the music up really loud and I just create. I design pieces around the stone.
“I really love to make pieces for clients because when they come in, I get to see their reaction. When it’s better than they think it’s going to be, they’re crying and that’s cool.”
The front end of the Juniper Metal Works store is a showroom of one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, art work and gifts. Landolt has two display cases of jewelry she’s created herself and a wide selection of locally and nationally-created pieces from other artists.
She’s assisted at the store by her husband Riley, also a Council Bluffs native. He helps with a variety of tasks, ranging from replacing watch batteries to working the sales floor.
Juniper Metal Works’ customer base is primarily from Glenwood, Mills County and the Omaha metro area, but Landolt also has patrons come to her store from as far away at northern Iowa and Kansas City. She’s grateful to that loyal customer base that’s allowing her to fulfill a dream she’s had since taking that first metalsmithing class at Iowa State.
“There’s no way to explain what working or owning your dream means,” she said. “I dreamed of having this outcome in college and it’s surreal to me that this is my real life – the coolest thing ever and Glenwood’s been so supportive.”
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South Walnut Collective Building
In addition to their Juniper Metal Works store, Amber and Riley Landolt own and manage the South Walnut Collective Building at 113 S. Walnut St. in Glenwood.
After an extensive renovation, they opened the building as a multi-purpose venue that can be rented out for special occasions. The Landolts’ original plan was to have the building provide retail space for other small businesses.
“The whole vision was to help other small businesses get retail space,” Landolt said. “Originally, I used to jokingly call it the small business incubator. There are three spaces. The basement was always going to be an event space because there’s not a lot of smaller venues in Glenwood for events that’s not in a church or bar. We wanted to kind of give a neutral environment to people.”
The building required a massive remodel and update - everything from electrical and plumbing to heating and air. The exterior of the building also received a facelift.
Space at the South Walnut Collective Building can be rented for $65 an hour. Chairs and tables are also available for a nominal fee. The facility was designed without a kitchen, somewhat intentionally, to bring business to restaurants and other businesses in the community that provide catering services.
The venue will be utilized for several community events in the coming months, including next week’s Cultivate Community, the Southwest Iowa Arts Tour in September, the Fall Shop Hop and the Glenwood Holiday Festival.
Additional information about the South Walnut Collective Building is available online at www.southwalnutcollective.com.