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Made In Chicago: Artist Jan Lewis

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Multi-colored Octagon Bangle. (Credit: janlewisdesigns.com)

Multi-colored Octagon Bangle. (Credit: janlewisdesigns.com)

schlessinger250 Regine Schlesinger
Hi! My name’s Regine Schlesinger and if that rings a bell, it probably...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Jazz great Ramsey Lewis isn’t the only artist in his family, reports WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger.

After studying at the School of the Art Institute, Jan Lewis began designing wooden bangles while she was on the road with her famous husband.

“I’d stay in the hotel room when Ramsey would perform. So I started painting and thought, ‘Now, how do I start this?’ So I just started placing dots because I’m not a painter….So I just said, ‘Ok, let me just get my placement with some dots.’ One dot kind of led to another and it just ended up that was how my style developed.”

At first it was mainly a hobby.

“I tried early on, in the early ’90’s to get them reproduced but was told they were just too detailed to be done. So I put them in the back of my closet for twenty years.”

But, then three years ago, her research led her to a fair trade organization in India that ensures decent conditions for workers. “I came home one day and I told Ramsey, ‘We have to go to India.’ And he said, ‘Ok, let’s go.'”

She found a fair trade factory in India which now reproduces the intricate designs on her bracelets. The bangles are sold in several boutiques and through her website, janlewisdesigns.com. They were chosen earlier this year as part of the gift bags for the stars at the Oscars. She’s now looking into branching out into home accessories as well as the jewelry.

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