After traveling much of the country while growing up with his father in the Navy, Leo Feeney finally found his niche when he learned the art of jewelry-making under a silversmith teacher at a community college in Pennsylvania. He developed his skills and techniques further as he became the teacher’s apprentice.
When Leo traveled to the Southwest, passing through shops around the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, he not only met his wife, but Leo was also introduced to the styles and stones of Southwestern American Indian jewelry. He instantly found a passion for this unique and beautiful kind of jewelry. Native American designs, especially Zuni Pueblo jewelry, majorly influenced Leo’s personal style as he grew as a jeweler. In his work, Leo uses traditional turquoise as well as gaspeite, spiny oyster and red coral, but also usually features gemstones such as peridot, garnet, amethyst, citrine, topaz, and others.
Regarding his creative process for starting a new piece, Leo says, “I begin at the center and work out. There is such variation in individual stones that when you get them laid out, certain stones are just drawn together. Once you get the right blend of stones to work with, once you determine the size of the design, you can begin the silver work.” After finding the right stone combination and adding his complimenting sterling silver work, each jewelry piece made by Leo boasts delicate details and fine workmanship.