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Creating in Rochester: A Q&A with jewelry designer Linda Cass

Explore Linda's journey from Warwick to Rochester, her career in art and jewelry, and insights on what makes the Rochester area unique.



Linda Cass’s journey to becoming a celebrated silversmith and jewelry designer in Rochester is a story of creativity, passion and community. Her path led her from studying art and psychology in Geneseo to mastering art therapy in Rochester, ultimately finding her niche in silversmithing. Through life's twists, including a pandemic pivot, Linda has embraced each challenge, fostering deep connections within Rochester's vibrant art scene. We sat down with Linda to explore her inspiring journey, her love for the region and how she balances her artistic passions with community engagement.

Q: Where are you from originally, and what brought you to the Rochester area?

A: I did not grow up here. I grew up in Orange County, in a little town called Warwick, NY. It’s about an hour’s drive outside of New York City. I started looking at living in upper New York state by Rochester because of college. When I was 18 years old, I came up here and went to Geneseo, where I spent four years. I loved Geneseo and did a double major in art and psychology. After that, I pursued a master’s degree in art therapy from Nazareth College.

Q: What do you do now?

A: I’m a silversmith, jewelry designer and teacher at Studio 34. I started my own business when my son was born—he’s now 16. I wanted to work and be home when he got off the bus, so I began my business at home. I worked while my kids were at school and did art shows on weekends. I was part of the art-show circuit here in Rochester.

I was a full-time silversmith until COVID happened. When everything closed down, including the art shows that made up 95% of my business, I had to figure something out. I started working at Forsyth Jewelers in Pittsford, referred by Studio 34. I loved working with fine jewelry and helping couples design engagement rings, so I decided to work there full-time. I still run my own business on the side and do about six art shows a year.

I love being a business owner and making decisions that help my work grow. I love jewelry, gemstones and talking about them. I enjoy inspiring others to find and follow their passions, which is why I loved teaching.

Q: What made you decide to stay in the Rochester area after college?

A: When I was at Nazareth College, I lived downtown, which was more affordable. I worked on Monroe Avenue to pay my rent and fell in love with the area. I worked at a cool jewelry store called Be Designs, which was where my passion for jewelry started. I loved the artsy, fun environment with great food and activities. Eventually, I met my husband, who grew up in Naples, NY, and we decided to stay in Rochester. Now we live in Fairport.

Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant in the area?

A: I love Good Luck. There are so many great restaurants in Rochester, including new ones popping up. I also enjoy Swiftwater Brewing, owned by a friend I went to Geneseo with. We love to eat there and have a pint.


The opportunities here are fantastic, especially for artists. There’s so much to do and participate in, which has significantly influenced my journey.

Q: What makes Rochester unique compared to other cities?

A: Rochester feels like a little big city. There’s a lot here, but it feels tangible. You run into people you know, and there’s a sense of interconnectedness. Everyone seems to know someone you know, which creates a friendly, homey atmosphere. I love that I can find friends and feel at home wherever I go. I started in this community with art shows and met many gallery and store owners. The opportunities here are fantastic, especially for artists. There’s so much to do and participate in, which has significantly influenced my journey.

Q: What are some of your favorite things to do around the region?

A: I love hiking trails, especially Letchworth State Park, known as the Grand Canyon of the East. I enjoy the various restaurants, walking along the canal in Fairport and the lively community events. The area has transformed over the years, offering more activities and places to explore. One memorable experience I had was being invited to go on the news to promote a Rochester Museum & Science Center show. I got to talk on TV about the show and showcase some of my artwork. It was a neat experience.

Q: How does the region inspire you?

A: The natural beauty, the lakes, the hiking trails and the four seasons are all inspiring. The rich art community and events like the Jazz Festival also fuel my creativity. I’ve had positive experiences with the people here, and everyone is generally welcoming and interconnected. It feels like home. It’s a great place to raise kids, with excellent schools and ample opportunities. I love being a business owner here and appreciate the supportive environment.

Q: How do you see Greater Rochester growing or what’s on the horizon for the region?

A: I see Rochester becoming more of a foodie and arts-centric city. There are more music and art events, fantastic restaurants, breweries and food trucks. The Public Market has seen great changes, and I think there’s more to come in enhancing the city’s cultural and culinary offerings. Many people are moving here because they see what we see—a place with great schools, lots of opportunities and a vibrant community.



 

Linda Cass is Greater ROC’s June 2024 Champion Spotlight. If you’d like to be a Champion for Greater ROC and share your story with us, or know someone who should, reach out to us at begreaterroc@gmail.com or send us a direct message on Instagram. And while you’re there, give us a follow to stay connected to the Greater ROC region.


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