Laurel Burch

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Laurel Burch (December 31, 1945 – September 13, 2007) was an American artist, designer and businesswoman.

Early life[edit]

She was born Laurel Anne Harte in the San Fernando Valley, California on New Year's Eve, 1945.[1] She grew up in a broken home and left at age 14 with only a paper bag of clothing. She supported herself by working as a cook, house cleaner and baby-sitter[1]

When she was 19 she married a jazz musician, Robert Burch, but was divorced with two children to care for by the time she was 20. She supported herself by claiming welfare payments and making jewelry.[1]


Burch went on to launch her business, now called Laurel Burch Artworks, in the late 1960s. She began making paintings and was commissioned by restaurants, businesses and private collectors. "I found metal in a junkyard and hammered it out on the back of an old frying pan", she stated during an interview with the Marin Independent Journal in 2005.[2]

She began making jewelry and selling it on the streets of San Francisco from tackle boxes. Some local stores began stocking her creations, and a businessman, Shashi Singapuri, took samples of her work to China. She went to China in 1971 and discovered cloisonné, a kind of enamel work, with which she designed paintings and had the designs made into earrings.

With Mr. Singapuri's financial backing manufacturing began. Burch went on to work on cast metals and wood, and to include spinoff products on paper, porcelain and fabric. In 1979 she split with Singapuri, and started Laurel Burch Inc. She was president and chief designer. In the 1990s she licensed her designs to a dozen or so companies that now make and distribute her creations worldwide.

Personal life[edit]

Burch's second marriage, to Jack Holton, also ended in divorce. Her third husband was Rick Sara.

She died on September 13, 2007, aged 61, at her home in Novato, California from complications of osteopetrosis, a painful bone disease she had her entire life, suffering more than 100 bone fractures as a result. In addition to Rick Sara, she was survived by her daughter, son, and two granddaughters.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Douglas Martin, "Laurel Burch, Artist, Dies at 61", The New York Times, September 20, 2007. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  2. ^ Rourke, Mary (September 21, 2007). "Laurel Burch, 61; artist, jewelry maker whose work appeared in many forms". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 

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