Heavy Metal in New Mexico: Fall Market Featured Artisan Chela Gurnee

We caught up with new Firefly and Fall Market Featured Artisan Chela Gurnee of Chela Gurnee Jewelry to learn how new environments and technology help move her creative process forward.

FF: How did you begin your handmade journey?

CG: As I was working towards a Bachelors of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico I took a small metals and jewelry class and fell in love with making jewelry out of metal. I’ve always loved adorning myself with beautiful things and to be able to make jewelry myself—for myself—is very inspiring. Once I began wearing my creations regularly, people began asking to buy them, so my journey as a professional jeweler started when I sold my first necklace from right off my neck!

FF: What materials do you work with and why?

CG: I work with sterling silver and semi-precious stones. I love how easy sterling is to work with and I love its versatility—silver can look very rugged and oxidized, as well as shiny and clean. Semi-precious stones are great to work with because there are a huge variety of them and they are easy to access in my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I try to find stones that are unusual in some way, whether it’s shape, color, size or type of stone.

FF: Inspiration comes from where?

CG: My inspiration comes from many sources—often times the stones have their own story and I am drawn to enhance that story with a certain design. Other times I have a vision of something I would like to wear that inspires the design. And then there are times when I see a shadow, or a reflection or some architecture, and the idea for a design is sparked by those special moments.

FF: What excites you for the future?

CG: My work is always evolving and it’s fun to see where I started, where I am now and where I’m going. My style changes as I learn new techniques and begin to work with new types of materials (like stones from the Pacific coast). I love trying new things and am always inspired by the work of other jewelers, architects, painters and artists. It’s been exciting to see my pieces make other people happy and thrilling to watch my business grow.

Shop and visit with Chela Gurnee at Firefly Handmade Fall Market, September 17-18, Saturday 11am-7pm & Sunday 11am-5pm, Downtown Boulder Fall Fest on Pearl Street Mall.







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