Jennifer Inge

Jennifer Inge

Jeweler

Jeweler

It had rained all the way from Dallas on the day Jennifer Inge rode her motorcycle into Creede, Colorado. She was instantly in love with the raw, rugged mountains and wild spirit of the tiny silver mining town, intoxicated by the scent of aspen and bristlecone pine, thinking, "What a great place to live, ride horses…". These days, excitement is in the air as she prepares to celebrate 45 years of extraordinary treasure hunting in Creede.

Inge still explores Mineral County and the San Juan Mountains by horseback, following elk trails above palisades and wandering through remote canyons. It's a fascinating place. Wind, water, and volcanic activity have created otherworldly formations.

With every ride, she brings back a wealth of inspiration and a packhorse loaded with treasure. Wave of lava flow, texture of wood, silhouette of bristlecone in full moon, streaks of red in skies or cliff face— all swirl in her mind's eye, guiding her hands to tell a story with gemstones, found objects and precious metals, exotic leathers and horsehair.

This treasure trove is squirreled away in her basement studio. It's no ordinary basement. It is a mystical grotto of rhyolite stone walls, gnarly bristlecone posts, stucco, red fir beams, and a massive monk staircase hewn from a single Ponderosa pine.

Cached in retired printers’ trays are thousands of unusual gemstones and mineral specimens. Many of these are no longer mined: Sonoran Sunset, Bumblebee “Jasper”, Bisbee and Manassa turquoise, Sweet Home rhodochrosite….

Each stone is so unique "It's sometimes hard to know where to start. I work like I'm making a puzzle, matching up textures, shapes, colors, history… I play a shell game of move them here, move them there— all of a sudden there's just this physical sensation, energetic sensation that they've been waiting for 30 million years to be side-by-side."

Though Jenny's first artistic passion is metal smithing, she is most known for her fine horsehair braiding. The Inge Horsehair Jewelry Collection is unique in the world. Childhood braiding and macramé, along with college studies in anthropology, lead her to decipher antique patterns and invent new ones. Her work has shown in galleries and museum shops across the country and memorializes the cherished equine friends of horse lovers.

And she finds time for her community. Inge has played a leadership role in developing the Chamber, town park, Community Center, fairgrounds, rodeo, Creede Sculpture Show and numerous other events. In 2001, she founded the Creede Rock and Mineral Show that now attracts hundreds of visitors.  Many of them plan their vacation a year in advance to attend.

Jenny is insatiably, joyously curious, but after decades of gathering, the rich array of materials is both exciting and overwhelming.  “In ten lifetimes I could never actually complete all the designs and projects I’ve imagined.”

And she longs for more time with her horses...

 

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