Making the most of a golden opportunity
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Jeweler Colby June Smith knows that 30 isn’t old. Still, reaching the age lit something in her.
“God, if I’m going to do something I really love, I better start doing it,” she remembers thinking.So here she is. In the last few months, she’s left a big city for a small town. She’s quit one job and found another. Most importantly, she’s making jewelry almost full-time – something that had always scared her before.The artist, still 30, was explaining this from her work space, tucked away in Carbondale’s Studio for Arts + Works. About an hour into the talk, she would show off her earrings, necklaces and such, most of which were dangling from branches mounted in the SAW gallery. Inspired by native Colorado grasses, many looked like silvery seed pods or golden barley bits. They were subtle and simple, kind of rustic, all in an elegant way.As Smith explained, this is “putting some of myself into a form.”
She’s not the kind of girl who wears a lot of jewelry, she admitted. She can be pretty shy, she said. However, she was open while talking about herself, recounting history without hesitation.She found her art form during the year she took off before college. After graduating from Aspen High School, she traveled to Nepal and then to San Miguel Allende, Mexico, where she took classes at the local university. Though she hadn’t expected to, she ended up studying jewelry. She fit right in with it, and the process and materials just got to her. Later, while at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., she wanted to study art, but opted for Hispanic studies. She was still enamored with jewelry, though, and found herself in classes at a nearby art institute. During this time, she and her cousin decided to start a children’s summer art camp in Hood River. It was a big success, and something about being around those kids was fun and inspiring for her.Over the next couple of years, she delved into counseling and teaching English as a second language. Eventually, she earned her Masters in counseling psychology. She moved to Denver for three years, and she worked with school children. She met her fianc, Ramsey Fulton, an architect, and lived in a neighborhood she liked. Denver life was grounded and stable – and without much time for art.Then everything changed.
Then funding was cut for her counseling agency. A change was needed, so in March, she and Fulton and Rooster the dog moved to Carbondale. There, Smith opted to not look for another counseling position. Eventually, she took a part-time retail job in Aspen, but other than that, she decided to devote herself entirely to her jewelry. She didn’t sound dramatic or conflicted about this shift. It was just time.”I think it was like an intuitive feeling,” she said. “It was like I had to do this or else I won’t be happy.”As “organic” art, Colby June Jewelry is all about the forms and shapes of nature, she explained. It magnifies details in the natural world that are so common but also intricate. She talked about her desire to go “greener” with her work. Already, all of her advertising and packaging is done with 100 percent post-consumer materials. She’s looking to find “eco gold,” too (ore that’s mined in an environmentally responsible way). When asked about this relationship with the earth, her voice was heartfelt.”That’s where I feel inspired,” she said. “In nature, that’s where I feel the most creative, and I feel the most in touch with my thoughts. Just a connection to something larger than myself.” She’s not trying to get into Nordstrom’s, she went on. A few employees or a store someday might be nice, but she’s not looking for some big operation. She knows that part of her is still intimidated by this whole artist thing. Having to put herself out there, be a salesman, is a challenge. And she has no idea where this experiment will take her.
Yet she looked absolutely comfortable in her skin.”This is what I really want to do,” she said. “And I do know that.”Contact Stina Sieg: email@example.comPost Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado
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