I’m Chayse the maker behind Frontera Designs. Here is the story of how I found silversmithing, or rather how silversmithing found me, back in 2015 when I was living in Mexico. I was a junior in college who desperately needed a break to figure out my goals. And what does one do when they are woefully lost? They run away and go to Mexico… or at least that is what I did.
I chose to escape to San Miguel de Allende, an artist expat community located in central Mexico, with cobble stone streets, colorful casonas, and tall nopales. It only took a few hours of me being in the dreamy city to realize just how far from home I was. I decided to put my head down, study hard, and accomplish my goal of learning Spanish, but that got boring very fast. To ease loneliness and doubt, I would visit the mercado nearly everyday to speak with the artisans, to learn about their process and to practice my Spanish. Here is when God, the Universe, Higher Power, whatever you call it, started to conspire.
One day while in that market, I met a silversmith, Juan, who said that he could get me silver wire. So we went to his studio where he took raw silver, melted it down into an ingot, and ‘alchemized’ it into being 18gauge silver wire. I asked how he learned the craft and he said from “the crazy Canadian guy.”
Two days later I was having coffee with the infamous silver designer Brianna from Armour to learn about her journey. She too mentioned that everything she knew, she had learned from the “crazy Canadian guy”.
The next day my roommate, who was a 68 year old man I found on Craigslist, told me to put on my shoes after he proof read an email to Juan learning that I was interested in jewelry making.
He took me straight to the “crazy Canadian guy.” His name was Billy King and within minutes he kickstarted my passion for working with metal.
I took the creative techniques that were incubated in jewelry school (The Sterling Quest) and continued to be inspired by artists and landscapes of Southern Mexico. When in the southern state of Chiapas, in a small colonial town of San Cristobal de las casas, Frontera was envisioned and manifested.
“Frontera,” meaning borders or boundaries in Spanish, is significant to me because of my love for travel and exploration of the outdoors. I did not just envision Frontera to solely be a jewelry business, it is also a promised lifestyle rooted in exploration. I envision a life where borders are only mere social constructions that should be challenged and explored – both in the creative and physical realm.
I live in the beautiful eclectic town of Durango, Colorado. I am a dog mama, soon to be wife, and wild soul who enjoys exploring our wilderness in search of the creative presence of the wild and fusing that essence into metal. I enjoy connecting with Earth’s elements and telling stories through wearable works of art.
During the warm times of the year I create jewelry out of Dale, my vintage 1965 mobile metalsmithing studio. I also share the ancient wisdom of silversmithing with others and teach silversmithing classes in Southwest Colorado. I did learn Spanish well enough to be a Spanish teacher at a local Catholic school.
Thank you for being here and reading my story.