Tucked away on South Main Street in Breckenridge is Flourish, a new shop that sells handmade art. More than just a shop, however, Flourish is also a gallery, showing off works in various mediums by Colorado-based artists. Stepping into the shop, customers are greeted with displays of jewelry - earrings, necklaces, rings - each piece unique from those around it. Tapestries hang on the walls, collaborations of thread and color, accompanied by paintings. Everywhere you look is a piece of art, and they're all for sale.
Holly Stein, owner of Flourish and an artist herself, has filled her store with art and handmade projects from artists throughout the state, most of them out of county.
"I tried to find people who have really unique things, and are different, that are not represented in Summit County," Stein said. "We want to have something that's part of the whole Colorado mountain experience, but isn't represented elsewhere in the town or in the county."
Stein's forte is metalsmithing, particularly jewelry, which she sells at Flourish. She combines her materials -stones, buttons, metal, found objects - using a variety of styles and techniques.
"It's all nature-inspired," Stein said. "Lots of leaves, lots of flowers, but they're all different styles."
Most of her inspiration comes from working outside in her garden. Though she lives in the Upper Blue area at over 10,000 feet, she has nurtured an expansive perennial garden with plenty of growth.
"I get ideas all over the place, mostly things about color or texture or patterns, looking at trees or flowers," she said. "Maybe just the way the light is shining on the mountains in the morning."
Apart from nature, Stein also seeks ideas and inspiration in the everyday world, particularly thrift stores and flea markets. Though many of her jewelry pieces have a nature-like style, she doesn't limit herself.
"I want to be able to experiment and play and try," Stein said. "I'm always tinkering with something new."
One particular material Stein has been working with may seem surprising to some - concrete. She became familiar with the idea after taking an art class in Vail, and then adapted it to her own inclinations. Once the concrete has set and been attached in its setting on the jewelry piece, Stein draws and paints on top of it, usually in colorful and painstakingly intricate designs.
"I've been looking for materials I could actually draw on, and I wanted something different from my other work," Stein explained. "I was looking for something to be precise with, and I really wanted to just draw."
Stein has always loved jewelry, and she took up metalsmithing 15 years ago while living in Chicago. A graphic designer by trade, her job put her in touch with the local art community. In payment for her work, she received gift certificates to art classes, in which her artistic passion was renewed.
"I had taken classes previously, so I started taking metalsmithing classes again, and I just never stopped. I completely love it."
While in Chicago, Stein soon began teaching metalsmithing classes herself, and has carried this vision over into Flourish. The upstairs portion of the store is a workshop dedicated to teaching. Several soldering stations line the back wall, and nearby shelves are filled with metalworking tools and useful books. Stein plans to teach classes at beginning and advanced levels, as well as quick "you make it you take it" sessions for customers just stopping by.
"I love the teaching aspect, I get a lot out of it," Stein said, "particularly [with] students who haven't done something before, because sometimes it's really eye-opening. ... That's an educational experience for me too."
For years the idea for Flourish lingered in the back of Stein's mind, although when it came down to the final process, everything went quickly. On Nov. 10, six weeks after signing the lease, Stein's store opened.
"I thought for a long time it would be fun to have a gallery, because I love art and I love artists," Stein said. "I think artists are really interesting people."
Fortunately, her connections within the art community meant that she was quickly set up with products to sell beside her own in the store.
When making her jewelry, Stein estimates she spends around an hour on the simple pieces, and up to eight or more on the more complex.
"It depends on the style of the piece and what's involved," she said.
What is clear, however, is that while the hours add up and there's a lot of labor involved, Stein certainly doesn't think of the handcrafting, the teaching or running the store as 'work.'
"I like the idea of teaching people along with selling to them," Stein said. "That's what I hope to do with the gallery, is educate people and bring artists together. Some people balk at the prices of handmade things [until] they understand the process that goes into it, and the amount of work."
People walking in to Flourish "can expect to see something unusual, that's different and gives a sense of handmade and how that works," said Stein. "Somebody who's looking for something unusual that has its own story."