Travel back to the 1972 fringe of Dallas, to Olla Padrida (old airplane hangars turned artists’ haven) where Jennifer Inge has opened Rare Things, a tiny 8’x 12’ shop with a little work bench and one small showcase. She is making custom jewelry and crafts as customers look on and selling jewelry faster than she can work. Two years and a 1000 miles later, this very young entrepreneur followed a calling to the western mountains, landed in Creede, and established Rare Things Gallery. Against all odds and 35 years later, the Gallery has become a destination business and a cornerstone for Creede. What was once a small storefront and studio combination is now one of the finest retail galleries in the Southwest…a treasure trove of jewelry, antiques, decorative arts, photography, paintings, stained glass, pottery, woodwork, furniture, rocks, minerals, and wonderments of nature.
Imagine living a life of passionate collecting, designing and building in the magical mountains of Mineral County. Jenny believes “though Creede seems an impossible place to grow a business, I feel a direct line to the Creative Source here - I could not lead a richer life.” Best known for the Inge Horsehair Jewelry Collection, Jennifer is also a skilled metal worker, multi-media artist and savvy business proprietor.
The mystique and lure of Rare Things make the trek to Creede worthwhile. As customers observe almost daily, Jenny has an amazing eye. You will often “See it First” at Rare Things even years before it hits the general market. Intriguing displays of unusual jewelry and collectibles invite lingering for hours. Energetic and knowledgeable personal shopping assistants bring life to the stories behind this global collection. A visit to the Gallery is always an adventure in treasure hunting!
Featured in Rare Things Gallery is the work of owner/designer Jennifer Inge. Jennifer grew up on a farm outside of Dallas. Even as a child she created sculptures from natural objects and crafted horsehair mementos of her equine friends. After receiving degrees in anthropology and art education from SMU in 1971, she began her career as a craftsman and jeweler. Sophistication of skill and style grew as she combined such treasures as bone, shell, fossil and hair with gold, silver and gemstones.
Moving to the colorful mining town of Creede, Colorado in 1974 brought trying challenges and creative inspiration. She opened her gallery, Rare Things, that year, but odd jobs were necessary at first to survive. Some of them, such as breaking colts and guiding elk hunts, introduced her to the old-timers who shared with her the cowboy art of leather and hair braiding.
The world is full of treasures, often discarded or overlooked, waiting to be rediscovered and treasured again. You can find them in Grandma's dresser or at a flea market, in a stream bed or a bone pile, along the beach or by the side of the road. Sometimes there's a extra special one (or two or ten) that you want to keep with you all the time. The classic and versatile Treasure Necklace, created by Jennifer Inge, lets you do just that. Arrange your treasures yourself, or bring them to Rare Things and let us assemble your collection into the wearable art of a Treasure Necklace design.
Inge Horsehair Jewelry Collection
Jennifer uses a number of refined braiding techniques to create contemporary horsehair jewelry. The history of her search for these techniques is a long and varied one, spanning more than twenty years. She learned the more familiar braiding techniques of the cowboy and Mexican cabellero tradition through the study of historical documents, old books, and most importantly, from those old timers, whose craft might have died with them.
But the Southwest is only one chapter in the history of her horsehair braiding, and Jennifer has not confined herself to its traditions. Research into other cultures is a main source of inspiration for her designs, and the techniques she uses in her work today have antecedents in Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as the American West. In some cases she has literally unraveled the secrets of antique pieces whose long forgotten patterns were all but lost to contemporary craftsmen, for no written record exists. Ongoing efforts to find and create variations on these age old designs keep her work fresh and alive with innovations.
Jennifer J. Inge
There is no better way to describe Inge's work than as a mixture of fine craftsmanship, organic naturalism and classic elegance. An excellent eye for design, fine metal working, stone setting, and above all, a constant demand for quality are evident throughout her artistic endeavors.
Jennifer's talents are not confined to jewelry design; jewelry is but one facet of her sculptural expression. She views jewelry as wearable sculpture and finds it "wonderful to work in a variety of scales from tiny gemstones in jewelry to huge boulders in landscaping and architecture."
Living in the Rockies, she finds infinite inspiration for countless projects, from woodcarving to furniture construction and building her house. She enjoys spending her rare free time exploring the mountains for raw materials with her horses.