Think about the treasured memories you have from your childhood — the times that, when combined, become a filmstrip of moments that make up who you are. For local jewelry designer, Jamie Hollier, that filmstrip includes rocking on a porch swing with her grandfather, wearing one of his old baseball caps and dangling homemade fishing poles in the soft summer grass.
“You know, it’s funny, we never actually fished together for real, just our pretend times. I think it was just a way to have an activity while just being together, talking or just sitting quietly, but mostly just being together. My grandfather always supported me being whoever I was, regardless of expectations. So when I was a little girl and I wanted a sword, my grandfather made me one. When I was in high school and was rebelling against looking a certain way, my grandfather supporting me shaving my head,” explained Hollier.
It was Hollier’s grandfather who taught her to weld and work with hot metal, sparking an interest that would eventually lead to Hollier herself becoming a professional metalsmith and opening Balefire Goods, an artisan jewelry store and local art gallery in Olde Town Arvada.
Although Hollier’s family was originally from Louisiana, she grew up in a suburb of Houston, Texas. She was raised by women who surrounded her with dolls and mounds of ruffled Sunday dresses, but she broke the traditional mold she was placed in at a young age. “I guess you could say that I always lived by my own standards,” she said. “As a kid, my favorite thing to do was to hang out in my grandfather’s shop, which was a huge garage full of tools where he would make things, fix things, etc. He was a machinist and he taught me all sorts of skills like welding and metalworking really early on,” she said.
Her strong connection with her grandfather ignited her love of metalwork but it was in her great-aunt Tettie’s shop that she discovered the magic of jewelry and connected the two.
“My great-aunt Tettie — Thelma Chapman was her name but most called her Tettie — had this crazy antique shop — Chapman’s Antiques and Collectibles — that primarily dealt in jewelry, glass, ceramics and collectibles. Every surface was just covered in these fragile and precious items. There were literally thousands of pieces of costume jewelry all over the shop. When we would go visit, I would go out there and spend all my time exploring in that space. It was a like being inside a treasure chest in a way.”
In 1999, while attending college at the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, all of the pieces came together as Hollier sat in her metalsmithing class. “I immediately felt like I had found my calling as far as art went. I love how structured of a process it is. I love the ways that metal moves. I loved how much all the tools and skills reminded me of working in my grandfather’s shop, and I loved how there are so many techniques, tools, etc. that you can never learn all there is to metalsmithing in a lifetime.”
Although Hollier’s life has taken many twists and turns, she finally found her way back to metalsmithing and jewelry design when she started Balefire Goods in 2017.
“Simply, I wasn’t fulfilled with my other work. I was ready to get back to my passions, and working on physical products, supporting the arts and metalsmithing communities, and being a part of a community were key to me. I was at an event recently where a wise friend shared a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that says ‘ … it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be.’ That really resonated with me and I feel like I am finally being the person I want to be rather than the person I thought I should be.”
Located in Olde Town Arvada, Balefire Goods is more than a jewelry store. It’s a place where Hollier celebrates metalsmiths from all over the world with a thoughtfully curated selection of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and craftwork rarely found anywhere else. Rotating collections of artwork by new and undiscovered local artists hang on the walls and Hollier organizes regular art nights to share the Balefire experience with locals.
“I think people like things that are unique, they like supporting the arts and artists, they like diversity and being exposed to new things. With the way we curate the collection, I like [to] think we provide that unique, accessible, and new collection of artist goods that people are seeking. I also think people are starting to get sick of fast fashion and throw away goods so the idea of artist-made goods that are meant to last is also appealing.”
In less than a year, Balefire Goods has become a staple in Olde Town Arvada — a place where locals go for handmade jewelry, fine art and a sense of community Hollier creates with each special event. “We are continuing to add events and workshops through the year. I am hoping to have more artists teaching all sorts of skills, more pop-ups with local makers and maybe even some art lecture type of events,” said Hollier. She will continue to add new artists and pieces, including a collection with a slightly finer jewelry aesthetic.
As for Hollier herself, opening Balefire meant to new beginning for her as an artist as well. “For me, personally, I hope to be able to dedicate more time and energy into Balefire as I pull back from my other companies a bit more to focus on this new endeavor. Additionally, I am looking forward to expanding my time in the studio and creating new jewelry designs and more custom work.”
Balefire Goods is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. It is located at 7417 Grandview Ave, Arvada.
All photography by Rebecca Grant.