A Silversmith Perfects the Art of Imperfection

 Photography by Mike Boese 

Photography by Mike Boese 

Joey Montoya Boese isn’t one to shy away from hard, manual labor. When her parents bought an old sheep farm near Fort Garland, 25 miles from the New Mexico state line in the San Luis Valley, Boese and her siblings had to learn to take care of farm chores, like bucking hay bales by hand.

    “My parents — because they’re such hard workers — they instilled in us the values of education and really working hard,” Boese said.

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    Boese describes Fort Garland as the kind of small town where everyone knows and treats each other like family. But after graduating from Adams State University in Alamosa, she was ready to branch out from the San Luis Valley. She took a job at the Montrose Campus of Colorado Mesa University and after three years was promoted to campus director. Boese held that position until 2015, when she left CMU to direct a nonprofit children’s integrated health care clinic in Delta.

    Alongside her professional pursuits, Boese developed a passion for silversmithing, which has grown into a calling all its own. She first became interested in the craft after meeting Melanie Kline, who had been a silversmith for over 50 years and was then the owner of Ouray Silversmiths. Falling in love with Kline’s jewelry designs, Boese became determined to one day learn how to silversmith from her.

    Boese never imagined that 12 years later she would be one of Kline’s business partners at Colorado High-Grade Silver Studios, where students learn the old-school way of silversmithing with a hammer and a torch. Both students and teachers also sell their jewelry from the studio storefront on Main Street and Townsend Avenue in Montrose.

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    Boese’s zeal for silversmithing goes beyond creating jewelry and teaching others the craft. She describes herself as having a type-A personality and says that jewelry making has been an outlet for her to accept her own imperfections.

    “I think what has been most interesting is that I can be vulnerable and fail in silversmithing. The drive to be perfect and not make mistakes and really beat ourselves up when we’re not perfect — I think the gift of jewelry making is the gift of imperfection,” Boese says.

    She is on a mission to share this discovery with her students, who range from retired archeologists, to construction workers, to stay-at-home parents.

    “I think there is so much said about crafting with your hands, there is so much to learn,” Boese reflects. “Part of our hope is to teach children, or at least young adults. Even for myself, there’s a lot of similarities to life. And when you’re playing with a hammer and a torch, I think if we can get that into the hands of kids, it can be very impactful and moving.”