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FINE ARTS

DAN TELLEEN CELEBRATES 50 YEARS AS A JEWELER AT KARATS

An artist and creative thinker, Dan Telleen’s wearable artwork is dynamic and thought-provoking.

Fifty years ago, dan telleen introduced his bold, organic jewelry to Vail. Since then, he has developed a unique style and strong following. Known for his custom designs, his impeccable craftsmanship  and his one-of-a-kind way of linking people with time, history and their common humanity, Telleen incorporates such things as ancient coins, fossils, arrowheads, meteorites and even sand into his pieces.

After college, Telleen taught elementary school art in Michigan and spent summers selling his art in Colorado, his jewelry always selling best. Initially, he concentrated on ceramics in art school and, for that reason,  treats the wax like clay, allowing designs to emerge

“I try to find out what my materials can do and then use the spontaneity of the materials to create the jewelry,” Telleen shares.  

For example, as Telleen works with the shape of a meteorite, he “becomes one with it” as he creates. He might integrate an 1857 U.S. flying eagle penny into a necklace or a half-billion-year-old fossil into a pendant –  allowing the piece  to stand out with rich textures and fluid design.. “My goal has been to present jewelry that people can’t find anywhere else,” he says.

When Telleen fashions a piece, whether if be a ring, necklace, bracelet, earrings or even a money clip,  hundreds of design options lie dormant in his mind. And soon the work begins  taking  him to an unexpected place. Like any fine artist, Telleen just lets his creativity flow.

“There isn’t just one way to go. One idea leads to the next, and the next,” he says. 

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Telleen has never followed fashion trends. He’s not influenced by other artists.  Instead, he remains consistent in his approach, which leads to his outstanding organic and ergonomic innovations.

A recent journey through past pieces he created is allowing him to add to those former designs, or to “draw a little more out of them,” he remarks. In this way, he continues to expand his “visual vocabulary,” which might include curvatures and straight, jagged or  dotted lines.

Though he’s been making and selling his designs in Vail for 50 years, this season marks the first time his work is available for purchase or browsing online. And though his designs have a sense of intuitive immediacy when seen in person, the website has allowed his clients to peruse his collection from wherever they are.  

Telleen’s pieces are created one by one and incorporate his distinct imagination and unique look at unexpected history. 

“I have thousands of pieces that I’m curating,” he says, “to share in the gallery or online. These pieces are like old friends and I’m enjoying ‘getting to know them again. I like to say that I create timeless jewelry that touches your heart and spirit.”

karats • 122 E. Meadow Drive, Vail • 970.476.4760 • KaratsVail.com • ShopKaratsVail.com