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Creative Spaces: Kiara Boughner's Mountainside Atelier

Creative Spaces: Kiara Boughner's Mountainside Atelier

by Nicole Phillips

Explore the Rustic Studio Where this Down to Earth Jewelry Designer Gets Her Inspiration

Just outside of Los Angeles, nestled up against the Sierra Pelona Mountains, in an area called the Enchanted Hills, you’ll find jewelry designer and metalsmith, Kiara Boughner of Wade + Willow Jewelry’s workshop at her family’s ranch. Surrounded by chaparral shrubs, yucca and vibrant desert wildflowers, you can see and appreciate the beauty that inspires the gorgeous pieces the designer creates.

Creative Spaces: A Jewelry Designer's Mountainside Atelier

With a deep appreciation for the earth, sustainability and nature, Boughner’s pieces are one-of-a-kind and made for a customer with eclectic and unique taste. Using stones and gems such as fire agate, tourmaline, lapis, tiger’s eye and star sapphire, her pieces pay homage to her desert environment and a childhood that was spent surrounded by artists and creators.

From an early age her father, who worked in film special effects, would set her up in the studio with tools and materials and encourage her to create. “My dad was a special effects guru, but has always been a craftsman, making jewelry, woodworking, animatronics - pretty much a MacGyver!” says Boughner, “When I was younger, he realized how interested I was in jewelry and began teaching me how to use the materials, tools and the right technique.”

Creative Spaces: A Jewelry Designer's Mountainside Atelier

Her family would take trips to mining locations to “rock hound,” for rocks, stones and gems which ignited her fascination with the treasures from the earth. That love and fascination led to Boughner becoming a metalsmith — an occupation that has historically been a male dominated occupation. “Being a woman metalsmith today is still a surprise to most, when asked what I do,” explains the designer, “I feel welcomed and encouraged in this occupation, which allows me to meet so many interesting people both in the industry as well as clients.”

Boughner’s workshop is personal, humble and happy. The scent of desert sage and earth permeate through the space and you can hear her young son in the distance laughing with his grandfather. Her well-loved tools are spread out over her desk, quirky oddities with stories to tell are displayed on shelves, stunning crystals and stones are proudly arranged around the room.

Creative Spaces: A Jewelry Designer's Mountainside Atelier

Besides her workshop, it is clear that Boughner’s true atelier is nature. Living in the abundant environment of Southern California means that she’s just a drive away from so many geologically rich areas like the Mojave Desert where she is able to find a variety of Jaspers and Agates.

“One of my memorable trips was to the Cady Mountains,” says Boughner of rock hounding, “The day was perfect. I hiked about 5 miles with my husband and dad that day. We had about 150 lbs of rocks between the three of us in our backpacks.”

Creative Spaces: A Jewelry Designer's Mountainside Atelier

Boughner’s love for the earth is carried through to the way she gathers the materials she uses. Sustainability is important to her from knowing exactly where her stones come from, who mined it (if not herself) and where a piece is mined from. “I can proudly say that I have cultivated wonderful relationships with some of my suppliers and their families,” she says, “I am grateful to have business relationships with like-minded people.”

What started as a passion for the outdoors, rocks and uncovering the treasures of the earth, became a full-time career for Boughner after son Wade was born just over three years ago. With a growing following on social media, a loyal customer base and a societal shift in consumers wanting to buy pieces from small businesses and artisans, Kiara’s pieces are in high demand.

Creative Spaces: A Jewelry Designer's Mountainside Atelier

When she’s not spending her time in her workshop creating pieces for Wade + Willow, you can find her horseback riding, hiking, taking trips into the city with her family and enjoying the spectacular sunrises and sunsets over her enchanted hills.

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