in partnership
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(Image: Kelsi Dunn)

You'll lichen this local's lovely line of nature-inspired jewelry

Kelsi Dunn notices, and celebrates, things in the natural world that many of us might miss. She has a passion for a simple plant that seems to be everywhere. But for Dunn - lichen is special, even sacred.

"There are actually 20,000 [species] which is amazing," she said. "They grow in every environment from sea level to alpine and they cover 6 percent of the earth's surface. So there's a lot of lichen to be found. You'll find it on any hike you go on."

So she's saying...there's a lot of lichen to be liking.

Dunn collects lichen, and other treasures found in the great outdoors, and transforms them into wearable works of art.

A nature-lover since she was small, the idea to create with it came to her a few years ago.

"My inlaws had a really beautiful cabin up in the woods of Colorado, high up in the mountains," said Dunn. "And it was where my husband learned to hike and fish and where we fell in love and it's just a magical place."

In 2011 they had to make the difficult decision of selling the cabin.

"There were big lichen-covered boulders right outside of the cabin and so I collected lichen and aspen branches from the grove that was there and made pieces for the family to remember the place," she said.

The pieces she crafted were so unique, soon others wanted their own one-of-a-kind jewelry. Her business, Lichenology, was born.

The artist showed us how she uses found objects from nature to make something marvelous. Everything starts with just a piece of wood that she gathers.

"So after cutting the wood, I will make it really smooth," she said. "This sits against your skin so I want it to be nice and smooth."

Fun Fact: Dunn has a collection of lichen!

"I've been collecting for about 8 years. This is my drawer of lichen. This for instance I gathered last May in Colorado a place called Mosquito Gulch that I used to live really close by. You can see some really big beautiful pieces in there."

After she selects the lichen, she carves out a little space for it to sit in the wood.

The finished product - a stunning pendant! Everything Dunn uses is sustainably harvested. And each piece comes with a specimen card.

She believes that we human could learn a lot from lichen.

"I think it's just fascinating biologically. It's a symbiotic organism," said Dunn. "It's actually two fungus and one algae that live together to create one body. So I think there's a real message of partnership and collaboration in that. I think it's a good talisman for a lot of the lessons we can learn from the natural world. It's also really long-living, slow-growing so I think it's a testament to patience and perseverance and finding your niche."

This amazing artist has definitely found her niche, as well as the wonders of nature. She hopes we all take the time to stop, and appreciate it.

"For me personally it gives me confidence that moving slowly through the world can do great things," she said. "And there's just a whole world under our noses that we usually walk right by."