Written by ZAK HANSEN
With Spiced Ink, artist Chelsy Spicer and her partner in business, and life, Brian Gutierrez, “bring death back to life” creating stunning, one- of-a-kind hand-painted skulls.
A Philadelphia native, Chelsy has considered herself an artist her whole life, but it wasn’t until her first visit to New Mexico — it only ever takes one — that her “creative eyes truly opened up.”
Awed and inspired by what is truly the Land of Enchantment, it was here Chelsy tapped her inner well of creativity, discovering in the deserts of New Mexico her passion, and a unique canvas on which place her work — the cow skull, ever emblematic of the Borderlands.
For Chelsy, the cow skull captures “the raw essence of the arid desert” — a celebration of the strength and beauty of this place, itself built on the relics and reminders of the past. So adorned, Chelsy hopes to give these relics a chance to shine again with light and life — what she calls “an artistic tribute to life after death.”
While Chelsy is the artist in this dynamic, Brian’s station is no less important: that of the handyman and, yes, the boner, named for — what else? — the innumerable sets of horns polished and skulls cleaned, sanded and prepared for another of Chelsy’s intricate masterworks. Each new piece’s journey begins its new life in his skilled hands.
As no two sets of horns are alike, no two skulls the same, each skull presents a unique opportunity for new artistic life — and a new set of challenges.
While cow skulls may have been the beginning, Chelsy and Brian have imbued with their singular artistic vision the skull of bull, longhorn buffalo, impala, springbrook, oryx, deer, wildbeest, coyote, and other skulls.
Spiced Ink also does custom pieces, which can take anywhere from 8 to 20 hours, depending on the type of skull, the intricacy of the design, and so forth.
In addition to the custom and commission skulls, Spiced Ink offers a slate of beautiful, crafted-in-New Mexico items including one-of-a-kind wood burnings; pocket-sized notebooks; hand-stamped stationary, beautiful art prints and coming soon, gorgeous etched terrarium crystal gardens.
The couple is currently refurbishing a to-die-for Burro trailer that will serve as their home away from home as they take Spiced Ink to a wider and wider audience.
Upcoming appearances include 24th annual Durango Autumn Arts Festival in Colorado and the inaugural New Mexico Artisan Market, set for November 23-25 at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town.
To see more, visit spicedink.com