Austin-based Chase & Scout creates beautifully crafted jewelry for those who walk a path between the dark and the light. Blending ancient symbology, natural objects, and modern design aesthetics, designer Elle Greene creates jewelry for kindred spirits, pieces that she hopes will resonate deeply with the wearer. Inspired by meditations on nature and the possibilities of unseen realms, these adornments are designed with an appreciation for the past while always looking forward.
Today we are thrilled to be sharing an interview with the lovely Elle Greene of Chase & Scout and hosting a giveaway over on our Dirge Style Instagram for one of her gorgeous pieces, a sterling silver snake ring, curled in upon itself and cuddled up to a labradorite cabochan.
Read on to learn more about Elle and her creations and a chance to win!
…and pssst! Here is a discount code for Dirge readers who wish to buy a bit of magic from the Chase & Scout shop! Use “Dirge15” for 15% off your Chase & Scout purchase for the next two weeks!
Dirge: Tell us about Chase & Scout – the company, the aesthetic, and the vision.
Elle Greene: Chase and Scout was created in 2008, and is based out of my studio in Austin Texas. It’s a bit of a one woman operation. I conjure up, design, and handcraft every piece in the C&S collections. It’s very important to me that each component of my work be made from raw materials and by hand. There is a certain coldness to machine manufactured jewelry that is cranked out by the 100’s. I want the people who wear my work to feel its depth. Each piece has been in my hands, on my bench–it’s a closeness that I hope resonates with anyone who holds or wears my jewelry.
Aesthetically, I’m naturally drawn to the dark, but I let a little light in, as well. The mystique of ancient symbology, botanicals, and modern design are all aspects of my inspiration. I tend to steer clear of obvious inconology so that each wearer can ascribe their own meaning. A little mystery can be very powerful.
When you look back at the primitive roots of jewelry, it was used not only for physical adornment, but to announce tribal affiliation or provide spiritual protection. I see much of my work in this way. I am creating amulets and talismans that are charged, not only with what I have put into them, but also with what the owner brings to it. My vision is that these pieces become fixtures in their wardrobe and part of their daily armor.
You mention that your jewelry is created “…with a bit of light and a bit of dark,” and that in your pieces you like to “explore the duality of our own nature” – these are fascinating concepts and I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this and how it relates to the adornments that you create.
For me, it’s about the depth and breadth of the personality I am designing for. The term “Gothic” is too often dismissed as a one-dimensional “all gloom, all the time” aesthetic, and that’s simply not the case.
Personally, I like quirky and weird; I dig dark humor, but not blind gore. I think that the people who gravitate towards my jewelry have that same broad sense of attraction to all aspects of this style. As a cultural group, I feel we’re wildly funny and well-read, we appreciate offbeat art and hidden dark history, the strange and truly unusual. We deserve jewelry that reflects how multi-faceted and wonderfully unique we actually are.
You also refer to an appreciation for the past and an interest in ancient symbology with regard to your jewels – what are your influences and inspirations in this vein and can you give us an example of how you might incorporate them into a design?
I was really fortunate to grow up in an artistic family. My father was an archaeologist and we always had a museum’s worth of cultural relics around the house.
I gravitate towards items used in funerary rites and burial customs. All cultures have a series of mystical rites that need to be performed and objects ascribed solely for funerary use. One of the attractions to ancient cultures is that almost every object created contains decorative elements of form and function.
Ceremonial knives are quite beautiful, every tribe has at least one style that is specific to the region or era and I find a lot of inspiration in them. In New Guinea the warriors would carry these elaborate fighting clubs with shark teeth embedded along its edges: a seriously evil-looking object. The shape of that club, combined with the shape of the federal shield (iconic during the US Civil War and Victorian era) came together in my Skull and Shield earrings.
The Frida earrings from the same collection are derived from the Incan tumi axe. The tumi was used for ritual use in burials, and was also used in sun worship ceremonies. Your average passerby will simply see a pair of cool feathered earrings, but the owner knows they’re wearing an interpretation of a 2,000 year old sacrificial knife.
You’ve just come back from an intense experience in the mountains of North Carolina, will that affect your new works?
Yes, absolutely! Once a year I go to Penland School of Craft in North Carolina for a two to three week immersive studio experience. Penland has an incredibly tight knit community of dedicated artisans with teachers coming in from around the world. The ability to fall off the map entirely for a while and spend 14 uninterrupted hours a day with like-minded metalsmiths is a major refresh for my creative process. This year I was also able to spend some downtime tromping through the Appalachian woods – the rainy season this summer was incredible. It’s a complete 180 from my usual dry Texas landscape. I spent some time sketching wild mushrooms and moss patterns and playing with new ideas. Right now I’m still sorting through sketches and considering how to incorporate some of the new techniques I learned with the designs I’m working on.
This year’s session was especially long, and I was able to spend more time researching the folklore of the area. Local practitioners of root magic describe a convergence of ley lines around Penland, and Asheville is regularly described as an energy vortex. After almost a month absorbing all of that creativity, it feels like now it’s just a matter of allowing time for a distillation of ideas.
My website is the best place to find my current designs and collections. Anyone can visit Chaseandscout.com and purchase their favorite pieces directly from the site. Should you find yourself in Austin, stop by Blackmail Boutique on South Congress Ave. to see a selection of C&S jewelry in person.
Follow me on Instagram (@ChaseandScout) for a peek into studio life at the bench and my daily inspiration.
Portions of this interview were previously published at Unquiet Things