Story by Desiree Prieto
When Marianna Urutia graduated from her Master’s program in architecture at the University of Houston, the recession had already begun. Undeterred, the native San Antonian found a way to use her skills and passion. “I took it as a clue to experiment and explore,” Urutia explains, “I’d already been very crafty and part of being in interior design and architecture was about being very elegant.” Today Urutia is the creator of her own line of handmade items called ChickRocks. Her most popular items for sale are the jewelry and paper goods, which are each uniquely designed by Urutia herself.
“My physical models in grad school were always well crafted, and as a teen I enjoyed making friendship bracelets,” says Urutia, “but I wanted to explore and be more modern.” Characteristic to ChickRocks accessories are the modern combination of colors and textures. While Urutia tends to stick to the same color palates, her items are still one of a kind. The two-inch bobby pins pictured here, for example, are made with orange and yellow polka dots against a white background. But they are also made with silver tone and vintage Lucite, which gives the jewelry a clean and elegant look. For Urutia, it’s not just about the “less is more” factor, but also “quality over quantity.”
Similarly, a pair of ChickRock earrings is made in 14 karat gold filling with turquoise and yellow stones, and red jade briolettes, while the necklaces in the flower series are also made with 14 karat gold filling and pink faceted glass stones. However, ChickRocks uses other, more creative metals, “I also like to oxidize some of the silver pieces to make them black, like for the Bell necklace,” explains Urutia. Her love for crafts—and experimenting—has even inspired her to take metal smiting classes at the Southwest School of Arts and Crafts. “It’s very different than my handmade jewelry,” she insists, “because it involves fire chemicals and a torch, and takes much more time to master.”
J’adore ChickRocks jewelry, but I also love their paper goods. And who doesn’t need a cute, little spare notebook to throw in the purse every morning—or some extra greeting cards for a forgotten birthday party? The journals are made from scratch, and the most in-demand greeting cards can be attributed to ChickRocks’ signature wiggly one-eyed monster, reminiscent of “Where the Wild Things Are.” The square glassine envelopes containing the greeting cards won me over, as its translucency makes it perfect for the monster to sneak up on its recipients.
Check out ChickRocks for yourself. Their price point is one of the best I’ve seen in a very long time, and just as this story began with a recession; it must end with explaining that ChickRocks prices are perfect for one. The mini cards start at one dollar, with the rest of the paper goods no more than eight dollars. The jewelry, such as the bobby pins, start at four to five dollars. Items can be purchased through the online shop at Chickrocks.com, Etsy, or at the D.I.Y. Factory on San Pedro Avenue, as well as Pulquerios on South Alamo.