If he’s not teaching, fly fishing, playing the bagpipe or painting, you can find local craftsman Colin McFee at his workshop, McFee Silversmiths, on the southwest side of town.
The studio, situated on the corner of Elm and Leiter Street, has served as McFee’s base since he arrived in Leadville in the early 2000s.
There, McFee creates silver jewelry and ornamental pieces. For the past five years, he’s been responsible for crafting the Colorado Governor’s Citizenship Medal.
Billed as the highest honor the state can grant a resident, the award recognizes community leaders throughout Colorado. Since its inception in 2015, McFee has designed and created the medals for the annual award recipients.
Using the same method he teaches to students as the metal and wood shop teacher at Lake County High School, McFee cuts the image of Mount Elbert as it appears from Leadville into silver medallions to be presented to recipients.
McFee was again tapped to create the medals, eight in total, for this year’s honorees and was recently featured in a Rocky Mountain PBS piece about the award.
A longtime local, McFee told the Herald living and working in Leadville was a natural fit after years of coming to the area throughout his childhood.
“It’s the only place I ever wanted to live,” he said while explaining his decision to move to Leadville from the Front Range.
In 2005, McFee came to Lake County after studying metalwork and working as an art teacher in Denver.
After buying his shop, McFee began teaching at Lake County High School, where he continues to blend two of his passions: craft work and education.
“Teaching high school is the greatest job in the world,” he said while describing the joy of being rooted in a community and seeing generations of students he’s taught grow and thrive here.
In addition to shop classes, McFee also teaches the fly fishing program at Lake County High School.
While he will not be able to physically attend the award ceremony this year, which will be held remotely this year due to the pandemic, McFee expressed gratitude for being included in the process.