Danielle Gori-Montanelli

Danielle Gori-Montanelli’s “Spring” hat features layer upon layer of custom-cut wool felt in flower patterns.

Danielle Gori-Montanelli is not afraid of color. She began her career as a figurative painter, and spent 15 years as a metalsmith. She switched to felt after the birth of her two children—she wanted a safer, less toxic work environment for herself and her family. “Felt was the perfect solution,” she says.

Gori-Montanelli works with large sheets of industrial designer felt in her Fairfield, Conn., studio. “I love the bright and beautiful colors, the wonderful textures and the varying thicknesses,” she explains. And color dictates the mood of each piece. If she’s looking for something more subtle and quiet, she chooses muted tones. The bolder she goes, the “happier” the piece seems to become.

“I am fascinated by how one small detail in a piece can throw the whole thing off or become the missing link that pulls it all together,” she says. Gori-Montanelli relies on her training as a painter to choose colors, chalking it up to intuition. She never sketches before she begins working. Instead, she sits down and starts cutting.

She’s watched her work become more intricate, geometric and abstract, but still relies on everyday items for inspiration: flowers, candy, architecture. “My work is colorful, bold and fun to wear,” she says.

Although she hasn’t betrayed her jewelry roots—brooches, necklaces and collars are her core products—she’s also added hats to her offerings. What’s special about her oversized collars, though, is how they act like clothing. “They just fall on and stay put,” Gori-Montanelli explains. “They can be adjusted to match the neckline, high or low.”

What’s better? Her work spreads joy. “Customers say they always get comments and compliments,” she says. “They say my work is happy, unique, affordable and great for travel.”

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