Niki Ulehla’s work as a jewelry designer is deeply tied to her work as a puppet maker. She first learned to make marionettes in the Czech Republic (where her father is from) when she was 20. Immediately after she returned, Niki studied jewelry making at the Revere Academy in San Francisco. Since that time, she has worked in both of these areas, and each one lends ideas and forms to the other; many of the techniques she uses in making her jewelry come from discoveries in the puppet-making process. She uses wood, paint, gold leaf, fabric, and plastic in addition to the traditional materials of gold, silver, and stones. Niki does not attempt to hone her style into a narrowly focused body of work — it diverges. She understand her jewelry to be the exploration of isolated areas of a puppet, and the puppets benefit from these explorations as well. Niki splits her time between working on jewelry and working on puppets and puppet shows, and she has been performing in the SF Bay Area since 2005. Her current project is a version of Dante’s Inferno, which she began during a residency at Recology in San Francisco. Recently, Niki has begun to explore the overlap between puppets and jewelry more deeply in smaller scale performance.