All posts by Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Cassandra Elizabeth Designs Eco-Friendly Clothing for Busy Women

Clothing designer Cassandra Burrell explored the fashion communities on both Canadian coasts. The Halifax native tells us that she moved to Vancouver for artistic inspiration after graduation from New Brunswick’s College of Craft and Design. During university, Burrell’s acquaintances began ordering custom dresses, reinforcement of her focus towards a career in fashion design.

Cassandra Burrell Headshot

Burrell describes both coastal cities as beautiful yet entirely different. Where Vancouver is brand conscious and trendy, her hometown of Halifax has a reputation for supporting local designers. After opening her first bricks and mortar store in Halifax, Burrell has settled in Toronto; Canada’s largest city and the hotbed of the fashion industry.

Eco-friendly Women’s Clothing

Cassandra Elizabeth Designs are minimalist styles, inspired by her friends’ personalities and in many cases named after those same people. Burrell’s interest in fashion began at an early age. However, it was designing exclusive clothing for her network that gave her the impetus to launch the Cassandra Elizabeth Designs brand. Burrell’s first fashion show was entirely one-of-a-kind cocktail dresses (sold for charity). She tells us that “I love evening wear and hope to keep this a large part of my brand as it grows.”

Suitable for a broad audience, Cassandra Burrell designs for practical wear. Cassandra Elizabeth clothing is crafted with eco-friendly, long-lasting fabrics including Tencel, bamboo, linen, silk and hemp. Burrell is clear that she only uses textiles if she is confident that the supplier processes fabric in a way that limits harm to the environment.

Next up for Cassandra Elizabeth Designs?

Near term: “I am already working on the Fall 2017 Collection. It is full of neutral tones, clean silhouettes and one pop of colour! You will have to wait to see which one.”

Longer term: More Canadian boutiques in the next few years.

The practical Maris Dress made with bamboo cloth is best described as free-flowing, comfortable and easy to wear. The non-wrinkle fabric is perfect for travel or a long day at work. This understated dress will look just as good as it did when you put it on in the morning.

Farrah Tunic in Bamboo Fabric Side

Farrah is a longer tunic style dress with a geometrical hemline. An “easy to throw on” design allows you to wear this dress without looking like you are drowning in fabric.

Shauna Bamboo T-Shirt

These two easy-to-wear bamboo tops are certainly wardrobe essentials. The Shauna Top is that “go-to” t-shirt when you just want to make dull look attractive. The Lacey Tee is a mid-length top designed for comfortable wearing with leggings or jeans, so functional you might want to buy it in both colours.

Long T-Shirt in Bamboo Lacey Tee

Made from 100% Tencel the Oversized Blazer that will keep you warm with an extra layer, and add a touch of style to any outfit including your favourite jeans.

Oversized Tencel Blazer by CassBurr Designs

Family Day Holiday Shopping Discount

Alberta’s Family Day Holiday always falls on the 3rd Monday in February, the same day as President’s Day in the United States. Perfect timing for a civic holiday in the middle of winter, and an excuse to get outdoors and enjoy seasonal sporting activities. The holiday is celebrated in several Canadian Provinces, but that has not always been the case. It was in 1990 that then Alberta Premier Don Getty proclaimed the day a much-needed break for families, the impetus came from his son Dale who had been arrested for cocaine possession.

Although the origin of the holiday may have been somewhat guilt driven on Premier Getty’s part, we are happy to encourage taking a day off to spend time with family.

Family Day Holiday bonus: Shop our designer fashions on February 20th and take 15% off your purchases with this discount code: FamilyDay2017

Pinterest Family Day Discount

Elegant Hand Knit Designs for Modern Women by Cindy Goble

Cindy Goble did not exactly “fall” into her trade, she is the third generation in a family of knitters, but she is certainly focused on establishing GŌBLE as a luxury women’s fashion brand. Based in London, Ontario, Cindy Goble’s heritage is a mix of German and Lithuanian. Goble was taught to knit by her mother, and she has successfully imparted her artistic skills to her daughter Grace.

Cindy-Goble Canadian Luxury Knit wear designer

 

GŌBLE knitwear expresses the very essence of the lifestyle that Cindy Goble hopes her customers can live – effortless and comfortable. Goble’s designs are inspired by the seasons in Canada and intended for women who want to transition from busy days (office, kids, programs) to weekends and downtime with ease.

The brand’s designs are the result of Cindy Goble’s visions, and a team of qualified knitters work under Goble’s exacting guidance. Handcrafted in Canada the GŌBLE production uses natural (never synthetic) wool and other fibres sourced locally or from reputable suppliers in England and South America.

Freedom-Fringe-Woven-Shawl-Black-and-Bright

GŌBLE designs are intended to be easy-wearing, practical, a little bit whimsical at the same time as being THE accessory that will be noticed.

Knitwear-Slouchy-Hat-Pink-Tweed

Using a soft wool blend of merino, alpaca, silk and mohair the GŌBLE slouchy hat is playful and comfortable. This toque speaks to the weekend when life is just a bit more relaxed and not too serious.

Infinity-Shawl-knitwear-wool-blend-pumpkin

Admittedly, the worst winter weather can be difficult to shrug off, but GŌBLE’s Infinity Shawl is a fail-safe way to ward off the cold. The luxurious combination of woollen threads is spun into this top that measures 20” in length. Trimmed with sheared beaver this shawl will be a wardrobe piece that your best friends will beg you to borrow.

Cable-Knit-Cowl-Indigo-Wool

The classic cable knit stitch never goes out of style, GŌBLE’s cowl neck and hat are practical wardrobe pieces you will quickly discover are hard to live without.

Cable-Knitwear-Cap-Toque-Powder-Pink-wool

Moving into warmer weather and lighter days the GŌBLE silk chiffon scarf is a showstopper.

Silk-Chiffon-Scarf-in-Rose-Quartz

With Cindy Goble at the helm of the brand and her daughter Grace in the wings (she will increase her role in the company once her studies are complete), the GŌBLE brand is poised to vault onto the global fashion scene.

Why Would You Buy from Atelier Designers?

As a kid, I gravitated towards the artsy side; dabbling in painting, clay and needlework, but never progressing beyond t-shirts and pots. Whether it was nature or nurture, my career path led to the financial markets and commercial office project and operations management. My creative side cast aside for the corporate world.

Whether I had time (or the desire) to pursue crafts I have always had a passion for art, and for those who dedicate their lives to making beautiful things with their hands. These pursuits of the heart can often be satisfying for the soul and nourishing for the spirit, but only occasionally financially rewarding.

After many years of visiting markets, craft fairs and art shows I began to envision another avenue to showcase the work of these creative people. In 2015, I launched this website called Atelier (the French word for a workshop) inspired by the work that designers accomplish in their studios. They may work alone or in a lively production environment, but the result is always a creation.

Today, artistic creators need to work the booths at craft fairs, maintain a website, feed their Facebook page and keep up a steady stream on Instagram – all that AFTER they have produced their goods. My vision is that Atelier is a parallel sales channel for the designers, which complements the work they are already doing.

Our job is to tell their stories, share their products and reach an audience beyond the local marketplace. We sell throughout Canada, the US, UK and Europe.

The website launched with a few products that were selected and imported from France, as I feel these items are not only beautiful, but their makers do the work because they love it, not necessarily for the financial reward. The man who supplies olive wood mortar and pestles shared that when he calculated his time he concluded that he is “paid” two Euros/hour. He does the work because he loves it.

Atelier has two collections: Women’s Fashion Accessories (jewellery, sweaters, scarves, handbags, clothing) and Home Decor (candles, woodwork, ceramics, glass). The focus is on Canadian designers with high-quality designs, limited production and a desire to maintain traditional art forms.

Why the focus on Canadian artists? We feel the work of our creative community is undervalued on the global scale.

Atelier Designers are artisans. Whether their chosen profession involves work with metal, wood, wool or any number of mediums — they are artists. Our desire is to work with craftspeople who have turned passion into art and to tell their stories. Take a look at the talented design team here.

When you buy from Atelier, you can be sure of a product’s quality, know that you are helping to grow a community of talented artisans and promoting sustainable fashion.

Watch this video about our vision at Atelier:

Designer Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day and Discounts

We would never suggest that chocolate and roses are not good options, if you are running a little late (or short on ideas) on Valentines Day.  Certainly, most gals would be happy to be treated to a dinner out and a nice bottle of wine on February 14th.

However, if you want to make her feel special for more than a single day consider the long-lasting gift of an exclusive designer wardrobe accessory or beautiful home decor item.  These beautiful products are individually designed, handcrafted in small batches and in many cases, one-of-a-kind treasures.

Designer Valentine's Gift to You

 

Designer shopping ideas:

Heart Handle Hardwood Boards

 

Serving boards with heart handles are cut from Canadian hardwood (black walnut or cherry). This board is on special until February 14th for $95 and includes a jar of preserving beeswax and mineral oil paste – value ($12). Order here to receive in time for Valentines.

Infinity-Shawl-wool-blend-powder-pink

Freedom-Fringe-Woven-Shawl-in-Wine-Stain

Wrap her in warm, wintery knitwear by artist Cindy Goble who is offering a 20% discount on her fully collection from February 1st -14th. Coupon Code: goblevalentines. Shop her luxury collection here.

Lola patent leather handbag in red

 

Nothing says “I love you” better than the colour red.  How about a red patent leather Lola handbag? This is handcrafted leather by Toronto master-craftsman Christine VonBun is present that she will love and is guaranteed to make her friends jealous. Go ahead be that guy! Shop here.

Square silk Purse Red and Purple @KOTIDesigns

Sticking to the red theme…this silk evening bag is a stunning accessory for that special evening on the town.

Encircled Choker in leather and stainless pendant

Jewellery is a fail-safe gift for this mid-February occasion. Colleen Poitras is offering a seasonal sale (ends February 14th) on her “Pretty. Rocker. Chic” designs. These earrings, bangles and necklaces are unique pieces that transform any outfit. Shop Colleen’s jewellery here.

Keme Jewellery #Handcrafted @KemeJewellery

Take a look a other designer jewellery collections by Anastassia Sel, Keme Jewellery, ErinLaura and Skimbaco.

Designer Valentine's Gift to You

Candlelight and Lavender Giveaway to Celebrate Romance

It is not a stretch to think that a card company invented Valentine’s Day looking to make a bit of profit around a celebration of romance. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines. The research firm, IBIS World clocked 2015 Valentine’s related spending at $19.6 billion that is a lot of cards, dinners, romance packages and so on.

However, the origins of February 14th predate modern printing by a long shot, dating back to 3rd Century in Rome with the feast of Lupercalia, a two-day celebration that involved animal sacrifice and beating women. Not your typical romance novel content. If you are curious about the dark beginnings of the now romantic date, keep reading here.

At Atelier, we would prefer to celebrate the less commercial and certainly the brighter side of this holiday with a giveaway to our readers. Two lucky winners will each receive a gift package containing a gorgeous “Key to My Heart” 100% beeswax candle and a keepsake lavender wand. To enter the draw – all you need to do is sign-up for our newsletter here.

The Key to My Heart #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Key to My Heart candles are part of a series of custom designs by Jill Smith the owner and chandler (candle maker) at Bees Wax Works. Jill manipulates 45-pound blocks of pure beeswax, sourced in Alberta, into manageable chunks that are melted down in a large vat. The hot liquid is poured into the ceramic moulds that Jill co-designed with a West Coast pottery artist. Jill’s beeswax candles are beautiful, and they burn brighter than paraffin candles.

Atelier Valentines Giveaway 2017 lavender

In most of Europe, Lavender is the gift of choice to celebrate 46 years of marriage. During the Middle Ages, lavender wands (see video here) were included as part of a dowry to keep mites and moths away from linens. Lavender has long been a symbol of love.

Sign-up to enter the candlelight and lavender contest here. The winners will be picked (random draw) on February 14th – Valentine’s Day.

Atelier Valentine's Giveaway 2017 Candles and lavender

More reading on beeswax candles and lavender:

5 Reasons Why to Choose Beeswax Candles over Paraffin
The Art and Craft of Chandlery
Tis the Season Five Reasons to Buy a Beeswax Candle
Why is Lavender Essential Oil So Popular
Settling a Purple Question Lavender vs Lavandin
Perfect Hostess Gifts Lavender Wands

Morija Designs a Passion for Silk and Colour

“Working with cloth has always been a part of my life. Even as a young child I learned to sew from my grandmother using whatever bits and pieces of fabric I could find.”

Morija Reeb Artist Photo At the Loom

Attracted to the versatility of fabric Morija Reeb pursued an educational path in fashion design at Fanshawe College in Ontario, followed by Capilano University’s Textile Arts program. Her relocation to Vancouver was supposed to be temporary, for school. However, life often has other plans, and after a decade Morija returned to Ontario with her young family.

“It was weaving, dyeing and printing that I was interested in learning about. I wanted to create the cloth from yarn and design the textile from start to finish.”

silk scarf handwoven @morijadesigns

“Creating with silk is my passion. I am never bored, or uninspired by this fibre. It offers so many design possibilities when combined with dyeing and weaving, and it still surprises me sometimes when happy accidents happen.”

03 silk scarf @MorijaDesigns

Morija shared that she never had any desire to go into fashion design, her interest was always in costume fabrication and sculpting.

“I have always loved texture and innovation. I look at my textiles as little experiments into what kind of surface designs and textures are created by specific yarns. I usually start with a general idea of how I think something is going to work and then the piece evolves from there, organically.”

Natural necklace with wood pendant @MorijaDesigns Handmade

Morija purchased her first loom while she was attending Capilano College. After graduation, she worked in design studio on Granville Island in Vancouver where textile artist Diana Sanderson was her mentor. Morija credits the time she spent with Sanderson, and in that studio, with the weaving skills that she utilizes today.

What is the process for creating one of your beautiful handwoven silk scarfs?

Handmade silk scarf @MorijaDesigns

It starts with yarn. The yarn can be dyed or natural depending on your design. I try to use mostly natural dyes. At this point, I decide on the colour; this is the biggest decision for me. The rest of the piece can evolve, but the colour is what people see before they notice the texture.

To dye my silks, I usually use an ombré technique and/or ikat ties to dip the warps in colour and create patterns. The warp threads are then put on the loom in order through the heddles and then tied to the front of the loom.

Then weaving begins.

Weaving is the fastest and my favourite part of the process. A lot of the pattern is decided during the weaving. I usually tie up a sequence which, can be changed throughout the warp. My warps typically have 7 or 8 scarves on them, so I like to do different designs throughout.

Handmade silk scarf @MorijaDesigns

After the scarves are taken off the loom, they are sometimes over-dyed to create another layer of colour. At this point, a shibori resist technique could be used to create further texture.

I then finish the edges, and the scarves are washed and dried, before they are ready for sale.

Can you describe your atelier or workshop?

I work from my home, so it tends to take over the basement until someone speaks up and says something. I work from a small studio space with my loom and tables set up for sewing and cutting. A loom can take up a lot of space and so things boil over into the laundry room most days!

Peach-Coloured-Silk-Petal-Earrings

Explore the Morija Designs handwoven scarves, silk earrings and silk scarves  here.

Kĕme Jewellery Creations all Fired Up by Metal Clay

Toronto native Melanie Neves works from her home-base studio, a space filled with natural light, house plants and her favourite books. Surrounded by music and a view of one of the city’s many green spaces Neves says, “It’s the perfect place to tap into my creative side.”

Melanie Neves Keme Jewellery #Handcrafted @KemeJewellery

Her interest in jewellery design has been organic; a hobby turned into a full-time pursuit that has grown in the three years since she first discovered metal clay online. “I’ve always loved working with clay, and when I found precious metal clay, jewellery was the natural progression.”

Keme Jewellery #Handcrafted @KemeJewellery

Neves shared that her lack of formal training means that there are no prescribed boundaries to her creativity and glorious artistic discoveries through trial and error. Her investment in a small kiln and a metal clay sample pack has led her to produce a line of exclusive necklaces, pendants, rings and earrings with metal clay. Much of her work is with powdered Hadar’s Clay™.

Keme Jewellery #Handcrafted @KemeJewellery

The process with precious metal clay is interesting, and quite honestly, you never really know what you’re going to pull out of the kiln. I generally use Hadar’s Clay™ (powder), but there are metal clays that come premixed and ready to go so you don’t need to worry about mixing it yourself. The majority of metal clay is 90% metal and 10% organic binder. Think of the binder as the glue that holds all the metal particles together. I prefer to use Hadar’s Clay™ because it has a long shelf life and does not dry out since it is in powder form, but it also means that I have to be careful with how much water I add to create the clay.

Keme Jewellery #Handcrafted @KemeJewellery

Can you describe the process of making a piece of metal clay jewellery?

Once you have the metal clay ready, you can mould it and shape it however you would like. Similar to regular clay, it will hold its shape. Once you have finished your creation, you have to let it dry. You can speed this process along, but you want to make sure you’re not heating things too quickly otherwise your pieces may crack and may need some repair. After your piece is completely dry, it will need to be sanded to remove any rough edges then polished, and sealed to give it more of a finished look.

What tools do you need for your work?

Oh my! You can work with a whole lot of tools or with few depending on what you’re making, but here are some of the basics:

Precious metal clay
Kiln, carbon, and firing bowl
Moulds and mould making material
Rolling pin
Clay shaping tools
Sanding pads/sanding paper
Firing torch
Polishing cloths
Sealant
Findings, necklace chains, ring mandrels

What stimulates your design work?

I often find inspiration in nature or the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine. I also get a lot of my ideas when travelling. Learning about other cultures and watching how people within those cultures interact with one another, their style and quality of life, and their fashion all peak my interest and provide inspiration for days. Being a huge history buff, I also occasionally find myself working on pieces that are reminiscent of different historical eras. But inspiration is one of those things can strike anywhere, and at any time.

The Kĕme Jewellery collection featured on Atelier is nature-based: Leaf Stud Earrings, Back to Nature Pendant, Sage Leaf Wrap Around Ring.

Keme Jewellery #Handcrafted @KemeJewellery

Tell us about your company name.

Kĕme is a slight twist on the ancient Egyptian word “khēmia”, meaning transmutation of earth. Melanie shared that she is still continuously amazed by the alchemy that takes place working with metal clay.

Perfect for gifts or your collection take a look at Melanie Neve’s full collection here.

Image Credits: all photos provided by and published with the permission of Kĕme Jewellery

Nancy Newman Turning Textile Traditions into Handbags

Perhaps it was the 1970’s Feminist Movement that led Nancy Newman to her philosophy of

“Saving the planet one purse at a time!”

During that period, Nancy says her awareness of the underrated value associated with “women’s work” (anything to do with textiles – needlepoint, sewing, knitting) increased her attention towards the expertise in fabric craftsmanship. She did not have to stretch very far to begin to understand the techniques and skills involved in creating textiles – one grandmother was a tailor and the other a quilter.

Nancy Newman Textiles Workshop

Today my interest has expanded to global textile traditions. If in my small way, I can draw attention to the beauty and skill of traditional methods, perhaps they won’t be lost forever to quick and cheap industrially made textiles. I’m all about slow fashion, where you can feel the hand that made it.

How did you discover these amazing textiles (Mali mud cloth, vintage fabrics, distressed leather) that you work with today?

I have been studying textiles and their traditions all my life, so it’s hard to say when it started.  My library includes many books on tribal and historical textiles, and I am within driving distance of the Textile Museum of Canada, in Toronto, which has an extensive collection, frequent talks and shows of spectacular work from around the world.

You participated in the Sheridan College of Art and Design Textile Studio. Can you share some details on that program?

The course I took is now an accredited university degree. When I studied from 1997-2000, it was a three-year intensive studio program with courses in craft history, 2 and 3D design, and business. In the Textile Studio, we focused on dye chemistry, colour theory, screen printing and photography with workshops in most textile methods. We had some amazing guest speakers, including Dorothy Caldwell and a family of paper makers from Japan. It was an amazing opportunity that opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking and seeing. In my third year, I focused on making paper by hand and using that fibre to create sculptural pieces.

When did you start making handbags and purses?

Post-graduation (2000), I began weaving in my studio creating silk shawls, scarves and delicate fabric, which I turned into jackets. Around 2006 my shift to purses began with small pouches and evening bags. Initially, I used decorator fabrics, but now my full line of handbags are fabricated only with textiles that are woven or printed and dyed by hand. Recently, I have been designing and painting my own fabrics.

Tote Mall Gold Distressed Leather @NancyNewmanTextiles

How do you source the textiles for your handbags?

A lot of people ask me if I travel to all these countries to find the textiles. Unfortunately, not, although several friends have brought back textiles from their travels. It has taken me several years to find the best sources for the Kantha quilts and Thai fabrics that I use, but because they are all vintage and cannot be reordered like industrial materials. I am always searching for new material sources.

The-Fly-in-handbag-Black-Cotton-and-silver-with-sweater

How long does it “typically” take to make a handbag including the design phase, fabric selection and sewing?

It often takes two or three tries before I am satisfied with a design (I use all the rejects as my own purses), and it varies from design to design.  The bucket bags take about a day to put together. I use vintage fabrics, and I only have a small amount of each, so the textile itself often “tells” me what it needs to be. The pieces usually sit in my stash for at least six months before a vision of where to incorporate it becomes apparent.

Grey Designer Bucket bag with a Vintage Bohemian Flair

Can you walk us through the steps involved in the production of a handbag?

As an example, the bucket bag starts with the textile itself, which has to be washed and patched, if necessary, interfaced, serged and often edge stitched.

I play around with the leathers in stock to see which looks best with the textile, using the live edge of the leather where possible. Once these two materials are glued and stitched together, I do the design for the conchos (Southwestern Native American decorative elements) and rivets. It is important to get the placement right before I punch the holes and hammer them into the leather.

Nancy Newman Textiles Workshop

The bag is stitched together on my durable leather sewing machine, the sides and bottom are glued down and top-stitched for security.  Sturdy artist’s canvas forms the liner, and the bottom flaps are sewn to the bag, so it stays firmly in place. The top is reinforced, and another piece of material is chosen as the closure.

The leather strap requires cutting, beveling, edge dyeing, hole punching a buckle and finally riveting it to the bag.

The final piece is a talisman of handmade beads – Nancy’s good luck charm for her customers who appreciate textile art and sustainable fashion.

Sharing the Vision Behind Atelier Boutiques in Video

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Hendrick van Wyk and his two counterparts at “Two Cowboys and a Camera” at a Canmore cafe. As we sipped our flat whites, we discussed the philosophies behind both of our companies. It turns out that the parallels were not just in identical coffee orders. We collectively believe in promoting the businesses that sustain communities, economies and traditions.

Based in beautiful Canmore, Alberta, the Two Cowboys team is often on the road shooting and editing video for community-based organisations. Their mission is a lofty goal of capturing the behind the scenes details of the what, why and how for small businesses and producers around Alberta and well beyond Canada’s borders.

The Two Cowboys team consider their work a social enterprise with a goal of promoting the people and products that are the cornerstones of communities and local economies. Hendrik and his team are sharing those stories through video production, blog posts and social media. Read more about Two Cowboys here.

It seemed like a natural fit to meet with the camera crew, and describe the vision behind Atelier Boutiques. Their video captures our appreciation for the hard work and passion required for artistic pursuits.

The following is an excerpt from the Two Cowboys’ blog post on Atelier Boutiques:

In conversations with Artisans, they admit that the one hurdle they all identify is the need to take their work to market. They invest emotionally in their creations. They spend every living, breathing waking moment in making and fabricating. It takes hours, days, weeks and sometimes a lifetime for an artist or craftsman to produce their best work. This happens while there is always the delicate balance between creating something remarkable or just good enough to get it out the door for the week’s rent of their workshop.

Carolyne’s passion for unique, one-of-a-kind creations from outstanding artisans inspired her to create a service where she helps these makers to take their products to market and to tell their stories.

It is a marketplace with a difference.

Atelier recognises the creative effort required by dedicated artists to learn a skill, practice a technique and experiment with materials. It creates a virtual space that opens the doors to those workshops near and far, by giving you a glimpse into the artists’ studios, a chance to read or see their stories and the ability to buy their products.

Carolyne searches for exclusive, handcrafted, high-quality, wardrobe accessories for women including jewellery, scarves, hats and sweaters. The home décor collection is carefully selected to bring artisanal showpieces and unique household gifts to market.

Read the full blog Two Cowboys post here.