All posts by Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

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.

12 Days of Canadian Designer Christmas Creations from their Workshops

Our Canadian designers are real people who have studied and practised their artistic pursuits, perfecting techniques and designs along the way. What are they creating for Christmas?

In the past eleven days, we have featured their women’s fashion accessory and home decor products made with ostrich leather, cashmere, concrete, stainless steel, gemstones, silk, metal clay, beeswax linen, Canadian hardwood and recycled metals. We thought it might be time to give you a glimpse into their workshops – there are no elves to be seen, just our designers still hard at work.

Morija Reeb – weaving with silk at her loom:

morija-reeb-silk-weaver-artist-photo

Nancy Newman and her vintage fabrics – handbags in progress:

Nancy Newman Textiles work in the studio

Anastassia Selezneva handcrafting her sustainable jewellery from recycled metals:

anastassia-selezneva-working-on-designer-jewellery

The team at Artigiani Milanesi weaving  cashmere garments:

Artigiani Milanesi Cashmere Designs on Bowen Island

Colleen Poitras handcrafting jewellery for the “Pretty. Rocker. Chic.” in every gal:

Colleen Poitras designing Canadian women's jewellery

Kaarina and her KOTI Design silk evening bags at a designer show:

Kaarina Talvila @KOTIDesigns

Melanie Neves working with metal clay to create her gorgeous nature-inspired jewellery:

Melanie Neves Keme Jewellery Designer at work

Cassandra Burrell contemplating her next eco-friendly, designed for comfort clothing pieces:

Designer Cassandra Burrell @CassBurrDesigns

Erin Johnson showcasing her Erinlaura gemstone jewellery in Vancouver:

Erin Johnson @Erinlaura Jewelry

Christine VonBun designing her ostrich leather handbags:

Christine VonBun Leather Handbag Designer

Kathy Clarke in her outdoor workshop on a nice day on Bowen Island:

Kathy Clarke Schooner Lane Designs Workshop

Jill Smith relaxed after working with 45-pound blocks of beeswax:

Jill Smith @beeswaxworks

And, Katja dreaming up the next Skimbaco jewellery design:

katja @Skimbaco

It’s not too late to enter the “Get Social”  giveaway – full contest details are here.

Happy Holidays to one and all.

 

Designers at work for Pinterest:

Canadian fashion designers at work.

Day 11 – 12 Days of Designer Christmas with Luxurious Cashmere

If you are still shopping on the eleventh day of Christmas, you might have left it a bit late. However, we can help with a perfect “I owe you” of a sweater, wrap or poncho made from the finest cashmere, by our Bowen Island-based designer Artigiani Milanesi.

Maxi shawl Cashmere @ARTIGIANIMILANESI

Their Italian tailoring and these luxurious layers will make up for your tardy shopping habits. Cashmere is the softest wool, and it is lightweight yet incredibly warm.

Choose any one of their designs (see the full range of cashmere sweaters, wraps and ponchos here). She will receive her gift just in time for the worst days of winter in January, so you might still look like a hero.

Infinity Scarf @ArtigianiMilanesi #cashmereEssential Poncho @ArtigianiMilanesi #cashmere

Fashion for Pinterest:

Gift the gift of luxurious cashmere sweaters, wraps and ponchos.

Day 10 – 12 Days of Designer Christmas Classy Evening Bags

The holiday season is a time for dressing up, celebrating with friends and family, and for sharing hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

This year consider a classy evening evening bag a Christmas gift that will last, made by hand, designed with care, rather than something mass produced in a foreign land.

Ostrich Leather and Fur clutch evening bag

Nadia clutch in Ostrich Leather @ChristineVonBun

Designer Christine VonBun handcrafts her handbags from the finest ostrich leather. She tells us that this leather is harder to work with, but the finish is so exquisite that it is well worth the effort. Christine’s bags are so beautiful that they will likely be passed down to the next generation.

Square silk Purse Red and Purple @KOTIDesigns

Kaarina creates these silk evening bags for her brand KOTI Designs by marrying her talent for sewing, her passion for silk and her appreciation for Japanese design. Simply beautiful, these evening bags are perfect with your favourite “little black dress” and simply stunning with a black tie outfit.

silk-evening-bag-half-moon-shape-in-black-and-scarlet-and-gold @KOTIDesigns

Nancy Newman sources her silk from vintage Japanese kimonos for her mini purses. These tiny evening bags are your partner for a night out, just large enough for your phone, credit card and keys. They are also little head-turners in the striking silk designs.

Mini Evening Bag Made from Vintage Kimono Fabric @NancyNemanTextiles

Take a look at the whole evening bag collection here.

Pin to your fashion board for outfit inspiration:

Silk and Leather Evening Bags made by designers.

Day 9 – 12 Days of Designer Christmas with Jewellery that Glitters

Give the gift of a little sparkle this year.

Metal clay creations by Toronto designer Melanie Neves:

Quilted Metal Pendant @KemeJewellery

Layered Sage Leaf Ring @KemeJewellery

Ear crawlers from Anastassia SEL:

Branch Ear Crawler #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

Skimbaco Lifestyle earrings:

2getger-turquoise-earrings #Jewellery @Skimbaco

Bangles by Colleen Poitras:

Breath Bangle @Colpoitras

Raw, rough cut quartz necklaces by ErinLaura:

Ava necklace @erinlaura

Explore the entire jewellery collection here.

For Pinterest:

Handcrafted jewellery by Canadian Designers. Sustainable fashion.