All posts by Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Tis the Season Five Reasons to Buy a Beeswax Candle

At this time of year, careless flip-flop days and intense summer skies seem hopelessly far away… At least, December’s twinkling holiday lights have replaced the gloomy darkness of November evenings.

Impossibly short days are the perfect time to gather friends around a dinner table for long conversations fuelled by hearty red wine and slow cooked savoury meals.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

However, table setting is part of establishing the mood. Wine does not taste the same from a plastic glass, and an overly lit table can feel like a cafeteria. We turned to artisan creator Jill Smith at Bees Wax Works to share her five reasons to buy a beeswax candle for the holidays.

  1. Dark days bring the need for warm light.  Beeswax burns in the light spectrum of the sun. If summer seems far away, the light aura from these artisan candles will remind you of those days.
  2. The natural smell of beeswax – a reminder of the heavenly smell of warmer days spent outside – in the comfort of your living room.
  3. Innocent times with the tradition of beeswax candles at holiday times. The aroma is a trigger for many.  Especially for my European customers, the smell evokes childhood memories of a time when candles were hand-dipped by mums and grandmas.
  4. Beauty and simplicity in an effortless gift.
  5. Warmth: Brisk outdoor activities and quieter nights – beeswax candles bring an authentic heating to our indoor season.

Jill’s beeswax candles are handcrafted in her Salt Spring Island workshop, a place that she describes as “The best smelling garage on Salt Spring Island, with lovely windows and views of the Salish Sea.” The candles are made from blocks of 45-pound blocks of 100% Canadian beeswax (sourced in Alberta).

Beeswax Works candles are crafted following traditional methodologies (read about the art of chandlery). Jill describes the steps as easy enough, however, after wax patience is a critical ingredient in the process.

Warm up your winter days with one of these candles from the Beeswax Works custom collection:

Key to My Heart:

The Key to My Heart #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Simple Fern:

Simple Fern #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Vintage Bee:

Vintage Bee #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

Image credits: Candle photos provided by and published with the permission of Jill Smith @ Bees Wax Works

Luxury Gift Guide Spoil her this Christmas

The special lady in your life deserves to be showered with gifts on her birthday, at Christmas, at Valentines and other special occasions. But, what to get her? Our designers at Atelier are here to solve your shopping dilemma this Christmas with our Wrap her in Luxury gift guide.

Designer Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Christina VonBun is an Austrian transplant who arrived in Canada via South Africa. VonBun handcrafts exclusive leather handbags with the finest leather, a pursuit she has perfected since she achieved her master craftsman certification in Vienna. She works almost exclusively with ostrich leather. See her full collection here and shop with her special holiday 20% discount (coupon code: VonBunHoliday).

Nadia clutch @ChristineVonBun

Our friends at Artigiani Milanesi have two cashmere sweaters (Gracie Lacy and the Waterfall Cardigan) that any lady would love to receive as a gift.

Waterfall Cardigan in Cashmere Artigiani Milanesi

For gifts under $100 – check out this gift guide.

For designer fashion at a reasonable price explore this gift collection.

Discover this Holiday Gift Guide for Affordable Designer Shopping

Just in case you missed yesterday’s blog post the designer team at Atelier is hoping to keep your December stress levels down, with our holiday gift guides.

This seasonal gift guide is filled with ideas for unique, small-batch presents made by talented Canadian designers.

Designer Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Our design team handcrafts these women’s fashion accessories and clothing in their workshops, and only in limited quantities. You can find silky scarves, soft cashmere wraps and shiny rings and things – just what a girl needs for her closet.

Nancy Newman collects vintage fabrics from around the globe. She describes her workspace as slightly messy, but that is part of the creative process behind her handbags.

bucket bag vintage mali mud fabric and black leather @NancyNewmanTextiles

Designers Anastassia Sel, Melanie Neves and Katja at Skimbaco have a range of fabulous rings and necklaces made with semi-precious stones for a magical Christmas.

diffuser-jewelry-turquoise-set #Jewellery @Skimbaco

Morija Reeb admits that from time to time her weaving projects start to take over the basement, but she loves process behind creating her silk scarves. Read more about her story and see her handwoven silk collection here.

Handmade silk scarf @MorijaDesigns

Kaarina named her company KOTI Designs, the Finnish word for home. Her stunning geometrical  evening bags are made with raw silk. These bags are a must have accessory for ladies, and a perfect compliment to that cocktail dress.

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

On the West Coast, Artigiani Milanesi works with fine cashmere to create winter woollies. These wraps and ponchos will keep her warm all winter.

maxi-scarf-cashmere-artigani-milanesi

Did you miss the stocking stuffer gift guide? Here is the link.

Gift Guide Designer Holiday Shopping Ideas for Stockings

It’s that time of year; the kids are either looking for the darn “Elf on a Shelf,” or fighting over whose turn it is to open the advent calendar. At the same time, mum and dad are juggling corporate holiday parties and trying to burn off the eggnog. The countdown is on for Christmas shopping, and the thought of parking at a mall is frightening.

Who needs it?!

Atelier is here to help bring back a little holiday Zen, with our designer gift guides. Watch our blog and social media feed in the next three days as we are going to help reduce your shopping stress with three different gift guides full of ideas for stocking stuffers to thoughtful ways to express your love.

Holiday shopping ideas – our gift guide brimming with small gifts and stocking stuffers:

Designer Holiday Gift Guide 2016

These designers are based literally from coast to coast in Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver. They work with precious metals and gemstones to design unique jewellery, vintage fabrics to make precious purses, and fine linens for home decor.

Anastassia Sel has a selection of gorgeous necklaces, bracelets and ear crawlers made with recycled sterling silver and 14K gold. See her collection here.

Vitae Bracelet @AnastassiaSel

Erin, the founder and creator at Erinlaura Jewelry, is based in beautiful Vancouver, where she creates a necklace collection that she names after her best friends. Explore her full collection of rough gemstone chains here.

Ava necklace @erinlaura

Melanie quit her day job to focus full time on Kĕme Jewellery her designer brand, where she fashions metal clay into gorgeous nature-inspired keepsakes. The Kĕme Jewellery stud earrings and leaf wrap rings are under $100 and will fit comfortably in any stocking.

Keme Jewellery Handcrafted @KemeJewellery

Our Pretty. Rocker. Chic. Colleen Poitras makes stunning jewellery accessories in her Toronto studio. Her passion is working with leather, concrete and stainless steel. Go ahead make a statement this Christmas – view her collection here.

Significance bangle moonstone @ColleenPoitrasWinter is the time to spend a little more time indoors and enjoy the Anouk Alpine linen collection of tea towels, aprons and pillows (ok those might not fit in a stocking). Speaking of home, there are pure beeswax candles from Bees Wax Works and hardwood serving boards from Schooner Lane Designs in our “For the Home” collection here.

Anouk linen pillows handmade @Anouk

5 Reasons to Shop Small Business this Saturday

In 2009, American Express initiated a campaign that hits the other end of the spectrum from “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” – they called it Small Business Saturday. Now, one might think that AMEX’s intentions were somewhat self-serving, encouraging shoppers to get out in their hometowns with their credit cards in hand.

However, seven years later the idea “Shop Small” might have just outgrown the original marketing campaign. Find out more in this Forbes article on “Why Small Business Saturday Matters Now More Than Ever.”

Why shop small business?

  1. Support local communities, town centres, walkable cities
  2. Shop for unique, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items
  3. Encourage creativity and entrepreneurial spirit
  4. Enjoy friendly service – these are folks who do what they do because they love it
  5. You can (and should) ask for advice – remember these folks are experts in their business whether it is tuning bikes, making gelato or weaving silk.

At Atelier, our whole business model is built around small businesses. Our Designers have spent years learning and perfecting their creative mediums – from weaving to beeswax, from gemstones to woodwork

Browse our shop here and support a  small business this Saturday November 26th – we are offering 10% of our sales if you use this coupon code: shopsmallbiz

If you like this please Pin the image below.

pinterest-small-business-saturday-2016 @atelier_boutiq

Get to know the Canadian Designers on Atelier Boutiques

Anniversaries are worth celebrating!

Atelier is marking our first birthday with a “cut and colour.” We have done a website makeover to improve your designer shopping experience.

Starting at the landing page, you can now jump directly into the shop, read about our featured Canadian Designers, scan the recent blog posts and check-out the latest merchandise.

Keme Jewellery #Handcrafted @KemeJewellery

Now that we mention The Shop slide on over to that page and you can browse the Women’s Fashion and For the Home categories. In women’s fashion section look for a sustainable approach to designs for clothing (sweaters, ponchos, scarves), handbags that will make your girlfriends jealous, and approachable jewellery (bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pendants, rings).

Canadian Designers for Women's Fashion Accessories

For the Home is the perfect place to look for items that will improve your entertaining game, to buy hostess gifts and find unique birthday presents. Impress your guests with decorative household products handcrafted by independent Canadian designers.

home sweet decor designer collection

Made with authentic, raw materials such as 100% beeswax from Alberta, Canadian hardwoods, Italian cashmere wool, raw silk, reclaimed vintage fabrics and leathers, semi-precious stones, recycled gold and sterling silver – the Atelier Designer Team produces products are nothing short of beautiful.

Colleen Poitras designing Canadian women's jewellery

However, it is the creators’ stories, their workshops “ateliers” and their local’s experiences that turn a purchase into a memory these are the stories behind Atelier – the blog. Read about how these artists began following their creative passions and pick-up a few travel tips for iconic Canadian cities.

vitae-braclet-anastassia-selezneva-designer-jewellery

Enjoy the new Atelier shopping experience. We are always looking for talented designers and welcome any comments you might have. Don’t be a stranger – get in touch here.

Learn About Exotic Leather Handbags by Christine VonBun

Toronto Canada’s biggest city, comes with all the trappings and frenetic pace of a metropolis. Finding and creating beauty can become obscure. However, we discovered designer Christine VonBun who handcrafts exotic leather handbags in her Toronto workshop. Discover her artistic inspiration and backstory here:

What brought Christine VonBun to Toronto?

When I made my decision to leave South Africa, I set my sights on a country with vast open space. The options were limited. My tennis partner spent eight years in Canada and loved it. Toronto was the obvious choice if I wanted to stay in my field with the benefits of a larger city. I never regretted that decision. We live three hours from Algonquin Park and try to get out with our beloved canoe (we name her HMS Edelweiss) as often as we can.

Christine VonBun fabricates a collection of handcrafted leather handbags in Toronto. Her interest in fashion started on a miniature scale sewing clothes for her dolls. Christine’s youthful pastime led to her educational choice, a dedicated fashion school in Vienna, Austria, called Modeschule Hetzendorf in a baroque castle.

Nadia clutch @ChristineVonBun

The school’s applicants must pass an entry exam to test their artistic and creative abilities. Christine began the intense five-year program at the age of 14. Many students were in their early twenties and the class size was limited to 24 people. The first two years centred around art, colour development and artistic education along with traditional high school courses. In the program’s third year, you are required to select a speciality. Christine chose leather and began working on handbags, belts and wallets.

After three years at Modeschule Hetzendorf, Christine received a journeyman’s certificate in handbag design and manufacture along with a degree in graphic and fashion illustration. However, her goal was to achieve her master craftsman certification, which in Austria legally allows you to open a store and workshop in your field. Christine VonBun was clearly dedicated; she had to work as an apprentice before applying for the elite track, which then required more specialised design and handcrafted work along with business related courses.

What was the final step?

“A technical two-day exam where you have to manufacture a prescribed handbag in a Master’s workshop – while they watch you doing it.”

Master craftsman Christine VonBun moved from Austria to Cape Town where she honed her skills working for Cape Cobra Leathercraft a manufacturer of luxury leather handbags made with exotic leathers.

How does Christine VonBun describes her exotic leather handbag collection?

I use my favourite leather (ostrich) as the basis of my collection. What I do now is a limited collection, all the bags have a similar identity.  Most of my bags include some interesting detail or complicated aspect of construction you won’t see elsewhere. I am trying to let my craftsmanship speak for itself to set my bags apart from others. My line now is all about elite craftsmanship, exclusive materials and timeless elegance.

Christine VonBun

What inspires your design work?

I love to travel, and I love architecture, especially modern architecture and art deco. My inspiration is something out of the ordinary; such as a building or a structure in a European city or even a small town, sometimes it’s the picture-perfect rock formation somewhere in the Canadian Wilderness. These things inspire me to create.

Can you explain how ostrich leather is different from other materials?

I fell in love with ostrich leather while working in South Africa. The leather is really in its own category with its unique texture and softness. Due to a natural tanning process, ostrich is the only exotic leather that gets more beautiful the more you wear it. The ostrich leather absorbs the oil from your skin and the textured quill areas get shiny and wonderfully soft. I have been wearing my denim blue Adele bag for over eight years, and it is still beautiful, I wouldn’t trade it for a new bag. Ostrich is often mistakenly referred to as endangered, and nothing could be further from the truth. There are now many ostrich farms and leather sources, but I use only Klein Karoo ostrich, they are the world leader for ostrich product. I won’t compromise on leather quality.

Adele Ostrich Shoulder bag @ChristineVonBun

What tools do you need for your work?

The primary machines are a particular walking foot leather sewing machine and a skiving machine for thinning the edges. When it comes to hand tools, I have a selection of double-facetted hand-knives for cutting, and specialised skiving knives for thinning the leather edges. I need a fishbone knife for turning the edges. There are also a variety of pliers and hammers, and a good assortment of small screwdrivers, chisels and some glue pots. I use different adhesives for separate parts of the process. The most important piece for hand working is a large soft flat stone. I got mine from my old Master in Vienna. These fine sandstones are not easy to come by – most come from European churches when they renovate.

Gloria #ShoulderBag #Leather @ChristineVonBun

How long does it take to make a bag like Gloria or Lola from start to finish?

The biggest factor in making a bag is that there are many individual steps. You are much more efficient when making multiples of the same style. On top of this, ostrich compared to a flat leather adds at least 50% additional time. Ostrich skin is a premium leather, the quill pattern complicates how you cut, you want to maximise every square inch. Ostrich also has the added difficulty of a very time-consuming preparation procedure order to start the assembly.

Lola Red Patent Leather Handbag @ChristineVonBun

To answer your question more precisely, if I make the Lola in patent leather, and I make more than one at a time, I could get away with about four to five hours per bag. If I make multiple Lolas in ostrich, I am likely to spend eight hours per handbag. However, a single bag could take 12 hours. With that effort to produce a single purse, it’s easy to understand why these handbags are limited pieces. View the Christine VonBun creator page and order your signature leather handbag today!

DIY Project – How Do You Make a Lavender Wand from Provence

This DIY project requires 100 stems of freshly-cut Provencal lavender. Elsa Lenthal follows a process, an old tradition, that her grandmother taught her. Lavender wands, or in fuseaux in French used to serve a very practical purpose to keep mites and moths away from clothes. Today, although the wands can keep the bugs away, they also make for beautiful keepsakes or dried arrangements.

How does she do it?

The lavender stems are then counted and cleaned of any tiny shoots, by hand. The fragrant bundle is then tied just below the flowers with a piece of ribbon. Elsa then individually folds each stem over the lavender buds “capturing” the flowers inside. The final step is to weave a bright ribbon through the stems covering the entire packet. The result is a lavender fuseaux, essentially shaped like a baby’s rattle. It takes Elsa, after years of practice, one hour to make each lavender wand.

Elsa makes hundreds of these wands every summer in Provence; she works while talking to customers in 4-5 markets per week.

The lavender wands will last forever.

  • 100 stems
  • 100 % French lavender
  • 100 % handmade
  • 100% traditional

Why Lavender? Here are 10  reasons.

A perfect hostess gift!
A present for your mum
for a girlfriend

Available in limited quantities – buy now!

Laurene Bosc captures Elsa’s step-by-step process to make lavender wands in her beautiful video below.

Photo credit: Lua Williams Photography, Canmore, Alberta

Travel Tips: How to Enjoy a Vancouver Weekend by KOTI Designs

Atelier creator Kaarina Talvila of KOTI Designs has lived in Ontario, Zimbabwe and Victoria, but there is no question Vancouver is her home. We all know that Vancouver is beautiful, but her description will make you want to move to this west coast metropolis.

A cyclist rides through Jericho Park #Vancouver @MyVancouver

“I absolutely love living in Vancouver and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Vancouver is a place with the perfect balance between big-city amenities and the outdoors. It’s a short five-minute walk to the beach from my house, and I have a forest at the end of the road, but I can also get right into the centre of the city in about half an hour. Inspiration comes easily when you live in a place where you’re surrounded by the serenity of nature, but also have access to top-notch museums, galleries and a vibrant craft community. And of course, there’s also a strong Asian influence in Vancouver which has definitely had an impact on my design sensibilities.”

Beach sunset friends #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Kaarina founded KOTI Designs in 2004. In the last five years, she has focused (full time) on her creative pursuit. The KOTI Designs silk evening bags are a reflection of this lady’s mathematical mind meeting her creative self. Read the background on KOTI Designs here.

Sunset silouettes people at beach #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Ask a local how they would spend the perfect Vancouver weekend?

Coffee at Nelson the Seagull in Gastown. This café has a small but excellent menu in a lovely old building with wooden floors, high ceilings and a bakery in the back.

Gastown Streets #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Lunch at La Taqueria, downtown on Hastings Street (right in the vicinity of two of my favourite fabric stores!). A tiny hole-in-the-wall place with a big selection of bite-sized pinche tacos. There is always a line-up, but it moves quickly.

Edible Canada under Granville bridge @EdibleCanada

Dinner at Edible Canada headquartered at Granville Island Public Market. This restaurant is where locals, visitors, professional chefs and passionate foodies congregate to experience the best in BC and Canadian cuisine. Edible Canada is a big promoter of innovative Canadian cuisine. All their food is locally sourced, and they have a great patio (for dinner or anytime).

Edible Canada Dining Room #CanadianFood @EdibleCanada

Edible Canada Food #CanadianFood @EdibleCanada

Iconic Vancouver – It’s almost a cliché now, but I think the Stanley Park seawall epitomises Vancouver. It provides views of all the disparate elements that make up the city. Stanley Park has views of the downtown skyline, the working port, the ocean, the forested mountains.

Vancouver, BC Canada #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Stay here – I’ve never stayed at the Granville Island Hotel, but I’ve always thought it would be the perfect place for visitors. It’s right in the city, but being on Granville Island, it’s surrounded by the waters of False Creek with all its marinas and small water taxis. As well, all the great restaurants, theatres and artists’ studios of Granville Island are right outside your door.

Don’t miss this insider experience – If you spend any time in Vancouver, you have to go hiking. Skip the Grouse Grind and instead, do the Sea to Summit hike on Howe Sound. It’s 7.5 km with a 900-metre elevation gain. When you reach the top, you can relax over dinner and a drink with a fabulous view. Afterwards, take the gondola down.

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with permission
Cover Photo:  Seaplane over Coal Harbour – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 1: A cyclist rides through Jericho Park – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 2: Beach sunset friends – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 3: Sunset silouettes people at beach – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 4: Gastown Streets – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 5: Edible Canada under Granville bridge – Edible Canada
Photo 6: Edible Canada Dining Room – Edible Canada
Photo 7: Edible Canada Food – Edible Canada
Photo 8: Vancouver, BC Canada – Tourism Vancouver

Find Out What Makes Lavender Essential Oil So Popular

When it comes to lavender you fall into one of two camps (pro or con), but that is likely because of your exposure to over-processed, or worse, chemically created scents that try to mimic nature.

Lavender essential oil is expensive, although not quite as much as a return flight to France (from North America). Having participated in the harvest and watched the distillation process, I fully appreciate how much product (lavender) needs to be grown to produce that little vial of essential oil.

Lavender fields in Provence

Here, is a summary of the distillation process for traditional lavender growers:

  1. The flowers are cut, bundled and left to dry in the field for 1-2 days.
  2. Tractors loaded with dried bundles haul their purple loads to the distillery.
  3. This is where the bales of flowers are stuffed into enormous vats. It is incredibly hard work, but you smell terrific at the end of the day.
  4. Once the vat lids are closed, steam is pumped through the tubes (think large pressure cookers) until the flowers are hot enough to release their essence.
  5. This liquid has two components; a clear heavily scented essence and a fractional amount of essential oil. Both parts are collected and sold for commercial use.

Lavender distillation essential oil

What is the lavender essential oil used for?

lavender-wands-from-provence-by-lua-williams

Our friend Girl Gone Gallic wrote about 33 Uses for Lavender Essential Oil.  Yes lavender scent is used in everything from ice cream to floor cleaner, from lip balm to massage oils.

  • Household UsesShop here for 100% lavender “wands” for your linen closets.
  • Beauty Uses – perfumes, scrubs, balms
  • Relaxation Uses – massage, baths
  • Food Uses – syrups, cocktails, cookies, ice cream
  • Medicinal Uses –  cuts, bug bites, eczema

GGG and I are wondering could there be 100 uses for lavender essential oil? Please read her post here and let us know what to add to the list.