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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.

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!

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

Skimbaco Essential Oil Diffuser Jewelry for Easy Designer Fashion

Discover how a lifestyle choices created a successful brand and a line of essential oil diffuser jewelry.

Katja Presnal is the founder of Skimbaco a lifestyle brand that she founded in 2006. She tells us that the name is not something you will find in a dictionary. Rather it’s a combination of a Finnish slang word “skimba” for skis and “co” for Colorado.

“The company was launched while we lived in Colorado and skiing in was the way we enjoyed life to the fullest at the moment. Everyone can define their own “skimbaco” – it is like modern carpe diem of enjoying the moment despite where you are.”

katja-and-gaby-in-bali @Skimbaco

Presnal says that her family does live a “Skimbaco” and somewhat nomadic life. “Our three children were born in three different countries, and we have explored the world together. Just in the past two years, we have lived in Sweden, New York, and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia.”

Skimbaco Lifestyle started as an online store for artisan products (closed in 2008) and a blog. Presnal’s proven creative talent landed her a job at a marketing agency, where she worked with large brands. However, she felt that she was not living the Skimbaco lifestyle and felt this was critical to growing the company. Quitting her agency job apparently worked as Skimbaco is now an online magazine and significant lifestyle brand. Presnal and her team encourage you to travel the world and embrace local culture through the glossy magazine pages.

What is it about essential oils that you feel relates to the lifestyle you are promoting in your business?

I’ve always been a huge believer in natural remedies and even only used essential oils for the labour when our second daughter was born. After visiting farms around the world and seeing how they cultivate cinnamon in Sri Lanka and aloe vera in Italy, I have always been drawn to using earth’s best for skin care, wellness and yes, even health care. I started using essential oils as part of daily wellness regimen about two years ago, and it took me by surprise what kind of difference the daily use of essential oils can contribute to your physical and mental well-being. I realised that essential oils are not just some natural remedies to be used in need, but that they can be part of your wellness regimen to keep you healthy – and happy.

enjoy-life-jewelry-lifestyle #Jewellery @Skimbaco

How did essential oils result in designing jewelry?

I started using essential oils in my favourite leather bracelets a few years ago and realised that leather diffuses the oils. The scent stays in the jewelry longer than on the skin. It became my favourite way of diffusing my oils, so I teamed up with my favourite designer DeAnna Cochran to create a designer diffuser jewelry line. The ENJOY LIFE diffuser jewelry collection by Skimbaco Lifestyle is done in partnership with DeAnna, and all of our pieces are handmade in her studio in Texas.

Can you describe the process for designing the diffuser jewelry?

First, we test different materials on how they absorb the essential oils, and we test them with several oils. It’s important that the materials diffuse the oils, but also won’t get ruined in the long-term use. A lot of our inspiration comes from our travels. The current collection is inspired by the colours of Bali, the sandy beaches and tropical ocean.

2getger-turquoise-earrings #Jewellery @Skimbaco

I try to stay on the top of today’s trends. However, I also wanted to offer pieces that are pretty timeless, that you can wear for years. We don’t follow a specific process yet, and some of our designs have even been born out of an accident. For example, our team member saw a close up picture of the 2GETHER silver hoop earrings for the first time, and she immediately commented: “I love that minimal necklace!” We were puzzled at first, but then saw it as an opportunity to create a minimal necklace and the Just ONE DROP necklace was born.

just-one-drop-turquoise-lava-bead-silver-hoop-necklace #Jewellery @Skimbaco

What materials are used in the jewelry?

We are constantly testing new materials and how the oils can be used in them. We currently use lava beads, leather, and geode crystals. Currently, most of our metals are silver.

Check-out the full Skimbaco collection of diffuser jewelry here.

Images credits: All photos were provided by and published with the permission of Katja Presnal at Skimbaco Lifestyle

Inspired by Art Deco KOTI Designs Luxury Silk Evening Handbags

“Home” in Finnish is KOTI, the name that Kaarina Talvila chose for her company. For her, it is a fitting name linked to memories of her mother who first taught her how to sew. KOTI Designs is also evocative of the fact that Kaarina is very settled in her adopted city of Vancouver, a place where she has lived since 1980, and the fact that she is at home (literally and spiritually) in her studio.

Silk Canister Purse in Violet and Cream Silk @KOTIDesigns

 

We were curious about the KOTI Designs story; from geology to silk handbag design. Kaarina Talvila achieved a major in geology from the University of Toronto and subsequently worked for a Fortune 500 company in computer support for mining exploration – mapping and data analysis. Now, she creates geometric patterns for silk evening bags and finishes them on a 35-year old on Viking sewing machine.

Silk Canister evening bag in Steel Blue and Chartreuse @KOTIDesigns

 

When did you start KOTI Designs?

I started KOTI Designs on a very part-time basis about twelve years ago (2004), when my children were in elementary school, but I didn’t turn it into a full-time undertaking until about five years ago.

Why did you start KOTI Designs?

Despite the early career in a science-based field, I’ve always been a creator  – right from childhood. In fact, I took time off from my software work to go back to school to do a crafts program, but I never thought it was a viable career choice. When I was a stay-at-home mom, though, with children in school all day, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to pursue, finally, the creative life I’d been wanting for as long as I could remember.

Square silk Purse Red and Purple @KOTIDesigns

Can you tell us about the crafts program?

I already knew how to sew, thanks to my mother, as well as high school Home Economics classes and years of sewing my clothes. Before starting my new venture in earnest, I took a two-year hiatus from my software career and attended Capilano University for their craft program, which encompassed weaving and surface design, as well as drawing, design and art history.

How did you learn to work with silk?

When I was at Capilano University, we got a good grounding in working with all natural fibres, both for weaving and surface design.

Why do chose to you work with silk?

When I was doing table linens, I was using natural linen because of its durability, but for my evening bags, silk was the only choice. Silk is elegant and lustrous. It represents refined quality and still has an aura of the exotic. And, most importantly for me, silk is unmatched for rich and vibrant colours.

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

Your designs are inspired by Art Deco and the Japanese aesthetic – what is it about bold, precise patterns that speak to you?

Art Deco is very geometric, and that’s me with my math and science background. My designs are very controlled and precise, but also minimalist, and that’s where the Japanese aesthetic comes in. I love the balance and apparent simplicity of Japanese design.

Can you describe your workshop (atelier)?

I have a lovely studio space. It’s on the second floor of my home in West Vancouver, with windows that look out over Burrard Inlet and a walk-out deck. I’m a bit cramped for space, but the beauty and serenity more than make up for that.

silk clutch evening bag in black rust and red @KOTIDesigns

How long does it typically take to make a bag?

I usually make the purses in batches of four or five – do all the cutting, then all the sewing, etc. It’s much more efficient than doing them one at a time, but if I were to work it out per purse, it would be about 3.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on the style.

The beautiful KOTI Design bags are made from fine silk cloth and fabricated with an exacting eye.

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with the permission of KOTI Designs

The Yin and Yang of Erinlaura Designer Jewelry

For this young Vancouver designer, opposing energies create unexpected harmony in her jewelry. Erin Johnson has lived in Canada’s west coast metropolis for several years now. Originally, she moved to attend the University of British Columbia, but the city’s many attractions keep her close.

Mia Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Erin founded her company Erinlaura Jewelry three years ago, the brand is a combination of two names – her grandmother’s and her own. Erin describes her grandmother, Laura, as an influential force in her life and one who continues to provide guidance. As a young woman, Laura emigrated to Langley, British Columbia from Vieste, Italy, with her spouse and they started a family. Young and resourceful Laura made everything from scratch from pasta to blankets, from bread to clothing. Erin credits her grandmother with teaching her how to work with her hands.

“She has always taught me to be strong and never give up. She has also taught me that it is ok to fail, which is an important thing for anyone starting their own company.”

Experimenting with materials Erin designed a delicate ring for herself using rose quartz and unwittingly launched her company. She wore the ring to work (at fashion retailer Aritzia) and before she had finished her shift co-workers were placing orders for similar models.

Collins Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Each Erinlaura Jewelry piece is named after one Erin’s best friends (clearly, she has a few). Combining rough cut stones with delicate chains is the yin-yang of Erin’s work. She tells us that she is attracted to the flaws in gemstones and it is in those blemishes that she sees the beauty and the possibilities. Her base materials come from stores in Vancouver and Arizona, and her inspiration from her surroundings.

Check out some of Erin’s “friends”: Mia, Kristen and the Collins necklaces. Rough semi-precious stones wrapped in fine strands of gold.

Cali Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Before we let Erin get back to her studio, we asked her to share her favourite Vancouver haunts, and where she hopes to see someone wearing her jewelry.

#TastesofVancouver

Coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters – Start the day with the perfect raw almond milk latte.

Breakfast: Café Medina for the best brunch in town.

Lunch:  Lift for an excellent view of the water and fresh oysters too.

Dinner:  AnnaLena Restaurant for tasty share plates and even better cocktails.

Stay: Rosewood Hotel Georgia with its unbeatable central downtown location.

Classic Vancouver?: Take a walk on the Seawall.

Healthy activity?:  Quarry rock hike with a Honey’s Doughnut in Deep Cove afterwards.

Look for Anastassia Sel Designer Jewellery on New York’s Fashion Runways

Volgodonsk is unlikely to be on many travel bucket lists; a Russian city located on the Tsimlyansk Reservoir, where the nearby nuclear plant is a local employer. This town is where Canadian artist and rising star jeweller Anastassia Selezneva was born.

Anastassia Selezneva emigrated to Toronto, with her parents, when she was nine years old. Artistic activities occupied after-school hours and much of her Canadian childhood. She explains that she had limited time to “hang-out” as she experimented with ballet, piano and visual arts. Selezneva attributes these touchpoints with creative circles to her desire to attend the Etobicoke School of the Arts.

Orion Earrings #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

However, Selezneva says that her journey to jewellery production began as an artistic outlet

“I started to fiddle and experiment with jewellery in November 2012. Wire wrapping, learning about stones, their properties, and teaching myself how to solder. I needed a creative outlet and my finance job was not giving me that.”

Black Tourmaline Union Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

Her practical business degree, from York University (Toronto) a safe choice, but one that did not fulfil her artistic needs. Selezneva’s diversion with jewellery has led her to global fashion centres;

“Anastassia has created ‘haute couture,’ one-of-a-kind works for Toronto, Milan and New York Fashion Week runway shows.”

Selezneva is now laser focused on her business and her Anastassia Sel brand. She recently (June 2016) graduated from the George Brown College fashion studies program.

Branch Ear Crawlers #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

“This program is intensive and not for everyone. It has very high expectations. To succeed in this program, you need to have patience and dedication to the craft. The one-year program that I took, gave me a solid foundation of the different aspects of the jewellery industry such as goldsmithing, surface finishing, gemology and technical drawing.”

Why did you move towards jewellery from other creative directions?

I remember always going through my grandma’s jewellery box and having a wild fascination with how much beauty it holds and how different jewellery can be. I think my inspiration for jewellery design came at a very early age, but it took some time to blossom into something concrete. Looking back, I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when I decided I will be a jewellery designer. It just happened naturally.

Can you explain how you choose a stone for one of your pieces?

I have always gravitated towards rough stones. I love nature and looking at raw, rough, organic forms brings me closer to it. Ideally, in my comfort zone, all of my pieces would have rough stones. However, as a designer, I have to be versatile and appeal to various clients. If I were to choose my favourite stones, it would be black kyanite and rainbow moonstone. They are polar opposites. Kyanite is rough and dark, and moonstone is light, airy and smooth. When I design, I let the materials talk to me. It depends on the piece, but I typically start my design from the stone and create the piece around it.

Vitae Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

You work with recycled 14K gold and sterling silver. Can you share your sustainability philosophy as it relates to jewellery?

The way I see it is we as a society need to learn to reuse the resources we have to create a sustainable environment. Resources are finite, and we have to be conscious of how we recover and use it.

Cosmic Ray Ear Crawler #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

How do you find the inspiration for your pieces?

Nature is a big part of my inspiration. The freedom that comes with the natural environment. The place that we are whole, authentic and small. In urban areas we have titles and hierarchies, in nature, we are one. Mortal. Finite.

Union Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

What do you want someone to “feel” when they are wearing one of your pieces?

Empowered and authentic.

Topus Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

At Atelier, we are thrilled to be able to showcase jewellery designs from this young designer, who is quite clear that she would like Anastassia Sel to be New York City-based in the future. For now, she shared a few of her version of “where the locals go” in Toronto:

Favourite restaurant in Toronto?

Bar Raval for hipster tapas and Bairrada Churrasqueira for their great patio and Portuguese food.

Favourite coffee shop in Toronto?

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters.

Favourite thing to do on a Saturday in Toronto?

I typically escape the city to a beautiful park like Algonquin, Tobermory or Hilton Falls. However, if I do stay in Toronto I usually check out what festivals are going on (Wine/Beer/Music) or go to a lively patio.

To see the exclusive Anastassia Sel collection currently available on Atelier click here.

Colleen Poitras is Changing Your Look With Pretty Edgy Jewellery

Tomboy to jewellery designer. Colleen Poitras says “Ironically I was more my father’s daughter growing up, a tomboy who loved sports and wanted nothing to do with fashion. I’m not sure when the shift came, but it did, and I was suddenly sewing my clothes in high school, falling in love with fashion and really big earrings!”

After high school, Poitras studied the art and trade of jewellery making at George Brown College and the Mississauga Living Arts Centre. She now credits her mother’s work as a seamstress with unlocking her interest in fashion. “I was always creating something, but my first love was fashion. There is an excitement for me pairing clothing and accessories and seeing how the right combination can make an outfit come alive!”

The Colleen Poitras company tagline – Pretty. Rocker. Chic – is a perfect description of her work. Her shimmering stainless steel Endure Cuff hard-core enough for Wonder Woman yet flawless with that little black dress. The delicate Breathe Bangle is pretty enough for your niece, but you know you want one too. The Falling Chain Necklace is a waterfall of airy stainless steel chains bound by a touch of leather.

Matte-Series-Ring in Stainless Steel

You work with a selection of materials; leather, concrete, stainless steel and semi-precious stones.

What attracts you to those materials?

It’s really interesting to me how my material choices happened rather organically. I hadn’t thought to work with leather until I needed some supplies that required me to go to a leather supplier and I was drawn in right away. The minute that I started working with leather was when I found my voice as a jewellery designer. Concrete was another medium that was unexpected. Again, the possibilities excite me!

Matter choker leather and stainless steel

Of all the materials you work with is there one that is your “go-to” and if so why?

Leather is definitely my go to material. However, I am also having lots of fun experimenting with the concrete and mixing it with metals and leather. What I love about leather, are the endless possibilities – it offers versatility that lends itself to well to my designs.

Significance bangle moonstone @ColleenPoitras

Your work seems to strike an impressive balance between edgy (just on the end of trouble) and feminine keepsakes.

Do you design with a person or place in mind?

I love that this comes across. I wouldn’t say that this is 100% intentional, but I do design what I would wear, and I am a combination of all of those things. I think we all are! We all have a little pretty, we all have a little rocker, and we all have a little chic. Every day is different which is what makes every day so fabulous!

Can you describe your workshop?

I have big windows that let in a lot of light giving it a very “lofty” feel. My photography accessorizes the walls, and I’ve had a custom work table built specific to my needs. It is light and airy with a bit of industrial edge. The perfect “me” workplace (okay in a perfect world I would have a little more space)!

Colleen Poitras designing Canadian women's jewellery

With any one of the Colleen Poitras pieces, you can almost guarantee that you will rock it in your jeans or bring your evening dress alive, but you might need to battle someone for these limited edition pieces. Check out the full collection here (quickly) before her gorgeous pieces are sold out.

Understanding the Art and Craft of Chandlery and all that Beeswax

Medieval Craft of Chandlery

 

The advent of residential electricity changed our lighting needs dramatically and eliminated a once critical position in the medieval household – the Chandler – the person responsible for the candles. Click here for a detailed description.

Next time you strike a match to light the candles on your dinner table consider what it takes to make a candle.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

According to Jill Smith, the owner of Salt Spring Island’s Bees Wax Works, the key ingredient in chandlery (besides the obvious: wax) is patience and more patience. Smith is a former ballet dancer and music industry professional who describes her career change as an “Opportunity to work independently, make things and grow a business.”

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

Becoming a chandler

Smith apprenticed under the company’s previous owner before she assumed the full responsibilities of Bees Wax Works. Although candle making was a learning curve, Jill Smith says “Making things with my hands has always been a part of my life. My mother taught me fibre arts at a young age and we were encouraged to ‘make things’.”

Did you ever “make” candles as a kid, by melting paraffin and pouring the molten liquid into milk containers? If so, the work that Smith does in her workshop is another world. She describes her studio as

“The best smelling garage on Salt Spring Island, with lovely windows and views of the Salish Sea.”

Process from raw wax to candles

There is a process to transforming a 45-pound block of beeswax into beautiful, clean-burning candles. The work requires smashing (she says this step is therapeutic), heating and reforming. According to Smith, chandlery steps are simple, and the tools rudimentary (a melting pot, simple hand tools, and steady hands). However, the age-old craft requires enormous amounts of patience.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

Smith chooses to work with beeswax exclusively.

“It is pure and simply the best wax for candles.”

However, not all beeswax is created equally. Smith sources her wax from apiarists in Alberta. A family who have been beekeepers for three generations because their wax is the cleanest she has found.

Did you know beeswax changes colours with the seasons, depending which flowers are blooming?

Simple Fern #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

At Atelier, we are thrilled to feature some of the Bees Wax Works signature BWW Collection candles. The new line of candles required Smith’s close collaboration with a ceramist.  Together they developed moulds that reflect the art of candle making. This collection mirrors the “hive to home” philosophy at Bees Wax Works.

Made with high-quality wax and the steady hand of a professional chandler these contemporary candles are perfect for gifts (or for your home) check out the collection here.

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

 

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