Thank you, Vancouver!

Thank you so much, Vancouver. Although slightly weighed down by the haze from the interior BC forest fires, the Harmony Arts Festival was once again a joyful event. I just love being in the company of such good fellow craftspeople – this community is so often like a clan, and such shows like a gathering of said clan.

Here is lovely Jan, harvesting artichokes from her garden, which she served for dinner!

In between the two show weekends, I took a quick trip to Salt Spring Island to visit with my colleague Jan Smith. Jan is a mover and shaker in the art jewellery community, and a true inspiration to me. While I was there, for example, she took part in an online live video US/Canada East/West conversation/panel discussion with ArtJeweleryForum.  Exchanging with artist such as Jan is invaluable, and I thank her and her husband Paul for hosting me so well. I had a truly wonderful time.

Jan’s wonderful studio, with some explorations laid out on the table

 

Some of Jan’s beautiful work in her studio

I am now back in Halifax – arrived last night, after a somewhat fraught, and far longer than necessary, journey.
I enjoyed meeting so many of people who had been eying my work for a while. Your appreciation fills my heart.  Some of you had been thinking about getting a custom Onefooter ring made for a while, and I will get busy on making the special one-of-a-kind rings with the the stones you picked at the show.  I look forward to it!

And then I will start thinking about getting ready for the equally fabulous CircleCraft Market, which will take place in downtown Vancouver’s Convention Centre, November 8 – 12.

Because I make every single piece by hand, it will take 3 months to prepare! I also have my over 30 galleries to consider, of course. So: it’ll be a busy next few months before I return to Vancouver.

November 8-12, 2017

See you November 8th!

Appreciate

I have quite a few Onefooters with genuine gemstones with me this year

The first weekend of Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver just ended, and there are now a couple of days of rest for the artisans, while other activities continue at the festival. I look forward to returning on Friday for a last few days, before heading back to Nova Scotia.

I always enjoy the great interest my work provokes here on the West Coast. It is a joy to meet the many people a beautiful, well organized event such as Harmony Arts (and CircleCraft in November!) draw. And I love being amongst peers whose work I truly appreciate.

People here at Harmony often are surprised that I come this far for a show – all across the country. The reason I do is because it is an excellent one – the competition to be able to exhibit here is fierce, and thus only the best work are shown, handcrafted under the highest standards. As a result, all the artisans exhibiting are amongst the best in their field – I love showing my work alongside such excellence. 

Tent after tent of excellent work

Speaking of high standards, though – there is one I wanted to bring up here.

As an artist rings tends to be my favourite ‘canvas’ for working in precious metals. When I bring these pieces before clients, I find it astonishing what prejudices folks have, particularly women, about their hands. Too long, too short, too fat (I advocate against this word in any case), too skinny. There is so little appreciation for one’s hands! The labour they might have gone through to make them the way they are, or our ancestral inheritances that might shape them. My own hands have aged hugely, after over a decade of working metals and hand tools, and being in dirt and water through my love of culinary arts and its accompanying perils.

Travelling for work as I am by coming to the West Coast for HAF, I sometimes fall out of my routines. One of these is that, at home, I have a daily dose of anti-inflammatory turmeric paste. I have really noticed a difference: rings that normally fit me, no longer go over my knuckles, now that I am not taking the paste. So if you have trouble with knuckles, and even if you don’t – consider trying this ancient remedy. I mix two thirds water with one third organic turmeric powder, and bring it to a boil with some black pepper (tells the liver not to discard the turmeric), and a good bit of coconut oil (as the delivery method to the cells). Boil while stirring, to make a paste.  Then store this paste in your fridge, taking a daily tablespoon of it (careful, as it acts as a blood thinner). You can add it to your oatmeal, or make ‘golden milk’ with a milk-type beverage of your choice and a touch go honey. Sometimes I add tea masala (‘chai spice’) to mine, or simply a dash of cardamom.

Thought I’d share this (my links are only examples; experiment!).

Mainly I want to send a message today for people to please appreciate their hands. Love them for all they are. Particularly if they are not currently causing you pain, and if they function well. Be grateful.

See you again Friday, Vancouver!

Come see me this weekend before I head back to Nova Scotia

WestVancouver – here I come!

I have just returned from my annual meditation retreat in the gorgeous Nova Scotia countryside. Thus I am refreshed and renewed to pack my bags and head across the country for the annual Harmony Arts Festival.

Our ten-day retreat at Dorje Denma Ling was magical

I have been to this delightful festivals on the shores in West Vancouver several times, and always enjoy it tremendously. The setting of Ambleside Park is gorgeous, with a clear view of the Lion’s Gate bridge, Stanley Park, and Vancouver city across the water. There is live music on several stages all day long, and the offerings of the food vendors are always delicious. Not to mention the amazing artisans which I find myself amongst: the best art and fine craft from across the country can be found at Harmony Arts Festival – it is always an honour to be amongst them. 

I have been playing with new stones for my Onefooter rings; come early for the best selection!

Newest Onefooters include some delightful fancy shapes

The festival runs two weekends;  I am considering taking a break next year, so come on out to see me this year! The hours are as follows:

First Weekend

  • Friday, August 4 2–9 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 5 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 6 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
  • Monday, August 7 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Second Weekend

  • Friday, August 11 2 –9 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 12 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 13 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Can’t wait – see you there!

See you soon at Harmony Arts festival in West Van’s waterfont near 16th Street!

Just a lil’ bit MapleLeaf proud

Today is the anniversary of my arrival in Canada. I am very aware that many, many people were here before me, and that many people were here long long before the colonial settlers.

The earliest carbon-dated Mi’kmaw artefacts date back to 12,700 BCE . Indigenous settlements have been present what will become Nova Scotia since 9,000 BCE.  There were many confederations before the one we will be celebrating as “Canada 150” tomorrow.

As early as the year 796 CE, the Three Fires Confederacy is formed by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi nations.  The Iroquois Confederacy was formed in 1142, followed but the Wabanaki Confederacy in 1606. And finally, the Dominion of Canada is formed in 1867 – which brings us to Canada 150.

This is a real maple leaf, which I kept in a resealable bag in the fridge for days to try and get this photo correctly; it was hard to make the leaf stand up next to the rings Phew!

I am an immigrant to Canada, this is my country of choice. Not because I had to leave the country I was living in, like so many who have made Canada their home. Rather, I ended up here simply because the wind kind of blew me this way, and I stayed (I wrote about it here). I have raised my daughters here, acquired my degree in jewellery design, and have built a career and a life. I live here.

My beautiful and silly daughters were born here

Of course I have mixed feelings about many aspects of my new country of choice. But I also have love for it. It’s like family – it’s not all pretty. I arrived on June 30th 1989, precisely 28 year ago today, thinking I was going to stay for 6 months. And then I stayed another six months, and another, and so forth.

I took a long time before finally actually becoming Canadian (over 20 years as a landed immigrant), but when I finally did, I created a series of rings to celebrate: the MapleLeaf Series. And in celebration of my 28th anniversary of arriving at these very shores, as well as Canada’s 150th ‘birthday’, I have decided to lower the prices of my sterling silver  MapleLeaf and MapleWrap rings for the next six months. Happy Canada 150 y’all!

The MapleLeaf Series rings have the imprint of real leaves in the surface. These are now marked down to $75 each (half of 150 … get it?)!

The MapleWrap series rings are a bit wilder – each is made uniquely from a fresh leaf – on sale now for $125

They make great wedding bands in gold!

Speaking of wedding bands ….

Sweet, eh?

Quality

I have just returned from a quick and exhausting trip to Las Vegas, where the world of jewellery just convened for several of North America’s biggest tradeshows.

If you follow my blog, you will also know that I was, of course, going to be looking for some good food, away from the strip. And I found it! I had an amazing Omakaze (the Japanese version of a  tasting menu) at Raku Grill in Chinatown.

I highly recommend you make the trek out to eat here

And I really enjoyed the very relaxed and super delicious raw bar Other Mama

octopus, shrimp and halibut ceviche – very well paired with the crunch of these house-made sweet-potato chips

Oh and I happened to come across a tiny lobster shack, that served sustainable seafood (if, indeed, there is such a thing), and I had to have me some Cape Breton lobster – not the most environmentally friendly thing, but worth it for its weirdness of time and place.

Lobester in Vegas??

But mostly I was walking these shows. I know it sounds like fun and games to go to Vegas, but this was fairly intense. Sadly, I spent almost the entire time indoors in huge air conditioned halls. Only this morning, on departure day, did I catch a few rays pool-side for literally 25minutes, just for good measure. But that’s ok – I was there to learn!

My one glimpse of this hotel from the outside, taken just this morning

Seeing these shows can be overwhelming. Most everything is machine made, and most of this, oversees. In styles that haven’t changed much. Diamond-encrusting is still high on the list.
It can be tough not to loose heart; it certainly made me feel very small!

The Couture show ended in a sparkling awards ceremony, the “Oscars of Jewelry”, here honouring industry great, London’s Stephen Webster, who came in person to accept the award.

Part of these shows present gems and tools, and supplies. I took the opportunity to talk to many packaging suppliers. It was great to see and feel the materials in person. 

I always fall for the food-named colours

Another highlight were of course the rooms full of gem dealers. Some of them literally had piles and piles of gems. One merchant proudly told me he wheeled in 36 sacks full of gems.

cart-loads of gems

I really had a hard time looking at such a plethora of gems; it made me sad, somehow. It also made me realize once gain how hugely the quality varies, and how grateful I am for having a bond of trust with reliable and certified gem merchants Martine and Benedicte of Pierres de Charme. 

This was in Glenn’s booth – a photo of one of is rough stones ‘before and after’ he has applied his craftmanship

One booth stood out in particular; only few gems were on display, but each one was exquisite. As I started talking to the vendor, I quickly realized that the in fact cuts every single one of these gems himself, after carefully choosing the best roughs he can find. Glenn Preus also never uses any kind of treatment on the stones; all colours are absolutely natural – a very rare find. Such stones are, of course, very very much more expensive than those that are cut overseas for volume and price point.

What is it that appeals to one about something that is brought forth from natural material with skill and with tenderness and appreciation, even love? It speaks to us in a different way. I fell in love with these stones, which are simply exquisite. Each have their own expression, and such fire, from each and every facet being placed just so

Really a true pleasure to meet this artist of stone cutting. We formed a bond through our mutual passion hand crafting

I really don’t quite know yet what I can do with these exquisite stones, but I am very excited that, after hours of deliberating, I am bringing them home with me. I will have them with me at shows, and perhaps someone will fall in love with them as I did, and have me set one.

Well, I am writing this on the plane; I will be back in the studio the rest of this week, and the weekend.

My next gig will be the Avondale Sky Ginger Festival June 17th, and then off to Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver. For all my show dates, check my events page, here