West Vancouver

This was my view for most of my time in West Vancouver: my booth at Harmony Arts

I am so excited to be back in the studio after my Vancouver Summer Show, the Harmony Arts Festival. This lovely event is held on the shores of WestVancouver, and includes not only artisans of high calibre, but also lots of live music and many other cultural events.

I just love the festive tents of Harmony

I really have quite the following in Vancouver now, and it is delightful when clients stop by to show me the rings they purchased from me in previous years, or just to say Hi and check in. There are such great stories in connecting with these delightful people! In fact, I am about to publish a guest post of such a story – keep your eyes peeled, it’ll come up soon!

I had had the pleasure to create this very special custom Onefooter ring for this client, who stopped by to show it to me on her hand, and to try on some Apprentice Series rings

I took a bit of time off this year, in between the two weekends, and had a lovely hike in Lynn Valley with my delightful colleague Roberto Fioravanti. I also got to know my booth neighbour Kathleen Tennock who’s work I have been admiring for years. Effie Baker (a native Nova Scotian!) was most kind to me by giving me a ride every single day to and from the show from my AirBnB room, which was not located quite as advertised (it was all the way at Queens Ave and 22nd – not ‘easy walking distance’ to Harmony, as advertised!!).

For those who don’t know: WestVancouver above Marine Drive has a very steep incline. Google Maps tells me that elevation along the 1.5 km from the bottom to the top is 142 metres! It’s great for the thighs to walk up, but down quickly became painful for the shins.

QUITE the hill!

The remote location did give me the unexpected benefit of several ‘sightseeing’ tours through West Vancouver, since the small bus that I took to get to and from the grocery store zigzags through many of the streets above Marine Drive. On these occasions, the disparate collection of houses in this area becomes very evident: what probably used to be cottage country has few of the older quaint homes remaining behind impressive greenery, where most have been replaced with modern, mostly glass & steel mansions.

This is one of the newer WestVan homes – not nearly as steel-and-glass-heavy as most

The good thing about that location was that there was a lovely view of the water ( even IF far in the distance), including during the annual fireworks competition. Growing up, fireworks were something very special in our family – they only occurred on New Year’s Eve, exactly at midnight. And so I associate fireworks with a very festive and elegant feeling – we would drink champagne and -without fail-,  classical music would be playing. To this day I have not figured out how to synch the grandiose fireworks display of Vancouver’s Celebration of Light with the music it is intended to go with – I keep trying! I have downloaded the app, tried to find it on the radio, etc etc.  Can someone point me in the right direction, please? I find fireworks without music just so sad. Fireworks are an art in their own right, and I feel that much is lost if the visual display occurs without the auditory accompaniment.

So if you have figured out how to listen to the music for which each fireworks display is created – by all means, please let me know!

And see you at CircleCraft Market, November 7-11 at Convention Centre West, downtown Vancouver! 

Summer Shows Coast-to-Coast!


I am delighted to introduce a new design of earrings this summer, which will launch Coast-to-Coast this weekend! First, at the CraftNS show in downtown Halifax (Victoria Park, corner Spring Garden and South Park Streets):

Friday, July 20 – 10am to 8pm

Saturday, July 21 – 10am to 6pm

Sunday, July 22 – 10am to 5pm

and then August 3-6 and 10-12 at the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver

Fridays •  2pm to 9pm

Weekends • 11am to 9pm

sterling silver in 3 finishes – in this case, with 24k gold

These small stud earrings were inspired by space – galaxies and black holes. Even as a child, I was fascinated by the scale of things. I often imagined being a tiny speck inside a huge being, and then thought about each tiny blood cell inside my own body.

These earrings to me highlight that idea: in them, you could see an entire universe, yet they are tiny. They might be a black hole, holding all of space inside of them.

I hope that they will delight you! Come see them on the East Coast or the West Coast this summer. And they’ll be on the website soon.

The new birthstone rings with genuine gemstones make excellent stackers!

Of course I will have with me again more ‘bling rings’ in the Onefooter Series – lots of special gems. I have not had a chance to update the website – come see for yourself!
I am also finally bringing Onefooter hoop earrings. And of course the Apprentice Series rings containing genuine birthstones for every month. These are a great steal right now – don’t miss the opportunity!

On Excellence: An Ode to Joe

I am not a food writer. All I know is that Chef Joe MacLellan makes food that completely blows my socks off.
And he will no longer be doing this (for now). And that makes me super sad.

photo of chef Joe MacLellan by Jessica Emin

Joe has been the chef of the tasting menus at Halifax’s The Kitchen Table for a number of years.  There, he combined his love for this province and the ‘ingredients’ it has to offer, with precise craftsmanship and an incredible knack for ‘cooking’ – its flavours, textures, colours.  He brings things to life.  I can’t figure out what it is, except that it moves me.

Lightly smoked salmon, charred pickled shallot, chanterelle yogurt, kale chips. photo from FB

What is cooking? Simply said, cooking might be understood to be merely a combination of ingredients and timing. What makes chefs like him different?

The example that comes to mind is the type of contemplative archery which I practice, called Kyudo: achieving perfect balance by connecting deeply to the ground and at the same time directly to the sky, the heavens,
while being completely in the present to release the arrow.
That’s how Joe’s cooking feels.

Perfect execution. Photo by Jessica Emin

He is an artist – a fellow creative.
Being creative requires a certain amount of courage. This courage is based either on self confidence, or on the fervent desire to go beyond. To work harder. To do it better.

Successful artists and artisans and sometimes entrepreneurs … have this.

Handcrafted food: Butter. Photo by Jessica Emin

Ideally, truly creating something extraordinary comes from applying thorough craftsmanship and tremendous exertion, while being completely open – unconstrained by convention.

This thing – it may move you to tears. It’ll most certainly make you sigh, and maybe look to heaven.

Chef Joe MacLellan has that.

I first see it in the plating, I feel it in the textures, and then I taste it in all its complexity: that passion for perfection. Its answer is right there: perfect balance. Every time.

Meticulously handcrafted, perfect balance. Every time. photo from FB

I am not sure what Joe’s plans are after he has served the last tasting menu at The Kitchen Table at the end of this week. Hopefully an angle investor will scoop him up.  Hopefully in Halifax.

All I know is that I will treasure every bite even more tomorrow night, my last meal there. 

Chef Joe MacLellan ready for service at The Kitchen Table dining room

Thank you for bringing world class cuisine to Halifax, chef Joe MacLellan, and for opening my  sense perceptions to a whole new realm. You totally rock.  I wish you all the very, very best: may your tremendous talent and deep commitment to excellence find most fertile ground!

Maritime Made

I had the great fortune to hear singer songwriter Lesley Feist in concert this weekend here in Halifax. What an incredible show!

Feist in Halifax on Friday

I have been a listening to her music for a couple of decades.  I am just so deeply impressed how this artist has not let anyone pigeonhole her. Her musical style keeps changing as she evolves as a person. Her latest record, Pleasure, has an unexpected rawness both in musical style and in recording ‘technique’.  Last night’s performance was so incredibly alive, so fresh – this artist was not simply rattling off songs she’s been playing over and over, but she seemed to very much inhabit the space, and truly BE with her audience in the most genuine way.

Come take a peak inside the studio

The fantastic performance made me think deeply about my own creative process.  I want to write further about this, but first, I thought you might enjoy seeing what the other side of that spectrum looks like: what do I do in my studio day in and day out?

Some of you may have seen my Nova Scotia Craft Council Instagram takeover last week in lead-up to our Halifax Summer Show July 20-22.  That Instagram take-over gave a look into my studio and what goes on there in the course of a day – the various tasks that get done, processes, tools, and so on.

If you’d like to have a further look into the studio, check out an episode which was filmed about me by Maritime Made. This Eastlink TV series is kind of like our very own ‘How It’s Made’.  It highlights a broad variety of products which are made here in the Maritimes, and shows how they are made. I have seen several crafters on this show, including Alissa Kloet of Keephouse.  I was delighted to be featured. How do I make a Onefooter ring? Well let me show you!  

A Onefooter starts by cutting a one-foot length of precious metal

Exhale

The final part of the trip consisted of a wild and very wet motor-boat ride

I snuck away.

Very far away.

An almost silly 30 hours travel far away,
to the remote lake Atitlan in rural Guatemala.

This was our ridiculously gorgeous view of Lake Atitlan

A friend of a friend had moved there, among a fairly well represented expat US/Canadian community. Otherwise, I probably would have spent the rest of my life never knowing about this magical place.

The view from the outdoor ‘livingroom’ of our AirBnB casita

The area around lake Atitlan is a surprisingly well-adjusted mix of expats and locals: on one hand, the old and new-age hippies who came here maybe for a week or two, and didn’t leave, and on the other the amazing local people of Mayan decent. The latter being the kindest and most open-hearted people I have met in a long time.

The curious texture and pattern of hand-thatched roofs

This was to be a family trip, but for various reasons became a mother-daughter trip of myself and my eldest daughter, now 25. Surprisingly, we found each other’s company delightful almost all of the time. Some things that had needed to be said for a while came to the surface, and we learned a lot about each other.

We enjoyed eating the delicious Guatemalan snacks

 

“Eating local” takes on a different meaning in that climate

We flew on points and stayed at an AirBnB, mostly making our own meals, which made the whole thing very affordable – and quite rustic, with an outdoor kitchen/dining room, frequented by nightly visits of a variety of wildlife. Even cooking your own meals becomes challenging when food and water is generally contaminated – a humbling experience.

While this is still a developing country, one could spend surprising amounts of money staying on the lake’s shores, if you’d like to ‘cleanse yourself’ in one of the new-age high-end resort-type hotels complete with reiki, yoga, and other healing ‘solutions’. 

But we just hung out in the sun, read, talked, went for hikes through the jungle trails and along treacherous cliff-side paths on the steep volcano sides, and ate – which both my daughter, a chef, and I enjoy.

 I don’t think I will take the exhausting journey again, but it sure was gorgeous.
 I had a birthday while there, and going out on the lake with my adult daughter in kayaks before the sun rose, watching the sun rise behind volcanic mountain ranges and over the calm lake, was definitely a memorable way to celebrate my birthday.

Contemplating the year past, and the one to come

I sure am happy to be back at my bench now, though, and excited to work with gemstones I purchased from my trusted suppliers. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you might get some glimpses of what I am working on!

Look closely to see the little tuft of steam spewing from one of the volcanos at sunrise. The rumbling could be felt often

 

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