Meet Aryam!

Ah, I am finally back in the studio. Luckily, I have a new sidekick, who held the fort during my absence. Meet Aryam Zubizarreta Perez!

Let me give you a little background:  I started my business in 2005, while still finishing my BFA in jewellery design and metalsmithing from NSCAD University in Halifax. I sold one ring at the school’s student store, then another. Soon, I approached my first gallery, Fireworks Gallery on Barrington street, where my work is sold to this day. Then Galerie Noel Guyomarc’H in Montreal. And so on, and so forth. My children were still little then, and being a mom was my priority. Things grew very organically for quite a while, and after finishing school I eventually started sharing a studio at the Arts Annex on the Halifax waterfront.

In my Arts Annex studio, over a decade ago!

However, a few years ago, I found myself at a juncture where I had to either give up making jewellery, or take it on 200%. I did the latter – jewellery making was going to be my full time – double time, actually! – job, with which I was to independently support myself financially. Yikes!

I worked hard and built the company, doing every single bit myself: the designing and making of jewellery, the graphic design and marketing materials, the travel to shows, lugging the wood, keeping track of inventory, and the bookkeeping.

At some point I started hiring help, just here and there for a few hours. Then I had Kris MacKenzie with me one day a week – we developed a deep friendship over the years that she helped me out in this way. Eventually, I had to face the fact: I needed full time help, and Kris meanwhile had a successful career in CAD/CAM. So I put a job call out on Canada’s job bank, looking for a goldsmith with minimum 5 years experience.

I received many many replies, most of them from outside the country. I followed a couple of leads for some time, but they were not the right fit. And one day, I received Aryam’s application. Aryam was already settled in Halifax, and he was very well trained – just in the wrong field!

This is what he wrote

“I am applying for the position of Jeweller at your Halifax studio. Over the last fifteen years I have worked as an artist, craftsman, and carpenter in both Nova Scotia and Cuba. In Cuba, I studied fine arts, developing skills and experience working in many mediums including jewellery making, ceramics, and glass work. My subsequent work as a luthier and woodworker has shaped my career as an artisan. All of my endeavours have been marked by high levels of responsibility, efficiency, and professionalism. 

There was definitely a learning curve. Some things got melted along the way

I am a motivated self-learner and self-starter and am able to learn and acquire new skills and trades very quickly. I am focused and determined, and am used to working long hours doing fine-tuned and delicate projects. I have exceptional spatial intelligence with the ability to visualize, draw, design, and fabricate high quality handcrafted products with efficiency. I feel confident that the combination of my fine arts training and technical skill-set would make me an excellent candidate for the position of Jeweller at your studio.”

I was baffled. And intrigued. Sometimes, you have to go with your gut, and I did just that when I asked Aryam in for an interview, regardless of the fact that he lacked the appropriate training. Perhaps a ‘blank slate’ was a good thing.

Long story short, this courageous young man started a trial month. And then I hired him.

Aryam did not misrepresent in his application letter – he really is motivated, and he really does work hard. I have been so impressed with his progress, and he has already become an invaluable member of my tiny team of two. I don’t even know how I did it all on my own, before.

We have a little project which he has been working on, which will be revealed soon. Stay tuned!

photo by Grace Laemmler

Meanwhile, in Vermont

If I’ve been a little silent over here of late, it’s because I took off for a bit! Right after New Year’s, I left for Vermont, to apply my creativity in a completely different way: cooking. You might know that I am pretty passionate about food. This, however, is different. I am here to cook for a small meditation retreat. It is wonderfully refreshing to be doing something completely different. Volunteering in my community is important to me, and this is my favourite way to do it.

I have really been getting into colour and texture

The tricky bit about this one are the restrictions: no meat, no onion or garlic, not even leeks. And no chillies. This style of eating is part of many yogic traditions, and it it how monasteries cook.

For me, this challenge highlights where I hide as a cook. Not being able to use onions, especially in vegetarian cooking, isn’t easy. It means I rely a lot on aromatic vegetables such as celery and fennel, as well as citrus and fresh herbs. I do this same gig often at this time of year, and sometimes I have access to excellent produce, even in winter. This time, sadly, that is not so, which makes it harder still. But once you slow down and start to look and feel and smell, you start discovering all kinds of possibilities: Indian curries with their colourful spices, Moroccan cuisine, African stews, and simple vegetarian Italian or French meals. I am having fun with this, and it is refreshing to apply myself to something completely different for a bit.

Sun-coloured Squash Soup with majoram

The contemplative nature of the space is also a very nice change of pace, of course. And the bonus? I get to cook in an amazing kitchen. I am starting to miss my bench, though, and look forward to coming back soon.

I’ve gotta say – I am enjoying my current creative space a lot

I will be back in the studio February 9th. During my absence, my new employee and apprentice Aryam is manning the fort back in the studio. THAT is a whole other story, which I will tell you about in the next post!

New Onefooters with gems coming daily

This is a very busy time of year for use makers.
Now that the shows are finished, I am still finishing more Onefooter rings with gems every day.

I managed to get a few quick photos of the newest additions of Onefooter rings with coloured gem stones. The photo quality isn’t great, but it’ll give you an idea. Have a look here!

Some of the newest ones have the most amazing gems.

I will try to get them all onto the site, including the ones still I had with me at the shows, in the next few days.  If you fell in love with a particular one, and know its OOAK number, just drop me aline and ask if I still have it.

unheated green tourmaline from Maine, hand-cut in Nova Scotia!


yikes what a great sapphire, eh?


This beautiful peridot is from Arizona, hand cut and polished in Nova Scotia


Trunk Show at the Waegwoltic Country Club

Dear friends,

if you are in Nova Scotia, there will be one more chance to come see me and my work: this coming Thursday, December 7th, I will put together a pop-up trunk show at the Waegwoltic in Halifax’s South End (click here for directions). This elegant urban country club will be a delightful setting for such an event, and I am really looking forward to meeting you in its relaxed atmosphere. Normally, the club is open only to member. However, for this event, anyone can come in (free of charge of course). Drop by between 4pm and 8pm.

I will certainly have my jewellery with me, including MapleLeaf rings in gold and silver, and many one-of-a-kind Onefooter rings with special gems.  This will be a last time to decide on one of those, before most of them go to Toronto into the shopAGO.
For Thursday’s event, I have an added treat in store :

have you seen these short videos? They lightly illustrate a bit about what inspires me and how I work. And they also feature a very special instrument, listen:

What you hear is the traditional Swedish instrument nyckelharpa. The musician playing for the videos, Symphony Nova Scotia violinist Kirsty Money, will join me on Thursday from 5-6pm with her own nyckelharpa, so play some music and to introduce you to this unusual instrument. Come for 4pm and enjoy a complimentary glass of wine (offered from 4 to 5pm, only), stay to hear Kirsty play, and visit with me. The dining room will be open, so you could plan on staying for dinner if you like. Their menu is here.

Looking forward to seeing you Thursday!



If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you will know that I just finished a series of shows across the country: first Vancouver, then Toronto, and finally Halifax.

The transformation of an empty convention centre hall into a glimmering craft show never seizes to amaze me

It is a curious thing: to take the artist out of her studio and put her smack in the middle of a bustling holiday craft fair. The contrast is more startling than you can imagine: from the quiet solitude of the studio into the midst of thousands of people coming through the door every day as they are at CircleCraft.

Photographer Grace Laemmler captured well the quiet solitude of the artist in the studio

But I enjoy it tremendously. I love to talk about my work, I am always curious to meet people. This year, several people who had been thinking about it for years (since they first saw the banners with my work, all the way across Cambie Bridge), finally took the plunge and are having me make them custom rings, which is exciting. Most of all, I love watching the delight my pieces can bring to clients.  In Vancouver, I had a particularly interesting experience in this regard. Let me tell you about it.

My festive booth at CircleCraft this year

I often talk about the fact that, with each and every ring being unique and different, the ring often ‘finds the finger’ – meaning that some rings are made for a certain person, and when they slip that ring on their finger, something clicks.

This young woman came up to the booth, we chatted briefly about how I use a one foot length of gold, which I then forge along its length, before letting it find its way around the finger again and again. She slipped the ring on her finger, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see it: the slight slump in posture, when a person tries on the ring that is made for them.  The tiniest exclamation of “Oh!” came from her lips. This was a match, there was no doubt in my mind.

Now – this young lady clearly had had no intention of buying herself anything, never mind a gold and diamond ring. And I am never pushy about selling. So, despite the obvious strong connection, she put the ring back in my tray, and went on her way. But she couldn’t leave it. When, a couple of hours later, she finally decided to simply take the plunge, we both were so touched that we almost wept.

Such Joy!

It was a truly special moment. I know that this ring will bring Miss A happiness as much as a physical object can. And I am so happy to have been there for this very special moment.
I have another such amazing story, but that one is a secret yet.

I have finished with my shows for now, and only have one more event coming up: an intimate showing at Halifax’s Waegwoltic Club, on Thursday, December 7th, 4-8pm. If you are in Halifax, by all means, come join us. The Club is usually closed to visitors, but this will be an exception. 

And if you are in British Columbia, I will have work in an exhibition in Richmond, along with several peers and some former professors: Canada 150 Art Jewellery Show will have their Opening Reception on November 30 at 6:30 pm at Mings Diamond in Lansdowne Centre. It is always an honour for my work to be shown alongside such amazing artists and luminaries, including Charles Lewton Brain, and two Governor General Award-winning jewellers! The show will run until December 31.

Some amazing names to be amongst