A deep personal transformation led me down a very unexpected path to becoming a jewellery artist. A little over twenty years ago I graduated university with a Bachelor of Science (and a Certificate in Liberal Arts; because why not be well-rounded and under a mound of student loan debt?). I was also working part-time in a well-paid union job that had helped me through university. By all appearances I was set. I had a great part time gig and a promising future in science. But the truth was I was miserable. I was depressed. I couldn't fathom continuing down either of those paths. Neither path felt right. The only thing that drove me and brought me joy was being an artist. But to abandon my schooling & secure job seemed outrageous. I was really stuck. My wonderful partner Kelly said to me "Just quit. It'll be fine." What an enormous relief. This gave me the space to take that huge risk, to abandon my years of training and my job with a pension and follow my heart & passion. So I quit (with possibly the shortest resignation letter ever written: "To whom it may concern, I quit.").
What has made my heart sing from the time I could hold a pencil is making & gifting my art; from my very first drawings to hand-painted t-shirts and shoes, to the very first incarnations of jewellery made with colourful clay. My mum likes to tell this story about the time she took me to visit a mall Santa when I was about five years old. I got all dressed up and brought a basket of handmade paper bookmarks & drawings I had crafted for him. He was kind enough to sit with me as I presented them to him one by one😂
One of my very last classes at university was entomology (the study of insects). I absolutely loved this course and actually ended up working in a honeybee research lab for a while. My imagination was sparked and I started creating curious objects made with insects in resin. These were fun to make but also very limiting in many respects (size & material hazards being particular challenges). I also started taking silversmithing classes around this time and soon these early designs evolved into featuring butterfly and moth wings under resin set in silver frames. I still found this direction very limiting in terms of what I could create so I focused on gemstones and metals next. This turned out to be the sweet spot for me and everything fell into place. These materials really allow me to create freely and as my knowledge of silversmithing grew, my work has became more refined. And as the business has grown, Kelly has been able to leave his career as a chef and join me full time.
Sketches: sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Often I will make sketches of initial design ideas but I do leave room for designs to come together spontaneously while I'm working at my jewellery bench. This is a great excuse for having a messy benchtop! I might not know in the beginning what shape a piece will take but what I do know is the feeling it needs.
Next is hand fabricating. Sawing, texturing, soldering, filing, sanding, polishing, and finally stone setting. These are skills I have honed over the last twenty years of metalsmithing and working at my bench is truly my happy place.
Once the settings are shiny & polished they are ready for stone setting. This is a sometimes nerve-wracking experience because there is always the potential to crack a stone or discover that a setting is just a tiny bit off and the stone doesn't fit. But as my mum used to say, "mistakes are friendly invitations to try again." And I can usually embrace that (after some swearing).
One of a Kind Artisan Jewellery