Thursday, 31 January 2013

Ryan Gosling Loves Canadian Jewellery. Ryan Gosling Loves You.

Seems like forever ago that people started talking about the SNAG conference coming to Toronto.

The last time SNAG rolled into town, WHAM!, Starship, Chaka Khan, A-Ha, and Madonna ruled the charts.  My best piece of jewellery at the time was likely my round Madonna button....the one with her lacy, mesh black fingerless gloves...oh yes, it was 1985.

The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) hasn't held a conference in Canada in a while....and Toronto is welcoming all with an expansive array of events, parties, exhibitions and lectures as part of the festivities.  From the Toronto International Jewellery Festival website:

"The SNAG annual three-day conference attracts up to 1000 makers, educators, students, gallery owners, curators and collectors in jewellery, design and metalsmithing from across North America and beyond. SNAG brings together artists of all levels of experience and across all disciplines to create a passionate and provocative atmosphere for spirited discussion and the exchange of ideas."

To coincide, the launch of a new website, and an online exhibition are currently online.

Thoughtfully curated by colleague, Paul Mc Clure of Toronto, and jewellery gallery owner and supporter, Noel Guyomarc'h of Montreal, this beautiful online exhibition features contemporary Canadian jewellery artists from coast to coast.

Leading up to the Toronto International Jewellery festival, happening this Spring, it will coincide with the Snag conference to celebrate all things jewellery in the city.

I was happy to be a part of the online exhibition and hope that some of you can make it to some of the exhibitions and events that will be happening in the city.

Here's the link.

Oh, and Ryan....

This site is pretty fun I made one to celebrate the Toronto International Jewellery
Festival.  If you make one, drop me a note and let me know!

Ryan Gosling Hey Girl

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

William Notman take my hand.....

The Bounce, Montreal Snowshoe Club.  William Notman. 1886.
Thanks to the Mc Cord Museum Collection.
You know those images that you can't shake.  They linger in your mind, long after the experience has passed.  It's no coincidence that Montreal photographer, William Notman was born in essentially the year of the birth of photography in France, in 1826.  Notman left Scotland in the 1850's and established the largest photography studio in North America.
And he basically created his own version of photoshop, by creating composite photos.  He would photograph people individually, and then cut and paste their images onto pastoral was this technique that allowed him to unite groups of 450 people or more, and this invention of creation proved to be very much in demand.  When families were separated, could not travel vast differences easily, or without incredible expense, Notman had created a way that they could, at the very least be "photographed' together, with his technique.
In 1860, Notman was named photographer to the Queen....his elaborate backdrops and set design were works of art in themselves: sheepskin standing in for snow, coarse salt as snowflakes.  He created other worlds, indoors in the studio, for the comfort of his sitters.
His work is tremendously inspiring to me, and informs much of my romanticised version of Canada.  I'm floored by how strong so many of his images are, and I think they would've been a bit of an idealised, romanticised version of how he viewed Canada at the time.  Immigrating to Canada, with the support of his wealthy Scottish family, Canada must've seemed a very vast, wild and romantic place.  When Notman arrived, 11 years before confederation, in 1856...I wonder if he dared to dream that he would document the building of the Canadian Pacific railway that would unite a whole country.....that would unite us all.





Sunday, 27 January 2013

Irish Folk Furniture....Design week, farewell.

I spent yesterday roaming around the city, which is hosting the International Design Show this weekend....I also walked along Dundas, and popped into all of the shows that I had been wanting to see.  Contemporary, new interior design and concepts at every turn, and it had been a pretty overstimulating day. 
Save for a few inspired pieces that I encountered on my travels, I felt that a lot of these objects were missing a bit of soul and authenticity....I am usually fully captivated by a piece when I know a bit about the maker.  A story about the maker, their history, the intent, the exploration....makes it all that more meaningful to me.
When I lived in Liberty village, my friend and neighbour needed help moving some things around.  One of them was a traditional looking piece, a side board/hutch of sorts, that he looked at and said, "Do you want that thing? I hate it, please if you like it, take it".  It didn't really fit in with a contemporary townhouse, I suppose, but his father had made the whole thing for him, by hand, in his home workshop.  I was shocked that he didn't want to keep it, and gladly took it on as a piece of studio furniture....I was reminded of this story by the piece in the film, it looks very similar.
Irish Folk Furniture is an amazing short film which just took the prize at the Sundance film festival...shot and directed by Tony Donoghue, in the village he grew up in. 
Donoghue had been amazed by a story of a family friend, who had sold her family business, a pub and with it had disappeared a piece of furniture over 150 years old, thrown out by the new owners. 
Purposeful in design, but not always treasured by their owners, many of these furniture pieces were disposed of because their owners see them as symbols of poverty, and not as family heirlooms or a legacy. 
A carpenter in the village has set out to help fix some of these traditional pieces, and after the film screened, apparently many of the farmers have been bringing their furniture to him to this film!


Post image for Watch: Irish Folk Furniture – Success at Sundance

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Cross Country Roadtrip....Capacity opens tonight!

Here is a sneak peek at the work that I am launching tonight, at Capacity.  The media opening is this evening, and then the show opens to the public on Friday.

The show runs all weekend, and I'm hoping you will don toques, mittens, a heavy coat and a flask of something delicious and join us at the Gladstone Hotel, on Queen Street West to celebrate the opening.

I'm launching my Provincial Floral Silhouette Series tonight, featuring the East Coast...stay tuned for Central Canada in the Spring.

But for now, here's a peek!

Anneke van Bommel
New Brunswick Neckpiece. (Purple Violet)
Sterling Silver, Nickel Silver.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Azure Magazine features our show!

Azure magazine featured our show, Capacity for Toronto Design week as the number one pick in their best bets for the week!  Hope you can come by and visit us at some point over the weekend, and check out all of these great projects happening across the city!

Image above: Janet Mac Pherson.

 Here is the link!

Monday, 21 January 2013

The saddest day of the year....


Far From What I Once Was But Not Yet What Im Going To Be

Today is supposed to be the saddest day of the year, according to an arbitrary intersection of all things sad...neglected New Years resolutions, low light levels, the realisation that the holidays are over, the fact that it's a Monday.  I'm not taking the British psychologists word on it though.  I'm declaring it a day for planning.  A chance to step back, and evaluate all of the projects that are wrapping up, new ones that are starting, and my future plans.

Pinned Image

What are you looking forward to this winter?  I'm planning on an adventure to the lake for some skating soon, or sneaking across the road to the park on the flooded baseball field for some moonlight skating and perhaps a flask of something hot and delicious?

It's cold today, but chin up! Rosy cheeks!  We've been spoiled so far this winter being so calm and mild so I'll just leave you with these winter images and I'll be sure to have a cosy night a home maybe making a pot of homemade soup.


Friday, 18 January 2013

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Toronto International Design Week is almost here!

It's that time of the year again.

And ho, boy, I'm really looking forward to the launch this year.

Toronto International Design Week showcases designers newest pieces, products and artwork, at a variety of venues all across the city and generally ends up being a full week of optimisim, promise and discovery.  There is so much to see and experience over the week, and I've had the pleasure of participating over the years in different exhibitions and shows.

This year, my former studio mates, Katherine Morley, and Erin Mc Cutcheon, are co-curating Capacity, an annual, juried exhibition that showcases the work of Canadian female designers.  Both saw a lack of public exposure to female designers in the Toronto scene, and intended to change that with this exhibition. 

I'm very excited to be launching a new series of jewellery, neckpieces which feature dynamic silhouettes of provincial flowers.  Each province gets their own's like a floral roadtrip across the country.  For Capacity, I'll be introducing the East coast: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick neckpieces.

From the website:

"Established in January 2011, CAPACITY was created to provide an opportunity to promote Canadian women designers. Women remain vastly outnumbered by men in most sectors of design, and the curators feel it is important to provide a venue for the work and names of under-represented women professionals to be seen.

At the same time, we have worked to create a resource for both women working in design, and a public curious to discover them.

CAPACITY is an annual exhibition featuring a range of work from both emerging and established designers, and the exhibit has garnered much critical praise and press coverage, and attracted visitors from both within and outside of the design community, from Canada and abroad.

The incredible support from the press and public, combined with a very high number of attendees, convinced us that CAPACITY needed to become an annual

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Ice Worlds, The Glowing Light, and the New Year....

Happy New Year to all!  It was a wonderful break, and I'm looking forward to my first class of the semester tonight, it will be a small intimate group, filled with students that I have taught in the past, so I'm really excited to work with them again.

The holidays were a bit hectic, the City of Craft an overwhelming success and the Mavrick show great fun as well.  It was really nice to meet so many of you, and to connect in's much more meaningful for me to meet people face to face, and It's fun to hear all of your stories. 

A fiddler from Cape Breton who currently lives in Scotland recently visited the studio to collect a special piece for his sweetheart to take back to her for the holidays, I was happy to hear back from him that she was happy with the gift.  It's really great to hear back from people, and the work transforms into its new life, somewhere else.

I've been slowly crawling back to the studio, and am still reluctant to take down my Christmas tree...I'm going to do it this weekend, I swear.  I love turning the lights of the tree and above the fireplace on at night and hiding under my cosy, plaid blanket.

Etsy recently featured my work on their blog, on the main page, a treasury called "Ice Worlds", alluding to the creatures and space of the northern hemisphere.  Admittedly, it's not icy or even chilly in Toronto recently, I went for a run this morning, and everything is a melty mess.

Well, I'm off to the studio, and working towards finishing up some work for the Toronto International Design week which is coming up soon!  I will post some images of the work as it develops!

Here is the etsy blog:


Ice Worlds. Pauliana R.Varragn