Vancouver Island born Erika Lauren began making jewellery in 2009 as a creative outlet during University. Soon friends and family began asking her to make pieces for them and Erika Lauren Design was born.
However, it was a small bag of naturally shed porcupine quills that were gifted to her by a family friend that would become the heart and soul of her work. Being curious about all things, Erika quickly took to the design challenge and created what is now her best-selling porcupine quill collection.
Erika Lauren Design is committed to using materials to create jewellery that is as sustainable as it is sophisticated. Erika’s work has been recognised in numerous international fashion magazines and she has been shown at New York Fashion Week and Vancouver Fashion Week.
See more of Erika's beautiful jewellery HERE
We are writing this article to ask you to please consider supporting these wonderful B.C. Artists and other local businesses before you spend all of your Christmas shopping budget at big box stores.
We believe that one way you can help is to consider buying locally produced goods and services. Below is a short list of reasons to support local, handmade goods.
1. Locally crafted work is unique! Unlike items made in a far off factory; local crafts people make work that is individual and one-of-a-kind. This does not just apply to a magnificent vase or a glass bowl. Even with a humble coffee mug, every piece has a very slight difference. When just one person or a husband & wife team makes an item the numbers are by the nature of the process – small. It’s great to have or give as a gift something that is genuinely unique and locally made.
2. Local artists produce work of excellent quality. They always take personal pride in their handmade work. I have yet to meet an artist who was not passionate about their work! From potters to glass artists to textile makers – this is their life and they are justly proud of their work. If treated well, much of this work can last a lifetime. How many things can you say that about in our society today? How many of those ‘bargain’ mass produced items last more than a few years?
3. Save money! Contrary to what some people believe, buying directly from the artist at a craft fair, market, or their local studio can often cost less than buying a mass produced item from a department store. Reduced transportation costs, no middle men, and modest advertising budgets help to keep costs down.
4. Local artists do really care about customer service! The artists are available to repair, alter, clean or replace your purchase if you should ever need this service. They are genuinely interested to help if there is ever a problem. You never, ever need to speak with a remote customer service person.
5. Personal service is very important to local artists. Many artists will custom make work to your specification. If you need a gift for a special occasion then very often the artist will be happy to make it to your requirements.
6. You can start your own personal art collection with a small budget. We recently had a nice young couple visit our Studio to purchase some Robert Held glass heart paperweights (which start at $45). They were glass heart collectors – and were excited to see some new styles that they could add to their collection! If you are on a budget you can collect individual pieces over time. Many of our customers collect pottery, jewellery, glass art & more!
7. Shopping locally helps your local economy. By supporting local artists it keeps money in the community and ensures that hard learned skills are alive for future generations.
8. Go green and help your local environment! Local arts & crafts produce a minimal carbon footprint – little transportation is involved. Conservation is important to all of us. Much of what local artists use is recycled – including what little packaging is ever used!
9. Fun and Learning. It really can be a fun shopping experience – you get to meet or learn about the artist, find out about their skills, and how they make their work. It’s impressive how much time and effort goes into a single piece. So take some time to visit your local artist’s studio or gallery, or local craft show. It can be great fun! You can check Meetup.com for local art appreciation groups in your area. If you are in Victoria there is an arts & crafts meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/Meetup-art-group-of-Victoria-BC/ The Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria is a great resource as well: http://www.cacgv.ca/
10. Supporting your local community. A locally handmade gift reflects the community and region in which it was made. It has greater relevance for the person who purchased it, and to the person to whom the gift is given. Thank you for taking the time to read our top ten reasons to shop local this Christmas. We would love to hear from you! What will you do to support local this holiday season? Finally, if you would like some suggestions or gift ideas please see our blog here; Gift Suggestions.
If you are short on time, then you can 'Buy on Line' and 'Pick up in Store'.
Please share with us in the comments below. From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Sue & Nigel Hayes
Dichroic Glass Jewelry By Peggy Brackett Of Kiln Art Glass Studio
My glass jewellery starts out as large 18 x 18 sheets of opaque, transparent and dichroic glass which I cut, piece and layer to create designs which I fuse (melt) together in an electric kiln at about 1500 degrees F.
After the sheet is fused and slow cooled, I re-cut, grind and drill the pieces. All of the drilling and grindings is done under water with special diamond bit tools. Then I return these pieces to the kiln and re-fuse them.
I make many of my own findings, e.g pendant bails, necklace extensions, fancy ear wires etc. I also use commercial high-quality findings such as basic ear wires.
The findings I use are chosen or created to be an element of the overall design of the piece, but are intended mostly to showcase the glass-work. All of the designs are my own. Kiln art Dichroic (Die-crow-ik) glass is glass that has a very fine layer (about 3 microns) of metal fused to its surface.
Different metals in different combinations create the beautiful colours that you see. I also use glass stringers (‘vermicelli’ shaped/sized glass), glass powders, metal foils and surface manipulation of the dichro etc to augment my designs.
My creative instincts have their roots in my family home in Port Townsend, Washington. My father is a writer, and our house was always filled with artists. I grew up surrounded by painters, musicians, writers, and ceramists. That early exposure to a wide variety of creative disciplines had a strong impact on my aesthetic sensibilities.
I first studied Art History at Western Washington University, and then moved to Victoria, BC to continue my education at the University of Victoria. Later, I made the decision to move to Toronto so that I could attend the Ontario College of Art and Design University. I completed four years of studies in art.
I didn’t find my passion for metal and fire until years later when I took my first silversmith course. The inherent dichotomy of metal work remains deeply satisfying. The sterling silver is rigid, but with the right tools and techniques it becomes very malleable. Creating handcrafted jewelry requires strength, sometimes brute force, and delicacy of hand. The masculine of fire and hammers becomes the feminine of the jewelry itself.
Although I am an emerging silversmith, I have participated in a number of art festivals and markets in British Columbia including the following:
My work may be found at Side Street Studio in Oak Bay B.C.!
I live and work in Richmond, BC.
A Guide for Men: Top 10 Gift Ideas for Women
Most men if they are honest will tell you that they hate going shopping. With the approach of the holiday season, the very idea of heading to the mall with their wife or partner fills so many men with dread! It is a syndrome often called 'Death by shopping'; just look at these poor men.......
The very idea of trying on clothes, or wandering around aimlessly (women call it browsing), is simply ‘unnatural’ to men. Shopping malls are not designed for us – it can well be the worst torment that a man could experience. Men generally like to plan their purchase and then get in and out of the store as quickly as possible; 10 – 15 minutes and we’re done. This is illustrated in this popular ‘Men vs. Women’ shopping graphic:
It is often suggested, possibly correctly, that men’s and women’s minds are wired differently – something to do with the male ‘hunter’ instinct, and the female ‘gather’ dynamic so to speak. To women, shopping is a social experience to be enjoyed, but for men, it is a task to be accomplished – the faster, the better. So that’s it – as a male, I can tell you it is a dreadful experience that we wish to avoid at all costs... A little like listening to the Pogues, or Justin Bieber, or watching “The View”.
So when you need gift ideas for the women in your life… What should you do? In this internet age, there is a solution! At Side Street Studio we literally have hundreds of gift items that will appeal to most females – including girlfriends, wives and most importantly Mums (I will avoid daughters as they are simply too difficult). To help you make that purchase easier, you can order Jewellery online and we will GIFT WRAP it for you for Free, and ship it to wherever and to whomever you wish.
If you live in the Greater Victoria area, and you have left your gift buying until the last minute, you have the option to ORDER ONLINE and PICK UP your purchase at our STUDIO in Oak Bay Village – we will aim to have it ready for you in two hours. We will be open until 1.00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Here are our recommendations for Top 10 Gift Ideas for Women:
For your girlfriend, wife or Mum, jewellery is always well received – even for that ‘Someone who has everything’ (there is always someone). A Honica necklace or earrings are stylish and beautiful. Our client’s tell us they always receive compliments when they wear their Honica jewellery.
We have a fantastic artist, Alvaro Sanchez who creates some of the most beautiful and stylish work in B.C. You can see more of his work HERE
If these don’t appeal, we have more jewellery choices than you could shake a Gold Amex card at – all handmade with love right here in B.C. You can see the wide variety of jewellery we offer here: http://www.sidestreetstudio.com/collections/jewellery
What’s the best way to avoid that dreaded question, “Does this make me look fat?” The answer is scarves! With scarves, one size fits all, and there are many ways to wear them. We have a variety of unique styles from felted scarves to pure silk scarves. They are a wonderful, versatile gift! We have a good number of local textile Artists who create a superb range of scarves. You can see some of the styles we offer HERE:
3/ Glass Art
For the romantically inclined, Robert Held, one of Canada’s foremost glass artists creates a wide range of unique Glass Heart Bowls, Vases, Paperweights and more. Each one is signed by Bob and is unique. You could write a handwritten card with a note such as, “I give you my heart.” This will be sure to melt her heart when she opens your thoughtful gift.
If you appreciate the cook in your life, treat her to a unique piece of pottery! We have casserole dishes, jugs, baking dishes, pie plates, pitchers and glasses. All of our pottery is handmade in B.C. by a great group of Artists. Items are oven, dishwasher and microwave safe.
5/ Sewing accessories
Perhaps your intended or partner is keen on sewing, needlework or knitting. Wray Parsons is a micro wood turner who has been creating the most magnificent pieces for decades – from needle holders with strong rare earth magnets, to scissors of Italian steel together with cases of various local woods from Pacific Yew to Yellow Cedar Burl.
Tiny thimble holders, magnetic pin holders or tape measures in the shapes of Acorns – most are individually signed by Wray and are practical and true keepsakes.
6/ Handmade Padraig Wool Slippers
Padraig wool slippers have been handmade in Vancouver for almost 40 years. They are classics and quite simply the best slipper in the world. The sheepskin interior sole makes them super warm and comfortable. We have a huge range of sizes and colours that will fit ‘bigfoot’ to the smallest ‘twinkle toes’.
7/ Keepsake Books & Cards by Charles Van Sandwyk
Side Street Studio has an enormous collection of Charles Van Sandwyks cards and books - truly beautiful illustrations with wonderful stories that are appreciated by all. Charles’ Christmas book, ‘The Unexpected Gift’ is about the importance of connecting to those we care about - without the electronic devices of the world. Christmas is a wonderful time to do just that. If you have children or grandchildren, Mom or Grandmother will truly appreciate the opportunity to create a new Christmas tradition by reading this imaginative story as a family.
8/ Wood Chopping Boards and Serving Platters
These beautiful, one-of-a-kind wood chopping boards are made on Vancouver Island by Detlef Grundmann These are beautiful & useful handcrafted chopping boards. Made on Vancouver Island by Detlef Grundmann from locally grown Maple, Cherry & Black Walnut woods. Length: 12 inches by width: 9 inches by 3/4 inch thick. Food safe. Well cared for this board should last a lifetime.
9/ Apple Design Teapot
If your lady is an avid tea drinker, why not get her a unique handmade teapot? Jack Olive's beautiful pottery uses a distinctive multi-glazing technique and has a unique look. He discovered that rich, layered ceramic glazes are particularly useful in creating a sense of depth in design.
10/ Hand Made Soap & more!
Luxurious, natural soap made from organic vegetable oil with 5 handmade bars of Ylang Ylang/Patchouli, Fir/Eucalyptus/Cinnamon, Lemongrass, Lavender/Bergamot, Mint/Tee Tree. Strung on a Hemp rope. Undo the knot, use one and hang the others up to make your bathroom, closet etc always smell good. By Kama Soap
Take a moment and look at some of the other perfect gift ideas for women, from handcrafted jewellery boxes, to locally made pure & natural soap, to our BC Art. Side Street Studio has more than 15,000 items all handcrafted in BC - so if you cannot find something then ……..maybe it doesn’t exist
Did we mention you can order Jewellery online and we will GIFT WRAP it for you for FREE, and ship it to wherever and to whomever you wish? Just get in touch and we can make it happen! 250- 592-1262.
As a reminder, if you live in the Greater Victoria area, and you find you have left your gift buying until the last minute, you have the option to ORDER ONLINE and PICK UP your purchase at our studio in Oak Bay Village – we will aim to have it ready for you in two hours.We will be open until 1.00 pm on Christmas Eve.
So that’s it; problem solved – at least for another year. (phew)
Side Street Studio
Oak Bay Avenue, Victoria, B. C. Canada
PS. And for that ‘particular’ person may I recommend ‘Bitchy Babe’ from our ‘Soulful Sister’ Aromatherapy Collection.
Finally...a huge thanks to Nick York of www.exclusivepixmedia.co.uk for his kind permission to use three of his great pictures of 'men suffering' under the shopping experience! Nick denies that he is featured in any of the pictures but knows the feeling too well..... :)
Patsy writes, "I turn stories into metal. Making jewellery allows me to transform life's amazing moments into wearable art pieces. Using contemporary techniques in the ancient art of enamelling I get to explore colour, pattern, and love stories through intricate metalwork".
"My inspiration is all around me - the vibrant colours of blooming flowers, the detailed patterns on a swatch of fabric, and that moment when your breath escapes you because you see something you love".
"My absolute favourite thing to do is to be at my bench designing and making jewellery with my two hands. I am invested in the art of handmade, and in adding beauty to this world"
"My jewellery work is heavily focused on pattern and colour. In 2012 I was invited to do a 2-month artist residency in Renkum, Holland".
"Since then my work has been very influenced by the bright colours of the gardens that bloomed outside of my workbench and the sea of jewel tones that captivated me when I biked through the tulip fields. I use a process of silk-screening to get the detailed patterns onto my pieces with enamels".
"Silk screening is usually a technique used in textile work and has taken me great patience, practice, and time to perfect in metal work. In the spring of 2014, I was the Touchstone Center for Crafts scholarship recipient, which allowed me to attend a 3-day workshop at Touchstone on Imagery in Metalwork".
"It was there that I learnt how to use decals in my enamel work and have since been able to combine vintage floral decals with my ornate silk-screened patterns. My copper line is also inspired by my time in Europe. I fell in love with all of the rusty metal and red brick architecture".
"I use my favourite hammers to get the texture onto the copper and a process of heating and quenching the metal to achieve one of a kind colours".
Patsy’s lovely work may be found at;
Side Street Studio. http://www.sidestreetstudio.com/collections/patsy-kay-kolesar-design
Beautiful Hand Made Silver Jewelry from Saltspring Island
Alvaro Sanchez was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he studied design, music and architecture.
Since leaving Argentina he has lived in almost every country in Latin America until 1990 when he established residence on Saltspring Island, British Columbia. As a self-taught silversmith Alvaro has gathered influences, techniques and inspiration from the ancient and contemporary art of the many cultures he has been immersed in.
His artistic jewellery style has an urban Latin flavour. Using precious metals and natural gems, Alvaro creates beautiful, fine jewellery that is both stylish, unique and very comfortable to wear.
You can see much more of Alvaro's beautiful work at Side Street Studio.