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..... :)
Sarah writes, “I left the corporate world behind when my family moved from Victoria to Whistler for a one year sabbatical. That one year has turned into six and now Whistler is home for my husband, our two children and I. The natural beauty of the mountains and their ease of access is a daily inspiration”.
“I have collected, played and worked with natural things since I was able to crawl. In my teens and twenties I had a small textile company designing and creating sewn and knitted garments. After 20 years in the nursing and clinical research field, it is with absolute excitement that I am revisiting my creative side in designing and sewing leather and bead wrap bracelets“.
“These leather wrap bracelets are hand crafted using buttons and beads from around the world. I purchase the Karen Hill Tribe silver beads directly from a fair trade company in Thailand. My wide range of wrap bracelets are comfortable enough to wear on a hike but dressy enough to wear out in the evening. An earthy gem stone double wrap can be “blinged-up” by adding a wrap or two of silver, cubic zirconia or onyx. Play around with the colours, textures and sparkle to create your own unique look!”
“Beyond the dream of making jewelry for a living, I’d love to travel the world and personally collect my materials and gems from the international craftsman that cut, shape and mold them!”
“Please take care of your unique piece by not getting it wet, the leather doesn’t like it and neither do some of the gems. Enjoy! ”
See more of Sarah’s fabulous bracelets at www.sidestreetstudio.coml
Monica Bennett writes: “I love colour. It is always what interests me first, what my eye sees first. Texture and pattern combined with colour inspire me and get the creative ideas flowing. My hand felted, wearable art pieces showcase colour, texture and pattern in a pleasing balance of form and function”.
“My wraps may look delicate but they are very wearable. Made mostly from Merino and Corriedale wools felted on to iridescent silk chiffon, they are soft on the skin, lightweight but warm, easily draped around the shoulders on a cool summer evening or wrapped around the neck, tucked under the chin and into a winter coat.”
“I was born and raised in West Vancouver. I received my Bachelor of Applied Arts in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Ryerson University in Toronto in 1988. In 1991, I took my first quilting class and from that moment on, fiber became my creative outlet”.
“Throughout the 1990s, I studied embroidery, hand and machine stitchery, fabric dyeing and surface design with a variety of international teachers. I started teaching quilting in Vancouver in 1995 and continued to teach even after my husband, Trevor, and I moved to Pender Island in 1999. When I started learning to hand felt in 2001, I knew I wouldn’’t be working in fabric arts anymore”.
“Once I saw how my hands could get into the creation of the art – literally – I was really excited”.
“Everything I make is done by hand. I lay out the unspun fibers then felt them – gently rubbing them with warm, soapy water, then rolling them in bubble wrap over and over, constantly checking and adjusting as the work progresses. My hands tell me when a piece is felting, where it needs more attention and when it is finished.”
Monica’s beautiful, handcrafted work makes a magnificent gift and all represent outstanding value.
Inspired by the love of Nature. Created by artist Sharon Beatch.
The studio was started when we purchased our Island cottage in 2010. It is located a stones’ throw away from Beachcomber Marina in Nanoose Bay on the beautiful West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Our family enjoys time strolling the secret beaches in the area and playing along the shore. It is fun to find the interesting pebbles, sea glass, shells and driftwood and it’s great exercise to walk then carry the treasures back to the cottage.
I have always loved doing crafts and creating things from almost nothing. Setting beach treasures out after we got them home and washed quickly turned into visions of art.
Some pebbles have been tumbled in a rock polisher to bring out their colors, others have been left natural to show off their powerful roughness designed by mother nature. I create simplistic and unique shadow box pictures which to me represent love, life, family, friendship and caring- all the values we hold dear in our hearts.
Some of the ideas were inspired from family and friend events like the birth our grandchild, weddings, boating, camping etc
I hope you enjoy them. You can see more of Sharon's beautiful work at www.sidestreetstudio.com
A World Made By Hand
Charles Van Sandwyk’s Beautiful Books and Cards
Charles Noel van Sandwyk was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1966.
In 1977 he emigrated with his family to Vancouver, Canada. By the early 1980s he was selling his drawings and watercolours in a style reminiscent of the old prints and paintings which hung in the family home.
Van Sandwyk studied graphic design at the Capilano College art programme in North Vancouver. Upon completion in 1986, the wanderlust of younger years sent him travelling to the South Pacific.
He discovered the Fiji Islands, and fell in love with a remote island and its inhabitants. He began to divide his time equally between Vancouver and Fiji, leasing land from the neighbouring family and building for himself a simple home of grass thatch, in the traditional island style.
Van Sandwyk settled into a pleasurable routine of winter seasons in Fiji filled with painting and writing, the results of which were brought back to Canada each summer and prepared for exhibition and publication each autumn. His watercolours, etchings and books are now collected across North America and in Europe.
The National Library of Canada has maintained archives on his work since 1986. Charles Van Sandwyk continues to divide his time between Vancouver and his beloved Fiji.
Ed Oldfield make fabulous We Coast Raku pottery
Ed was born in Orillia, Ontario in 1955. While still young, he moved with his family to Duncan, British Columbia. He graduated from high school there in 1973 and went on to the University of Victoria where he studied Visual Art and graduated with a B.F.A. in 1977.
He continued his studies in the Faculty of Education receiving his teaching certificate in 1978. In 1992 he earned an M.Ed. degree in educational administration also from the University of Victoria.
Currently Ed resides in Powell River where he taught grade 7 students until very recently. After 28 years of teaching visual arts and pottery at the high school level, Ed now channels his artistic energy into creating uniquely west-coast artwork. With a particular focus on Raku pottery.
His work is heavily influenced by the Pacific West Coast, its natural beauty, rugged coastline, aboriginal history, and is tuned to this ecologically sensitive environment.