Making a Splash, every year

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When my two sons were young they got so much enjoyment from the programs at Arts Umbrella that it turned me into a life-long supporter of the arts school. 

So every year, I donate one of my necklaces to the silent auction in their annual fundraiser, Splash, which happens Thursday,  Nov. 3. This year it’s a rope of silvery grey baroque pearls mixed with silver beads, punctuated with a luscious amethyst accent stone and my signature marcasite clasp.  Like all my statement necklaces, it’s one of a kind. 

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The money raised by Splash goes to initiatives like the out-reach programs for kids from low-income families. I know the impact music lessons, dance, and visual arts have on early childhood development so I want to see all children have access to arts and culture.

If you’re looking for a charity, I can’t think of a better place to contribute than Arts Umbrella. Cash is always good. But they’re often looking for skilled volunteers and business donations. And their fundraising events are always big fun.

You can find the rest of the silent auction goodies here – there is are some wonderful paintings (my weakness) – along with links to where you can buy Splash tickets.   

Small victories & Suffragette earrings

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“Yes!” I cried, as I practically pounced on a string of green tourmaline slices.

I suddenly felt a twinge of guilt. Had I knocked anyone over in my race to grab the elusive green stones? Would there soon be warning signs posted around the Tucson Gem Show preparing merchants for some overzealous customer: “Beware: Woman, 5’8”, auburn hair, crazed look in her eyes, salivates at sight of green tourmaline”

In my defence, I’ve been hunting for months for more of these tiny green sticks, in the hope that I could continue making one of my most popular designs: the Suffragette earrings.

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Those are white baroque pearls topped with a tutu of green tourmaline and amethyst.

Last year, I happened to read about Suffragette jewellery. In the Edwardian era, the lobbyists wove their campaign colours – purple for dignity, white for purity, and green for hope – into everything. These women were flying their colours in the jewellery and ribbons they wore, as well as on the signs and pamphlets they carried.

I thought it was a wonderful idea – subtly subversive — and it immediately inspired my own Suffragette pieces. There’s also a pendant.

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I was delighted when they turned out to be a hit, too. That is until I ran out of green tourmaline slices.

Here’s the hazard of working with natural gemstones. I travel to trade shows and buy the pearls and semi-precious stones that inspire me. The stones themselves suggest the designs, so sometimes I don’t know exactly what I’m going to make with them until I start playing around at my workbench.

But when that vein of a mine is tapped out, a stone is gone. So it’s not always possible to find high quality gems cut just the way you want for a particular design. I kicked myself for not buying more green tourmaline when I saw it. But how was I to anticipate that I was going to go all Emmeline Pankhurst this year?

So I made some variations on the earrings. I think they’re lovely too.

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It’s a similar look with iridescent peacock pearls. The baroque pearls are crowned with sticks of amethyst, cubic zirconia, and iolite, which reflect the shades of purple and lavender in the iridescent pearls.

But for clients who wanted Suffragette colours, it’s just not the same.

So now you see why I’m gleeful at the sight of those tourmaline slices I found in Tucson. It’s pure luck that I found them too. There are literally acres of merchants selling gems in Tucson.

All of which is to say, if you wanted Suffragette earrings, or a pendant, and were disappointed when I couldn’t supply them, I’m back in the subversive earrings business.

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Theodora is in charge again (sorry)

I’m at the Tucson gem show on a buying trip from Jan. 29 to Feb. 10 2016, which means Theodora is minding the shop. She is notoriously bad at filling orders, so if you buy anything between those dates it won’t be delivered until I return to Vancouver.

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But if you see a piece you want on the website, I would recommend you reserve it.

In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of some of some pearl designs that are so limited I don’t put them in the online shop. I’m calling this my Suffragette line — a big, bold baroque pearl crowned with purple and green stones. These were the campaign colours for the Suffragettes fighting for the vote in the early 20th century.

Who says you can’t fight for your rights and be stylish too?

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And here’s a variation on the style. These baroque peacock pearls are topped with a frill of iolite, cubic zirconia, and amethysts to bring out the shades of purple in the iridescent pearls. They recently found their way into fundraiser for a children’s hospital.

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Have some wine, Monday

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Of all the many occasions that demand wine, I have to say that Monday is high up on my list.

And a Monday that comes with a good cause and wine? Well, what could be better!

Which is why a pair of my pearl earrings will be attending Taste the World, a wine tasting to raise money for children’s hospitals in Myanmar. It’s happening this Monday, January 25, at Vancouver’s Four Seasons Hotel. You can learn more about the organization and get tickets here.

Unfortunately, I can’t be there. But a pair of my pearl drop earrings will be part of their silent auction. These earrings star some large, showy iridescent baroque pearls, about 21 mm long on sterling silver hooks. They’re topped with a tutu of faceted iolite, cubic zirconia, and amethysts to pick-up the flashing shades of purple in the pearls.

They’re one of a kind – I designed them specifically for this fundraiser – and they’re priced at $235.

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Baroque peacock pearls topped with faceted iolite, cubic zirconia, and amethyst, $235

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So, if you have some time on Monday evening, and are in search of some fine wine, I can’t think of better place to find it.

 Creative Consumables: Your Guide to Un-Jewellery Gifts

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Right about now, I thought you would be facing my annual dilemma. What do you give coworkers, extended family, or children’s friends, for whom jewellery isn’t appropriate? Yes, it is shocking to hear some people might not want jewellery. But I know this to be true.

So I’ve put together some gift ideas to help kickstart your shopping.

In Search of the Clutter-free Gift

Raising two sons in a 1600-square-foot home means there’s nowhere to stash the gee-gaws. And my own tight living space made me vow to never become the source of other people’s clutter. While you can’t do anything about their emotional baggage, you can definitely reduce the physical kind.

So unless I know exactly what someone wants, many of my gifts are meant to be dust-free and consumed within the year.

That means food, of course, but no one wants to hand out gifts so generic as to border on insulting. Even for the office Secret Santa ritual you want to give gift recipients the compliment of putting a little thought into the gift.

Which got me to thinking about creative consumables…

Give Wretched Excess

I got this idea from a friend who points out that there’s something about even the most mundane thing in huge quantities that makes it look like a celebration. And it’s sure to appeal to the sort of people who believe that more is more.

So take a co-worker’s favourite treat – say, chocolate covered raisins– and put a pound or three in a beautiful container.  Add a ribbon. It’s a thoughtful gift, since only someone who really knows you would know about that shameful craving.   

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“Wretched excess” comes in many forms other than food, too. And it can be tailored to any budget.

My pal likes to brag about her gift-giving triumph the year she gave Wretched Excess to a hard-to-buy-for friend, who always insisted he wanted socks. She thought he said this to torment her and decided to return the favour.

One Christmas she took him at his word and wished him “The Joy of Sox” — a huge box full of footwear for every occasion and every season. She spent a year collecting them.

She was astounded when he practically wept with gratitude.

“It turned out, he really did want socks,” she says. “He hates to shop. And he couldn’t understand why we were all ignoring him every year when he told us what he really wanted.”

Give subscriptions

We always think of magazine subscriptions, but what about subscriptions to high quality underwear, socks, razors, apples, or coffee?  Or get a gift box subscription that combines bath and beauty products.

If you want to shop local, have a look at The Canadian Subscription Box Addict, a blog that reviews the local offerings.  

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Gifts for young men can be tricky, but a subscription to something like The Dollar Shave Club, which delivers fresh blades monthly, will make their lives easier.

And for young women, BirchBox.ca offers a monthly subscription containing five popular beauty products for about $15 a month.

Knowledge is power! (And it doesn’t need wrapping)

While night school programs and fitness facilities offer classes for the masses, people with a taste for something different can often find professionals who do a little teaching on the side. Chefs who teach cooking classes. Or ballroom dancers who can teach you to Lindy hop like a golden age movie star.

Group classes are great for beginners, but for committed amateurs consider a private master class with a professional in the field. Woodworking. Ballet. Do you know someone who wants to publish a memoir? You can give them a session with a professional book editor.

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Tina and Brooke

Designers Collective – architect Tina Dhillon and interior designer Brooke Hatfield — offers a range of workshops on how to decorate like a pro. Take photos and measurements for your home to their Jan. 19 workshop and learn how to make the most of your rooms with Space Planning.

Purdy’s Chocolates will teach you how to make their glorious truffles at the South Granville shop. And you can even organize parties for a group of friends.

Give experiences

Tickets to theatre, dance, and live music are the obvious choices. And there are always gift certificates for a massage or a day at the spa.

But what about giving someone something she’s always wanted to try: like a flight in an air balloon. Or a river rafting trip. Or a scotch tasting.

A membership to Van Dusen Botanical Garden is a good experience gift for a family. The garden is famous for its spectacular Winter Solstice Festival of Lights in December, but it’s at its best during Summer Solstice and it offers a host of garden-y events all year long.

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Digital means no dusting

Audio books, eBooks, and phone apps are clutter-free treats. And the choices in video streaming services are exploding. Everyone knows about Netflix, but there is also Acorn, which features British TV series going back to the 1970s. And local cable suppliers are also getting into the act with Shomi (Shaw) and CraveTV (Bell). The prices range from about $60 to $120 for a year’s worth of more TV and movies than anyone but a teen with a tablet has time to consume.

Overly busy friends who love to read but can’t find the time would probably appreciate a subscription to Audible.com, the audiobook company. They have a huge selection of books that go well beyond bestsellers. A $15 a month membership includes one book, and host of perks.

The digital emergency gift

You know what I mean. Those token gifts we all have wrapped and ready in anticipation of presents from acquaintances.

I go with iTunes or Google Play cards in pretty gift bags, because they’re not wasteful. Generally, retail store gift cards are a bad idea since many people fail to use them or companies go out of business before recipients can collect. Companies like CardCash.com do a brisk business in buying and reselling unwanted gift card.

But with iTunes, recipients drop the value into their accounts promptly, and the fees sit there until they’re used. Even if that’s years later. And since the store contains music, TV, movies, mobile apps and games, and digital books, somebody they know can use it, even if they can’t.

Give charitable donations

In his provocative 2009 book Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents, economist Joel Waldfogel argued that the U.S. alone destroys $13 billion worth of value annually by giving bad prezzies.

Yes, this is why economics is known as the dismal science. But he has a point.

It’s like this: when you spend $50 on a gift, if the receiver doesn’t want what you bought, they don’t value the gift at $50. Maybe they would be willing to pay $25 for it. So that’s a $25 loss in value. Or maybe, if it’s an ugly Xmas sweater and you couldn’t pay them to wear it, you could be wasting the whole value of that $50.

The one exception? Charitable donations. In his research Waldfogel discovered that the one thing people would like to do more if they could afford it, is contribute to charity. So, when in doubt as to what sort of a gift will delight someone, consider making a donation in their name to their favourite cause.

That’s so much better than a kitschy Xmas sweater.

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And if you still need last minute jewellery gifts

I’m open until Saturday, Dec. 19. And if you’re stumped, may I recommend pearl drop earrings?

They’re perfect for all ages and every occasion. They’re easily the most versatile earring in a wardrobe. If you know they have a classic white round pearl, choose a baroque pearl or something in a subtle shade of blush or grey.

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May your home be merry and bright.

Have a lovely holiday.

~ Anne

Popping-up Again! Dec. 11, 12

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Is the the place where I’m supposed to say, Back! By popular demand!

We had requests to extend our pop-up shop, so we’re back for two more days. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12.

The Painter, the Photographer, and the Jewellery-maker

1683 Chestnut St., Vancouver

Dec. 11 and 12,  12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

(That’s just off W. 1st Ave., near Burrard St.)

Look for the balloons!

I’m flattered to be sharing the space with a pair of artists, painter Donna Tangye …

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…and photographer Robert Charles.

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And of course, I’ll be showing lots of party-worthy necklaces and bracelets as well as gift earrings.

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My classic pearls accented with a decorative silver bead start at $60, and are the perfect gift since no one can have too many pearls.

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But I have also have some big, bold statement earrings, featuring semi-precious stones.

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Baroque pearls capped with green tourmaline & amethyst, $225

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Gold vermeil baubles, $95

And if you’re looking for gift-buying inspiration of the un-jewellery sort, subscribe to my newsletter where, this month, I’m contemplating the clutter-free gift.

If you can’t make the show, the online shop is open until Saturday Dec. 19, and I will also be taking custom orders until then.

Hope to see you at the pop-up shop.

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Pop-up Shop, Nov. 20-29

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This is a big step for my little business. I’m joining forces with more than a dozen Vancouver design and art businesses to do a pop-up shop for holiday shoppers, from November 20 to 29. 

You’ll find us in the refurbished Mint Interiors building, at the entrance to Granville Market.

LOCAL: A Curated Pop-Up Shop
Nov. 20 to 29
1805 Fir St. (at W. 2nd Ave.)
Mon-Fri: 12 p.m. – 5:30 p.m
Sat-Sun: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The shop is organized and curated by architect Tina Dhillon (L) and interior designer Brooke Hatfield, the duo behind Designers Collective, an interior design business with a twist. They also provide clients with design education through workshops and travel tours focusing on design. For a taste of what they do, here are their DIY videos.  

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I’m both excited and terrified. What if nobody comes? What if everybody comes and I don’t have enough stock? So I’m trying to breathe slowly and think of this as just a really, really long trunk show for which I need to design some new pieces. 

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THE LINE-UP

My partners in the pop-up shop include a range of Vancouver artists and artisans offering goods to decorate you and your home. They all do wonderful, original work or sell fine, high-quality goods that can be hard to come-by because small suppliers (like me) aren’t always easy to find.

With any luck, our 10-day pop-up shop will make it easier for you to discover new designers and artisans and find exactly what you’re looking for. 

In the meantime, here’s a list of the Vancouver businesses that will be part of LOCAL business, along with links to their websites.

THE ARTISTS

Lauren Morris paints acrylics of landscapes, fruit, and flowers are just so refreshingly beautiful.

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Ode to Summer, acrylic on canvas, 48 X 48, Lauren Morris

Tanja Gardner is an internationally trained artist who has been in Vancouver more than 20 years, and usually shows her paintings through the Ian Tan Gallery.

THE HOME LOVERS

Forest & Waves designs a host of home accessories with a local flair. I love their hand-printed linen tea towels, but I think they’re much too charming to dry dishes with. Better to hang them as kitchen art.

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Forest & Waves, $23

Landon Dix works in wood to provide beautiful home accessories for every day living.

Brett Riekert a local furniture designer whose sleek pieces combine walnut, steel, and leather into sophisticated seating  inspired by Danish mid-century modern design. 

Botany Living, which features locally-grown succulents in real life and on their gorgeous Instagram.

Gabriel Burke, who trained at Emily Carr, creates elegant ceramics for G Ceramic & Co. from her White Rock studio.

Joue Designs features pillows in luxurious linens and silks.

Milani brings organic cotton sheets, duvets, and accessories for children. 

THE FASHIONISTAS

Lana Betty‘s delicate geometric designs are young and fun. 

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Lana Betty’s Cube Theory: 3D printed jewellery in steel, brass, or silver. $88.51

Sass Designs creates wrap bracelets from leather and beads that are inspired by the designs of the Sami people of Scandinavia (also known as Laplanders).

Cabyn delivers stylish fleece clothing.

Jai Style sells pendants and ceramics with an Asian influence.

LoverFighter is bringing tote bags, wallets, belts… distinctive leather accessories of all sorts.

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Pearls are a girl’s best friend

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With apologies to those of you who like to echo Marilyn Monroe’s Lorelei Lee warbling “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” — I beg to differ. You will get far more wear out of a rope of classic white pearls. They never go out of fashion, you can wear them daily, and they will last for generations.

Which is why I often donate pearl necklaces to silent auctions. And this October there are two of my statement necklaces tempting donors to support a pair of good causes.

Over at Arts Umbrella, the performing and visual arts school for kids, you will find this elegant mix of freshwater pearls and decorative sterling silver beads, punctuated with a white chalcedony accent stone. It’s part of the Splash 2015 fundraiser, Oct. 17.

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White pearls, sterling silver beads, a white chalcedony accent stone and a sterling silver marcasite clap.

At 127 cm (50 inches) long it will be one of the most versatile necklaces in any woman’s wardrobe. You can wear it flapper-style, as the perfect accessory to the current fashion trend of clothes inspired by the 1920s and ‘30s. Or you can triple-wrap it into a collar-length necklace that’s perfect with a bare evening gown or under a suit jacket.

I have a similar piece in the B.C. Women’s Hospital Foundation fundraiser, Hope Starts Here, also on Oct. 17. Only this necklace is a long rope of white pearls and silver with a moonstone accent.

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White pearls, sterling silver beads, a moonstone accent and  a silver marcasite clasp.

Both necklaces feature my distinctive sterling silver marcasite clasp and are valued at about $650. (I hope they fetch much more than that in the auctions.)

Unfortunately, I won’t be there to cheer them on. I’m on vacation until Oct. 19.