International Women’s Day

It’s a beautiful Saturday out in TO today, I hope that you’re able to take advantage of it!

I’m a bit late to the party, since International Women’s Day was earlier this week, but I’m still thinking about it, so this week’s post is in honour of (and a bit about) a couple of women that have inspired me over the years.

One of the earlier people to inspire me was my grade 10 biology teacher (sadly, her name escapes me, lost to the sands time, unfortunately!). She just loved biology so much, and she was always very free with her time and knowledge. Along that same theme, for a long time, Marie Curie was my hero (are you sensing a theme yet?). Best known for her work on radioactivity, and early cancer treatment, she was a female scientist in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, in a field that was (as you might guess), almost entirely male dominated.

Nobel Prize portrait of Marie Curie

photo credit: wikimedia

A little more recent, and closer to jewellery, is Wendy Ramshaw, a British ceramicist, jeweller and sculptor. I’ve talked more about here before here. Apart from finding her jewellery inspiring and amazing, what I most admire is the sheer breadth of her expertise across different mediums and at completely different scales.

gates at Hyde Park (London) by Wendy Ramshaw

photo credit: wikimedia

Closer to home, are the awesome women that I get to work with at the Jewel Envy studio. (Just to be clear, I love working with all my colleagues at the studio, but since it’s a theme, I’ve focused on the women!) Their differences, skills and creativity continue to blow me away! I don’t know if you caught it, but there was a very nice instagram post about the ladies of the studio. If you didn’t catch it, why not head over to the @jewelenvy account and peruse the posts?

There are lots of other women that I could name, but I’m going to leave you with that today. Hopefully it has encouraged you to think about women that you admire, or are inspired by!

In any case, stay safe, and enjoy the lovely Saturday while you can.


House of Cassady

Recent camera roll pics

I am avoiding doing some emerying and since I’ve already done the studio cleaning, gonna do some blogging! Wanted to share some recent camera roll pics (maybe mostly to show off my eye shadow game) to try and sneak in some interesting links. – Alexis

My silver hairs seem to be reproducing exponentially lately… although gotta say love that I’m am growing a badass streak!
Been thinking about, sketching, and fussing about with some new spinels.
Found this progress shot before combining my Tuca and Bertie into a necklace. I have been very exacting about chain placement; it is still waiting to be finished.
When you test drive a new pair of earrings by Alex Kinsley then get to keep them. Makes deciding on shadow colours easier ;o)
Something that is actually finished!! Ruby Ironwork earrings. I had some process pics of recent custom pieces, but because they are on their way to customers I want to wait to show them off!

The Chatelaine

Another Saturday, another musing from me!  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes I have ideas that roll around my brain for years.  Lately I’ve been thinking about Chatelaines.  What’s that, you say?  A chatelaine was traditionally a way to cart around everyday useful items, like keys, scissors, etc. without weighing down a pocket.  They could be quite decorative, and they were usually attached to a pocket or a belt. They were worn by both men and women, but I most often think of them worn by women, as they were frequently worn by the woman of the house, or a housekeeper. You can read a bit more about them here.

My fascination with them began a number of years ago, when I saw this one:

I love the intricate details, it was amazing to view in person.

In fact, it’s been so long that I had to look it up to figure out if it was from the Victoria and Albert Museum (UK) or one of the other UK museums I’ve visited many times.  It was the Victoria and Albert. In fact, you can view many other examples from their archive here

So, I’ve been thinking about what a more modern chatelaine might carry.  Not surprisingly, probably not that many differences to what you can see in historical examples for everyday use.  How about as a goldsmith?  That’s a bit of an interesting question… for me, maybe a notebook and pencil (for when inspiration strikes), keys, a scribe (a kind of pen for metal), small files, scissors, tweezers, all things that are handy for a goldsmith, but still all kind of pedestrian  really.

No, what I’ve really been thinking about is what the modern immunologist’s chatelaine would look like, which is more conceptual really (and fits in with my background and some of my interests).  So, scissors (what aren’t those useful for???), but my scissors might be molecular scissorsT cells, B cells and macrophages would be a must, antibodies and plasmids are always useful too!  Not sure what else, I shall have to think some more.

Yes, my skills at doodling are nothing to write home about, but anyway, here’s a quick impression of what MY chatelaine might look like in my brain!

If you were making your own chatelaine, what would you put on it? 

Happy Saturday from the Blue House in Roncy!


House of Cassady

Outdoor applications

I am not sure about whether or not this year’s Toronto Outdoor Art Fair will actually be outdoors and in person, but I am still excited to be applying to it this year in the hopes that I can be interacting with people (I may or may not have to practice first though). If the Art Fair is not an in person event they will once again be holding the Fair online and be featuring artists on their site starting July 2, 2021. You can check out my 2020 Gallery.

Just below are a few of the images that I applied with for this year’s upcoming Fair. Wish me luck on my application and I will be updating info about the fair starting in the spring.

Garden Quartz Ironwork Pendants. Sterling silver and garden quartz.
Rose Ring. Sterling silver and 14 kt rose gold.

I am still trying to navigate shifting my sales and connecting with people online and last years Toronto Outdoor (Online) Art Fair had me setting up for online sales for the first time (outside of trying Etsy just before 2010). I am struggling to try and make that connection as building my confidence for in person sales took several years of customer interactions to learn from and making the shift to online is a social skill that I frankly do not have. I am always striving to make a connection and I suppose that online sales feels very much to me like standing on a corner talking to yourself about your business in hopes that someone is within earshot (or is this just me?) I am definitely overthinking this at the moment and just need to push past this feeling and remind you that if you have read this far let us know what you miss about seeing us in the studio – Alexis

Workshops and class joy

I really enjoy teaching, it’s great to share knowledge, and to see how excited people get when they’re making things, and that spark and drive to carry on.  There are lots of different aspects that I enjoy, but I really like the thought that I’ve facilitated development of skills that will carry a student into the future, and nurtured their creativity/passion.  I used to apply this to my students as a research biologist, and when I changed careers to focus more on my goldsmithing, one of things I looked forward to doing was to carry on teaching. 

As you may know, we teach workshops and classes at the Jewel Envy studio. One of my goals for last year was to start teaching… March….. so you can guess what happened!  I managed to get in a small workshop as part of the Stakt market Christmas events in December 2019, where we did these fun bookmarks.  There was lots of hammering fun!

So, back to March 2020, and everything was closed, so I was denied!  Then things started to open up again and I got my chance to experience my first eight week Intro to Fabrication class, with a smaller class size, masks all around (well, we actually wear them quite a bit anyway), and all the other safe measures we could take.  We managed to get the classes in before things shut down again, and we managed to get the students through the basics, and still have fun.  They made some awesome pieces, with lots of variety within the set of beginner skills that we teach them.  Here’s a collage of some of the projects the students completed:

Sadly, we’re still unable to start up the classes we were hoping to start running again, but we’re all prepared to sail ahead when it’s safe to do so again.  If you’re interested in any specific classes, make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter, or send us an email to say what course you’re specifically interested in!

Stay safe, and we hope and look forward to welcoming you back to classes in the not-so-distant future!

-Robin Cassady-Cain

House of Cassady

We’re still creating work!

What does trying to continue running a business while following stay at home directives means for the goldsmiths working at Jewel Envy? Because we cannot work from home we are continuing work in the studio on custom projects, repairs, and redesigns. Not being able to have walk-ins to meet with customers in person means the onus for getting custom jewellery made has shifted largely onto the customer and I encourage anyone interested in a custom piece to browse the goldsmith galleries, our instagram, and websites. We like to remind people that you may not see the exact piece you are looking for; we want you to choose someone whose work speaks to you whether is because of their style, the materials they like to work with, or the techniques they like to use. We’re staying on top of emails so any and all questions can still be sent our way and we can start a discussion on the best course of action for starting on a custom jewellery quest! – Alexis

Shopping from the comfort of your couch

We’re now well into December, and the hunt is on for that perfect holiday gift.  I love giving thoughtful (and often handmade) presents (regardless of the occasion!).  Not much making is happening for me this year, though. Instead, I’ve been virtually shopping at various local places to find my gifts, as well as wandering the neighbourhood to find new places to check out online.  Which in some ways has been a lot of fun—I’ve found a lot of small places that I didn’t know about, that are kind of cool!

Although I think it’s no one’s favourite way to shop for everything, there is something to be said for shopping from your couch still in your pj’s!  Remember, there are lots of ways to support small, local business this season: shop online from a local small business, leave a review  or make recommendations to people you know.  They all help, both in the short and long-term.

I’d love to share some of my purchases with you, but as they have yet to be gifted, I think I’ll have to keep them to myself!

Good luck with your holiday shopping, and remember, we have a newly updated online shop

You can also contact the studio for a virtual shopping meeting, or arrange a porch trip (or a combination of both!) to help you in your quest to find that amazing gift you’ve been looking for.

However you choose to shop, find the fun in doing it, and have a great day!


House of Cassady

Not For Lease

The view on Roncy was bleak the morning of Tuesday November 23rd, 2020 as the neighborhood woke up to see the message of “For Lease” kraft paper plastered on many of the businesses. This was done to shake people out of complacency, grab their attention and make them see what might happen come January 2021. These stores (including my own) are not for lease….but they could be without the support of the community and our customers who choose to think big but shop small. The pandemic has changed every part of our lives but consumers need to take a look around and realize without their support the places and businesses that make a neighborhood vibrant and livable might not survive another lock down and this is not just our neighborhood but a global issue.

The Not For Lease Campaign was the result of not just a main-street or the marketing company we worked with (The Local Collective) but a whole community banding together to say too much has happened this year, we have come to far, this is what we are scared of. We need everyone to see the message loud and clear that all of our local businesses need your support this season!

After the initial shock of the “For Lease” Kraft paper campaign, to make businesses look closed, the paper was removed the same day and replaced with messages of love, hope, and strength! This is part 2 of the campaign reminding people local support and care will help all of us through the set troubling times! Jewel Envy is still doing custom work/repairs/virtual shopping for curb pick up or shipping and we even have an online shop.

The message has been received loud and clear across our community, Canada, and we have heard it even made it into international news relating to COVID 19 and the plight of the small business throughout the world.

Jewel Envy supports the need for the lock down at this time. We hope all of you will remember to support the many businesses in need who are abiding by all public health and safety requirements for the greater good, which is having the unfortunate effect of jeopardizing their future sustainability.

Class Rates Increasing in 2021

2020 was not the year any of us expected and we have all had to make huge sacrifices to keep going. With many businesses on the brink of failure I feel truly lucky that Jewel Envy has survived and I know it is because of your support that we have been able to do so.

To stay in compliance with all of the health and safety recommendations we made a huge investment in our processes for cleaning and the installation of our UVC sterilization system. In addition to this we have had to reduce the number of classes we were able to offer in 2020 and reduce the number of people in each class.

Jewel Envy’s amazing instructors who are the resident goldsmiths have had a dramatic decrease in what was once a stable part of their income as they are paid per student to teach. To compensate for this moving forward I have chosen to increase the cost of classes so that the instructors can be paid more knowing they will have fewer classes in the coming year(s) and be teaching smaller groups (for a while).

All gift certificates that specifically say for classes and were issued before November 1st, 2020 will be honored as full payment for said class until March 31st, 2021 or the dollar value that class was worth at any time.

I fully support our goldsmithing family and feel that this price increase will continue to allow them to make the fabulous and uncompromising work they produce. I am a budget conscious person and always try to keep price increases to a minimum; this is only our second one in 14 years of business so I feel at this point it was necessary and fair.

I’m grateful to all of you and hope to see everyone in the studio or for an online consult some time soon.

Sincerely, Gillian

Introducing the Beirut Rising Collection

Sometimes it feels like the world in crumbling before our very eyes. Tragedy after tragedy can make us feel like we can’t have an impact but that isn’t true. Small gestures of kindness and creating opportunities to generate funds for charities where money goes where it’s supposed to can make a world of difference even from a world away. Read below to see how Jessica Nheme of her newly rebranded company Mavia Design is working to make a different to those affected by the explosion in Beirut just last month. -Gillian

In Arabic script, this gorgeous pendant reads, “Your faith has to be greater than your fear”.

The Faith Necklace is a tribute to the Lebanese People. Handmade and designed with deep purpose. 100% of the profits generated from the sale of this necklace will be donated to The Lebanese Red Cross to support the relief effort in Beirut, Lebanon after the catastrophic explosion that devastated the country on August 4th, 2020.

This explosion killed hundreds, injured thousands and left 300,000 people homeless. The Lebanese people are fighting for their liberties and against the corruption of the system which has forgotten them. All while mourning the loss of their loved ones and putting their lives back together, one brick at a time.

Mavia’s Founder, Jessica Nehme, was born in Lebanon during the Civil War. Her family moved their life to Toronto, Canada to avoid the political and social challenges of their beloved country. Thirty-Five years later, the same challenges not only remain, but have worsened. Out of sadness and a deep call to create something of value and impact, the Beirut Rising Collection was born.

This is the first of three designs to be released, the Faith Necklace is an ode to the strength, resiliency and true essence of the human spirit. It is a reminder to never give up, to keep fighting for what is right, and that when our faith is greater than our fear, we can change the world.

The necklace is available in sterling silver (pendant and chain) as well as gold plated pendant on sterling silver with a gold filled chain. You can shop this collection here and it will also be available through Jewel Envy soon!

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