Happy weekend everybody!
It’s a beautiful day – the sun is shining and there is still some warmth in the air. Basically, a perfect day to come inside and try on some jewellery, haha! But actually it is…
You all know Alexis, studio manager extraordinaire, and I’m sure you’ve seen her work before. I just thought I would gather some of my favourite pieces that she has here on display. There is quite a wide range of techniques that she uses to create her collections – she really is an artiste:)

The ‘Whoops’ pendant is enamel, set in a sterling heart. 
The gemstone stud earrings, and the oval floral pin, are also enamel.
The shark pendant is carved and cast in sterling, with green tourmaline eyes.
The two wedding bands are sterling silver, with nickel silver polka dot inlay for contrast.
The three bands in front are also part of the polka dot collection, also with nickel silver polka dots but with gemstones for added colour. Choose between blue tourmalines, black spinel, or green tsavorites.
The beaded tassel pendant has a periwinkle blue enamel centre, with a small oval onyx set above it.
The initial pendant (which can be customized in a variety of styles, for every letter of the alphabet) is carved by hand and cast in sterling silver.
Stop by today and try something on! We’re open until 6pm this evening, see you soon!

Oh heeeey Alexis!

In case you don’t know Alexis Kostuk (of Glaciale jewellery design), I want to spend a moment giving you a glimpse into her goldsmithing goodness.
She is an all-around amazing artist, and her talent is more than visible in her carved pieces. Below are some of her statement rings that catch the eye in the best way possible.
The centre stone is a blue onyx, and it’s surrounded by white sapphires. This appeals to my art nouveau/deco-architecture-appreciating self in so many great ways.
This ring has a slightly different design than the one above, with a lapis centre (and don’t you just love lapis?!) and blue sapphires.
 Look at that turquoise! It sits atop a bed of sterling silver coral reef, with a peekaboo texture that perfectly complements the matrix of the stone.
Aren’t they lovely! Get your butts down here and just try to decide which one you like best. I dare you:)
ps – hi Rhonda!

Spotlight on Alexis Kostuk!

We are trying something new here with our social media and part of our new initiative is to make sure everyone at Jewel Envy receives equal representation across our various platforms. That means you can look forward to seeing artist spotlights each Sunday as we work through a rotation highlighting each member of the space.

Today I would like to highlight what Alexis of Glaciale Goldsmith has been up to. If you have been in the store recently you may have seen her amazing new line of sharks or her marriage of metal pieces. We have posted some pictures on FB and Instagram but that is the obvious work she does; today I want to highlight some of the behind the scenes work taking place.

As you may know Alexis is the studio manager here. What that means is that she is responsible for a fair bit of equipment maintenance, social media, studio organization and coordination as well as retail and teaching. One of her recent initiatives was to move us over to steam dewaxing for our casting burnouts. She spoke with various casting houses and came up with a plan to help us make this switch. The reason for doing so is that during the wax burn out process one of the most toxic stages is when wax reaches a temperature where it actually burns out of the flask. This releases toxins into the air and although we have a good ventillation system it was not removing everything and some people were getting headaches from the burnout.

By switching to a steam dewaxer, the wax comes out of the flasks using steam and pressure at a much lower temperature before the wax has a chance to burn. This means cleaner air for us, cleaner castings for the jewellers here and an overall improvement in the casting process. Switching over has not been without a few bumps along the way but with an interest in troubleshooting and excellent problem solving we have a safer system in place for all. Thank you Alexis for your perserverence!


Reigning mad skills

These are some oldies, but goodies.  Last year the studio was tapped to create some prop pieces for the TV show Reign. Below you can see the process of creating pieces that are emblems for Mary, Queen of Scots personal bible. The design was sourced from films stills to recreate the elements of the prop.  The emblems were later attached to a hand bound book by a bookbinder.   – Alexis

Working from a blurry photo still, I first
sketched the pieces out and did a transfer on the wax before cutting out
the shape.  You can see in the photo the drawing/scratch marks that
were my guide for sawing the shapes out. I like to think of piercing
work as drawing with my saw ;o)


To prevent the wax from breaking as I was carving the details I glued the pieces down onto sections of scrap wood.  There are few things more heartbreaking than when you are almost finished adding detail and it breaks. With the wax firmly glued in place as I was working all the pieces stayed intact (success!)  

To remove the pieces from their wood bases I simply soaked them in water, here you can see all five designs.

The show needed to have replicas of the props, which meant making multiples. I made molds directly from the wax carvings to duplicate the designs.

Here are the wax duplicates after I attached sprues to each. There needed to be enough to make two book covers with the emblems. The designs in the middle and bottom right appear twice on the cover, so it meant making four (you can see I made extra in case the castings didn’t work.  

Casting these pieces was an ORDEAL.  Between this and the last picture I made the duplicates into a casting tree (which can be seen just left of my saw); I made three separate trees.  The metal I used was bronze… as I was melting the metal in a crucible it started to seize and just would not get molten. My crucible turned into a dirty mess and after standing and heating the first batch of metal with a torch for almost 15 minutes I stopped what I was doing, took a break and decided to try changing my normal casting process. I altered what I normally do when melting metal and was eventually able to cast the three groupings of pieces. 

Here you can see that all the pieces casted well, I even have the extras that worked on the left.  I filed and polished them up before eventually goldplating them. 

Here are the final pieces with antique looking goldplating. Duotang-like tabs were added to the back so that they could easily be attached to the book props as the emblems on Mary, Queen of Scots personal bible.

Sunday Funday

Happy Sunday y’all!  If you’re looking for something to fill your hours, 
Alexis Kostuk of Glaciale Jewellery can help you out.

Today is the last day of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, and she has lots of 
beautiful pieces to pique your interest and unburden your wallet.
So head down to Nathan Phillips Square and say hello. 
(Also say Happy Birthday, because today is her very special day!)
How can anyone resist this smiling face??!
Booth H12, under the charming blue tent.
xx sash

Custom Jewellery

I recently had the pleasure of creating some custom jewellery for a customer and I wanted to show off the necklaces, take a look!

The customer brought in a strand of coral branches she wanted to use, here are the loose pieces after I removed them from the strand.

Here are the design sketches that I presented to the customer; they were really open minded so I did some options for necklaces and earrings – there were lots of beads to use!

The customer decided on two necklaces, to give as gifts. Finished necklace #1.

Finished necklace #2.

The necklaces were a joy to make, and it goes to show that you can always reinvent old strands of beads that you might have lying around.  Maybe you have some beads or old pieces of jewellery lying around that could be revamped, drop by the studio and inquire! 

So many winners to announce!!!!

Last week was a busy week at Jewel Envy! We wrapped up our In Studio Wedding Band Competition with a social all about rings. Best Ring on the Hand was juried at the social. And finally we drew the winning names for a free class from the 250 plus entries in our wedding band competition.

I would like to say congratulations to everyone that made something, wore something, or even just showed up! Our events and competitions are successful because of your participation so thank you for taking an interest in what we do at Jewel Envy.

Now to unveil winners…

The winner of the In Studio Wedding Band Competition is Lauren Hanham of Lauren Hanham Jewellery Designs for Chrysanthemum Reflections. Her design received the most votes and now she gets to brag about it to everyone!

It really was a tight race and second place is tied by Alexis Kostuk of Glacial for Leaves 

with Carolyn Cathcart of Cathcart Designs for Layers.

Excellent work everyone! It seems we may need to bring back a little more friendly competition and try this again with a different theme. Stay tuned for details on the next one.

Have a look at the blog entry for the competition to see who made what as we have now added names under the images.

As a thank you for voting in the competition all entrants names were put in a random draw for a free half day class. Congratulations to Deborah and Christine. We hope you enjoy your pendant class with us this coming weekend!

Next up we have our winners from the jewellery social. Everyone that attended the party was encouraged to wear their favorite ring and all rings were judged to choose the “Best Ring on the Hand”. Thank you to Mary McIntrye and Charles Funnel, Metal Arts Guild of Canada board members, for choosing our winners.

There were no places, just three awesome rings awarded prizes based on who would benefit from the use of each prize.

Congratualtions to Sarahjane Lynch for “Four Seasons”. Sarahjane has just moved to Toronto from Ireland and we thought she would benefit from a free day of studio use so she could get back to working at a bench! Her tools are en route from Ireland but we look forward to seeing what she makes while here.

Jay Joo won for his ring “Hex”. Jay is a current resident at Harbourfront Center which is a fairly well equipped studio. The only thing they are really missing is casting so lucky for Jay his award is for studio use which he can use to do his own casting. You might wonder why casting yourself is such a perk. For those who wonder, it is because you can use all of your own scrap metal and control the process for better results.

Our very own Amanda Henderson is the final winner. When I was discussing the prizes with the jurors I said to exclude the jewellers at Jewel Envy. Their response was, we don’t even know who they are….so we thought it was ok to include them instead of singling them out. Amanda won for her ring “Love/Hate” and will receive a one year membership to the Metal Arts Guild of Canada.

Well done jewellers at Jewel Envy and beyond! Stay tuned for more exciting events this winter.

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