Slashpile Designs Blog
A few years ago, our mom lost the diamond in her engagement ring. She thinks it got pulled out by a dog leash somewhere in the park, and was unfortunately never able to find it. For her birthday this year, our dad had us replace it with a new diamond.
The stone we found to replace it is a beautiful blush-coloured diamond, which looks amazing next to the yellow gold of the band and the setting. It was also perfect for her, because she was looking for a diamond that was "a little bit more interesting". Since this stone is bigger than the original diamond, we had to make a new setting that is taller to accommodate the height of the stone. We're pretty happy with how it turned out, and she is excited to be able to wear her engagement ring again!
This was an extra-special and appropriate gift, since the diamond is April's birthstone and our parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary last month!
Sand Dollar Teeth April 17 2015
When Courtney and I were about 5 years old, our family took a trip to Florida and spent tons of time collecting things on the beach. I found some sand dollar teeth, and I thought they were so cool when I learned what they were. I filled a little film container with them and had way too much fun showing them off back home!
On our recent trip to San Francisco, we were walking along the beach and noticed that there were sand dollars everywhere! We searched for some sand dollar teeth to cast and make into jewellery. Not only are these things nostalgic for me, personally, but they are also so interesting! Sand dollars are little sea-urchin type creature that move slowly through the sand on lots of little legs covering their surface. They feed on plankton, and have 5 teeth inside that help them break down the plankton. The white sand dollars that we find washed up on the beach are no longer alive and have been dried out, so all that remains is the skeleton.
I think these animals are SO weird (in a good way), and I think its kind of funny that such a simple, slow creature has teeth (not to mention that the teeth are actually beautiful little objects!)
Here are some of the pieces that we made with castings of sand dollar teeth:
Calculator Word Bracelets March 13 2015
We have a new product for spring!
Were you ever bored enough in math or science class to type words on your calculator instead of solving the problems? perfect for the studious type and math-class delinquents alike, these bracelets let you share your calculator message with the world.
The numbers are engraved in a calculator font on a brass plate, and you can choose whichever word you want, as long as it can be spelled with upside-down numbers! The chains are brass with black enamel.
Come Eat With Us March 13 2015
As part of the Crafting Sustainability conference happening this weekend, OCAD University is putting on the exhibition, Come Eat with Us, and invited alumni to submit work for the show. The exhibition will be in The Great Hall at OCADU from March 14th to 20th. The opening with take place on March 14th, from 4:00-6:00pm.
The show is all about sustainability in relationship to craft and food production and consumption. Here is our entry. We can't wait to see it on display with the rest of the exhibition, and all the different takes everyone has on this concept.
Swivel photo locket: sterling silver, liver of sulphur, photo
In an era where sustainability has become a buzz word, it's easy to overlook that sustainability is a concept that applies equally to relationships. From breaking bread with strangers to lunch and coffee meetings, to family dinners, food is an integral part of establishing, maintaining and strengthening our relationships with each other. The people we eat with are a big part of how we experience food. But people in North America are increasingly eating out or on the run. The traditional family dinner is a ritual that many people associate with a simpler time.
This locket, including a photo of our family eating dinner together, is about maintaining relationships with people who are important to us through the ritual of eating together. Although lockets, like the traditional family dinner, also originated from times past, this locket shows that it can be modernized and made just as relevant today as it always was.
Valentine's Puns! February 14 2015
Happy Valentine's Day!
This is a holiday of love, chocolates, presents, and best of all: PUNS! I love getting cheesy cards with terrible puns, so this year we had a great time making up our own punny images to go with our jewellery pieces. Here are a few of my favourites.
Happy New Year! January 01 2015
More Holiday Shopping! December 08 2014
We have been adding more exciting events to our schedule for the holidays, so here is the updated list of where we'll be! Since Slashpile jewellery pieces are all clever and meaningful, they really do make perfect holiday presents. Come visit us at these places and find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list (and don't forget to include yourself on that list!). We also think these are some pretty cool events, so even if you're done your shopping you should come by to say hello and just enjoy!
Pop-Up at Freedom Clothing
Tuesday December 16, 3:00-7:00pm
939 Bloor St W (Bloor and Ossington)
Next Tuesday, we will be having a pop-up event at Freedom Clothing Collective. Freedom Clothing is a fabulous store for local fashion, accessories, housewares and more! Stop by between 3:00 and 7:00pm, and take advantage of 15% off everything in store, including an extra wide selection of Slashpile Designs Jewellery. We will even have some one-of-a-kind samples and never-before seen pieces for sale!
Parkdale Flea Xmas Edition
Weekend of December 20 & 21
1266 Queen St W.
Parkdale Flea Market brings together some of the best and most unique products that Toronto has to offer. Featuring vendors ranging from Antiques, Vintage, Collectables, Local Artisans and Designers, the market showcases impeccable taste!
Food and drink vendors will also be available so come hungry and thirsty! Four legged friends are welcome too!
#localTOmrkt: a holiday market downtown with our city's local goods
December 22-23, 12:00-9:00pm
335 Yonge street, just north of Dundas
A month-long holiday pop-up market in a vacant lot at the shopping core of Toronto. The market will be happening in a large tented space with heating. Featuring a wide variety of local vendors and food trucks, this market offers such a unique shopping experience in a great, convenient location! We will be there on Dec 22, 23 and 24th for your last-minute holiday shopping!
If you can't make it to these events, be sure to check out our retailers or we'd love to connect with you online!
Cheers! and Happy holiday season!
Upcoming Holiday Markets! December 01 2014
After a successful week with the Unwrap Etsy pop up shop at Hunt Club, we're really getting into the thick of the holiday shopping season! We thought this would be the perfect timing to let you know about our upcoming holiday markets!
Uniquely Yours Holiday Market
This coming Saturday, December 6, we will participating in a great event to be held at Lobster Monster, a seafood restaurant with a fun atmosphere, located at Yonge and Lawrence. Come by between 10 and 2, do a little shopping, do a little sampling, enjoy some refreshments and cocktails and make new friends. Hope to see you there!
And don't forget to email RSVP for a free swag bag! first 50 people to RSVP only!
#localTOmrkt: a holiday market downtown with our city's local goods
A month-long holiday pop-up market in a vacant lot at the shopping core of Toronto. Check it out at 335 Yonge street, just north of Dundas. The market will be happening in a large tented space with heating. Featuring a wide variety of local vendors and food trucks, this market offers such a unique shopping experience in a great location. We will be there on Dec 22, 23 and 24th for your last-minute holiday shopping needs!
If you can't make it to these events, be sure to check out our retailers or we'd love to connect with you online!
Cheers! and Happy holiday season!
Slashpile Series, re-launched!! October 09 2014
Our signature Slashpile Necklace is now available in a new style! Our previous design was an abstraction of the piles of sticks and logs that are so familiar to tree planters. But recently we've been reminiscing about our experiences in the bush. And going over all of these memories has inspired this new, more realistic and rustic version of the token-of-pride necklace.
We carved the Slashpile out of wax and then cast in sterling silver. We then darkened the pendant with a patina to give it that rustic look. The pendant is strung on an 18" oxidized sterling silver chain to match.
While we still love the original design, we feel like this new style connects a bit more with the ruggedness of the experience of tree planting. We hope you like it too! :)
Digging for crystals July 26 2014
Last week, I was hiking with a friend near Bancroft (the gemstone capital of the world) at a site we had read about that had lots of minerals (apatite, bromite, titanite, calcite...). I didn't know what most of these stones would even look like and didn't think we would actually find anything, but was super excited at the possibility. About an hour into the hike, we came across a pit that looked like people had been digging through and decided to stop and pick through the dirt. I was amazed to see that there were green apatite crystals EVERYWHERE, and collected a little bag full of them. SO exciting! This weekend, I have spent all my free time in the studio making various settings for my favourite pieces and have even gotten a few commissioned necklaces out of it :)
I can't wait to get some of the finished pieces listed on our website and in our Etsy shop!
Wedding Quilt! July 14 2014
As you may have gathered, Tara and I love making things...not limited to jewellery and silversmithing! Here are some photos of the quilt we made as a wedding present for Blythe and JP. :)
The quilt is made from batik fabrics, which are hand dyed in Indonesia with a wax-resist method. This method creates beautiful subtle patterns. Check out Flare Fabrics to see more of these beautiful fabrics.
We spent many hours making this quilt, from cutting and piecing the fabric for the top (making the pinwheel squares and then joining them together!), putting the back together, securing the layers together (top, batting and backing) and then manoeuvring the entire thing around a sewing machine to do the topstitching and finally adding the red binding!
Blythe & JP's Country Chic Wedding July 11 2014
Wedding season is in full swing, which means we're just about wrapping up our bridal projects for this summer--but there are still a few more to reveal to you later on...;)
We had the absolute pleasure and honour of making wedding bands for our good friends, Blythe and JP who live in Montreal. Since we live in different cities, the process of making the rings was pretty unique! We had a Skype meeting to discuss design directions and go over sketches and they didn't get to actually see their rings in person until the night before their wedding! Lucky for all us, they fit perfectly!
Blythe's ring features 15 pavé diamonds across the top half of a 1.5mm thick half round band. JP's ring is a simple 3mm wide band ring. Both rings are 14 karat white gold and their fingerprints are engraved on the inside of each other's ring.
Barbara & Duncan married each other all over again --with special custom rings we made for them! July 08 2014
Barbara & Duncan celebrated their tenth anniversary of their first date by marrying each other all over again with a lovely and romantic ceremony in Big Sur! Following the ceremony, they hiked 12 miles up the local mountains. We made these 18 karat white gold viking style bands for their special day. To read the full story of their second wedding, check out Duncan's blog here!
These pieces were super interesting to work on because they really used such a perfect combination of new technology and traditional jewellery techniques. We first modeled the rings in CAD, without the texture. In this step, we create a file for each ring that is sized to the customer. Each file is 3-D printed in wax and then cast in the metal of choice (18 karat white gold in this case!)
The casting comes back covered in plaster and with a sprue attached, so they require a fair amount of clean up. This is done with very simple hand tools, such as files and sandpaper. We gradually improve the finish, step by step, until we get to 600 grit sandpaper. It gets tumbled to make it shinier and then Tara then applies the texture by hand, using our flex shaft (dremel) with a round bur (like a drill bit with a round top). Each ring is then polished up to perfection!
Here are some process shots!
Bridal Party Jewellery for Joel & Dafna's Wedding June 30 2014
Joel and Dafna got married on June 8, 2014 and we had the pleasure of working with them to create their bridal party jewellery and their personal jewellery for the day of their wedding. Below, we have created a gallery of the items and a few photos from their special day :)
Spring makes me happy! May 28 2014
This weather we've been getting has been all over the place (hot hot temperatures, thunderstorms...I never know what it's going to be like the next time I step out the door!) HOWEVER, what's so great about the weather is that it's perfect for kickstarting the growth of all the plants and trees!! This means, I've been spending as much time in the garden as possible and watching it get super lush!!
And with that, I'll leave you with some photos of the wonderful natural things that are happening in the backyard as well as some related Slashpile Designs jewellery pieces! :)
Save 20% on all orders until the end of May! May 07 2014
We're celebrating the launch of our new website with a sale! Receive 20% off your entire order when you enter the coupon code 321BLASTOFF from now until the end of May!
If you're in Toronto and you're looking for a Mother's Day gift, e-mail us and we can set up a pick up this week!
Start shopping our current collections here!
Snowboarding in Terrace, BC! April 29 2014
In February of this year, I got the chance to go on an amazing snowboarding trip. After a wonderfully busy holiday season, it was great to be able to take some time away from jewellery-making to do something else that I love--snowboarding!
The trip was a great source of inspiration (you may have seen some jewellery on our Facebook page, made with alder catkins that I found on the mountain!) and I thought it would be cool to share it with you! I'll try to keep my explanation brief...
Dave and I lived in Terrace for a winter a few years back and it was about time we went back to visit all the amazing people we met there. I've also been working on my snowboarding skills, so I was excited to test my skills at Shames Mountain and in the backcountry. We lucked out with amazing and plentiful snow, that came just in time for our arrival!
We started out our trip with a few intensive 'warm up' days at the ski hill. It was lovely to see all the familiar faces and to be snowboarding in familiar territory (I worked at the bar in the lodge when we lived there, so we were literally at the mountain everyday!)
Cool Fact: Shames Mountain is now My Mountain Co-op--Canada's first non-profit ski community co-operative.
We took a few days off riding after our initial shock-to-the-system ski hill days to catch up with friends and prepare for our second week, which we kicked off with a trip to the back country. We spent 2 nights and 3 days in a cabin way up in the mountains. We hiked in with all our gear using split boards (snowboards that split into skis for climbing). I had the best run of my life from up in the alpine, pretty much straight back to the cabin. It was cold but beautiful and sunny and the snow was light and fluffy. We got back to town exhausted, but exhilarated. We spent our last few days in town, at the ski hill and hanging out with friends. Oh yeah--and we also managed to sneak in a trip to Prince Rupert where we went kayaking on the ocean. Thanks to all the wonderful people that hosted us while we were there! What a trip!
Here are some photos:
Roots and Tattoos April 02 2014
Courtney and I were talking recently about our creative process, and since our conversation, I personally have been thinking a lot about my roots as a silversmith. In 2007, my final year at OCAD, I had to create my jewellery design thesis. This consisted of a body of work that I spent an entire school year developing along with a written component. My thesis project marks the beginning of my independent silver work. It was titled "Personal Trophies", and explored the concept of jewellery telling the story of personal triumph in the life of the wearer. Each piece was composed of two parts; the jewellery piece itself and a clear resin trophy-shaped display stand for the jewellery for when it was not being worn.
The idea was that the jewellery should be intensely personal, and my work kind of combined the nature of a tattoo with the concept of a public award. Tattoo designs usually carry a meaning and proudly declare something about the person, something important enough to ink on their skin forever. They are another form of self-expression, a story to be told. Jewellery can be equally special and important in a similar way (but you can take it off and change it up). More and more, people are finding the need to express the details of their lives to the world (just look at the rise in social media!). Some people do this by inking an image on their body forever, but jewellery can be just as personal and have a similar function. It can also be just as permanent, but much less of a commitment! I personally love tattoos, but can't commit to anything on my body for good... So I'll stick with sharpie tattoos and jewellery :) Trophies and awards are usually very public and recognize people for concrete achievements (like winning a contest or completing a marathon). They are often displayed proudly as tokens of success. In my thesis project, the jewellery pieces relate to something that the wearer is proud of, and give him or her the chance to talk about it. Displaying it as a trophy or award on a shelf celebrates the achievement really clearly!
And there it is: the root of Slashpile Designs, "Jewellery to start a conversation!" We always design with a concept or a story as the basis for our pieces, allowing our customers to start conversations about the things they are proud of or the things that they care about. I should add that Courtney helped me a ton when I was figuring out the concept for my thesis project. It works so well in our business because (while we do have distinctly different strengths and skills) we have such a similar way of working and coming up with ideas. We're looking forward to seeing how our work changes and evolves in the next stages of our business, while still staying true to our roots!
What I want to be when I grow up... February 25 2014
Do you remember your childhood career plans? They were probably very different from what you actually do now (or maybe not)! This line of necklaces lets wearers show off that dream -- whether it was to be an astronaut, artist, rock star, teacher...or something equally exciting! We have re-designed this line, and are launching a new and improved version of our 'What I want to be...' pieces. Here's the preview! Whimsical brass charms hang on 18" sterling silver ball chains. The line will be in stores for spring 2014, just in time for purchase as graduation gifts. The necklaces retail for $50 each. Etsy listings coming soon!
Slashpile Designs Virtual Shopping Tour - Made You Look December 18 2013Made You Look is the final stop in our Virtual Shopping Tour (for this year, anyway!) Located at 1338 Queen Street West, just west of Dufferin, the famous Queen West Store, established in 2001, represents over 100 local Toronto jewellery designers and has become a real hub for the jewellery community in Toronto. Attached to the shop is a large studio where 20, self employed, in-house designers make their jewellery under their own brand names. This means Made You Look Customers can browse a diverse collection of beautiful handmade work and interact with jewellers to consult about custom design and other services. Take a stroll down Queen Street West, and visit the store in Parkdale, one of Toronto’s most unique, diverse and dynamic neighbourhoods and see for yourself the wonderful array of all kinds of jewellery. They offer everything from high end jewellery in precious metals (including wedding and engagement rings) to eclectic fashion, costume and art jewellery. All jewellery in Made You Look is designed and made by local Toronto designers. Here's a video from which you can learn more about Made You Look from owner, Sarah Dougall herself! We absolutely love the store and are so proud to sell our jewellery in Made You Look. Most of our work can be found in a case on the left wall when you walk in. We used to be displayed in the South store, but both stores have been recently combined so all Made You Look jewellery can be found in one convenient location on the North side of Queen St. [gallery ids="2450,2459,2458,2453,2452,2451"]
Slashpile Designs Virtual Shopping Tour - Gallery Catalyst November 07 2013
Gallery Catalyst is very different from the other stores we sell our work in. The concept is affordable art: every piece is one of a kind, and comes in one of 3 sizes. All pieces of the same size are the same price, whether they were created by an established artist or someone fresh out of school. The idea is to make art collecting affordable and accessible to everyone. Artists featured include Dr. Seuss, Billy dee Williams and Rachel Isadora and up-and-coming artists like Johnathan Ball, Joann Côté and Adrienne Dagg.
The gallery opened in May 2013, and is a great addition to the Queen West strip. The idea was inspired by a gallery the owner visited in Paris, showcasing new and established artist equally. Each artist has their own podium display, with the 3 size options, and prices displayed on the wall. Customers can flip through the variety of paintings, prints, photos, etc, and even get them framed onsite. Slashpile Designs jewellery is displayed inside the gallery, in the cases near the counter, where there is a selection of jewellery for sale by local Toronto artists. Behind the cases are some larger pieces of art, also for sale. Gallery Catalyst also holds art openings and events, and the manager, Kelsey, was telling me about one opening where the artist actually was spontaneously struck by inspiration and actually started unwrapping her paintings and painting over them on the Gallery Catalyst is an exciting new space to check out, great for unique holiday gift ideas. Why not give someone the gift of original art?! Visit their website at http://gallerycatalyst.ca/
Slashpile Designs Virtual Shopping Tour - Flock Boutique November 04 2013http://flockboutique.ca. Flock Boutique loves Canadian handmade - which is why they carry the work of over 160 of Canada's loveliest and most unique designers! They carry dresses & accessories, jewellery (of course!) scarves, mitts, finger puppets & the cutest little alternative baby section you have ever seen. The shop is fresh and fun and the vibe is grown up, work wearable, and ethically made The ladies of Flock also offer classes in sewing, knitting, jewellery-making, and various other crafty pastimes. Christina & Bridget, the duo behind Flock, met 9 years ago around 3am outside in the Byward Market building while they were waiting in a line up to sell their goodies on Canada Day. When the skies darkened and the winds started to pick up, they tied their tents together, thinking the weight would help them out. Instead, they had created a giant sail that had the pair gripping on for dear life while being pelted with hail and watching their handmade goodies slowly making their way into the storm drain! Christina and Bridget decided to open Workshop Boutique (their first store) 6 months later and Flock Boutique 5 years after that. They must be crazy, but they've done a wonderful job on both stores! Always a pleasure to stop by and spend some time looking around whenever we are in Ottawa!! :) Both Flock and Workshop Boutiques carry a wide selection of Slashpile Designs jewellery, so make sure you check them out when you're in town! [gallery ids="2405,2404,2403,2402,2401,2400"]
Slashpile Designs Virtual Shopping Tour - Corktown Designs October 20 2013
Corktown Designs is a fantastic place to find unique and interesting contemporary jewellery. The venue itself is beautiful, with brick walls and glass cases showcasing a huge variety of handcrafted jewellery and accessories, as well as some mass-produced pieces. It is located in Toronto's historic Distillery District, which is a part of the city that is definitely worth visiting! The pedestrian-only village was formerly operating as the Gooderham and Worts Distillery from 1832-1990, which at one point was the largest whiskey and spirits distillery in the world. More recently, the 40 buildings of the old distillery were restored and opened in 2003 as a major tourist attraction, with lots of shops, restaurants, cafes, galleries and artist studios. There are often craft and farmer's markets, festivals as well as music, fashion and art events.Corktown Designs is right in the middle of the distillery district, at 55 Mill Street. The staff are very nice and helpful, and it's a great place to shop for unique and special pieces or even just to browse and look at all the jewellery. The jewellery is separated in the case by designer, and they also carry some accessories, such as unique bags and scarves. Here's a photo of our display, which is located towards the back of the store on the wall to the left of the entrance. This is definitely a great place to check out for holiday shopping, or for something special to wear to all those fancy parties coming up! I hope you enjoy your visits as much as we do!
Slashpile Virtual Shopping Tour October 10 2013[caption id="attachment_2331" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Sneak preview of the first virtual tour through Wise Daughters Craft Market![/caption] With the holiday season soon approaching, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the stores that carry our work--there are some really great shops (both local and abroad!) that you might like to visit! Over the next few weeks, we will be creating a series of posts on our blog. Each post will give you a 'virtual tour' of a specific retail store, where you can find Slashpile Designs jewellery, along with many other wonderful things. We'll show you some photos of the shop, introduce you to the staff and let you know about any upcoming sales or events in that location. So stay tuned...and enjoy! Happy shopping!
Gore-Gore Rollergirls' 22-way best friend necklace! July 26 2013
I Just finished another project that I'm really excited about!
As most people know, I have played roller derby for the past 3 years. This year was my first year playing on an official home team for Toronto Roller Derby, the Gore-Gore Rollergirls (the leopard print team). It's an awesome sport, and an amazingly supportive team to be a part of. This year, after the season was over, I was commissioned by our team captains (Kandy Barr and Santa Muerte) to make a best friends necklace for each of our team members and bench managers. It started off as one giant leopard print heart, (with all the leopard spots hand-pierced by me--it took at least 8 hours just to make the pattern!), which I then cut into 22 pieces. I think this is the cutest, nicest gift a teammate could ask for, and as a jewellery maker, I'm so glad I could be the one to create it!!
New dinosaurs joined our herd! July 04 2013
Now introducing new dinosaurs to the herd! Stegosaurus and Brontosaurus (or Apatosaurus) will soon be joining T-Rex on our website and in our Etsy shop! These necklaces are a fun way to show your love of dinosaurs. Pick your favourite prehistoric beast and wear it proudly! Even more dino necklaces are in the works... Pre-order a Stegosaurus or Brontosaurus necklace by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or order a T-Rex necklace in our Etsy shop here. :)
The Slashpile Story June 26 2013
In 2006, we went treeplanting for the first time. Treeplanting is known to be an extremely difficult summer job. When we first arrived in the bush camp, people looked at us and thought there was no way we would last more than a week. But we did—we stayed the entire season, and were even top planters at our camp.
When you decide to do treeplanting, you commit to living in the bush for 4 months of the summer, living in a tent in very isolated camps in northern Canada (we planted mostly in Alberta). Everyday, you wake up super early to start planting trees, which you carry around with you all day over rough terrain, planting between 2000 and 4000 trees per day. You get paid per tree, so you have to work hard to make it worthwhile. There are bugs, swamps, extreme weather conditions, bears and many other challenges. That's not to say we didn't enjoy it--on the contrary! We had an amazing time and met such incredible people. We even went on to do more seasons, Tara as a tree checker (she had to have surgery on her shoulder after a year of planting) and I did 4 more seasons as a planter.
So back to the story--
In the clearcuts, there are these giant piles of sticks and logs, called Slashpiles. During the season, they kind of get in the way of planting, but at the end of our first season, we climbed them to photograph our ‘victory pose’ (see above, photo courtesy of Fabienne Good). After the season, we created a silver jewellery piece based on the slashpile, that was designed to be a medal for finishing the full season. This piece gave us the foundation of our branding for Slashpile Designs—every one of our pieces reflects a story, concept or achievement. And this piece is a prime example of how we do that.
We create jewellery, mainly in sterling silver. Unlike most jewellery, which is purely aesthetic, every piece has a story or concept behind it. Our products are designed to be personally significant to individuals, while at the same time, understood by a large audience. We get the inspiration for our pieces from our own lives, which we like to pack full of various activities, such as karate, snowboarding, roller derby…the list goes on. We are driven to create pieces that are both meaningful to the wearer and pleasing to the eye.
I hope this gives you a clearer insight into who we are and why we do what we do! If you take a look through our collections, hopefully you can even relate to some of our products with your own stories. We are constantly working to come up with new and exciting products that our customers can relate to with their own stories.
And now, a couple more treeplanting photos....
Custom Beach Glass Pendants May 30 2013
Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of working on these very special custom beach glass pendants. It was a fun project to work on, as we had to figure out an innovative way to securely enclose the stones, while staying true to the visual design concept we came up with together. The 'cages' could not be soldered closed, because heating would damage the glass. The best thing about these pieces, though, is that the story behind the project is so touching. Michelle does a much better job of explaining it than I would :)
"Last year on a trip to Barbados, my Mum found several beautiful pieces of beach glass. Some she gave to my boys, others she kept because she wanted to one day have them made into pendants. Without her knowing, I had taken her two favourite pieces, planning to have Tara and Courtney at Slashpile Designs make them into pendants for her birthday. Sadly, Mum didn't see them completed. She would have loved them. Thank you Tara and Courtney."
You are very welcome, Michelle!
The Passion for Fashion Award!! May 10 2013
Back in November, we went looking for grants to apply to, so we could more rapidly grow our business. Our first stop was YES (the Youth Employment Services), where we went in just to ask for advice on where to start. The receptionist (who was extremely friendly), said to come back the next day to check out a workshop series.
So we went back the next day to start the Passion for Fashion workshop series, 5 workshops on various topics to help teach youth how to get their fashion-related businesses off the ground. We happened to catch the very last session of the year, just before the launch of the Fashionista's Den competition. Using what we learned in the workshops, we decided to enter. We submitted our business plan, cover letter, Powerpoint business-pitch presentation and contest application in March (after many, many hours of writing and perfecting them!!)
We were selected as one of 12 finalists to present our businesses pitch, Dragon's Den style, to a panel of judges including financial expert and VP of YES Richard Healy, fashion stylist and editor Annie Lam, fashion designer Kendra Francis of Franke, Jessica Jensen, President of Jessica Jensen Inc., and Gail McInnes owner of Magnet Creative Management and Stylist Box. We practiced our presentation for hours in front of our dogs (they seemed to like it!)
When we did the presentation for real, we felt pretty good about it--Gail Macinnes even bought one of our 1 Carrot Diamond rings in the middle of our pitch!
One week later, we attended an awards ceremony, where the winner was to be revealed. We got to meet and mingle with all the other finalists--so many great business concepts and talented designers!
We were absolutely thrilled to be awarded 1st place in the competition!! What an honour! Second place was awarded to AEON Attire (run partially by another set of twins!) for their multipurpose accessory and third place was awarded to Masha and Co for her ready to wear women's collection.
We are so greatful for this opportunity! The prize was $1000, a membership to Toronto Fashion Incubator and 50 hours of mentorship!
Through this competition, we have already learned so much and met so many interesting and generous people who have so much wisdom to share! We could not be happier with this experience and we can't wait to see what the rest of this year has in store for us!
Thanks so much to YES, TFI, Passion For Fashion, our customers and everyone who has supported us along the way so far! Looking forward to many more years of Slashpile Designs and storytelling-jewellery to come!
Culture of Living Publicly April 13 2013
We are living in an age where people announce everything online, from pregnancy to breakups to what they ate for breakfast. Social media is allowing us to share even the smallest details of our lives with everyone we know (and even many people we don’t).
In 2012, Facebook reached 1 billion active users. And that’s not the only platform for social media. Through blogging, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, we are able to share photos of everything and even our most menial spur-of-the-moment thoughts. It is clear that people are not only willing, but are also very eager to share these details of their lives with the world. This trend shows how important it is for people to express themselves and tell their personal stories.
And that's exactly what we do--we create jewellery tells a story. Whether that story is your caffeine addiction, the fact that you injured yourself while doing something you are passionate about or that you successfully completed a full season of tree planting--you can find it at Slashpile Designs. And if you can't find the piece you are looking for to express your specific story, we'll make it for you!
Mother's Day Giveaway 2013! March 29 2013
Now launching the Slashpile Designs Mother's Day Giveaway 2013! We are giving away a Tulip Pendant in 10k Gold and Sterling Silver. Here's how you can win this piece: Like our Facebook page and share this photo on Facebook for one chance to win, Tweet or Instagram this photo with the hashtag #SlashpileGiveaway for a second and third chance to win. We will randomly draw a winner on May 1, 2013, just in time to get it to the lucky winner in time for Mother’s Day.
How to Clean Tarnished Brass March 20 2013
We've been doing some spring cleaning. As we were going through our old stock, we found these lovely hand-pierced tree necklaces. And let me tell you--they weren't this shiny after they had been sitting in the closet for 2 years or so, exposed to the open air. In some cases, an oxidized, antique look is really nice on a brass piece. But in this case, I really wanted these necklaces to look new and shiny.
This inspired me to find out--how do you clean brass? Lucky for me, I live in a jewellery studio (literally), so I just threw the pieces in the pickle (a funny name for the acid that cleans off oxidation) and re-polished them. Most people I know, however, don't have access to these tools and chemicals, so I decided to look into easy ways to clean brass at home.
Sounds strange, but ketchup is great for cleaning brass. Just put a little on a cloth or paper towel or cloth, rub the surface of the brass, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth. (This method is my favourite.)
- VINEGAR, SALT & FLOUR
Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into one-half cup of vinegar, and add flour until the mixture becomes a paste. Rub onto the surface of the brass, leave for about 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
WATER, SALT & VINEGAR
Heat 2 cups of water, and add 2 tablespoons each of salt and white vinegar to create another natural recipe for polishing tarnished brass. Use a cloth to apply the mixture to the surface of the piece you wish to clean, rinse and then dry with a soft cloth.
- LEMON JUICE
It's as easy as it sounds--use straight lemon juice on the surface of the brass to clean it. You can rinse it with water and dry with a soft cloth.
If you try any of these out, I would love to see a before and after picture to see how well these methods work! And next time I need to clean a tarnished brass piece of jewellery, I will be sure to try one of these out and let you know how it goes!
If you are looking to clean silver jewellery using household items, check out this post.
Slashpile Designs supports the Bay $treet Bruisers! March 14 2013
Introducing our new tie necklace, made in support of Toronto Roller Derby's B travel team, The Bay $treet Bruisers! When you purchase this item, 10% of proceeds will be donated to the team. You can purchase this necklace for $60 in our Etsy shop by clicking here!
Tara (aka Taranosaurous Rex) plays for thBay $treet Bruisers. Their next games will be on March 22 and 23rd in Toronto, when they compete in Quad City Chaos, a tournament featuring teams from Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo and Columbus, Ohio!
Tie pendant is approximately 1" tall and hangs on an 18" sterling silver faceted ball chain.
Master cicerone, Mirella of Beerology is featured on p. 57 of the current issue of Canadian Business Magazine, wearing her custom pink alcohol molecule necklace from Slashpile Designs!
If you get a chance to pick up the magazine, you should read the article! Her job does sound really cool!
Snowglobe-inspired centrepieces for a sparkly winter themed wedding in Niagara Falls February 16 2013
Hi there! Remember that post where I showed some of our non-jewellery projects? Well here's my follow-up detail post about the centrepieces we made for our friends' wedding. Congratulations Kat & Kirill--We can't say enough how beautiful and wonderful your special day was, and we were so glad we could be a part of it!!
After getting engaged in the summer, the couple decided to have a winter wonderland themed wedding (on 12/12/12) and Tara and I excitedly offered our crafty services to help them make everything for their wedding. We quickly realized that this would be way too big a task for us, so we settled on making their centrepieces.
We wanted to make centrepieces with real 'wow factor' and we wanted them to fit perfectly with their theme and other decorations. After a lot of e-mails back-and-forth (did I mention that Kat and Kirill live in Dubai?), Tara and I came up with the idea to have snowglobe centrepieces. Kat was set on the idea of sparkly sticks, so we decided to combine the two. We were very careful to keep with the winter theme without having the centrepieces look Christmas-y. And we were pretty happy with the result!!
We found some vases with tealight holders at Kitchen Stuff Plus. We created the snowglobe scene with tree and animal figurines from Michael's, and white gravel and acrylic crystals from Dollarama. We wanted each one to be different, so we carefully chose a variety of animals in different sizes, with a special Doe and Buck scene for the head table. We stuck the sparkly, 'snowy' sticks in styrofoam in the tealight holder and strung clear beads on fishing line, which we hung from the branches as 'icicles'. We integrated the table numbers into the design of the centrepieces by using lasercut wood numbers (spray painted white and then with sparkles). These numbers were included in the bouquet of sticks. We surrounded the base of the bouquet with a piece of white feather boa to make an extra wintery pouf detail. Glue guns were a major tool in making these centrepieces. :)
Here are some photos of our process:
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Untitled February 14 2013
Valentine's Day Gift Guide January 31 2013
We've put together a selection of Valentine's Day products from the Slashpile Designs Etsy shop. We've got more traditional heart pieces and some more funky/geeky pieces that are rather appropriate for this time of year. Wishing everyone love, happiness and chocolate!
This is just a screenshot, so to purchase any of these items, check out our Etsy shop, in the Valentine's Day section or click this link:
Winter non-jewellery projects! January 13 2013
Well hello there! It's been quite a while since our last post!
December was such a busy month, not only with jewellery orders (thanks everyone!) but also with some other projects we have been working on. Those of you who know us well know that we love to make EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! (not just jewellery!)
In our next few posts, we will share some of the other projects we have been working on this winter...these include the centrepieces for our friend's wedding, homemade lollipops, candies and soaps, knitting on our new knitting machine, and multiple sewing projects!
Here are a few photos:
We were on TV this morning! December 04 2012
In case you didn't already hear about it--
We were on Rogers Daytime Toronto this morning! And we had a blast!
We got to talk for 8 minutes or so with host Val Cole about our collections and we did a couple of demos of our process in making our jewellery. Everyone at the studio was so nice and Val asked easy to answer questions that allowed us to talk about our work. Here are some photos from our morning in the studio:
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And we'll post the video when we receive our digital copy! Thanks for tuning in :)
Slashpile Designs will be 4 this Friday! (that’s tomorrow!) November 08 2012
We have decided to have a HUGE sale to show all of you how much we appreciate your support over the last year (and beyond!)
This offer is only available to our Facebook fans and to people on our mailing list. Be sure head on over to our Facebook Page and make sure you are a fan, or sign up to our mailing list! Also feel free to invite more people to ‘like’ us to give them access to this amazing deal!
Birthstones! November 07 2012
Today's Etsy newsletter started off with a blurb about how citrine, November's birthstone, is said to emit feelings of happiness, joy and optimism. This made me especially happy because not only is Citrine my birthstone, but it is also yellow, and I love everything that is yellow. That got me thinking that a blog post about birthstones and what they signify might be helpful for all the gift buying you'll be doing this season. Different sources list some variations, but this chart seems to show the most universal modern-day birthstones.
Here is my compiled list of the meanings and associations of each stone:
Garnet- Purity, truth, awareness, endurance, creativity and patience
Amethyst - Stability, balance, inner strength, sincerity, intuition and motivation
Aquamarine – Courage, friendship, creativity, health, perception and hope
Diamond – Eternity, good luck, protection, clarity of thought, balance and abundance
Emerald- loyalty, friendship, love, success, happiness and goodness
Moonstone- good fortune, passion and balance
Pearl- Purity, happiness, peace, love and generosity
Ruby- devotion, integrity, courage, success, nobility, love, enthusiasm and strength
Peridot- Power, influence, truth, loyalty, fame, dignity and protection
Sapphire- Sincerity, constancy, insight and wisdom
Opal- hope, innocence, happiness, loyalty, imagination and confidence
Tourmaline - courage, generosity, compassion and thoughtfulness
Topaz - Loyalty, friendship, strength, balance, wisdom and serenity
Citrine- Happiness, joy, optimism, rejuvenation, energy, and warmth
Tanzanite- Composure, harmony, understanding and sensitivity
Blue Zircon – Success, love, luck, and happiness.
Turquoise - prosperity, happiness, patience and good fortune.
Inspiration November 05 2012
Well, we've now been back from our trip for over a week! I figure it's about time to post some photos from our amazing adventures in Europe. Here's a little taste of what inspired us while we were travelling :)
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BRAND NEW! Genuine 1 Ct (Carrot) Diamond Ring November 01 2012
We are so excited to launch this new item--and so happy this project came together so well, just in time for the start of holiday season!
Genuine 1 Ct (Carrot) Diamond Ring
Now, let's not get our carats confused here -- it's not the size that matters! This genuine carrot ring is made of sterling silver and features a real diamond. A great gift for someone with a sense of humor!
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Euro Trip! September 27 2012
Courtney and I are getting pretty excited for our big trip to Europe! We will be travelling to Glasgow, London, Paris and Zurich, finishing our trip with lots of hiking in the mountains in Switzerland. We have been talking about doing this trip for a while, but it actually came together pretty quickly and I still can't believe that we're leaving in a week!
As far as jewellery orders go, we will still be checking emails while we're travelling and can ship out orders as soon as we get back, on October 26th. We're even going to try to set up some business meetings in the countries we visit! We are currently in the process of wrapping up some really cool projects before we leave, and will be ready and excited for a busy holiday season as soon as we return.
We're really looking forward to 3 weeks of exploring new places, getting some inspiration, reuniting with friends and family and having a big adventure!
How to clean silver jewellery September 11 2012
The vast majority of jewellery that we make at Slashpile Designs is sterling silver. We love silver because it's such a versatile colour and it's really affordable (especially when compared to other precious metals such as gold and platinum!) The one downside to silver is that it tarnishes. If exposed to water, or if left in the open air for a period of time, silver can lose it's shine and become slightly blackened as it oxidizes. But never fear--this is only a reaction that happens on the surface of the metal and it is, in actual fact, super easy to clean off!
Here are a few ways you can clean your silver jewellery using common, household items.
My favourite method is simply using toothpaste. Yes, just toothpaste. If you use just a little bit of white or light blue toothpaste (an opaque kind, not a translucent gel kind) and a little bit of water, you can get your silver looking bright and shiny again in about 30 seconds. I often just use my fingers to clean the piece, but an old toothbrush or a cloth can help you get into all the nooks and crannies.
Another method is to make a paste out of baking soda and water. You can use a clean sponge over the surface of the metal. If your piece is REALLY tarnished, you might want to let it soak for an hour or so in a mixture of baking soda and water. Again, you can use a sponge or old toothbrush to really scrub it clean after it soaks.
You can also buy a silver polishing cloth, available at most grocery stores. The brand we use is Goddard's Silver Polishing Cloth. Simply use the cloth to wipe the dry surface of the silver. It lasts pretty much forever and you can even keep it in your jewellery box so it's always handy when you need it.
In each of these cases, make sure your jewellery is nice and dry after cleaning to prevent it from tarnishing again right away. You can also make sure it stays shiny for longer by storing it in a dry, airtight place and by removing your jewellery before you shower or go swimming. By taking these simple steps, you can keep your jewellery looking fresh, shiny and new!
Behind the scenes: How we make our Lost & Found Rings! August 21 2012
Since I've been making lots of rings lately, I thought it would be cool to share the process with you! Here is a behind-the-scenes, step-by-step description of what goes into making our Lost and Found Rings. Pretty please, don't try this at home unless you are a trained jeweler. :)
First I pick out the stone I want to use for my ring and I select what type of bezel wire I want to use. In this case, I chose a beautiful large, round carnelian, and I decided to set it in a simple, straight bezel setting (we also have scalloped or serrated bezel wire). I get my materials ready (bezel wire, stone, ring band and silver sheet), then I get started by measuring the length of bezel wire I will need to go around the stone.
I cut the length I need, file the ends so that they match up perfectly, bend the whole piece into kind of a 'D' shape, then solder the ends together. After soldering, the silver is slightly oxidized, so I have to put it in an acid called 'pickle' that makes it nice and shiny again. I then press the 'D' shape around the stone, making sure it fits perfectly (no jiggling, or else the stone can loosen itself and eventually fall out!).
Next, I trace the size of silver sheet that I need and cut it out using a jeweller's saw. This part doesn't have to be perfectly even, but there needs to be extra space just in case the pieces shift while soldering. I then solder the bezel onto the sheet (the third photo is what the silver looks like after soldering).
Pickle again to clean the piece, then file the edges of the sheet so that they are flush with the bezel. I then sand the entire thing with my emery sticks starting with 220 emery, then 320, then 400 and then 600 (as you can see, this the part of the process that takes the most time!)
I then put the setting aside and get my ring band ready, first by sizing it, soldering it together, cleaning it up with rotary tools and emery paper, and then filing one side as flat as possible to make a clean soldering seam between the band and the bottom of the setting.
Now, where it all comes together! Soldering the band onto the setting. Pickle again, emery again, then see if the stone fits...and it does!
Now, the most rewarding part--Setting the stone! Using my pusher, I start to push the bezel tight around the stone. I push on one side, then the opposite side, making sure not to go in a rotating sequence around the stone (which can cause more material to end up at one side). I then push in between my first pushes, over and over again until the setting is somewhat smooth.
I use this tool, called a burnisher, to smooth out the setting even more. I then use 600 emery paper to clean it up even more and then throw it in the tumbler to shine up that surface! The finish from the tumbler gives the silver a soft shine.
I take it out of the tumbler and TA-DA! My ring is ready to wear (or list on Etsy!)
Brief History of the Locket August 10 2012
Lockets--jewellery pieces with a compartment to contain small keepsakes--have been around for centuries. They are a fascinating item with a somewhat eerie history. Traditionally, necklace and ring lockets were used to contain medicine or herbs, good luck charms, precious mementos and sometimes even poison. Locket necklaces were symbols of mourning and remembrance, often containing locks of hair or ashes of lost loved ones. The lockets of today no longer have such morbid contents--most often, it's a photograph or two hiding behind that hinged door.
Many people enjoy the searching for antique lockets and all the history that comes with them. There's something about these necklaces that entices our natural curiosity pertaining to the story or secret inside that decorative container--what was kept inside? Who did it belong to? Why it was given?
To create your own story, you can also find many modern versions of the locket necklace. At Slashpile Designs, we've been having a lot of fun making photo lockets these days (you may have noticed our Brass Swivel Locket and our Moon Locket!). We have also been making custom, one-of-a-kind photo lockets, personalized with inscriptions, initials or pierced details. If you're looking for a perfectly personal gift, a locket is about as personal as it gets!
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