Slashpile Designs Blog

How to Clean Tarnished Brass March 20 2013

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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.

  • KETCHUP
     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!

Tie Necklace by SlashpileDesigns

Tie Necklace by SlashpileDesigns2

 

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.

 


Alcohol molecule necklace appears in Canadian Business Magazine March 06 2013

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!

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Snowglobe-inspired centrepieces for a sparkly winter themed wedding in Niagara Falls February 16 2013

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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

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Valentine's Day Gift Guide January 31 2013

Hello!

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!

Enjoy!

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:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/SlashpileDesigns?section_id=13008017

 

valentine's gift guide


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:

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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

And we will be 26 :)

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:

January:

Garnet- Purity, truth, awareness, endurance, creativity and patience

February:

Amethyst - Stability, balance, inner strength, sincerity, intuition and motivation

March:

Aquamarine – Courage, friendship, creativity, health, perception and hope

April:

Diamond – Eternity, good luck, protection, clarity of thought, balance and abundance

May:

Emerald- loyalty, friendship, love, success, happiness and goodness

June:

Moonstone- good fortune, passion and balance

Pearl- Purity, happiness, peace, love and generosity

July:

Ruby- devotion, integrity, courage, success, nobility, love, enthusiasm and strength

August:

Peridot- Power, influence, truth, loyalty, fame, dignity and protection

September:

Sapphire- Sincerity, constancy, insight and wisdom

October:

Opal- hope, innocence, happiness, loyalty, imagination and confidence

Tourmaline - courage, generosity, compassion and thoughtfulness

November:

Topaz - Loyalty, friendship, strength, balance, wisdom and serenity

Citrine- Happiness, joy, optimism, rejuvenation, energy, and warmth

December:

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. :)

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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.

  

 

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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!).

  

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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).

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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!)

  

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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.

  

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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!

  

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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.

  

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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.

      

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I take it out of the tumbler and TA-DA! My ring is ready to wear (or list on Etsy!)

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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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BRAND NEW! Chocolate Molecule Necklace & Diamond Molecule Ring July 12 2012

We are very excited to launch 2 new items in our molecule series! Introducing the Chocolate Molecule Necklace and the Diamond Molecule Ring!

Mmmmm...Chocolate!

Theobromine is the main ingredient found in chocolate or cocoa. Wear this necklace to show your pride in being a chocoholic!

Pendant is hand-fabricated in sterling silver and then hand-painted with an enamel. Comes on a 18" sterling silver faceted ball chain.

 

The Affordable Diamond Ring!

This ring features the molecular crystalline structure of a diamond, making this a very affordable diamond ring! The molecular structure is fabricated in sterling silver and the black carbon atoms are each painted by hand with enamel. The molecule is soldered to a sterling silver band.



Supporting local talent... July 08 2012

The other day I saw some little girls (aged between 3 and 6) outside their house with a table of jewellery they were selling for charity. I couldn't resist stopping to buy a piece. It reminded me so much of when Courtney and I were little. We used to set up countless lemonade, hot chocolate, raspberry jam and craft stands over the years (the jam was actually tiny containers of raspberries from our backyard that we had mashed up with a fork). All throughout elementary school we had a club with some of our friends called Crafts for Charity (Creative title, I know) in which we sold jewellery and other crafts and donated the money to Sick Kids Hospital and The Cancer Society. I was excited to support some  kids in the neighbourhood now doing the same sort of thing!

 

Here are some pictures of the bracelet I chose for $2. I love it!

 

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Mid-week Muskoka Mission June 22 2012

We left Toronto at 3:00pm on Wednesday, after a busy morning in the crazy-hot city (there were heat warnings!) We drove 2 and a half hours to get to the amazing Joe River B & B , which is on the river right where Lake Rosseau and Lake Muskoka connect.  Our friend from treeplanting, Jessie, was staying there with her Mum who runs the B & B. We had enough time in the evening to go for a much needed swim in the surprisingly warm lake and sit on the dock catching up. Jessie cooked an amazing dinner, and we stayed up late chatting over beers.

The next morning, after breakfast on the dock, we headed into Port Carling, a beautiful little town that is very busy in the summer with cottagers. The first store we went into was a perfect fit for our jewellery, and the owner Trish was really nice. It's a trendy clothing and jewellery boutique right by the water called Free Anatomy. We are very excited to announce that our molecule line is now available in this awesome shop!

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Slashpile Designs at Fashion Weekly Fashion Camp at George Brown! June 18 2012

On Saturday July 14th, 2012 Fashion Weekly online magazine is hosting a full day workshop for people who want to get into the fashion industry.

The camp includes great guest speakers from all corners of the fashon industry, fashion challenges and prizes (including the chance to win an original Slashpile Designs Caffeine Molecule Necklace!), swag bags, lunch & snacks, and an intern job fair. A great opportunity to network with both established and up-and-coming people in fashion!

We feel very lucky to be participating in this event alongside all these amazing people!

You can sign up for this exciting event through the George Brown College course website here and check out more details here.


Father's Day 2012! May 24 2012

I always find it hard to find the perfect Father's Day Gift, so here are a few Slashpile options! This year, Father's Day falls on Sunday June 17.

Our molecule jewellery is always a hit with men, so the cufflink versions are sure to be appreciated. Dad will love to wear caffeine, alcohol or water on his cuffs (we also have H2O tie tacks)! If he's more the nature-lover, he might enjoy the spruce tree cufflinks.

We also specialize in custom work--jewellery of personal significance to the wearer--and we find that custom work is particularly popular for mens' gifts. Rather than trying to find the perfect gift, why not create it based on a personal story, memory or achievement? If you get started right away, we would be thrilled to work with you to design a custom ring, cufflink set, tie pin, money clip...the list goes on :)

Order via Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/slashpile or e-mail us at designers@slashpiledesigns.com to order a custom piece!

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Spring has Sprung! May 17 2012

Because I love Etsy so much, here is a screenshot of our recently 'hearted' items on Etsy!! <3


Slashpile Designs in Calgary's Avenue Magazine! January 19 2012

We just recently found out (and were super excited!) that we were featured in the December 2011 issue of Calgary's Avenue Magazine.

Avenue is a monthly lifestyle magazine featuring Calgary Alberta's best in food, fashion, real estate, shopping, homes and design, the outdoors, arts and culture as well as issues the city currently faces.

We are honoured to have our nicotine molecule necklace as the first featured item on the gift guide (page 65). To view the online version of the magazine, click here.


How much of a positive effect can personalized jewellery have? December 01 2011

    • There was about a week in October when we got a number of exciting custom molecule requests. We made an epinephrine molecule (adrenaline), an alcohol molecule with a pink oxygen atom, and a red wine molecule. We also made a rush order Oxygen molecule necklace for a customer at Freedom Clothing Collective.
      The necklace was a gift for someone suffering from cystic fibrosis who was having trouble breathing. It was given to her by a friend, who wanted to give her some positive vibes and healing energy.
      Two weeks after she received the necklace, she was doing better with oxygen intake and also got accepted for a transplant of a new pair of lungs. Forty-eight hours after the transplant, she was able to get up and walk, and she's doing really well now.
      Could it be that all the good will and positive energy (and wearing the oxygen molecule) really helped her get better?  We are soo happy for them and so touched to be part of this story!
      Thanks to Freedom Clothing for connecting us! Is there someone you know who could use a little extra, positive and loving energy?

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Race Medals October 24 2011

Our medals for the 5/10k to cure Parkinson's were a great success! We attended the pancakes breakfast after the run, and it was so nice to see everyone wearing them!

Congrats to everyone who ran on such a cold, windy day to support this amazing cause! We were happy to be part of the event.

Here are some photos.

Live Life OutdoorsLive Life OutdoorsLive Life Outdoors Parkinson's 10k


Fall Fun! September 30 2011

Wow, it's been a long time since we have posted! We have been super busy getting ready for Fall and winter holiday festivities. We have decided to do a couple of shows this season (one being the Rosedale Fall Festival at a church in Rosedale on the weekend of Oct 21) and have been busy getting all our stock ready for the busy season in stores.

We have also been working on some cool projects. We now in a production crunch for race medals that we have been working on since the summer. The medals are for a 5/10km run to cure Parkinson's that takes place in Port Credit on October 14 (signe up here: http://www.livelifeoutdoors.ca/Race.html). It's exciting for us to be able to support a great cause and work with an organization that seems to fit very well with our philosophy and visual style. We aren't unveiling the medals until after race day, but I will give some hints: the tagline "Live Life Outdoors" and Jack Pine Tree logo fit in very nicely with some of our other jewellery lines.

We are also starting to work a bit more with gold and try out some wax carving techniques for casting. We'll be finishing up a custom white gold wedding band today, and I'm so excited to see the final product being worn and enjoyed! Here are some photos of the finished ring!

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Back in the studio! July 30 2011

Wow, has it ever been hot!

Since our trip we've been spending a lot of time in the studio, replenishing stock and sending more pieces to our new stockists from our big trip (yay!)

The lines we've been spending the most time working on would be our Plant a Tree series and our Lost and Found Rings. Here are some photos:

The first two photos are of our soon-to-be-released Plant a Tree pieces, featuring deciduous trees! The tree pieces are not yet finished...there is still some clean-up to be done. When finished, these will be necklaces and rings.

The last two photos feature our most recent collection of rings (to be sent off to Glitz Gallery in Winnipeg and to another store in Vancouver).

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Day Twenty Four - The last leg! July 06 2011

We got home at 3:00am this morning, so I am just posting this now.

We got up at 7:00 am yesterday (impressive considering we went to bed after 2:00am), and started out on the last leg of our journey. We didn't get as far as we had planned the day before, so we had about a 15 hour drive planned for yesterday.

Our first stop was at a huge waterfall (I can't remember the name of it). We made smoothies at the lookout point and then continued on our way. We had lunch in White River, which is where the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh is from. The original was a female bear cub named Winnipeg (Winnie for short), and was bought and smuggled to the London Zoo (London, England), where the author A. A. Milne was inspired to write the story of Christopher Robin (his son) and Winnie the Pooh. We sat on a patio and enjoyed sandwiches in the beautiful, hot sun.
I had to show Sarah and Dustin Katherine's Cove (where I stopped with Court on the way out). Sarah and I took a little dip in Lake Superior, but Dustin opted to stay on the beach where it was warm. We had bought a big pickle to snack on in Wawa, but it was not very tasty so we played catch with it instead.
We weren't planning to make any more stops, but when we passed a sign for ancient pictographs, we couldn't resist. I'm so glad we checked it out!  There was a beautiful but short trail down through a rocky gorge towards Lake Superior. Along the water is a giant wall of rock where the ancient Ojibway people had painted mythical creatures using ink made from crushed hematite mixed with either fish oil or animal fat.  The paintings are thought to be between 150 - 400 years old, and their meaning is not known for sure. The view of the lake and shoreline was pretty spectacular. The trail was more challenging than it looks in photos, and we were lucky that the water was so calm-- there were signs all along the water warning of the risk of serious injury/death in rougher weather.
We pretty much drove straight on through the night after that, enjoying our last 6 hours or so of car sing-alongs.
Distance today: 1437 km
Total distance: 12441 km

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Day Twenty Three - Epic Achievements July 05 2011

We had a bit of a late start this morning. We slept in, then cooked all the food left in the car (pasta), and headed towards Thunder Bay.

Our most important stop was when our car reached 100 000 km. We took a video and had a celebratory picnic in a planted clearcut just off the Trans-Canada Highway.

Knowing that tonight was our last night of the trip, we wanted to make the most of it. We decided to stop early to experience Canadiana in Thunder Bay. We watched the sun set over Lake Superior from a local bar "On Deck", while drinking Molson Canadian. We also got to pick 21 songs on the jukebox. As we listened to the heavenly sounds of Meatloaf and Billy Joel, we were all grateful for what we've learned about about our beautiful country and the people and places in it. We look forward to our comfortable beds and clean laundry, but wouldn't trade a second of this adventure.

Distance today: 523 km
Total distance: 11004 km

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Day Twenty Two - Two time zones July 04 2011

It is currently 3:00am in Kenora, Ontario, where we're staying in a cabin just outside the city.

We had a great breakfast with Lisa's family in Regina and then headed to the RCMP Heritage museum, where we got a free tour of the training grounds. It wasn't a very exciting tour, but it was kind of cool to see the training centre for all the mounties in Canada.

We got some groceries and started driving towards Winnipeg. It was so beautiful and hot out today, and we had a very smooth drive. We stopped in at the Forks in Winnipeg for dinner and ended up hanging around for over an hour because there was live salsa music, drummers, and people doing tricks with fire. About an hour out of the city, we started seeing some crazy lightning (so naturally, we put on some classical music that matched the timing of the flashing clouds), and the it started to get pretty foggy and rainy so we started to look for accommodations. It took a while, but we made it to Kenora by about 2:00 am (or 12:00 prairie time, so not as late as it sounds). We have a kitchenette, so we will take advantage of that for breakfast.

Distance today: 831 km

Total distance: 10471 km

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Day Twenty and Twenty One - Calgary and Regina July 02 2011

Yesterday morning we had breakfast at the lodge, and then went into a store in jasper  that we visited on our previous visit. They now carry our lost and found stacking rings! There were lots of festivities in town for canada day so that was exciting.

We were going to take the tram up to Whistler's to see the beautiful view, but when we found out that it was $30 per person, we decided instead to take our time Driving through park on our way to Calgary. We stopped at lots of scenic spots along the way (it was hard to find a spot that wasn't scenic) and we climbed a small trail next to a big waterfall. It was pretty cold out, but we had a great time.

We got to Calgary around 7:00, just in time for a barbeque at the house we were staying at. We stayed with Steve (a friend from Toronto) and his cousin's family. We went downtown for a drink to celebrate Canada Day, but we probably left a little too late, and didn't have much time before the last lrt train left to take us back home. We ended up missing the last train and taking a cab.

Today we had breakfast in Calgary, then headed out on the road through the prairies! We stopped for a snack/drink on a patio in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and then drove straight to The Keg in regina, where my friend, Lisa was serving. After dinner, we walked around downtown and then headed back to Lisa's to go to bed at a decent hour.

Distance July 1: 537 km

Distance July 2: 839 km

Total Distance: 9640 km

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Day Nineteen - Natural water and 3 different kinds of precipitation June 30 2011

We got up and had breakfast on the road. The first place we stopped was in Radium hot springs to check out the hot springs. We were expecting a natural-looking spring, so we paid the $6 entrance fee, and went in. It was kind of funny-- it turns out that the 'hot spring' is actually just a heated, chlorinated swimming pool. When we asked for our money back (because we didn't really want to swim in a pool), the guy told us that it was the water that was natural (as opposed to...? haha)

We stopped next at Lake Louise for a late lunch and to check out the lake. It was really cold there, but so, so beautiful. It rained, snowed, and hailed on us (and it was sunny sometimes in between). We took our time through the parks, making our way up to Jasper. We picked up some beer in town, and headed to the Palisades Center, where Jessie and Ramsey had cooked us a delicious meal (yummy pizzas, salads and carrot cake). We ate together in the dining hall, and then played games all evening in the lodge building. It was so much fun!

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Day Seventeen - Nelson and Rossland June 29 2011

We slept in a bit this morning until about 9:30, which was nice. Then we had an short drive through the mountains to Nelson. The weather was beautiful, sunny and hot! We couldn't get ahold of Sarah's brother, who we were going to visit there, so went downtown and got some lunch at the co-op grocery store and ate outside. Sarah had some work to do, so she and Dustin went to a cafe, and I went into all the jewellery stores. Most of the shop owners were in, and were happy to look at my samples right away. A lot of the shops were full for stock, but seemed to really like our work. I got on the waiting list at an awesome shop full of handmade jewellery and accessories called Tara Davis Studio Boutique.

In the evening, we still hadn't heard from the people in Nelson, so we headed up to Rossland, where I have a good friend from first year treeplanting (well, two friends if you include his dog, who is sitting with me while I write this post).  We went for dinner at the local bar, called the Flying Steam Shovel, and then had a campfire in the backyard. So nice and relaxing!

Distance driven today: 262 km

Total distance: 7304 km

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Day Eighteen - Spelunking June 29 2011

We had another great day in the Kootenays today. I got our water molecule jewellery into a store in Rossland this morning! It's a nice gallery/boutique in town called Main Stage Gallery.

In the afternoon Mike and his friend Ryan took us to see an abandoned mine near Salmo and we went exploring. From the outside it just looked like a little hole in a rock, but inside it's huge! It looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings and it was freezing in there! It was also about 5 minutes from the U.S border. I was especially excited, because when I was little I used to play a computer game called Spelunx. I don't think I ever really understood the game, but I've always wanted to go spelunking for real!

Then we drove to Nelson to visit Aaron and Monica, and their toddler, Aidan. We had a lovely dinner with them and then headed on the road (pretty late to start driving...I think we left around 7:30pm). We drove over the Kootenay pass and saw a family of mountain goats. It was really cold at the top, and there was lots of snow on the ground-- crazy!

At around 10:00 it got dark, and at 10:30 it started to rain really hard. We saw lots of deer on the road and driving was a little scary, so we pulled over at a motel in Cranbrook for the night.

Can't wait to go back through Jasper tomorrow!

Distance today: 405 km

Total distance: 7709 km

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Day Sixteen - Mountains, Ranchlands and Samosas June 28 2011

This has to kind of quick, because we just got in to a motel and want to see if there is a local saloon we can check out. We didn't make it to our destination (Nelson) because we had the first car troubles of the whole trip. Nothing major went wrong. We got an oil change before leaving Vancouver, and then the car had trouble starting. When we stopped for gas in Chilliwack, it was even worse, so we went to the Canadian Tire across the street and it turns out that we needed a new battery.

Distance today (+ driving in Vancouver all weekend): 655 km

Total distance driven: 7042 km

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Day Fifteen - Courtney leaves, Sarah arrives June 26 2011

I just got back to the hotel after dropping Courtney off at the airport so she can fly back to Terrace, BC (where she has been living over the winter). Dustin met up with a friend who hitchhiked to Vancouver and they are getting groceries so we can make some food in our kitchenette. In about two hours, I'll have to head out again to pick up our cousin, Sarah, who will also be driving back with us!

It's funny, we have had to switch hotel rooms ever night because of a lack of availablity, so we're getting to try out all different places. Tonight's hotel is not as nice as last night, but by splitting it between 3 people, we are getting the same rate as any of the hostels downtown (which had no vacancy). We are in a beautiful area, right by the beach and Stanley park, so I can't complain. The weather is beautiful today.

We went in to lots of stores this morning on Main St (a cool shopping area) and in Gastown (a nice historic district), and I have a tentative meeting set up for tomorrow. We also found a shop that definitely wants to carry our rings, and another that had already seen our work in our Etsy shop and was interested in retailing our work!

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Day Fourteen - Urban Adventures June 26 2011

After we picked Dustin up from the airport, we walked around the entertainment district which was very lively. There were lots of people singing, playing music on the street...we even saw a very interestingly dressed woman on rollerblades trying to direct traffic...

Today was jam-packed! We knew we had a lot of doors to knock on (Vancouver is a big city with a lot of cool areas and lots of shopping), but we also wanted to make sure we did some stuff for fun.

We spent the morning going in to stores to see if we could show buyers some samples of our work. We found a couple of places on West 4th st, but it was hard to get meetings because we are only here for the weekend. Store owners and employees in Granville Island shops (our next stop) were extremely helpful and open to looking at our work, even though it was super busy there. We definitely got some good leads, made some good contacts and found out about other stores to try.

By that time it was already after noon, so we decided to do some exploring just for fun. We find that store owners are much more receptive in the mornings...

We walked around on Robson St for a bit, then we decided to check out chinatown. I had promised my friend, Mui, from Terrace I would pick up some things while in Vancouver--some vietnamese fish sauce and some rice flour. We completed that mission by showing photos of the products on Dustin's iPhone to the store owners who didn't speak english. They were laughing and quickly found the items we were looking for. We had lunch at a place that Mui recommended--Kent's Kitchen--where you can get a ton of amazing authentic chinese food for $5. So good! We ate back at our new hotel by Stanley Park. After eating, we went for a very long and amazing walk along the ocean, then went back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit. We ate Kraft Dinner for dinner, now we are catching up on e-mails and I'm packing for my flight to Terrace tomorrow.

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Day Thirteen - Vancouver June 24 2011

We spent the morning in Kelowna going into lots of shops. It turns out there isn't much of a market for handmade silver jewellery there-- people just aren't willing to pay for handmade, so the shops we checked out didn't take our work. We did get a response from someone in Edmonton, and will soon be selling at a cool clothing/accessory store there.

We left Kelowna around noon, and spent the rest of the day driving to Vancouver. We got a hotel downtown, and are just about to head to the airport to pick up our little brother, Dustin, who will be driving back to Toronto with me.

Enjoy these photos of the drive today!

Distance driven today: 438 km

Total distance: 6387 km

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Ammolite! June 24 2011

I forgot to mention that we learned about a cool gem called Ammolite while we were in Banff/Canmore! It's Alberta's official gemstone, and it's found primarily in the eastern Rocky Mountains. It is one of the rarest gemstones in the world, formed by the fossilization of Ammonites (ancient shells). It is one of several biogenic gemstones (meaning it comes from a living organism). Ammolite looks kind of like opal, and shines all kind of crazy colours.  When I first saw them in the tourist shops, I thought they looked like they had to be treated or altered by humans in order to get such bright colours, but it turns out that they are all natural! I was also told that within 4 or 5 years, there will be none left! So sad.

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Photos courtesy of Wikipedia!

Day Twelve - Kelowna June 24 2011

We started the day with a free breakfast at the hostel, and then went to a cafe to use the internet. As soon as stores opened, we went into the ones we had scoped out the night before. We had one meeting set up at a cool touristy shop, called About Canada, and they ended up taking most of our line. We also went into some other cool shops and one of them is very interested, but the buyer will probably order when she gets back from California.

We continued on our journey to Canmore, and got our jewellery into the first store we went in to! It's a cute boutique that just opened a few weeks ago called The Clock Tower. It started to rain pretty hard, and we had a long drive ahead of us, so we headed out right after that. We drove to Kelowna, and the scenery was amazing the whole way. The route took us through the Banff, Yoho, and Glacier National Parks, and came out of the mountains and into the Okanagan. Going through Roger's Pass (elevation 1330m through the Selkirk Mountains, BC) the weather got a little crazy. There were huge raindrops, violent headwinds and even some awesome fork lightning! It cleared up pretty quickly, and by the time we reached the Northern Okanagan, it was beatiful and sunny again. The last stretch was full of fruit farms and orchards, rolling hobbit hills and beautiful lakes.

We got to Kelowna at around 7:30 (BC time), settled in to our hostel, walked to the beach and went for some yummy Indian food. Now we're so exhausted that we're actually going to go to bed early (not like last night). Also, if you are ever in Kelowna, I would highly recommend staying at Kelowna International Hostel. It has a really friendly, homey feel to it, not right downtown, but easy to get anywhere. It is also a 5 minute walk from a public beach.

Distance today: 568 km
Total: 5949 km

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Day Eleven (part 2) June 23 2011

So the plan was to go to bed early, but after an evening walk around town, the hostel bar (called the Beaver Bar) was busy and exciting. We talked to a lot of travellers (most of them from Australia or New Zealand) and our bartender even bought a pair of alcohol earrings and a rock pendant!

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Day Eleven - Jasper to Banff June 22 2011

We woke up at the lovely Palisades Centre, in the heart of Jasper National Park--so beautiful! We had breakfast at the lodge, then headed into town for meetings with stores. These took longer than expected, but 2 stores ended up taking some of our work. Bearfoot in the Park of them bought some Slashpile pieces on the spot, and Jasper Rock & Jade said they were going to take an order of our Canadian Rock pendants and our Lost and Found Rings. We departed Jasper after our final meeting and headed down the Icefields Parkway toward Banff. There is no way I can describe how beautiful the scenery was....you will have to take a look at our photos below (and I could only choose 9 out of 133 that we took today!)
We got into Banff around 5:30pm and we decided that we wanted to do something that did not require us to sit (we've been spending a lot of time in the car!) So we headed straight for Tunnel Mountain, a short hike just out of town. We booked a room in a hostel for tonight, where we plan to go for one drink in the bar and go to bed early!

326 km today

5381 km total

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Day Ten - Summer Solstice June 21 2011

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We spent the morning cold-calling stores in Edmonton and got some leads. Tara plans to stop by a few stores on the drive back to Ontario. Immediately got back on the road, toward Jasper. The landscape gradually transitioned from prairie to mountains--beautiful scenery!

We saw lots of wildlife as soon as we entered the park--some mountain goats, a coyote and a family of elk! Had a meeting with a store buyer in Jasper, who is interested in a few of our lines. Then we walked around, scoping out other stores. We are now staying as the Palisades Centre, where our friends Ramsey and Jessie are cooks. Such a wonderful place to stay!

Now we are headed out to meet a friend from high school in Jasper. Time to check out the nightlife here and celebrate the Solstice!

Distance covered today: 456 km

Total distance: 5055 km


Day Nine - Calgary June 20 2011

Our jewellery was very well received in Calgary today! We had a couple of meetings set up, and a list of stores to check out. Our first meeting was in Kensington (a cool shopping area in Calgary), and we got there an hour early to walk around. In the first store we went into, Queen Boutique, we started talking to the two women there, and they ended up taking enough jewellery to stock that store and their other location in Osoyoos! We had such a nice time chatting to them and are really excited to have our work being sent to the Okanagen tomorrow! Our other meetings both went well, and Studio Intent is now also carrying our jewellery! Studio Intent is a cool fashion boutique that is located in Art Central, which is kind of an artist community building-- cool! We also got some promising leads with other stores that we just walked into.

Now we are relaxing in Edmonton at the Spruce Grove Motor Inn, a hotel that we would always stay at between treeplanting contracts. We were hoping to run into some planters, but so far it doesn't seem like there are any here. We're having fun being nostalgic about our planting days!

Distance covered today: 373 km

Total distance covered: 4599 km

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Day Eight - Back on the road June 20 2011

Today, we got up bright and early to make our family's famous chocolate/banana/jam crepes for our hosts. We had a lovely delicious and relaxing breakfast, packed up all our stuff, loaded the car and headed off to Calgary!

The drive was pretty easy and not all that exciting. It was very flat and straight. We did manage to get some beautiful prairie photos though! The weather was pretty interesting. We had heavy rain for very brief periods of time (we drove under some scary clouds!) alternating with beautiful sunshine.

We are writing this blog post from the home of our dad's friend from high school, who is very kindly putting us up for the night and also served us a delicious dinner! (Thanks Leslie and Paul!) After dinner, we spent a few hours researching more stores to contact in our next few destinations.

Good night for now!

Total distance covered today: 805 km

Total distance covered: 4226 km

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Day Eight - Back on the road June 20 2011

Today, we got up bright and early to make our family's famous chocolate/banana/jam crepes for our hosts. We had a lovely delicious and relaxing breakfast, packed up all our stuff, loaded the car and headed off to Calgary!

The drive was pretty easy and not all that exciting. It was very flat and straight. We did manage to get some beautiful prairie photos though! The weather was pretty interesting. We had heavy rain for very brief periods of time (we drove under some scary clouds!) alternating with beautiful sunshine.

We are writing this blog post from the home of our dad's friend from high school, who is very kindly putting us up for the night and also served us a delicious dinner! (Thanks Leslie and Paul!) After dinner, we spent a few hours researching more stores to contact in our next few destinations.

Good night for now!

Total distance covered today: 805 km

Total distance covered: 4226 km

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Day Eight - Back on the road June 20 2011

Today, we got up bright and early to make our family's famous chocolate/banana/jam crepes for our hosts. We had a lovely delicious and relaxing breakfast, packed up all our stuff, loaded the car and headed off to Calgary!

The drive was pretty easy and not all that exciting. It was very flat and straight. We did manage to get some beautiful prairie photos though! The weather was pretty interesting. We had heavy rain for very brief periods of time (we drove under some scary clouds!) alternating with beautiful sunshine.

We are writing this blog post from the home of our dad's friend from high school, who is very kindly putting us up for the night and also served us a delicious dinner! (Thanks Leslie and Paul!) After dinner, we spent a few hours researching more stores to contact in our next few destinations.

Good night for now!

Total distance covered today: 805 km

Total distance covered: 4226 km

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Day Seven - Regina (still!) June 19 2011

Not much to report for today...still relaxing, hanging out in Regina. I guess this was our half-way break. We also had one last night out with our local friends (and their friends).

Now we need to gear up for the second half of our trip which will be jam-packed with travel and meetings.

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