As I write this, the snow is falling again. Good thing I like winter. I've already managed to x-country ski on the West Toronto Railpath TWICE! They clear the Railpath better than they clean the streets in our neighbourhood, much to my chagrin, as it makes a great ski trail. But I guess they are worried about all the winter runners, or young families with baby strollers. So when we get a really good dump of snow, like we did mid-January, you have to be quick to jump into your skis and break a trail, knowing that it will be cleared away shortly. This is just one of the many ways I cope with winter. Lots of walks in High Park with friends, and if I can't ski the Railpath, I go Urban Poling (kind of like x-country skiing, but without the skis).
Once again, the holiday season has come and gone. I had a busy period filling online orders and hosting my Second Annual Holiday Artisan Show. I'd like to thank everyone who booked an online appointment and visited my studio or ordered from my website. Same goes for anyone that supported me in anyway, whether you decided to Buy Me a Coffee, follow me on Instagram (@lisaridout) - where you 'like, share or re-post' my content. It all helps to keep me going.
Just want to start the year with a few updates on what's happening over here in the land of LREJ. First of all, you may remember, I sent you a MailChimp email in November about being interviewed via Zoom by Craig Swistun of Before the Business. If you missed that, you can now go and listen to it anytime. It's available on Apple podcasts or you can click here to listen. It's 15 minutes long, and Craig asks me questions about how I got into creating the precious metal designs and delves into my world of chainmaille jewellery design.
Something else I need to share is that I have decided to discontinue using Swarovski crystals and pearls in my jewellery. After more than 20 years of designing and creating with Swarovski elements, it's just time for me to move on. I won't go into all the details, but basically Swarovski is discontinuing many of their crystal designs that I have been using, and they are downsizing their "bead" category.
Most people aren't aware, but Swarovski is the largest and finest crystal manufacturer in the world, founded in 1895 by Daniel Swarovski. The Great-Grand Daughter is now running the company. They employ 30,000 people worldwide, and manufacture over 200,000 products. I am assuming that the pandemic has been hard on them, just like the rest of us, and they need to streamline their operations. Swarovski makes a whole variety of items you are probably not aware of, including fine lenses for telescopes and binoculars. Their crystals are also used in abrasive products as well as concrete sawing and drilling equipment.
As far as my current crystal and pearl stock goes, whatever you see on my website is pretty much what is available. If you're looking at an item and you see it's available in fewer colours than you remember, you're not wrong. It did come in more colours, but as I run out of certain colours, I just remove those options. I have a couple of exceptions, where I have completely discontinued the item on my website, but I may have one available in my showroom. So if you are looking for something specific and don't see it, please reach out, just in case I do have one final piece here at the studio.
And the final thing to share, on another sort of "downsizing note" is that I won't be offering my Made in Italy manufactured sterling silver chains anymore. The pandemic has made it impossible for me to continue importing chains. The cost of shipping, import and duties, and the rise in labour costs has priced them way out of the market. I brought them in as a less expensive alternative to my handmade chains. Well, those days are over! So if you were considering buying a Magic Chain in either the 29.5" or 36.5" length, I still have some stock, but anticipate they will disappear by the end of this year.
Now for some positive news on the jewellery front. I have been recently inspired to make something I am calling "Rescue Hearts". I figure at this point in the pandemic, we all need a little rescuing. So, I literally started to "rescue" pieces from my large arsenal of metal scrap. I dumped a load of it out on the table and when I returned to take another look at it, there, in the centre of it all, appeared a heart shape out of two pieces of wire scrap. I then started to "Waldo" other similarly shaped pieces and managed to make a baker's dozen (13) heart frames. After the frames were made, I drilled holes in them and found more bits and bobs of scrap to fill in each frame with. It was kind of like my version of building a puzzle. I sorted through and found all sorts of pieces that are remnants from many of my designs. Offcuts from coils, ends of coils, copper coils for shawl pins or safety pins, centre holes of Jackie O Toggles that I punch out. I save all the scrap here at the studio and haven't taken in any to be melted for years. So each heart is completely unique and they are of varying sizes and shapes.
I have decided to sell them via Instagram only and starting February 1st I will be dropping one Rescue Heart everyday, for the next 13 days. I view them as kind of a keepsake or talisman that you could put in your pocket, just as a "piece of comfort" or a sort of "worry stone" you carry around with you. They all have the capability to be added to a chain, as I have made the negative space available at the top of the heart somewhere, where you could pop a chain through. So if you are interested in seeing all of them, I would suggest you follow me on IG (@lisaridout). But there are only 13, so a very limited edition design, for you or a loved one.
I hope you had a lovely, quiet holiday as I did, and are easing yourself into 2022 with a little bit of hope and anticipation of better days. I'll leave you with a couple of images, one is "what I did over the holidays". You probably could have guessed, I started and finished knitting another sweater....but you can never have too many winter sweaters when you live in Canada!
The final image is the Christmas gift my youngest son, Liam, gave to me. He took welding at school (on my recommendation) and absolutely loved it, so I am now the proud owner of his handmade, hand forged and welded rose. I cried (tears of joy) when he gave it to me. It is so beautiful and well done and nothing warms a craft person's heart more than a handmade gift.