I am often asked the question, “How did you become a goldsmith?”
I began pursuing goldsmithing after I was introduced to the work of Albert Paley, now a modernist American metal sculptor who began his career exploring small scale sculpture in the form of jewellery making. I was intrigued by his work and career path, particularly the progression of scale and my intention was to continue into larger metal sculpture as well, however the growing demand for custom made jewellery prevailed and larger work is something I still look forward to in the future.
I began studying jewellery making at Camosun College in Victoria, BC, and then returned to Winnipeg to enrol in the Fine Arts program at the University of Manitoba. Following my first year at the U of M I discovered an intensive Jewellery Arts program offered at another local collegiate, the technical emphasis appealed to me and I immediately enrolled. Upon completion I was offered a work placement position with a local jeweller and in hindsight I recognize this as the catalyst to launching my career as a goldsmith.
Discovering a niche market within Winnipeg I began selling my work through local boutiques and art galleries. With the momentum of designing and selling new pieces, our love for music and the lure of the road, we decided to pack up our Westfalia and sell jewellery throughout the Western Canadian folk festival circuit.
In 2003 my wife Trisha accepted a job opportunity in the Okanagan where I opened my first studio / shop. It was a season of taking more risks and growing as an entrepreneur. We also began growing as a family and after having two boys 18 months apart we decided to return to Winnipeg in 2011 and settle amongst family. The following five years witnessed the birth of our daughter and opening our second retail location, the demands of life were full on.
Our love for Manitoba remains: family, friends and cabin life yet the draw to be back west was alive and well. We wanted to slow down our pace of life and refresh our business vision. The Kootenay’s have often been a camping and snowboarding destination for us so we decided to take a year off and spend it in Fernie. It was such an intentional decision with so many implications at this stage in life. “Let’s give it a year, have a family adventure, and see what Fernie’s like…” Well, one year’s up and we’ve since purchased a home and set up our business. The community, epic pow, hiking and biking trails and the beautiful Elk River… we are thrilled to raise our children here and launch our new business.
Over the years I’ve learned that where I live plays a significant roll in cultivating creativity. I’m inspired by many things: relationships between simple shapes and form often seen in architecture and furniture; colour and the natural beauty of gemstones, rugged landscapes, mountain sunsets. Making jewellery continues to stimulate me through perfecting techniques and designing work that’s original. Custom made wedding rings have become a specialty for me; I enjoy working with people to create something individual, something distinctive and meaningful.
Trish and I have enjoyed taking our time recharging getting to know Fernie this past year while reinventing and launching our new business called Element 7 nine (hint: periodic table). Our new line is comprised of original designs that are modern yet timeless. We’re proud to say that Element 7 nine is designed and manufactured in our studio here in Fernie and we plan to sell this line locally and abroad.
Through word of mouth we’ve had really positive feedback and encouragement from the people of Fernie and look forward to becoming more involved and known amongst our community. Our studio shop is located in the Mugshots building and we are generally there 10am -5pm, Monday through Friday and welcome design appointments outside regular hours.
Call 250-430-0070 or visit element7nine.com for more details.