Tooth and Nail is a series of jewellery inspired by found objects, namely teeth and nails. A part of our traditional way of life in the Canadian North East is learning to "make do" and use what we have in creative and unusual ways. As a result of this ingenuity, as well as an often harsh environment, the Canadian East Coast is home to very resilient people.
This collection if for those who've had to fight for it, whatever it may be.
Forbidden Fruit is a series I created inspired by the top of a persimmon, the creation myth, and imagery from the tale of Snow White. I listened to a record of Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales each day at lunch with my Arsenault Grandparents during my elementary school days. Some of these tales terrified me and left me with strong, gruesome visuals.
In this series, I was thinking of “woman’s weakness” according to Christianity (biting into the forbidden fruit), the bear’s heart the Huntsman placed in the evil queen’s box in lieu of Snow White’s and the charming term my mother used to refer to a “hicky” as a “love bite”. I am also referencing my previous series, Ancient Wounds by using the repeated shark tooth motif and the idea of warriors wearing the spoils of war as a form of protection. In the myths I create, I don’t think of Eve or Snow White as victims. They are fearless, adventurous warriors navigating their way out of the forest. In my myth, a persimmon stands in for an apple.
Love Bite, Forbidden Fruit, 2014
Bronze, silver (neck piece)
12 x 30 x 4mm, 18” long
Bringer of Light, 2014
Brass, Bronze, silver, citrine
135 x 144 x 8mm
Thorns Without the Rose, Forbidden Fruit, 2014
Bronze, silver (neck piece)
3 x 12 x 8mm, 18” long
Forbidden Fruit, 2014
Sterling silver, bronze
55 x 55mm, 20" handmade chain
Making bespoke jewelry is one of the most satisfying experiences I can think of. I thoroughly enjoy coming up with an idea or concept out of the blue and following through to make a tangible object of beauty.
All of these bespoke items were created at different times and they reflect those times for me: The engraved pendant is made with one of my very first engravings, the cast crystals were made by pressing a real crystal into the soft inside of a cuttlefish bone to make a negative space I then filled with molten silver. The Labradorite pendant and the Pearl necklace were made to take to the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival. They each employ a highly satisfying technique of adhering pure metal molecules (24k gold to fine silver) called Kumbu. The pearls are from Nova Scotian scallops - the famed Digby Scallops, in fact, and they are harder and more iridescent than oyster pearls. The Rutilated Quartz ring was made using a hand cut rutilated quartz I purchased at the Parsborro Gem and Mineral Show. It was inspired by a tourmalinated quartz ring made by one of my esteemed jewelry instructors, Dariusz Babel.
I often make one offs, but unfortunately I don't often photograph them before they head off into the world.
The fox ring was conceived while living on the outskirts of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. After seeing many red foxes roaming the area while walking my dog, I began to draw and paint them. I was moved to carved a very detailed wax for the ring and promptly forgot about it for two years. When, in 2011, I was starting Angela Grace Jewelry, I found the fox wax and decided to cast him. I cast two and immediately had a long waiting list. He has remained my most popular item to date.
My fox ring is in the collections of international celebrities such as Rossy de Palma and Mayim Bialik. Film director, Wes Anderson, was gifted a pair of fox cufflinks in sterling silver as well as bronze during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival. These were designed as a tribute to his interpretation of Roald Dahl's classic story The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The highly wearable Black Rose Series was named after a tattoo parlour that used to reside on Barrington Street in Halifax before the South End was gentrified. The stones are Black Spinel, a favourite of mine. They are brilliant cuts that have been set upside down so their culets are facing out and they are set in 14K yellow gold and sterling silver.
My studio is located across from the farmer's market on the Halifax Port. Out of the blue one day I got it into my mind that I was going to cast some rose thorns and create a series of jewelry using them. I ran over to the farmer's market and found one perfect rose stem with three beautiful thorns. I took them back to the studio, removed the thorns from the stem and set about casting them. I was rather pleased with the outcome and the Thorn series was born.
I have a thorn bracelet that I wear every single day. It is so easy to wear that I don't mind wearing it in the studio, and is the only piece I'll wear while I'm working.
Ancient Wounds was developed from a fossilized shark tooth I purchased at the Gem and Mineral Show in Parsborro, Nova Scotia. It's a beautiful grayish blue with wonderful contrasting textures. This tooth made me think about the ancient shark it came from and the surprising length of a shark's life, the wounds the tooth could inflict. This lead me to think of the ways we protect out bodies: we wear armour, in another time literally, and today in the choices we make before we leave our homes. In turn I thought of battle and how ancient humans would don the spoils of war as talisman to protect themselves and to frighten their enemies. From these thoughts the Ancient Wounds series were born.
This series uses traditional chain maille techniques in some of its pieces, a practice I found meditative in its repetition.
Pyramid. Just the word has mystical and geometric connotations. This body of work celebrates the mystical and symmetrical beauty of the pyramid. Sterling Silver, quartz, carnelian and gold comprise these baubles. You can find pyramids from this collections in places as far flung as Cape Breton, Germany and Los Angeles.
Joan of Arc
This is the first commercial series I designed. I had no access to fire so I created a series of rings that didn't require any. Just one cold connection holds the entire piece together.
I called this ring series Joan of Arc because I feel that it demonstrates strength, endurance and androgynous femininity. I related this at a recent trunk show and laughed out loud when a client retorted " I thought it was because they stayed as far away from fire as possible." I told her I hoped to use that line some day.
The Joan of Arc rings remain a popular staple in my jewelry collection. Each ring is constructed by hand.
Christina the Astonishing
Christina the Astonishing is my sister and my photographer. It is also the name of a Saint and a song by Nick Cave. These works have been designed with my sisters in mind and between them, every piece resides in their personal collections.
Silver, gold and amethyst.
Sinners and Saints
Sinners and Saints is a body of work created during an Artist's residency at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in 2011. In this series I explored the concept of polar abstractions such as good/evil, beauty/ugliness, sinner/saint that shape our perception of the world. The irony is that these "absolutes", created by our individual experiences, must exist entirely in the muddy area between black and white:
"What really interests me is the reality that each of us has formulated our own set of rules that dictate where we slot things. Our individual, familial and social histories as well as our learned and inherited mores and understandings inform these decisions. What epitomizes outstanding beauty to one can be totally negligible to another. This is across the board in terms of polar concepts and what it tells us is that there are no absolutes. We exist in grey always."
The outsized rings and jagged edges hint at the underlying vein of aggression that runs through this body of work. Normal concepts of "preciousness" are challenged by my choice of materials and techniques used in Sinners and Saints: Brass, Bronze, copper, raw minerals including Nova Scotian quartz, amethyst and citrine as well as silver make up much of the series. I created my own style of bezel settings to accommodate the irregular shaped quartz crystals and I used cuttlebone casting to achieve the rough texture of my arrowhead.
The Arrowhead pieces have become a staple in my commercial jewelry practice and are worn by a variety of characters including actors Caleb Landry Jones and Dot-Marie Jones. The Raw Citrine Pendant lives in a tangle around the neck of French performer Soko.
Bibliophile I came from my intense love for books. Conceptually, Bibliophile I would allow a person to carry around tiny contained books at all times. Ironically, I consider these works unwearable gallery pieces.
Each book contains a story I wrote and illustrated dealing with the concept of time. Each piece opens by unscrewing tiny nuts and bolts, freeing the tiny books which can then by enjoyed by employing the magnifying glass.
This series was hand constructed in silver, leather, paper, amethyst and gold.
Bibliophile I was awarded the Circle Craft Award and was exhibited at the Circle Craft Gallery in Vancouver, BC in 2010.
Bibliophile II was created as a tribute to Bibliophile I, furthering the idea of unwearability due to the materials and techniques employed. It also functions as a nod to the preciousness of books felt by many. By deconstructing vintage books to create these works I had to come to terms with my own reverence for books - before creating this body of work I would never even dream of marking on the page of a book let along cutting out the pages!
Hand constructed in paper, silver, glass and 24k gold.