Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Shopping From The Other Side Of The Counter

It is the last few days of mayhem in the studio before the quiet of the holiday season is enforced. Last minute orders are still coming if for what we jokingly but lovingly call jewellery emergencies. Some last minute shoppers have that panicked look on their faces while others have achieved a calm nirvana like state of mind as this is their usual routine.

Either way I always enjoy the process of hearing about the loved ones that gifts are being considered for and pulling selections of work to show based on the details you share. Each time a customer comes in, it is like a mini challenge presented to help find the perfect gift. When I am successful, I see a sparkle in your eyes, when not I try to figure out what permutation to try next to chase down that glint that says this is the gift they will love.

After a sale is complete I get to let the artist know someone has picked their work and it is on it's way home to be wrapped and presented for the holidays. This is perhaps the best moment as a maker to know that not only did someone want your work, they thought it perfect for someone else too, that's like double the positive reinforcement!

I guess what this boils down to, is a thank you to everyone who has supported local handmade goods this year. We are proud makers but also love seeing our creations enjoyed. So go forth this holiday wearing beautiful handcrafted items and know your support means the world to us!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Give the gift of handmade

Shell Ring by Helena Perez Lafaurie, Flower necklace by Hyewon Jang, Jade Flower Ring by Chia Chien Tsai
Seaweed necklace by Lauren Hanham, Heart Leaf Earrings by Young Ko, Hinged Earrings by Carolyn Cathcart

Spinner Ring by Amanda Henderson, Wood Cufflinks by Zsolt Szekely, Stephen Cufflinks by Sasha Oda

Earrings by Fatima Tataragic, Twig ring by Gillian Batcher, "R' pendant by Alexis Kostuk

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's that time of year again. The Jewel Envy holiday party!
Join us for a glass of wine, homemade apple cider, and snacks...
And save 10% on all jewellery on display in the store!

This party is all about you! Thank you for being Jewel Envy customers. Thank you for being with us just this first year on Roncesvalles. We couldn't do it with out you. Thank you!

See you Friday December 13th from 5-10pm.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

DIY: Make Your Rings Fit Better In The Cold Weather

If you're anything like me, the size of your fingers changes with the weather. In the summer heat they're much bigger and once the winter cold sets in they shrink. This can be pesky if you like to wear lots of different rings and even more annoying if they're big top-heavy rings. Add bonus points if you have straight or tapered fingers with no knuckles to help keep things in place and you've got rings flying everywhere!
Sometimes moving the ring to another finger isn't an option or you just really want to wear it on that particular finger. So what can we do? There's a little trick I learned as a temporary fix. Keep in mind, I don't recommend this as a permanent solution to a ring that is always too big. For that, I would get it professionally resized. This is more for the rings you wear from time to time that will fit in the summer but not in the winter when fingers often shrink down from the cold.
Ok! Now that that's clarified, I'll show you what I did to my ring.
Here is the prototype for a ring from my Bed of Bones collection. I really enjoyed wearing this ring in the summer but now it is way too big.Currently it is a size 9 and I don't want to wear it on any other finger because of the large top. I'd heard of people rolling up packing tape or masking tape and putting that on the inside of the ring but I didn't think that would be very comfortable and would be kind of sticky. Then I found this stuff with my band aids:
It's this foam tape that you put in your shoes where they're rubbing against your feet. It's just sticky enough to stay put but it pulls away without any residue. I used scissors to cut a thin strip and placed it inside the ring.
Now the gap is filled and my ring has gone down to a size 7 1/4! It fits much better and isn't flopping around or falling off. I think this works best for rings with big tops or wide bands so it hides the foam tape. I'm not sure how well this would stand up water and sweat but it IS meant to go inside your shoes so it probably has some resistance. Alternatively you could use something much stickier like Moleskin which is meant to go directly on your feet (I swear this isn't a plug for Dr. Scholl's) but that would probably leave some residue behind that would need to cleaned off with alcohol or acetone. If you end up in that territory, be careful of stones or faux stones made of plastic that could be damaged by the chemicals.

Anyways, I hope this was helpful and that you can now comfortably wear your favourite rings in the winter!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Is it just me, or did we just time warp through an entire year?!  It was summer like, yesterday!  If you're like me, and you're entering this holiday season in a fog of cold denial, then you might need some help in the gift department.  Never fear, we are here to help you with some nifty gifty solutions.

Come in and say hello, and choose something special for someone special!

Have a fantastic week, and happy shopping!

Monday, November 25, 2013


The more the merrier!  
Power in numbers!  
Three's a crowd but more is a party!

What I'm getting at here, is that sometimes one just isn't enough.  It is, after all, the loneliest number.  So unless you are a hobbit (hehe), perhaps your one ring could use some company.  To prove that point, we had another stacking ring workshop in the studio yesterday.  The ladies, Kristina and Kim, were very worthy goldsmiths-in-training.

Here they are hard at work:

Here is amazing result of all their benchwork:

If you can't make it in for a workshop, never fear!  We have a great selection of stacking rings, already made just for you.  Take a look:
Rings by Carolyn Cathcart of Cathcart Designs

 Rings by Gillian Batcher of PASH Jewellery Design

Rings by Lauren Hanham of Lauren Hanham Jewellery Designs

 Rings by Sasha Oda of Archerade

*Please excuse my manicure - the nails of goldsmiths never last that long!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More Work from Cathcart Designs

Hello folks,

Cathcart here. I know you've missed me since my first post. So to help with that I have stocked my pod up here with some fresh pieces to help you all in your early Christmas shopping. You somewhat late to the gate shoppers need not fear. On December 13th Jewel Envy is having a holiday party where you can get your jewellery fix at a 10% discount to boot! One day only! Just makes you drool with excitement doesn't it? The shindig kicks off at 5pm! Be there!

Tension - Cathcart Designs

Monday, November 18, 2013

One Year Later....A look back at renovating 151 Marion St

November 16th was the one year anniversary of Jewel Envy's relocation to 151 Marion St. It has been a busy and wonderful year but getting here was not easy. This is the long awaited blog entry detailing the epic journey of the retail and studio space (two of the four floors)!

This is first image I have of the house. You may wonder why I am so close to the house and why I took a shot that was clearly blocked by trees. Well I had to stand this close to avoid getting the weeds in the viewfinder and it was the only way to see the house.

The place was used as a rooming house with each floor having a kitchen and washroom and a variety of tenants. The owner bred dogs and yes you could smell them before seeing them. Many of the issues were cosmetic and aromatic, but overall the structure was good. I consulted with three structural engineers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC installers, general contractors, and pest control to make sure I wasn't buying an infested house. Most pre-purchase inspectors wore a respirator once inside and commented on this being a disaster home but a good buy for the right price. I knew from the start I would be gutting the ground floor and basement to open up the space, while trying to preserve some of the old charm as the house was built in 1904 and had some lovely features.

These next few pictures show the cleaned up exterior of the house. We had to remove the fences around the front yard, some of the trees and the three foot high weeds got trampled during demolition.

This area had a collapsed back deck and was home to weeds and waste. There were also some foundation issues causing leaking in the basement.

There was a giant crack in the side of the building filled with caulking, the window sills were cracked and a ready to fall apart.

The roof was also leaking.

This is the side view after clean up and restoration but before painting.

Now these views look like this:

Next we have some pictures from inside the house before the demolition. Most people thought I was crazy but I could see past what was here and imagine what could and would be here.

The entire basement was full of pallets of Russian teapots for sale, wedding dresses, and various other random items like hot plates and 90's boom boxes. A path had to be cleared to walk through it to view the space.

It is kind of hard to understand how the space looks from images so next up is the ground floor floor-plan and a few of the variations I designed along the way. I made lots of structural changes and some walls were removed while others were built.

By the last floor plan you can see how I managed to fit in everything I wanted with room to play around in the retail. I measured everything hundreds of times and tried repeatedly to explain to contractors that when they changed the plans by an 1" it changed everything for me. I may have gone through about 50 versions of these plans before I settled on the final layout.

The day I got the keys we had a little ceremonial breaking of the wall with a sledgehammer, hard hats, and some heals (heals never to be allowed on site during the renovation again).

I was at the renovation every day and part of every decision but I couldn't have done it without the great team keeping the old space on Spadina going while I was away. Alexis was there to help, as she always is, every step of the way. I couldn't ask for a better manager or friend!

Next I will include some before and after shots so it easier to make sense of the transformation.

Walking into Jewel Envy there is no longer a fireplace on the west wall.

Oddly enough the east wall also had a fireplace that had to be removed.
The floors and trim are all original. We recycled wood from areas that were removed to preserve the historical elegance.

This is the view looking out onto Marion St.

The center wall was removed and posts and beams were put in so that 90% of the ground floor could be opened up for the best use of the space.

This is the view looking past the retail into the studio.

As a side note there are ten workbenches in the space, each with flex shaft, light, and torch. Having natural gas to the house allowed me to set up a wonderful system with torches upstairs and casting downstairs. I use oxygen generators at each station so this system is very safe!

This was once the ground floor kitchen and is now another workspace.

Next up the basement.

This area became the washroom, home to the draw bench, and one of the studio wash up sinks as well as various other pieces of equipment.

We removed the closet behind the bin and opened up the space to become our polishing area.

There was a little asbestos surprise at some point along the way. But after the men in hazmat suits came in and cleared the way we were good to keep working on the area that houses our burn out kiln, enamelling kilns, and casting area.

This post became part of the wall opposite the kilns.

This is now a clean space for enamelling.

 And on the other side of the wall is a clean kitchen with a computer and couch for work and relaxation!

Where the sink is sitting there use to be a non-functioning bathroom raised on a concrete platform.

There are still a few landscaping things I have planned and of course I am always buying equipment so I guess it will always be a work in progress. Looking back over what has been done I am very proud of this endeavor. I can say this is exactly where I wanted to be at this stage in my career and I look forward to many more years in this location working with the wonderful artists who are a part of the space.

I encourage you to stop in anytime for a tour of the studio and a look and what our incredibly talented jewellers do here.