Adieu, Adieu, to You and You and You!

It's the end of an era for me, this is my last month working out of Jewel Envy. It's been an amazing 4 years. I've learned so much and met so many wonderful people I hope I can stay in touch with for years to come. I started thinking about how much I've changed personally and how much my life in general has changed in the last 4 years. When I started at Jewel Envy I had just finished working at Matsu Jewellery for a year. I didn't have too much experience on my own and was afraid of pretty much everything. I'd never even done a show on my own! I wanted to change all that. Here's my first profile picture I sent to a show taken by our studio manger Alexis.

My work was mostly fabrication based. I was terrified of casting. I loved (and still do) piercing shapes out of sheet metal and fold forming copper into leaf shapes.

Then in the fall of 2012, Jewel Envy moved out of our tiny studio on Spadina into the large house on Marion you're all familiar with now.

My locker didn't have any handles yet and the benches across from me hadn't been put in. I also moved out of my house and into my own apartment a couple months later. There was a lot of packing and unpacking!

In 2013 SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) held their annual conference in Toronto and I attended for the first time. We saw some great demos and checked out some nifty tools. Here's my studio mate Amanda checking out Michael David Sturlin's super cool saw frame.

Toronto also held it's first TIJF (Toronto International Jewellery Festival) in conjunction with SNAG. Jewel Envy participated with its own exhibition "New Life". My neckpiece "Guardians" was on the postcard!

Sapphire made a permanent impact when she entered our lives. One day she met my nephew Bronson, they both handled it pretty well if you ask me. Sapphire probably needed a bath from all the Great Dane kisses afterwards, though.

I became way more comfortable with casting to the point where I only have a mild heart attack but I can successfully cast on my own multiple flasks without freaking out :D I also started introducing more gemstones into my work and designed the perfect pair of earrings for myself and my pretend wedding. My selfie game did not improve and my glasses got a lot bigger.

I experimented with 3D printing, made a companion piece to an antique necklace that inspired a whole collection and made a bunch of engagement rings and wedding jewellery.

My craft isn't the only thing that changed over the last 4 years, I was able to grow confidence and learn to get a better handle on my anxiety. I remember being paralysed teaching my first class 3 years ago, feeling way too many eyes on me during demos. Sometimes I still feel that way but it's much easier to shake off. I've been very lucky and had some wonderful students to work with. Through years of practice and the confidence that comes with it I've been able to refine my teaching technique which has actually helped me with my own jewellery! Forever learning is the way to live.
I credit the amazing people I work with every day for the growth I was able to achieve and the obstacles I was able to overcome (or learn to work around ;P). In this next phase of my life I can only hope to learn more and continue making jewellery I'm proud of. It's been real Jewel Envy, don't be a stranger!

<3 Lauren


A Jeweller Learns to Code

Part of having a successful business these days is having an online presence. I have the Facebook, I have the Twitter, I have the Instagram and I have this lovely little blog. They're all great tools but you can only do so much with them; a professional website can take you to the next level. I have no idea how to make a website. My boyfriend does, in fact it's his job, and over the years he's been gently trying to put me in the right direction to learn how to make them myself with simple to use platforms and one on one help. To be honest, I find it all so overwhelming and my patience gets the best of me whenever I even start to THINK about it. So here I am, still webpageless.
Yesterday, however, I took a step. Like...the tiniest baby step ever, but still a step! My boyfriend told me that Telus (that cellphone company we all interchangeably hate in between Rogers and Bell) was co-sponsoring an event with the company Lighthouse Labs called The HTML500. A free learn to code seminar for the day starting at the most basic level, perfect for people who know nothing about code. There was a small lectured followed by one on one help with step by step instructions that walked you through your choice of creating an online resume or a company page. I chose the company page because that's essentially why I went there in the first place. It's pretty basic and rough around the edges but it's a start and I made it from nothing using HTML and CSS! My boyfriend was pretty proud of me (he was also a volunteer mentor that day which was nice) which is quite the compliment. He's a very talented boy, along with coding he's quite the photographer which you can view on his daily photo blog with his friend Chuck.
You can view the fruit of my labour here if you like!
Or here's a screenshot.

Hopefully I can learn more about coding and this is just the beginning. I have to admit, I do find it very challenging so I doubt I'll be able to do anything spectacular for years to come if I keep up with it.
Here's to continuing to learn to things and facing our fears!



Bohemian Winter Bridesmaid

Well, this is a first for me. This week I got an email from an online bridal boutique called Weddington Way telling me they had come across my blog and loved my beautiful jewellery. It said they would like me to participate in their blogger January Style Challenge. The setting was a bridesmaid look for a winter wedding with a choice from any of the dress images they sent me styled any way I liked. I can't resist a bohemian themed wedding because they are my favourite so naturally that's what I went with.

Here is the dress I chose:

Donna Morgan Lily poly chiffon bridesmaid dress in Victorian Jade

It's a nice flowy chiffon dress, the perfect base to start with. As you can see by the jewellery the model is wearing it could be styled many different ways. To stick with my theme I would go with a less formal, yet still elegant, piece of jewellery like my rough hiddenite earrings.

Lauren Hanham Designs sterling silver, marcasite and rough hiddenite earrings

Every pair would be different just like all of your bridesmaids. You could even use all different coloured rough stones for each person. Speaking of adding individual touches, I wanted to add something to the look to help these ladies out if they got a little chilly, it is winter after all. The traditional go-to in my mind is a shawl or even a fur wrap, which I love, but I wanted to try something a bit more unique: a kimono style cardigan.

Boho kimono by Factorie

Kimono by Abercrombie & Fitch
Silk kimono jacket by Alice + Olivia
Geometric cardigan by Cichic

Now I know what you're thinking: doesn't that kind of un-formalize the look? Totally! That's the whole idea behind this bohemian themed wedding. It's eye catching and glamorous but down to earth and comforting. It also lets you see how you could get some extra mileage out of that dress! You could also get lots of extra mileage out of these silver rhinestone studded flats and dance the night away!

Luxe flats by JustFab

I would keep the hair and makeup very simple and natural. Glowing skin, maybe some lightly smoked winged liner, loose waves in the hair. In lieu of floral bouquets I would have just a few thin sun bleached twigs and long pheasant feathers gathered with twine.

 I hope you enjoyed the look I designed for this challenge! Thank you to Wedding Way for asking me to participate. Check out them out at https://www.weddingtonway.com as well as Facebook and Pinterest.



Insight Into A Design Process

As designers, we all work very hard to make the best jewellery we possibly can. Sometimes it takes a couple hours to come up with a sound idea, sometimes it takes weeks or even longer! Some of us draw, some of us make models, some of us use ourselves as guinea pigs. I'm not very talented in the way of drawing so I tend to make models of my pieces. Another huge part of my design process is testing out the jewellery. I would never want to put something out for sale that would be terribly uncomfortable, didn't look right or would fall apart so I always wear my designs around for a couple weeks before they get my approval.
For my newest collection "Found" I decided to explore the possibilities of using just one shape.

I've designed 7 pieces so far using just this one shape and I'm still creating more. One of the pieces I wanted to create was a big statement necklace. After casting multiples in silver and quickly pulling some extras in wax I started to move the pieces around in different patterns on my bench until I came up with one I liked.

After casting the extra pieces I needed, I soldered them together and got to work on the chain portion of the necklace.

 I wanted to use these cool agate beads for my chain but after assembling everything it was obvious they weren't the right choice for this piece. There was too much competition happening between the beads and the silver and the black in the beads was clashing hard with the blackened silver.


I tried a different design with multiple thin chains and wasn't completely satisfied with how it looked but it was alright for the moment.

It was Christmas vacation time so I decided to leave it as is and wear it over the holidays to test out the strength of the connecting pieces. I wasn't completely sure they would hold but I wanted the sections to be able to move without a ton of space between them. The small jump rings I chose had  been successful with the other pieces in the collection but...

...the weight of this particular necklace and the lack of wiggle room between the big sections caused the little jump rings to snap off no matter what I tried. Even broadening the space between the sections didn't work. I didn't want to use larger rings either because that's not the look I was going for. So it was back to the drawing bench.

Playing with waxes and using the sections I already had to make the necklace work as one solid piece.

I soldered my new pieces on. The brown stuff is yellow ocher which helps prevent old solder seams from melting while soldering new ones.

I also changed the chain from two sections to one. They kept twisting around each other which I found very annoying and visually unappealing. I'm so very fussy.

Here's the final piece (for now). I'm giving it a good test run for a couple days before I put the marcasites back in. Hopefully all is good in the world of structural integrity. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.
So there's a little insight into what part of a design process might look like. Hope you enjoyed!



A Little Purse-onalization

Ok sorry, I couldn't resist the pun. Sometimes you need to make people roll their eyes, you know?
As you probably guessed by the silly post title this post is not about jewellery, it's about a purse. Like a lot of girls, I have a copious, some might say ridiculous, amount of purses. I don't think 24 purses is really that many.

They all have a different purpose even if that purpose is just to look pretty :D

Now I haven't kept every purse I've ever owned. Quite a few of them have made their way in to donation boxes including this one from Town Shoes' Red Carpet Collection:

Not once but TWICE I have pulled this guy out of the give-away pile. Why, you ask? Well, she gives me mixed feelings you see. I love the shiny deep burgundy that contrasts with the soft matte green reptile print. It's a nice size that's roomy enough to run some errands with, depending on the errand of course, and it's not so horrendously big that I wouldn't want to take it out for drinks or something. It also not only latches closed but it zips closed (a hard feature to find) for added security. Plus I spent good money on it, dang it! So why do I hate it? You see that short, good for nothing strap? I am not a petite lady, far from it, and if you are then maybe this wouldn't be a problem for you but there are only two awkward ways to hold this purse:

The princess of Bloor St. pose....

Or the awkward armpit hold...

 No thanks! Not my style. Unless it's a clutch, I like a cross body or a loose over the shoulder style. I don't know why it took me so long to come up with the idea to take the strap off and lengthen it but I've had this purse for at least 5 years. I look at, I try it, I sigh, I put it back in the box (see above). With my new found genius I went off to one of downtown Toronto's excellent bead stores where I grabbed a thick aluminum chain (super lightweight!) and some giant spring rings in a gunmetal finish to match the purse hardware.

There was actually 2 big ones and 2 smaller ones...
The next thing I had to do was get those giant steel rings holding the strap to the purse off. Luckily, being a jeweller, I have a saw that will so such a thing!

Cutting through steel is a pain in the butt...

All that was left to do was measure how long I wanted my straps to be, cut my chain and attach it to my purse with the spring rings. Don't worry, I used the old leather strap at the top, way more comfortable than chain on the shoulder.

Ta daaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!

Today I took out my (kinda)new purse for a spin.

I'm very serious about my blog photos.

Another reason why this idea deserves a giant face-palm is because I'm no stranger to altering things to my liking. I always prefer to fix or refashion something rather than throw it away, whether it's jewellery, clothing or purses. Yes, I've fixed my purses before.

Not only did the shoddy made leather ring that giant lobster clasp was holding on to rip clean off but the rivet that allowed the clasp to swivel also snapped off. No matter, I just grabbed my trusty brass wire!

Thanks for reading through all that if you're still with me!
Are there pieces in your collection that are broken or need a little tweaking? If you really love them try thinking of a way to make them work other than just settling for "this is the way it is I suppose" or tossing them out.
Happy crafting y'all!



Treasures In The Tool Shed

Last week I went up to our family cottage with my Mom in Deanlea Beach. I love cottages, they have the best memories and the best stories. My Grandfather built this cottage in 1959 so it's acquired quite a few over the years. Cottages are also the best places to find treasures. I love going through drawers and boxes but usually I stay out of the shed and just stick to the cottage itself. Last week my Mom was painting the shed (I helped, I swear!) so there was a bit of extra focus in that particular area. I can't help myself, my Mom and I started nosing around and I ended up emptying a drawer labeled "Grandpa's Tools". I don't know if you know this but jewellers LOVE tools. Well, I'm a jeweller (obviously) and I love tools and I love anything antique or vintage. Put those together and I'm in heaven! So I thought I would share with you all the cool looking things we found in that drawer. Enjoy!
Vice grips, wooden level, sharpening stone, lock

Various wrenches
More wrenches and a piece of a monkey wrench
Never seen wrenches like this before but they are super cool looking

Chisels and screwdrivers

Hammers! So many awesome rusty hammers.

Shears, tire iron and steel brush
Antique blowtorch!
Made in Canada? That's how you know it's super old.