Commissions!

I'm finally getting a chance to get this post together!  Last year I got to work on so many fun commissions leading up to Christmas and I wanted to share them all in one post because I have never been so busy working on custom items.

A number of years ago I worked for a local glassblower named Paull Rodrigue and he has his own signature style. This work is beautiful (you should check it out on his website or visit his studio in Dundas!) but I was even more impressed with the custom work he did because it showed off just how skilled and talented he is with the material. This is something I have always strived towards in my own work and I was so happy to stretch my creative legs and work on all these fun custom projects.

It started with and Etsy order for some peachy worms.  It's sometimes fun to make an existing product in another colour.  For me, I have to alter my process slightly when I do this, especially with worms, because of the different ways that different colours of glass heat and flow.

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Then a coworker wanted matching earrings and a necklace for his girlfriend? No problem!

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Then a friend asked: can you make my mom's fat cats? Of course I can!

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Look at how cute Abbey is getting acquainted with her tiny likeness in glass:

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Then I had an amazing client, the kind we all dream about. Someone who appreciates your work and your style and gives you the kind of creative freedom we all hope to have (but often don't get) with custom work. Obviously, there were lots of conversations that transpired about colour preferences along with the style and function of the pieces but other than that I had complete freedom!

So I made another butterfly set in this juicy purple

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I had so much fun making this elephant:

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She needed some teacher's gifts so I made these cute apples.  I ended up having so much fun making them that I made a bunch more for the One of a Kind show as well where they were also a hit.

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Same thing with the minions, I had this limited edition of 10 for the show and people loved them.

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Lastly, she couldn't get all this other jewellery without treating herself as well!

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My Process

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This is where the magic happens here on a Nortel Red Max torch at @Orange Glow Glass Co made right here in Canada!

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The glass that I use comes in a wide array of beautiful colours.  Typically they are in rods about the thickness of a pen or a pencil.  For a lot of my work I need to draw them down into smaller rods known as stringer, this allows me to achieve greater detail in my beads.  Also pictured are my 5 go to tools: my striker for lighting the torch, my mashers, my brass stump shaper, my tweezers (which are the best for gummy worm tails) and my absolute favourite: my little spatula which is wonderful for small details!

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Hyperlapse videos are my favourite way to show the process and also apparently all the funny faces I make when I’m working.  Click HERE to check out my Youtube video of a pink gummy bear being made at turbo speed! As you can see I don’t use any mold in my work.  It’s important to me that every piece is one of a kind and I like the subtle differences in each piece.

The fun doesn’t stop once the beads are away in the kiln though.  After I get them out there are still many steps to be completed until they are finished.  After a nice soak in some warm water the first step is to remove the beads from the mandrels.  Is it a surprise to anyone that I soak my beads in an old marshmallow fluff container? Some of the beads slide right off, others are stubborn and need some coaxing.

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This next step is a pain, but a necessary evil for a flameworker: dremelling. This removes the bead release from the hole of your bead.  Bead release is a clay body that you dip your mandrels in before starting work at the torch; it’s what allows you to remove your bead from the mandrel afterwards – because otherwise hot glass sticks to hot metal and you will never get it off!  These diamond bits for the dremel make quick work of it though. What’s the best way to get through this stage?  Throw on some high energy tunes so you can have a little dance party between beads!

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Ever wonder how my glass candy gets that matte finish?  This might be the most important step of all: acid etching.  Safety is a priority at this stage so I make sure I have my respirator, safety glasses and my nitrile gloves.   The acid bath that I use can be reused over and over until it finally loses its potency.  This little bottle is relatively new so it can get the job done in 20-30 minutes.  Every 10 minutes or so I come and shake things up a little bit just to make sure that all areas on the beads will be etched.

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After a quick soak in a neutralizing bath made up of water and baking soda, these guys get a good scrub with some dish soap.  Once they are clean and dry you can see the beautiful velvety finish that the acid gives them.

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The smaller gummy bears are destined to be little dangly earrings.  I only use sterling silver for my earrings.  As someone with metal sensitivities, I know how frustrating it is to fall in love with a pair of earrings and then find out I can’t wear them.  Plus I want to be able to wear my own jewellery!

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In case it wasn’t painfully obvious, I love candy.  I never go too far without some inspiration around

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The final step in the process: packaging.  All the packaging is designed by me – because I have to put my photoshop skills to good use somewhere!  Also included is the important warning not to eat my glass work, it might look real but please don’t eat it!

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Etsy Made in Canada 2015

I cannot believe it's been more than a month since the Etsy Made in Canada show!  I figure it's about time that I post some pictures from that fun show.  There were so many talented vendors there, I was blown away by the quality of work everyone brought so a big bravo to the jury who curated such an amazing group of artists.

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I had to redesign my display a little bit - partly looking ahead to OOAK, and partly just to adjust to only having a 6 foot table - and I'm so happy with how it turned out.  

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For the most part, it was so busy I didn't get much of a chance to walk around (only a quick job through early in the day) But despite that I still had a chance to catch up with friends and make some new ones as well!

Oh and it wouldn't be a show in Toronto without being stuck in traffic on the Gardiner on the way home.

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Exciting Fall Happenings

As most people know I was working a contract job in an office for the last seven months. In the last week I've gone from this:

to this!

I am grateful for the office work because it provided me with some much needed stability at a very unstable time.  It allowed me to make investments in equipment that I needed to set up my own torch (and let me tell you there is nothing better than working at your own torch after years of schlepping my stuff around to other studios!)  Mostly, it helped me appreciate what it is that I do, and gave me some renewed motivation to get back at it full steam ahead.  I am so happy to be back at this full time, at least for the time being, while I prep for the 2014 Craft Show the inaugural event organized by Craft Ontario and also the One of a Kind Christmas show. 

While working in an office definitely allowed me certain freedoms, setting my own schedule again allows me completely different and wonderful freedoms.  For example if I want to stay in bed until noon dealing with business emails and working on a big grant application all the while snuggling with my cat and eating peanut butter M&Ms, then that is my prerogative!

Here is some info on the show coming up this weekend for anyone who wishes to attend.  It's going to be a great show with so many talented artists.

When: October 10 - 12, 2014
Where: Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie Toronto, ON
Hours:
Friday, 11:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday, 11:00am – 5:00pm

Admission to the Craft Show will be by donation at the door. Big or small, whatever you can afford or deem appropriate.

Hope to see you there!

OOAK Spring & Summer Show Updates

I am well overdue for an update, so here it is:

First I should mention the One of a Kind show and how it was pretty much exactly what I expected it would be.  I made some nice sales and met new customers, people seemed to dig my new work which felt really good especially after all of the uncertainty going in. Naturally, I gorged on delicious food from the food vendors (crostoli will always be my favourite). And I was so happy to see so many of my amazingly talented and lovely friends and of course meet some new ones!

The other side is that I got to deal with just as many rude people as I had predicted.  I experienced people who scoffed at my prices and some who even told me to my face "oh I could make that".  Thank god I have a sense of humour, and also thank god for the hilarious woman who told me all about her drug use in the 70s, people like that make the days go by quicker.  And lucky me, these types of folk always manage to find me and tell me their stories!

Unfortunately the rudeness is rarely contained just to art shows.  I had someone ask me today why I don't make "real jewellery".  Again my sense of humour kicked in and I told her I much preferred my "imaginary jewellery".  It still stings when people say ignorant things to me though.  Before she spewed her rudeness at me and after an already frustrating morning I had some retail therapy and ordered from one of my favourite etsy shops Nervous System.  I purchased a beautiful and long coveted 3D printed necklace/pendant that I am now even more excited to show off!

Oh and here are some pictures of my booth at OOAK for your viewing pleasure:

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Most of all I want to give a big heartfelt thank you to the Ontario Arts Council for the exhibition assistance grant.  There is absolutely no way I could have done the show without that help.  Artist friends if you don't know about this amazing program, check it out.

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Oh and some updates since my last post:

First and foremost, I love my office job.  The company I work for is amazing, and I will be incredibly sad when my contract is up.  So many people have been awesome and encouraging about this decision and I thank you! There have been a few exceptions that have given me this terrible look of pity when I tell them where I am working.  To these people I say: I don't need your pity.  So much stress has been lifted from my life and I'm the happiest I have been in a long time in a lot of ways. 

One of the best things about having a bit of security is that I am able to pick commissions and shows that I really want to do.  I just finished up a commission for a lovely lady in Ottawa a week or so ago and I truly enjoyed working on it.  I feel like it's rare to have someone that knows what she wants but is easy going and also appreciates the value of something handmade (a great quality that I wish more people had).

Here is a little peek at my "froot loops" commission:

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And now I am gearing up for summer shows, I really can't believe it is already that time again! I will be doing three this summer, here's the low down:

First:

Beaches Arts & Crafts Show

It will be my third time participating in the Beaches show. I'll be braving all the nonsense Toronto traffic, why don't you join me?

The details:
When: Saturday June 14th - Sunday June 15th
Where: Kew Gardens Park, 2075 Queen St. East, Toronto, ON
Times: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm (both days)

Next on the docket is:

Guelph Art on the Street

This one has become one of my favourite shows to do, mostly because the people of Guelph are always a delight and always give me high fives.  I could always use some more high fives if you want to visit this one.

The details:
When: Saturday July 12th
Where: Quebec Street, Guelph, ON
Times: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

and finally:

Haliburton Arts & Crafts Festival

And of course another favourite is the show up in Haliburton, this will be my fifth year at the show!

The details:
When: Friday July 25th - Sunday July 27th
Where: Head Lake Park, 23 York St, Haliburton, ON
Times: Friday noon - 6 pm, Saturday  10 am - 6 pm, Sunday 10 am - 4 pm

So come visit me at one of the shows, I'm usually good for a hug or at the very least some high fives.

An Honest Update

I suppose an update is in order since I haven't written a post since October.  Though this is the first time I have been even a little bit motivated to do an update and I think that’s sad, don't you? Truth is I think I have fallen out of love with art over the last few months.

The truths of being an artist:  sometimes, it really sucks. Worrying about money is one of the worst things. It’s difficult when your income relies on so many factors beyond your control.  Will people actually show up to this event? Will this gallery pay me on time?  How many people will say incredibly rude things to me at this show just because they feel like they can?

Let me tell you, it’s really hard to care about making work after you lose money at three shows in a row.  There is something very deflating about that. It’s hard to get excited about making new work when in the back of your mind you are wondering “will people actually want to buy this?” When even a little part of you thinks the answer is no, production stops.

I saw this web comic last week (by artist Lauren Purje) and it really resonated with me and it’s really fitting with this post:

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I still get that itch to create, but lately I could care less about making anything that remotely resembles jewellery.  In an effort to make something, I have taken to crocheting.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I have crocheted since the beginning of January.  In that time I have finished a (giant) blanket I started in the summer, started and finished a completely new blanket, two scarves and a little storage basket – which could also be used as a really ugly hat.

Next week I start a “real job” and I am actually really excited about it.  It’s a five month contract position in an office and it will be the longest I will have had a steady paycheque since 2004. That’s a decade. This is something I have considered for a while now.  It was actually a move I was prepared to make in August after a less than stellar summer. I had some amazing opportunities in the fall, namely a semester working back at Sheridan, but all that seemed to do was prolong this decision.  I’m pretty lucky to have gotten this job in a job market that is pretty dismal.  Thank goodness for previous office experience too. 

It’s difficult when people don’t take what you do seriously. “Oh, you’re an artist? So umm… what do you do all day?”  My example for today:  After I am done this post I am going to do a mock setup of my booth at One of a Kind in my basement so I can take measurements for something I need made for my display and then do a bunch of drawings until I have the winning design that I will use. After that who knows, I’ll have to check my list of about 50 things that need to happen before the show.

I think there is an assumption that if someone is not necessarily making tons of money that they are also not working hard enough.  I once dated a guy who thought exactly that and wasn't afraid to tell me so.  People like this are quick to offer unsolicited advice, which leads to my least favourite sentence in the world: “you know what you should do….”

You are probably wondering if I am quitting art altogether.  The answer is no, but I need to take a few steps back.  I am still planning on doing some shows but being gainfully employed for now will allow me to be much pickier with the shows I do participate in.  Hopefully without the pressure and anxiety of trying to make a living just from making art I will be able to fall back in love with it again. 

With the Spring One of a Kind show coming up in about a month, you might see how a lack of enthusiasm would be a major problem.  It is slowly starting to come back though, largely due to the fact that all of my eggs are no longer in one basket.  Over the past couple of days especially I have found some renewed motivation and production has resumed.  If you want to come to the One of a Kind show and check out what I have been doing I would love to see you.

Do I like talking about these things? No. Do I think it’s important to talk about them anyway? Yes. Was it difficult for me to write so honestly?  Absolutely, but it would have been even harder for me to write a fake flowery and insincere post about how beside myself excited I was for a show. Things are not always sunshine and rainbows in this world and I am not going to sugar coat that.  But I am lucky to have the support of people who love me.

xo

Emma

Craft Ontario '13 & Nocturne

I am so very excited to announce that some of my work will be on display at the following exhibitions: 

First, I am sending some work to the beautiful Fireworks Gallery in Halifax to be on display during Nocturne.  I wish I could be there to see it myself (because Nocturne has been a lot of fun the last two years while living out East) so my Halifax friends better stop in and check it out!

Some details!
Where: Fireworks Gallery, 1569 Barrington St
When:  Friday October 18th - Monday October 21st
(Nocturne, Saturday October 19th, 6 pm - midnight)

Second, I am so lucky and extremely excited to be sending my milkweed earrings to the Ontario Crafts Council gallery for Craft Ontario '13.  I have double the amount of earrings to be installed on the wall than I did for my show at the Anna Leonowens gallery, so my plume of milkweed will be even more glorious! 

Some details!

Where: Ontario Crafts Council Gallery, 990 Queen St. West
When: October 17 - November 30
Opening Reception:  October 17, 6:00 - 9:00 pm

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Glass Love

This blog has been so neglected, but at least this time it's for a good reason (i.e. not out of laziness).  So a few weeks ago there was this wonderful event in the Glass Studio at Sheridan College called the "Glass Gathering".  There were a series of shorts lectures, demonstrations all leading up to the glory that was the glass olympics.   I gave a short lecture on my time at NSCAD, and I gave a short demo in the flameworking studio as well.  

Having felt a lack of community for so long (I loved NSCAD, but it lacked the kind of amazing community that I found at Sheridan) it was so nice to be around old friendly faces and to meet some new ones as well.  Hopefully it will turn into a yearly event, because it was a blast.

Some glass olympics photos!  The green team:

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The purple team:

The pink team:

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and the blue team: 

What made the day even better?  Getting a job!  I'm now one of the studio monitors and artists in residence at Sheridan for this semester.   It's been over two weeks and my brain is still trying to fully comprehend what this means.  I have gone from renting the occasional torch time to having a torch at my constant disposal and also being able to blow glass again.  That really, was what made my brain go kablooey.  

My first blowslot went pretty well considering I hadn't blown glass with any kind of consistency for about four and a half years.  

Flameworking, I missed you most of all.

While still being completely overwhelming it has been amazing so far.  The students are great and were so welcoming to a new face, which has been a really refreshing change! 

Electroform All The Things

It's probably pretty obvious what this post is going to be about...  Over the last month I have slowly been acquiring the parts I need to set up my own electroforming bath!  The first step was getting a rectifier!  I absolutely love the digital read-out.  It's going to make my life so much easier. 

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Step two:  Get giant plastic tub to hold the solution.  Mine is the same at the one at NSCAD, 7 gallons! 

Step three: Get the ingredients for the bath. 

Now, this is where I ran into some (hilarious) issues.  I suppose it is a good thing that sulfuric acid is so difficult to come by, but a few weeks ago this was the bane of my existence.  I was told it would be simple and straightforward.  I was told to go to CarStar and walk in and ask for sulfuric acid.  Simple, right?  I knew because it's me that there was no way it would be that easy.  

So when I showed up at CarStar and asked them for some acid the woman looked at me like I was completely insane and told me they don't sell anything like that.  Slightly dejected, I went home and called the other CarStar location in Burlington thinking maybe I had just gone to the wrong one.  I even explained to this man on the phone what I was doing (to avoid sounding insane) and the man rudely asked me if I knew who I was trying to call.  I told him yes, CarStar.

I explained that I was told specifically that what I needed was available there.  He told me I must have misheard.  I explained that since this information was given to me all via email it was highly unlikely that I would have misunderstood.  The rude man grumbled a little bit and then we disconnected. 

I then called Napa Auto Parts and spoke to a lovely man who understood what I was trying to do and was not incredibly rude to me.  So I was off to a good start.  He told me he did have sulfuric acid, a whole 20 litres of it.  I explained that it was literally 20 times what I needed and asked if there was any chance he sold it in smaller quantities.  Unfortunately he didn't but he referred me to a company that they supply and told me to give them a shout because they were likely to sell me a smaller quantity. 

So the next day (when Peak Powersports was actually open) I gave them a call.  The first man I spoke to thought I was insane and suggested that maybe I should speak to someone in the service department.  I told him that was probably a good idea.  After a quick conversation explaining once again what I was trying to do, Mike in the service department did me a solid and told me he would sell me a litre of sulfuric acid. 

So I went the next day.  I was told to go in the showroom (where I totally didn't belong surrounded my camo gear and ATVs), ask for Mike and I would be lead to the service department.  It sounded a bit like a covert operation to me, so I was all over that.  Except when I went to the showroom and explained what I needed and that I should ask for Mike the guy at the desk looked at me like I was insane (something I started getting used to) and told me how to get to the service department. 

The adventure isn't over though!  It didn't occur to me that I should bring something to carry the acid home in since the 20 litres of acid comes in this sort of bladder thing in a box and there were no other little containers.  So I went to Canadian Tire (where I had just come from) and bought some mason jars, came back and got them filled up.  Only true NSCAD students keeps their sulfuric acid in a mason jar... 

The best part of this was Mike asking me "Is this stuff hard to get or something?"  Another thing that made me happy was that he seemed to know exactly what I was doing with it, he even asked me if I was using it for jewellery! 

Copper sulphate - super easy to get at Pottery Supply House in Oakville.  No one even looked at me like I was from outer space either!  

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Distilled water - This wasn't even all I needed to fill my bath... If you need this much distilled water get it in bulk! It's only $4.50 for 20 litres! 

Step four - Do the math.  I had to crunch some numbers to figure out exactly how much I needed.  Turned out after doing the mix that I needed about 3 litres less than I calculated so there was a little bit of improvising at the end but what can you do? 

Step Five - Mix it up! One sunny Sunday I mixed my bath.  I am pretty sure pedestrians in the neighbourhood thought that I was up to no good in all of my safety gear.

Step Six - neutralize the excess and the cleaning bin. 

Step seven - Anodes!  I had to be so patient waiting for these beauties but they were absolutely worth the wait.  This was the last piece in the puzzle...

Step eight - Electroform all the things!  I started my first test about two hours ago.  I had the amps a little bit too high at first but now it is working perfectly! 

Love my little rectifier! 

Hopefully soon I will be posting some pictures of what I am working on now that I have something that resembles a studio again.  My next show is the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and I will be swamped in prep for that over the next couple weeks.  Maybe somewhere in there I will find some time for another update!

SNAG Conference in Toronto

It's been a few weeks since the conference now but I figured it was about time I finished this post.  It is definitely going to be heavy on the photos because there was so much to see and be inspired by at the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference.  The shows that I got a chance to see during the exhibition crawl were pretty incredible. 

The first images are from "À Table!" at the Design Exchange an exhibition of sixteen Canadian metal artists

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Mary Anne Barkhouse:

Charles Funnell:

One of my NSCAD professors Kye-Yeon Son:

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Michael Belmore (who also did a really wonderful presentation during one of the rounds of rapid-fire presentations)

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Another exhibition, also at the Design Exchange was "Design Sans Frontières: Metal Arts Guild of Canada Juried Exhibition".  It was great because artists were encouraged to collaborate with another outside of their medium, and we all know how much I love interdisciplinary work! This is an installation by Marina Babic and Sally McCubbin. 

We were surprised and delighted to see the work and the face of Karin Jones who is currently doing her MFA at NSCAD.  Karin says about this work: 

The work I'm doing in the MFA program at NSCAD is all about hair and (racial and cultural) identity. I made some brooches out of synthetic hair extensions using Victorian techniques, and then Kristy Depper photographed me wearing wigs that match the jewellery. (Is hair a body part, or is it adornment?) The intention was to be a bit silly and awkward, and to see how it would feel wearing "someone else's" hair.

I wish I had though to get the name of the artists on this one, because I absolutely love the textures here.  This was at the beginning of the night and I was already starting to get anxious about not seeing everything we wanted to, so names of artists became much less important

After leaving the Design Exchange we happened upon this little slice of Nova Scotia.  It was especially funny for all of the "Scotians" who had come to Toronto for the conference. 

A Peggy's Cove lighthouse in the financial district!

This is from "Opine" the student exhibition at OCAD's Student Gallery.  This is a piece by one of my NSCAD studiomates Yuanyuan Zou. 

more lovely pieces from Opine:

I think my favourite exhibition was "Making It Real" which showcased digitally fabricated work.  There is so much potentially in this kind of technology and work and it was truly amazing to see what people were doing with it.

so beautiful:

Our next stop was "Moving Metal: Canadian Silversmiths at Work" at shopAGO.  There was some really beautiful work in this show.  Having taken holloware I have such an appreciation for these pieces. 

Speaking of holloware!  Here is another piece by NSCAD prof Kye! 

Amazing piece by Mike Sharpe:

We also stopped at 18 KT gallery for their show "Ferrous".  I was overwhelmed by the small gallery that was crammed with interested onlookers, but the work there was incredible.  Love this piece by Maureen Faye-Chauhan:

More gorgeous work by Melissa Cameron:

Fast forward another day.  After another day of lectures Emily and Alice took a break from jewellery when we arrived at Harbourfront Centre for the happenings there to play with some puppets

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After the brief puppet break we were once again overwhelmed by the work we saw:

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And if all of those shows weren't enough, some galleries held pop up shops in their hotel rooms during the conference.   Galerie Noel Guyomarc'h had some amazing work.  I fell in love with Peter Hoogeboom's pieces immediately. 

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Heidi Lowe Gallery had an amazing display of earrings in their pop up shop.  I really loved how they were displayed. 

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The last night of the conference we had a little bit of a kitchen nightmare.  No really, we were waiting for the cameras to pop out and for Gordon Ramsay to arrive.  I have never experience such rude service, it was so bad to the point that we cancelled our orders and left the restaurant.  We ended up at Jack Astor's which was cheaper, came with friendlier service and crayons to draw on the table with!  Naturally when you put four artists at a table, they are going to start drawing... 

SNAG ended with desserts and a big dance party.  It was so wonderful getting to spend some time with my east coast friends.  It was like a mini reunion only two weeks after having left! 

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