Think of Circle Craft and you’ll probably instantly picture the kind of chunky sweaters, hand-felted ornaments, and crocheted tuques that typify its Christmas market each year. What you might not know, though, is that the event has a sunny, warmer, outdoor version that’s now entering its second year.
In other words, imagine everything from ceramics to jewellery laid out against a panoramic backdrop of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains. That’s what it’ll look like when the Circle Craft Cooperative and the Craft Council of B.C. join forces for their Summer Market at Jack Poole Plaza, under tents by the Olympic Cauldron next Thursday to Sunday (July 24 to 27).
Among the names showing their wares are clothing-designer favourites like Chloe Angus Design and Adhesif Clothing, as well as accessories labels including fiveleft leather and Lajla Nuhic.
But what really gives the show its summery vibe is the huge selection of locally and nationally designed glittering jewellery lines—the kind you’ll never find at the mall. Here are just a few of the highlights.
If Toronto designer Kate Singer’s sweet hand-drawn fabric-and-silver pieces don’t make you smile, you aren’t getting enough sunshine these days. Tiny rabbits, fawns, matryoshkas, rainbows, owls, ladybugs, and anchors, and scores more icons, emblazon her embroidered-look pendants, bracelets, and earrings (which are actually printed linen under glass). As she explains, you can get away with looks this adorable because of their scale.
“I tend to gravitate toward cute, happy motifs,” Singer says, laughing that that’s about as dark as things get. “Everything is tiny, so it has that personal feel, and it’s not like you’re wearing a giant cute thing.”
Singer says she draws all the symbols and then recolours them on computer before digitally printing them onto fabric. The best thing about the line, until now only available online in these parts, is that you can mix and match charms and icons to personalize a piece. This might mean a pendant emblazoned with a bicycle for that bike-to-work nut, paired with her first initial; or it could be a leather wrap bracelet with a little blue bird, a musical note, and a tiny crystal (a sort of “storytelling”, as Singer puts it).
Sample prices are $15 for teeny fabric letter pendants and up to $35 for large ones; we love them added to leather wrap bracelets in a variety of colours, priced at about $20 to $24.
“I’m always picking up new old pieces,” says Vancouver designer Christi York, summing up her work in an instant. She has a way of turning her vintage finds into coolly contemporary creations.
And sometimes that means really old. Take her line of bright, summery floral glass pieces, gorgeous oval earrings crafted from glass cameos depicting chrysanthemums and morning glories: most were made in Japan right after the Second World War. Her Juicy Jewel teardrops of metal-flecked blue, ruby, amethyst, and emerald green are also more than half a century old, imitation gemstones from 1950s Czechoslovakia that she’s turned into drop earrings of different lengths. No surprise: the pieces you’ll see at the market will all be limited editions.
York tells the Straight she also has two new lines that tie in deeply to Vancouver’s past.
Her new postal cuffs, metal number labels riveted to an aged brass band, allow you to pick your digits (about $60). “They came from the old Canada Post that just closed on West Georgia Street,” she says. “They’re cool because they’re a piece of Vancouver history.”
Ditto for her Chinese linotype necklaces: simple, gorgeous brass columns that she salvaged from Canada’s first Chinese print shop, the 106-year-old Ho Sun Hing facility in Chinatown, which closed earlier this year. (They run about $125.)
“They were days away from being melted down for scrap metal,” she says of the pieces, which she’s getting translated so she can tell people what each one means. Some she’s done so far: “Brave” and, our favourite, “Fierce like an ancient king”.
Don’t forget to check out the latest innovations from one of the city’s most fun-loving, high-concept jewellery designers. Even Design’s Judi Patson is known for crafting her sleekly elegant silver pieces out of everything from construction-type glow-green liquid levels to Lego bricks and real, working compasses. (Most of her looks are in the $150 to $225 range.)
You’ll find some of that inventive, meticulously designed jewellery at the market, but Patson tells the Straight she’ll also debut the beginnings of a new line based on dragonfly wings and skeleton leaves. The ethereal creations are as light and delicate as you can imagine, punctured with little holes and showing off her exquisite metal artistry in bracelets, pendants, earrings, and more. In short, she’s moved from the whimsical to the dreamy and transcendent.