When Vancouverite and jewellery seller Anita Groundwater found her mobility limited due to an injury over four years ago, she decided to tap into her creative side.
“I was sort of couch-bound,” she recalls by phone. “That’s when I decided, ‘Well, if I can’t go out and sell the jewellery that I’ve got, then why don’t I make some?’ ”
Under the name Bluefish Bohemian, Groundwater began handcrafting her signature wrap bracelets—a medley of rustic leather and gleaming precious and semiprecious gemstones washed in shades of jade, turquoise, and lilac. The designer has since expanded her line to include a range of delicate necklaces and earrings, though the wrap bracelets remain one of her most popular items.
“It’s something that can be dressed up or dressed down,” notes Groundwater, “and that kind of fits in with the practical-minded person that I am.”
Available in three lengths that allow the bracelets to be wrapped around the wrist two, three, or five times, Groundwater’s pieces make the art of arm-candy layering easy. Her commitment to sourcing quality supplies ensures that each bracelet, in addition to being one-of-a-kind, is made to last, too.
Rich brown leather cords are hand-stitched with mother-of-pearl and glittering gold and silver hematite beads, and finished with a darling heart-shaped charm, while, elsewhere, matte black leather is joined with weathered amazonite gemstones in icy blues, greens, and coppers. Even the bracelets’ buttons—many of them hand-forged and etched with bohemian-inspired symbols like mermaids, trees, and earthy sand dollars—exude a storied feel rarely seen in jewellery.
“To me, it’s really important to have a broad range of materials on hand,” explains Groundwater, “so you can play with them and see what pieces are going to complement each other.”
Starting at $33, Bluefish Bohemian wrap bracelets will be just some of the many fashion accessories available at the Portobello West Summer Market, which takes place this Saturday and Sunday (May 28 and 29) at the Creekside Community Centre (1 Athlete’s Way). Groundwater will also have an assortment of rhodium-plated brass necklaces and stud and drop earrings on-site, starting at $18.
While you’re there, keep your eye out for other local jewellery designers, too. For instance, there’s Out Designs, Verena Strigler, and newcomer Eye of Needle, who will be offering an assortment of handcrafted earrings, rings, necklaces, brooches, and bracelets that use everything from eclectic, multihued seed beads to opal and shining sapphire. And though the materials may differ, you can rest assured that, like Bluefish Bohemian’s, each piece will be boasting its own one-off character.
“I don’t look at any one designer and try to copy what they do, because I find that you get trapped then,” Groundwater says. “I want it to look like my work.”