I like to call what I make "sterling silver nature bling". I love big bold jewellery and I'm inspired by the shapes of blooming buds on trees and the veins in leaves. I often cast branches and seeds into silver and turn those into earrings, necklaces and rings.
Where does the name Brazen come from?
Oh, the word Brazen is very dear to my heart - I even have it tattooed on my arm, on a banner flanking an anchor. It is a word that came up a lot in my art practice, and it's something I aspire to be every day, though I don't always have the confidence, energy or balls.
I'm always surprised at how many people aren't familiar with the word, which I kind of love cause it means I get to explain it over and over. It's often used negatively, but for me it means wild, shameless (in the guilt-free sense of that word, taboo-breaking and bold. The root of the word is the same as the word "brass" so it's got a lovely precious-metal connection too.
The word Brazen doesn't translate well into French, and when I registered my business with the Quebec Government, I was told I had to register the name in French, since it was a dictionary term. The french translations, however, equate with the negative synonyms of brazen: insolent, impudent, etc. And the words themselves sound harsh. I ended up being forced to pick on the spot, and I went with "effronté" - so terrible! At least I only have to use it for tax forms!
As a long time local designer, what changes have you noticed in the Montreal design scene over the years?
There's definitely been a major move towards the community working together to promote each other's work. Puces Pop, Smart Design Mart and the opening of so many independent design boutiques is a sign of a vibrant design scene that is eager to show off just how awesome it is to be an artist in Montreal. I think of General 54 (and Local 23, previously) as the godmother of that scene!
You recently moved out to the countryside. How has this influenced your design aesthetic?
The move to the country has been a huge change in my life. It's amazing to actually see the seasons changing, the earth turning, right in front of my eyes. I have found lots of new plants to cast and use for inspiration, but mostly it's radicalized my state of mind. Despite being a self-described "city girl", I feel calmer, more grounded and peaceful. It's wonderful. And sometimes crazy things happen!
We also hear you have been collaborating with your partner, Aaron Reaume of Blisscraft, on some new pieces. Can you tell us about both the collaboration and the designs?
Yes, we just launched Blisscraft&Brazen, a line of wood and silver products make from repurposed salvaged materials from both of our studios. We have talked about collaborating creatively for years but never had the time or space. Our new home in the country is pretty large and can house both my jewelry studio and Aaron's wood shop, so when life dealt us a challenging card this fall and we needed a new creative outlet, Blisscraft&Brazen was finally born!
Wood shops (and jewelry studios!) create a lot of waste, and we're constantly rescuing wood and scrap metal from the side of the road. We wanted to create a line of eco-friendly, sustainable products that repurposed noble materials into beautiful functional objects.
So far we have made salad servers, salt bowl and spoon sets, miniature vases, tea light logs, bookmarks, cooking utensils, letter openers and a line of wood and metal jewelry (one of our best sellers is a wood and silver acorn!). Everything is made with reclaimed solid wood and a lot of the items are decorated with recycled copper or sterling silver rivets. We've got lots of new designs up our sleeve and we're having so much fun collaborating!
I love doing custom work - the challenge of manifesting someone's vision keeps me on my toes and creatively stimulated. It often feels like an honor to be asked to create the piece someone is dreaming of.
What is the best music to listen to while making the bling?
I usually start the morning listening to Q on CBC and switch to CBC Radio 2 for The Drive at 3pm. I also love listening to This American Life and RadioLab podcasts (but I can't hear them over the sound of my power tools so I have to time it well!) But the best music to listen to is big, anthemic classics I can belt the words to (and thank gooodness we have no direct neighbours!)
Who is your favorite Montreal designer?
This is a very difficult question to answer because I have SO MANY! I blogged for three years about local designers, and am really big on promoting and buying local designs. I'd have to break it down by category!
Bags: Deborah Adams
Okay, I tried to choose one designer for clothing, but I honestly can't decide between Simones' Rose (actually recently moved out of Montreal, but she's a Montrealer at heart), Glasgow, Birds of North America and Les Enfants Sauvages. If my closet was to decide, this would be a four way tie
Shoes: Imperial Boots
Jewellery: I love the work of La Raffinerie, Norwegian Wood, Melanie Favreau, April Mayde,
Scarves: Dfly and Dani Isabelle
What are your major goals for Brazen in 2012?
My main goal is to indulge my creative cravings, even if it means making highly detailed, time consuming, elaborate (read: expensive) rings, or whittling pickle forks.
A lot of independent Canadian boutiques have closed up shop in the last two years and with the steady rise of sterling silver, I have to look to more high end luxury good markets. One goal for 2012 is to expand beyond Canada - venture into the US retail market as well as getting media attention from larger publications.
I am also very excited about the response to Blisscraft&Brazen and will be focusing on acquiring wholesale accounts and expanding the product line.
Aaaaand I have a third project on the go, which I'm keeping under wraps for now. But I'll leave you with this: Organic Fair Trade Silk. Excited?!