Interview with the Ottawa Jewellery Collective

Interview with the Ottawa Jewellery Collective
Artist Goldsmith, Chayle Cook, shares her inspirations and passion for metalsmithing and jewellery making in her interview with the Ottawa Jewellery Collective.

Why did you choose jewellery?

I initially went to art school at NSCAD University in Halifax with the idea to take design, but in my first year I also took a blacksmithing class. I fell in love with the material and the process of forging metal with a hammer. I knew I wanted to continue with metal, so I entered in to the jewellery department and found that I filled all of my sketchbooks with design ideas for jeweller, rather than for my design classes. I think I am so drawn in by jewellery making because I can be an artist while still being a designer and craftsperson. Jewellery allows me to pursue all of these passions.

Where did you learn your craft?
I first learnt metal working at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax. After graduation, I worked in Ottawa for different jewellery stores as a goldsmith and sales associate. After a few years, I longed for the art world of jewellery again and was accepted to an artist residency in the Jewellery Department at the Estonian Academy of Art in Europe, where I studied stone cutting, stone setting, and produced a body of work with kiln-fired enamel.
If you could invite a few people (living or dead) to your studio for a day, who would you ask and why?
I would love to invite my aunt Merrill and my mom's best friend Christie, both of which have been very influential as women role models. They both passed away before I had my own studio, but I feel that they would be cheering for me now. My aunt was a very beautiful and elegant woman with a big heart for caring for children and ran her own daycare business. Christie was a artist and curator for several museums here in Ottawa, and was a fantastic business woman. I think I would have them over to model jewellery and dance to disco-funk. :)
List three words that describe you as an artist.
Daydreamer, Driven, Exploring

What else inspires your work?
I am inspired by the process of working with metal. Forming metal through hammering, and watching it go from nothing to something intricate and beautiful. My forms are influenced by the shape of the body. I am looking to design pieces that accentuate the curves and proportions of the face, neck, wrist, hands. I am influenced by nature patterns and negative shapes that they produce. Overlapping tree branches or fields of chaotic flower patterns.
Why is the Ottawa Jewellery Collective important to you?
The Ottawa Jewellery Collective is important to me because when I first moved back to Ottawa after graduation I found it really hard to get started here. I feel that together we can be stronger and happier than when we are isolated. It doesn't take much to help each other out, even in the smallest ways like chatting over a drink about jewellery making, that we find eureka moments! It is also beneficial for our clients to have one place to go when they are looking for high quality jewellery made in Ottawa. I think that it is exciting to see a group of talented people working together. Only more good things can come from that!

What part of Ottawa and surrounding areas do you call home?
I live in Orleans and grew up exploring the bike paths and forests by the river. I have lived in other parts of Ottawa (Hintonburg, Lowertown, Glebe), so I often feel at home visiting my favourite restaurants and cafes in other parts of the city.
As a Canadian Designer, has Canadian culture or environment influenced your work?
Yes, I think it has. Being a Canadian woman, I feel encourage and supported to pursue my own business in Canada as a goldsmith. I have to thank the businesswoman and goldsmiths that have proceeded me for their efforts to make way for women to enter this field in Canada. I also give thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit that has built communities and programs for young business people to build their success.

Describe a technique you use in your work.
I use a metal forming techniques with hammers and anvils. The process of hammering on metal will stretch or compress the metal and create its new form. I use my favourite slim hammer to form most of my pieces. Its waterfall-like texture has become the signature element on my pieces. As I hammer with this slim hammer, it stretches the edge; I then flip the piece over and continue along the next part of the edge. This creates an wave like effect that is reminiscent to natural growth patterns of leaves or lichen.
What do jewellery and a good party have in common?
In the making of them, they are both loud, tiring, and fun. Afterwards, in the days and years to come, they hold your best memories with the people we love.
Read more about the talented jewellery designers in Ottawa on the collective's blog: