Spotlight on our friends: Basement Artists

When we started making jewellery in 2006 we didn’t know many local artists and artisans.  It was a hobby we both enjoyed and we decided to participate in some local art shows and craft fairs for fun and to see how people responded to our work.

We enjoyed the first few shows and kept at it over the next few years.  One of the things we found difficult was trying to decide in which shows to participate, not knowing the communities or organizers, it’s always a bit of a gamble.  About a year ago, I was introduced to Marcus Lamoureux through a mutual friend and later found out he is the founder and organizer of Basement Artists.

When Marcus founded Basement Artists, he wanted to dedicate himself to the promotion and showcase of local Ottawa musicians and artists.  Being an artist himself, he felt this type of group could really benefit the local community.  With some time, hard work and personal effort, Marcus created a type of art show unique to the Ottawa community.  His shows bring in people from all around the area, local artists as well as art lovers.  These evenings of music and art give musicians and artists the opportunity to reach a much larger audience then they would otherwise be able to.

In September 2010, Basement Artists celebrated their 50th music and art show at the Mercury Lounge in the Byward Market.  Each show combines performances by talented local bands with displays of impressive local artists and artisans.  This combination allows audiences a glimpse into a world of underground art and music that isn’t always readily accessible.  The shows take place at a variety of local venues and occur at least once a month.

Drakestail Jewellery had their first show with Basement Artists in the summer 2010.  We’re very happy to be a part of this local group of artists and musicians.  This helps us to reach a larger audience which is, of course, important but even more important is the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, to network with them and to be a part of a community that is larger then just ourselves.  We feel very fortunate to have joined Basement Artists and to have met Marcus, as well as the other wonderful and talented people who work with Basement Artists.

Our next Basement Artists show will be on Saturday, January 29th at Babylon Night Club in Ottawa, starting at 7:00 P.M.  We’d love to see you there!

If our post has piqued your curiosity about the organization, please visit their website here:

Or learn more about them by watching their interview on Rogers TV here:

The Origins of Drakestail: a folk tale

Often at shows, people will ask about the name Drakestail, and where it came from.  It comes from a charming French folk tale about a clever little duck who gets the best of a greedy king.  Below is that story.  Enjoy!


Once upon a time, there was a little duck named Drakestail.  He was very clever and hard-working, and in time earned himself a small fortune.  The king of the land even noticed that Drakestail had quite the fortune, and asked for a loan.  What an honour, thought Drakestail, and happily loaned the king some money.

Years passed, and the king still had not repaid his loan.  Eventually, Drakestail decided to visit the king and ask that he repay the loan.  He packed a few things in a sack and set off down the road, singing to himself, “Quack quack quack, when shall I get my money back?”

As he walked down the road to the castle, he met a ladder, leaning against an apple tree.

“Where are you going?” asked the ladder.

“Why, I’m off to see the king to ask for my money back,” replied Drakestail.

“What fun to see the king!” cried the ladder, and asked to come along for the journey.

“Why not?  One can never have too many friends,” Drakestail agreed, and the ladder hopped into Drakestail’s sack and off they went.

Further down the road, Drakestail came to a mighty river.  Before he could cross, the river asked him where he was going.

“Why, I’m off to see the king to ask for my money back,” said Drakestail.

The river asked, “Can I come along to see the king?”

“Why not?  One can never have too many friends,” Drakestail replied, so the river jumped into Drakestail’s sack and they continued towards the castle.

A few hours later, Drakestail came across a buzzing beehive.  The bees asked where he was going.

“Why, I’m off to see the king to ask for my money back,” said Drakestail.

The bees asked, “Can we come along to see the king?”

“Why not?  One can never have too many friends,” Drakestail replied.  The bees flew into the sack, and off they went toward the castle.

Not long after, Drakestail arrived at the castle.  He walked up to the guards and said, “Quack quack quack, I’ve come to get my money back. Please take me to see the king.”  The guards went into the castle and told the king that Drakestail was outside the gates, looking for his money.  The king, who had no intention of repaying Drakestail, told the guards to take him to the dungeon and throw him in the pit.

The guards returned to the gate, grabbed the little duck, and threw him in the pit.  He opened his sack and cried, “Help help, my friends, I’ve been thrown in a pit!”  The ladder jumped out of the sack, and Drakestail climbed out of the pit.  “One can never have too many friends,” he said, and went in search of the king.

Drakestail walked around the dungeon until he came across the kitchen.  He said to the cook, “Quack quack quack, I’ve come to get my money back.  Please take me to see the king.”  The cook went to find the king, and told him about Drakestail.  The king grew angry.  “How did he escape the pit?  Never mind.  Throw him in your cooking pot and he will bother me no more.”

The cook went back to the kitchen and threw Drakestail into the cooking pot.  Drakestail opened his sack and cried, “Help help, my friends!  I’m in hot water!”  Out flowed the river, which quenched the cooking-pot fire and flowed away.  Drakestail climbed out of the pot and said, “One can never have too many friends.”  He then continued his search for the king.

Eventually, Drakestail found the throne room.  The king was red-faced and angry.  “You escaped the pit!  You escaped the pot!  Never mind, I will deal with you myself.”  The king drew his royal sword and swung at Drakestail.

“Help, help, my friends, I’m being attacked!”  Drakestail opened his sack, and out flew the bees. They stung the king and chased him out of the castle and so far away that nobody ever saw him again.

With the old king gone, everyone in the court asked Drakestail if he would be the new king.  After all, nobody wanted the kind of king that would never repay a debt.  “Why not,” said Drakestail.  “One can never have too many friends.”

Late-Breaking Schedule Update!

We’ve added a third show to our roster! The Basement Artists are hosting at Zaphod Beeblebrox, and we’ll be there enjoying some fabulous music and great local art. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Want tickets? Send an email and we’ll hook you up.

Wednesday, November 3rd
Zaphod Beeblebrox
27 York St.

Fall/Winter Event Schedule

Hello, dear readers! Our fall/winter schedule has been finalized, and we’re pleased to be participating in two upcoming events. Come out and say hi. We’d love to see you!

Christmas Craft Show
Jim Durrell Arena – 1264 Walkley Rd.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
9:00am – 4:00pm

Christmas Craft and Gift Show
RA Centre – 2451 Riverside Dr.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
10:00am – 4:00pm

Spotlight on Turquoise

Turquoise is a popular gemstone that has been used in art for centuries. Egyptian and Aztec artists and artisans first used turquoise in jewellery, sculpture, and mosaics. Found in light blue to green hues, it may also be flecked with pyrite, or have white, brown or black “marbling”, or matrix. Iran, Egypt, and Arizona, USA are the current top producers of turquoise.

Traditionally, turquoise is the birthstone for December. This honour is now shared with modern December birthstones tanzanite and blue topaz. Believers in the healing power of gemstones believe that turquoise is soothing and grounding, and a great stone for meditation.

This relatively soft stone rates a 5-6 on the Mohs hardness scale. Because turquoise is naturally soft and porous, soemtimes even chalky, it is treated to enhance its colour and durability. Traditionally, turquoise was lightly waxed or oiled. A simple heat test can prove if this treatment has been used, and purists generally agree that this treatment is acceptable. More commonly, plastic and water glass treatments are used to “bond” or “stabilize” turquoise, and these treatments are more permanent and stable. It is up to the individual purchaser/wearer whether to purchase treated turquoise.

Because of its porosity, some care should be taken when wearing turquoise. Its colour can be affected by perfumes, body oils, cosmetics, and even strong sunlight. Store it in a location where it won’t be scratched by other items, and clean gently with a soft cloth.

Because great-quality turquoise is in such high demand, there are plenty of imitation and simulated turquoise items out there. Some common look-alike stones include dyed howlite, and magnesite, both of which are naturally white. These can often be identified by inspecting the beads – the inside of the drilled hole should be the same colour as the stone. If it’s white, it’s fake. There are also plastic and glass fakes, which can usually be identified by their feel/texture, and by the potential presence of bubbles. Plastic can be identified by introducing a hot item to an inconspicuous spot to see if it melts.

Find some great gift ideas for yourself or your favourite December birthday!

Turquoise and Moonstone necklace and earring jewellery set

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