Category: Spotlight

Made just for YOU!

What do you think when I say “custom”? If you’re thinking of having something custom made, you may be thinking that it will cost a small fortune. That might be true when talking about mass produced items, but here at Drakestail Jewellery, we do things a little differently.

This is a baby shower gift - one of our beautiful Vintage bracelets - sized down for a newborn.
Baby shower gift – one of our beautiful Vintage by Drakestail Jewellery bracelets – sized down for a newborn. Lucky girl!

We do custom work. We LOVE custom work! There’s a great feeling knowing exactly where your hard work is going, and that it’s going to be PERFECT!

Customized leaves on a Tree of Life - peridot, malachite, and turquoise.
Customized leaves on a Tree of Life – peridot, malachite, and turquoise. A simple change can create perfection!

You probably know by now that everything we create is lovingly hand made. Very few pieces AREN’T one of a kind. So what’s the difference between what we’re selling and that perfect design floating around inside your head? Not much, really.

Opal and snowflake obsidian. This was to celebrate the end of chemo treatments. The instructions were "I think these stones look neat together"
Opal and snowflake obsidian. This was to celebrate the end of chemo treatments. The instructions were “I think these stones look neat together”

So, the big question… how do we charge custom orders? Same way we charge everything else. If you found it in your head or in our booth, it’s the same. There’s no need for us to charge more because our basic process hasn’t changed.

 Swarovski crystals and sterling silver- something special for a Maid of Honour.
Swarovski crystals and sterling silver – something special for a Maid of Honour.

Do you have a particular design in mind? Or just a half decided feel of what you want? We’ll work one on one with you to discover your personal style, and your budget, to create a piece that will make you feel fabulous! There’s really no reason not to find the perfect fit for you.

On the left, a gift of aquamarine & smoky quartz, stamped with the receiver's name. On the right - Swarovski pearl hair elastics for a lucky wedding party
On the left, a gift of aquamarine & smoky quartz, with the recipient’s name stamping. On the right – pink Swarovski pearl hair elastics for a beautiful wedding party

Come find us at Rideau High’s Crafts for Christmas sale in Ottawa on Saturday December 12th. We’re there 10am-2pm. We can help you find the perfect piece for Christmas!

Can’t make it? We’ll come to you! There’s still time to book your very own Home Party before Christmas and New Year!

Peridot: August Birthstone

Happy birthday to all of you fabulous August babies.  Your birthstone is the appropriately summery peridot, a light green gemstone evocative of dappled summer foliage and citrusy limes.

Peridot is the gemstone variety of the mineral olivine.  It gets its colour from iron, and the more iron is present, the deeper the green.  It has an average hardness of 6.5 – 7 on the Mohs scale, making it sturdy enough for the wear and tear of jewellery.

Peridot develops crystals deep within the earth’s crust and is brought to the surface during volcanic activity. In Hawaii, peridot is known as Pele’s tears, named after the goddess of fire and volcanoes. It can also be found in meteorites, though these are extremely rare and not likely to be found in jewellery.

The first known use of peridot dates back to ancient Egypt, from gems mined on a volcanic island in the Red Sea.  This was the only ancient source of peridot, and has now been exhausted.

These days, most peridot is mined in Arizona, Kashmir and China.  It can also be found in Hawaii, as well as Myanmar, Australia, Norway, South Africa, and Brazil.

Peridot is used as a soothing stone and is reputed to protect against negative emotions.

Have an August birthday to shop for?  Click here for some great gift ideas!

Peridot tree of life pendant

Pantone 2015 Colour of the Year: Marsala

The Pantone Colour Institute is *the* name in colour trends. They produce gorgeous palettes in the spring and fall, and come out with a colour of the year for each year, drawn from the spring palette.  This colour ends up appearing just about everywhere, from fashion to paint and home decor.

Pantone Color Institute Marsala

Named after the fortified wine, Marsala is the 2015 colour of the year. It’s a deliciously earthy red. My favourite colour is red and I’m excited to see this colour as it makes its appearance in stores and on the runways.

True reds are hard to come by in gemstones. Dark carnelians come close to this colour, with their deep and earthy orangey reds. Poppy jasper is a brick red colour with small streaks of black and grey. Garnets are another great choice, often occurring with warm red tones. Tourmaline can also come in a deep warm red.

Of course, the colour is popping up already in a variety of products. I’ve put together a warm and earthy treasury from some of the loveliest items I could find in Marsala. I can’t wait to get a lip colour in Marsala. Where are you looking forward to seeing this colour pop up?

Interview Series Part 4 – Alaina Partridge of The Polished Pinup Parlour

For our fourth interview series, I am quite excited to introduce you to Alaina Partridge of The Polished Pinup Parlour here in Winnipeg. I met Alaina about 18 months ago and was immediately struck by her kind and genuine nature. I remember telling her how much I admired her nail art but that I didn’t think I’d ever get gels and how lovely the lashes were but I can’t stand having people fiddle around my eyes. Well, how times change!  I got my first set of gels in November 2013 and have had them since. I am also considering lashes in the new year. Alaina’s creative nature really shines through in her work. Her attention to detail and perfectionism leave you 100% satisfied. Her warm smile and infectious laughter are bonuses to the experience!

What inspired you to open The Polished Pinup Parlour?

I’ve worked for a few different businesses doing esthetics and never felt the perfect fit, either being rushed, or management caring less about quality than I did. So after I stopped working at my last job, I decided it was time to make my own rules and go out on my own!

Are you formally trained or self-taught?

I am formally trained, I was fortunate to have been able to take the Nail technology course at Miles Macdonell Collegiate, so it didn’t cost me as much as if I had taken it after high school. I graduated with a dual diploma in 2005. After graduating that program, I also took a body sugaring course and received a certificate for that in 2008. In 2012, while working for an educator and supplier, I took a course for Micha Lash extensions and received my certificate of accomplishment, for that. Around that same time, I also went on a trip to Toronto to do an advanced nail Art class, under two internationally acclaimed nail technicians. While working there I also took courses for advanced techniques for sculpturing the perfect nail, and electric file use.

What has been your best source of knowledge in your art?

All of the courses I’ve taken contributed to techniques I use, in addition to the artistic knowledge I’ve gained from a family full of artists, most prominently, my grandmother, a portrait artist, painter, carver, potter, and anything else pertaining to art that she can get her hands on.

Describe your style in one sentence.

My artistic style is ever changing, I don’t ever stick to one style.

What inspires you in your day-to-day?

On a continual basis I get inspiration from all sorts of online sources posting nails and nail art and creating my own take on what I see.

What are your favourite items to make?

My favorite work projects tend to be the more artistic, more detailed work, I like to be challenged. So my favorite things are, doing eyelash extensions with a splash of color, or nails with a lot of hand painted detail.

What projects or goals are you currently working on for The Polished Pinup Parlour?

My main goal in the new year is to focus a little more on advertising. Hopefully do some promotions for the next wedding season.

How do you balance being a mom and a small business owner?

I have chosen to take clients by appointment only. So to some extent I am able to schedule work around my life as a mom. Limiting my evening and weekend work, and taking time off when needed for Christmas concerts and doctor appointments. It is fortunate that I have been able to do that. When little emergencies come up, I take having to cancel or reschedule appointments very seriously, but as a single mother, you have to do what you have to do sometimes. Now engaged, have much more support than when I started out.

What is one thing you’d like your fans to know about you?

I am very open minded, and closed lipped, I am not judgmental at all, so if you come see me, don’t hesitate to talk about anything on your mind.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

To me, the most rewarding thing about what I do is, seeing a big change, such as someone coming in with bitten nails, and over the course of a few appointments, seeing their natural nails grow in. As well as seeing people get excited about the quality of my work, from the construction of the nails, to little details of art, and how natural, the eyelash extensions seem.

Best piece of advice for women looking to open their own small business?

My best piece of advice for women starting their own small business, would be to learn everything you can about what is necessary for you, where you are, legally, from name registration to taxes, before you start. If possible take some type of business course before you start. And have faith in yourself and your business. Don’t give up easily when it is a slow start.

I was very happy to sit down with Alaina to do this interview and hope you enjoy the results!


“Christmas Sweater” Nails
“Matt black and sparkle purple stiletto” nails

Exchange Shop Hop – December 11-13 2014

This week in Winnipeg Drakestail Jewellery in The Exchange Uporium will be participating in “The Exchange Shop Hop”. This is a shopping event that a number of shops in the Exchange District are promoting this December.

“The Exchange Shop Hop” will take place on December 11 and 12 from 12-8 pm (some shops open earlier and close later) and December 13 11-6pm.

Shops include:

Hilary Druxman
U.N. Luggage
Tiny Feast
The Haberdashery
84 1/2
Mayberry Fine Art
Tara Davis Studio Boutique
The Foxy Shoppe
Paperdoll Clothing
Rhymes with Orange
Berns and Black
Toad Hall Toys
hut k
Aveda Institute
Exchange Uporium
Photography by Dano Tanaka
The Polished Pinup Parlour

Winnipeg’s historical Exchange District is what caused me to fall in love with this city and want to live here. I highly recommend you take advantage of the shop hop’s special in-store promotions, giveaways (and a grand prize worth over $1500) to get some of your holiday shopping done at these wonderful local shops! We are sure you can find something for everyone on your list.


Exchange Shop Hop Map
Exchange Shop Hop Map


INTERVIEW SERIES PART 3 – Shannah Warwick of BlckBts

Today we’re excited to share another post in our interview series. Shannah Warwick is a textile artist and fashion designer who creates spectacular accessories. She owns BlkBts, a great shop that showcases her dramatic scarves, shawls, and other creations.

BlckBts Logo

What is your professional background?

From a fashion and business perspective, I worked in a high-end woman’s boutique for about 6 years. In the boutique I was a window dresser, visual merchandiser, and assistant buyer. I learned so much about the fashion world through my experience that has carried over into my own business.

What inspired you to open BlkBts?

BlckBts, pronounced black boots, evolved from my love of fashion, fabric dyeing, and sewing. My business name and concept started with an idea to make pieces that can be worn with your favorite black boots. We all have a pair we love and making clothing and accessories to wear with them became a driving force behind BlckBts.

I started dyeing fabric and working with textile design in college and had previous collections focusing on interesting dye techniques. That went well for a few years but I hit a wall, something was missing.
Texture. As much as I was trying to create texture with dye, I wanted to feel it. Then I stumbled upon nuno felting: a process that combines wool into silk or cotton and shrinks to create a puckered texture. Felting allows me to create pieces in a sculptural way with little or no sewing.
From this point, I decided to fully pursue and commit myself to BlckBts as a business. I now see BlckBts evolving as a strong presence in the art and fashion world.

Are you formally trained or self-taught?

I have a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where I took my first textile class. In addition, I have taken numerous Dye and a few Felting workshops from talented artists and designers. The rest I learned through a mix of trial and error and online research.

What has been your best source of knowledge in your art?

My best source of knowledge in my art has been other felters and designers. I belong to many online groups that have helped me trouble shoot and also improve my skills. Other designers are great to have as friends because we can bounce ideas off each other and brainstorm.

Describe your style in one sentence.

BlckBts is a combination of art and casual glamour.

What inspires you in your day-to-day?

I am inspired by the symbiosis between street fashion and high-end designers. Women who set off their classic style with a beautiful, handmade statement piece inspire me.

What are your favourite items to make?

Each piece I make is one of a kind and that makes it really hard to pick a favorite. I love the process of nuno felting and waiting for that magical moment when my fashion illustrations and inspiration becomes a reality.

What projects are you currently working on for Blk Bts?

I am currently working on a few projects for BlckBts. I have a big trunk show coming up for first Friday in October at Toile Atelier. I’m doing a few seasonal and holiday artisan markets in the fall. I also have a huge sort of secret collaborative project that I am working on with a fellow artist. Stay tuned to for details.

What is one thing you’d like your fans to know about you?

Something I would like my fans to know about my line is a bit about the techniques that I use to create my pieces. Each piece is hand dyed and nuno felted.

Nuno felting is a technique that incorporates wool fibers into the weave of a fabric, allowing me to incorporate texture and sculpture into my work. In nuno felting, the wool fibers are agitated and migrate through the weave then “shocked” and shrunk to become a permanent part of the fabric. This technique allows me to create pieces that are truly one of a kind, organic in shape, and a distinct wearable work of art. I use high quality materials and fibers that have a wonderful textural feel against the skin.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Things that I find most rewarding about my work is watching someone try on one of my pieces and feel amazing in it. I am not only designing a brand but I am providing work that makes a client feel great about themselves.

Best piece of advice for someone looking to open their own small business?

Keep working. Keep learning. Grow a body of work you love and keep growing it.

You can see more of Shannah’s beautiful work here:

BlckBts Dusty Purple CrissCross Ombre Scarf: nuno felted, dreaded fringe
BlckBts Dusty Purple CrissCross Ombre Scarf: nuno felted, dreaded fringe
BlckBts Ammonite Shibori Scarf: hand dyed, nuno felted
BlckBts Ammonite Shibori Scarf: hand dyed, nuno felted
Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonTwitter Icontwitter follow buttonView Our Instagram FeedView Our Instagram FeedView Our Instagram FeedView Our Instagram FeedView Our Instagram Feed