Sunday, January 21, 2007

Christie Grace Studio!!!

A recent article in the NORTH SHORE NEWS....please head to their web-site under the LOOK section

Here it is in reprint...

Designing woman

Caroline Skelton

It's not often that you hear travellers singing the praises of inefficient travel.

But for Christie Grace, a long layover in Toronto meant the beginning of a new chapter in her life. Grace, who now lives on Bowen Island and enjoys twin careers in jewelry design and music, is a woman who hates to waste time. So when she found herself with about seven hours of waiting ahead of her, she went searching for somewhere to pass the time, and ended up in a jewelry store.

She had already begun designing jewelry, experimenting with antique buttons, beads and Fimo - so when she found the store's jeweller, she asked him for a favour:

"Hey listen, I've got seven hours here," she said, "and I always wondered if I had any talent whatsoever in silversmithing, goldsmithing. Would you be so kind as to . . . (show) me something?"

The jeweller agreed, sitting her down with an introductory volume on silversmithing, and putting her to work on a simple chain.

Since then, Grace has trained at the Gemological Institute of America in Los Angeles and the Revere Academy in San Francisco, and developed her own Christie Grace line.

She now has more than 20 years in jewelry design to her credit, and has traded the Fimo for luxurious materials: gold and semi-precious jewels. She now releases two collections each year, and spends much of her time on commissions and one-of-a-kind pieces.

Meanwhile, she has also pursued her musical career as a jazz vocalist, releasing her debut CD, Late Bloomer, in 2000.

"I'm a tenacious individual, and I've always had big vision," she said of her diverse passions.

Originally from Thunder Bay, Ont., Grace moved to Bowen Island in 1996, but it was her childhood exposure to jewelry that sparked her interest in the art. Her elegant grandmother always wore fine jewelry so, she said, "I was introduced to good jewelry right from the get-go."

It was another family memory who inspired Grace in her most recent gold jewelry collection. The Last Teardrop, a line of gold tear-shaped pendants and earrings with diamonds, recalls the passing of her mother, Kay McCullough, who was also an artist.

"I had the privilege of being able to nurse her, along with my sister, in the later stages of her decline," said Grace.

On the night before her mother's death, Grace spotted a single tear on her face - an unusual occurrence for a woman who rarely wept. She pointed it out to the palliative care nurse, who told her: "It's called 'the last teardrop.' She's saying goodbye."

For Grace, the symbol was a powerful one. "It was a symbolic shape that was to me the combination of a healing between us and a perfect goodbye," she said.

Designing jewelry, said Grace, "really helps me come through whatever it is I'm experiencing," which means that most of the jewelry in her studio also comes with a story.

Many of her regular customers want to hear the stories behind the pieces, and Grace is more than happy to tell them, confessing "I talk a little bit too much."

These days, she has a bit more chatting room, after recently moving her jewelry studio, called Silver, Gold and Songsmith, into new Bowen Island digs. The new space boasts an expanded workplace, a view overlooking Howe Sound and a baby grand piano in the showroom - a design that is a merging of musical and artistic passions that Grace calls "the culmination of a dream of marrying the two sides of myself."

She's also hoping to literally combine the two, hosting shopping evenings complete with live music at the baby grand. Unlike some big-city jewelers, Grace says she brings with her a down-to-earth persona.

"I get to know your family, I get to know your life and you get to know me," she said of her business style. "It's more 'Bowen.'"

For more information, see

published on 01/19/2007