" (Amber) began crafting jewelry from wood back in 2014 - simply because I wanted a wood pendant and couldn't find anything I liked. So I began experimenting with found wood, lichens, and epoxy resin. As I wore my handmade pieces, friends and family began asking for similar ones, so I happily obliged. Pushing my craft and expanding my networks has allowed my to begin my own company, Wild Blue Yonder, in the spring of 2016. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, my jewelry is available in several stores, and is displayed regularly at events throughout the region.
WBY jewelry is created using reclaimed materials, unused lumber scraps, or fragments of wood, bark, and lichen found on hikes and travels through the forest. Little details, often unnoticed in nature, are readily on display in my pieces. My jewelry is designed to inspire its wearer with a love for nature, and all the intricacies that lie therein."
How did you get into your art/craft?
I had been looking for wood jewelry for myself – and couldn’t find anything I liked. So I started making a few pieces, which friends noticed and began requesting them. Over a couple of years, my practice and craft was refined, and early in 2016 I decided to take the plunge, and start the business full time.
What do you like to listen to while you’re working?
I alternate between comedy podcasts (This is That, Because News, No Such Thing as a Fish) and French- learning podcasts. Once in while I’ll add some music in the mix too: Indie folk/rock, or old school jazz and blues.
Outside of your medium, what other types of art/design/etc are you inspired by?
I love pottery in all its forms – so earthy and interesting. In a second life I would try to be a potter.
If you couldn’t be an artist/craftsperson, what would you love to be?
Hm. This is genuinely the first time I have thought of this possibility. Can I pick music teacher? Because that’s my second job and I love it.
Where is your studio located? What’s your favourite thing about your city?
I do most of my work from my home studio, in Hamilton near Gage Park. It’s the attic floor of an old century home, with a big skylight, creaky wood floors, and I absolutely love it. I also sublet woodshop space off friends who run a carpentry business (Circle A Carpentry) where I do most of the rough cutting and sanding.
My favourite thing about Hamilton is…
The small-town feel, with big-city amenities. Particularly in the arts scene, it really seems like everyone knows one another, while also being really receptive to new faces. It’s a unique blend actually – and I have really been lucky to find a place in that community, despite being at the beginning of my creative career.
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I would move to Whitehorse in a heartbeat – we visited there this summer and it was so beautiful.
What do you love most about Canada?
Our abundance of untouched wilderness – you would need a lifetime of lifetimes to get to it all.
What's you favourite thing to do with your “down time”?
Baking or cooking things for the first time, camping, canoeing.
If you could go to dinner with ANYBODY, alive or dead, who would it be?
I would want to have dinner with Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday – two amazing women making art in a time when both their gender and ethnicity were immense barriers – and yet that didn’t stop either of them from creating beautiful music their whole lives long. Inspiring for women and minorities today to keep working & creating unapologetically and boldly.
What brand/artist can you not get enough of?
I love the brand of resin that I use! Art Resin is a company in Burlington, ON (the proximity is total coincidence, they ship worldwide) and it is a no-VOCs, crystal clear and super durable resin. I swear by the stuff – and the company is full of awesome people!
What’s one thing you hope makes it big?
Call me biased, but I’d really love to see wood jewelry take a mainstage in the fashion world. I am obsessed with the possibilities, despite it being an unusual material for jewelry. Wood is warm, durable, and can be easily recycled/reclaimed. I’m not much of a gemstones fan so it makes it’s easier for me to happily forsake the diamonds for the lovely opalescence of certain types of exotic hardwood.
Do you have a favourite book?
I finally read “The Orenda” which was very compelling. Tough to read, but deeply informative and moving.
What’s one goal you’re working towards right now?
Get through this Christmas season with a healthy balance of busy-ness/success with relaxation and the peacefulness that this season is *supposed to* bring. We’ll see if I can nail it this year.
What’s your favourite thing to do over the holidays?
My favourite thing to do is spend a few days up at my family cottage near North Bay – it’s so peaceful there, and very special to me, since my grandparents built it in the 70s and my family has spent a lot of time there since. It can get so cold up there (a couple times it’s hit -30 or lower) but with the wood stove going, it’s the most delightful place to be.