Ring by Rickson Jewellery


Canadian Craft is a thriving industry that supports independent artists. Creative individuals find small openings in this competitive industry to plant their seeds, and when they grow into success, the openings widen, creating new avenues for future artisans.

Welcome to Rickson Salkeld’s Crafthaus blog about Canadian Craft. This is a place where I will be posting once a month about Canadian:

Canadian Craft Identity

The Craft Ladder and where to perch

Funding opportunities
Shows and exhibitions
Canadian online marketplace and the global market
The 'ethically produced trend' in Canada and abroad
Stores that sell handmade craft
Groups and Organizations
Individual Canadian artists

And much more!

In today’s blog I will introduce Canadian Craft to you through my own experience as a Canadian jewellery, artist and educator and how I got here. To get involved with the craft industry right away, donate your work and/or attend the Maker Shaker event May 5th in Toronto! Scroll down for titles of what you are interested in specifically and be sure to click on what interests you for live links. 

The Beginnings of Me

Image of Motherhood by Etsy Doulahara

Currently, I am a 25 year old, female jewellery art designer, working full time at my craft, teaching part time at the Devil’s Workshop in downtown Toronto. I have my BA from the Ontario College of Art and Design, and my Masters in jewellery design from the Brimingham School of Jewellery in the UK.

Canadian Education and the Global Environment

 Image from the Devils Workshop.ca: view video of how to make a silver ring

To give you an idea of how I reached this point in my life I will start from the beginning. When I was born …..

haha just kidding, but I do remember enjoying any opportunity to engage in crafts at a very young age, AND polishing my mother’s silver ware with toothpaste for FUN, so if you or your children have similar crafty habits, try enrolling in an introductory course, like those offered at:

The Devil’s Workshop, Nanopod, Wise Daughters, The Beadery, The Workroom, knitting place, pottery, ceramics, contact fibre and ceramics artists). Or, if you have a real interest in making your craft a carrier, start saving for a college diploma or university degree from OCAD, George Brown, or NSCAD.

Personally, my BFA (in Material Art and Design) from the Ontario College of Art and Design, taught me how to be a professional jewellery artist, capable of starting my own professional practice.

I gave a lecture on Online Marketing to the Thesis class at OCAD recently, and thoroughly enjoyed advising them on how to turn their craft into an enjoyable and financially viable carrier, and this is a strong element of the OCAD material art and design program. I found the education at the Ontario College of Art and Design to be very well rounded, I learned about responsible design (creating power outlets that save your house money on your electic bill), Archetectural hardware (I made silicone light switch that can be pressed from any angle, not requiring full dexterity), furniture design (I designed a chair for my cats made of oak and string), and of course I focused on jewellery design. In my opinion OCAD supports creative thinking and innovative jewellery design, with a less focused approach to techniques and materials than George Brown, which focuses on fine jewellery techniques. Overall I would say Canadian craft education is about teaching techniques, supporting creativity, experimentation, responsible design, international awareness and acceptance. Many students are international, having a different understanding of the English language than Canadian born artists, so a large element of Ontario education is finding ways to integrate students of different backgrounds, both technically and culturally, into one classroom. I find this element of Canadian education to be unique and extremely beneficial, as you not only learn acceptance, but also find new ways to view the world and your own culture, looking towards the idea of a global community as a new and exciting concept.

Making a Living as a ‘Starving Artist’

Image from Spankystokes.com article 'No Need to Starve: Artists can Eat off Their Tax Return'.

During my Education at OCAD I was very enthusiastic about jewellery’s relationship to the body. I distinctively remember being one of the only students that actually wore my work, and as result I attracted clients quickly, and started selling my jewellery during my second year of university. I pursued pricing structures, which OCAD professors (Ken Vickerson and Dorrie Millerson) supported, and I started selling my work independently and through craft sales and stores with the companionship of Allison Wells  creator of Papersnake. She was very industrious and says the, "Toronto business development center helped me. They had a 'young entrepreneurs grant' for students to do during the summer which was a great help in starting my jewellery business.

Together and independently we have sold at:

The One of a Kind Show, Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Toronto Buskerfest, City of Craft, and Crafty Little Devils Show and Sale to name a few.

These are Galleries and Stores we've sold our work at:

Made You Look, The Devil’s Workshop, Purple Thumb, Distill, Shop Girls and Frock.

We have found support and information through:

Ontario Crafts Council, Canadian Council for the Arts, Center for Contemporary Canadian Craft MAG, Toronto Craft Alert, and Etsy

You may or may not be aware of the incredible online, handmade powerhouse that is Etsy. One suggestion I have is to subscribe to their newsletter if you are creating your own business, even if you don’t plan to sell on Etsy, they give exceptional advice on:

Pricing, photography, promotion, tagging, titles, brand identity, blogging, networking, online payment, and much more!

Many Canadian artists feel like Etsy is too in discriminate, allowing everyone and anyone to sell their work in the same place. Having an unjured place online store like Etsy gives uneducated hobbyist’s an even playing field with educated artisans. This can cause an imbalance in the craft economy because educated artists price their work to ensure they can attain sustainability through their craft, whereas hobbyists often price based on material costs alone and do not to take into account labour, overheads, market values and design fees. Personally I applaud Etsy for creating this unique arena for handmade work. Where else can you have an unedited debate, and marketplace for all crafters AND craft buyers from around the world? And since Etsy takes a small percentage of all sales, they make money if you make money, so they take it upon themselves to educate their members, helping to balance out the knowledge and pricing inconsistencies among sellers of handmade wares. I support Etsy because people are fully capable of making their own choices, and having an unbiased marketplace helps in educating the consumer, rather than making choices for them.

Wanting More

After working many part time jobs while growing my jewellery business, I began to feel run down, and like I hadn’t fully finished my education. So after a final semester at OCAD, I started to explore Master’s courses in jewellery design. Since there is only one school in Canada that offers a MA in Jewellery (NSCAD) I explored international courses aswell. When researching schools my main criteria was cost, reputation and previous student’s work. I found US school’s to be abundant and didn’t see any courses that really stood out. I found their MA student work to be straight forward, and undeveloped. However I had heard that the Birmingham School of Jewellery in the UK had a strong reputation in Canada because Greg Simms (a professor at NSCAD), did his MA there. I also applied to the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, UK. When making my final decision I went with Birmingham because of it’s reputation, slightly lower cost than UCA, it’s location in the Birmingham jewellery quarter, the course, and the previous MA student work which seemed to have a wide range of materials, processes, and concepts.

International Education

 Image from Etsy seller How Adorable.

My education outside of Canada would seem to have little to do with Canadian Craft. However, I now know that it is very hard to have a clear view of your home, until you step outside of it. Having experienced the mix of local and international students at OCAD, I entered a similar environment, now being the foreigner. The MA course at BIAD (Birmingham Institute of Art and Design) had a culturally diverse group ; 2 from Tiawan, 1 from Tailand, 2 from France and Germany, 1 from Scotland, Me from Canada, and 5 from the UK. I was very attracted to the idea of ‘related products’ in my course title; Jewellery, SIlversmithing and Related Products, which lead me to believe that it was a very open course. And it was. In comparison to my BA at OCAD where we were expected to meet many deadlines and attain a technical level of competence quickly; the open, self directed style of the MA course at BIAD allowed me to grow and expand my ideas phenomenally. Now that I am finished, I feel confident to run my own artistic investigations, pursue a teaching career, and network, promote and grow within the craft industry.

Canucks and Brits 


Deer D by Canadian Artist Alexx Boisjoli and Teddy Bear Hood by British artist Charlotte Daffern

One interesting comparison I have with Europian and Canadian Craft, is Canada is extremely supportive of entrepreneurs and it seems I can’t turn around without seeing an advertisement for a company wishing to help small businesses grow. However in the UK, I was met with much negativity around the idea of running my own business and couldn’t quite figure out why. I have a theory that in European culture being a member of a large successful company is valued, whereas running your own business is seen as lower on the food chain. Also I believe many artists simply feel that it is impossible to make a living from your art, this mentality stemming from the ‘starving artist’ cliché. I am proud to say that Canada truly supports its artist population with hope, education, and funding to make artistic sustainability a reality. 

As for European art jewellery in itself…wow! SO impressive. I believe European culture is truly eager to accept and praise innovative, and shocking art jewellery and contemporary craft. I visited numerous shows packed with collectors, and enthusiasts who relish jewellery made of dental alginate, hair, glue, silicone, ceramics, and a plethora of other non conventional materials. I recently had my work displayed in the show Talente along with some fellow craft artists of mine ; Elena Ruebel, Katharina Moch, Shadi Vossogh, and Ani Tung exhbited in Schmuck (Talente is a part of Schmuck at the International Trades Fair in Munich. Looking at their work, I think you will gain an appreciation for the type of work Eurpoe embrasses. The culture embraces individual and accentric aesthetic styles, concepts, and materials when it comes to jewellery, and does not seem to be scared of anything! Whereas I find North American wearable art enthusiasts are much more conservative and traditional when it comes to their craft purchases.

Upon returning to Canada bearing fruits of my MA labour I have been pleasantly surprised by my client’s acceptance and enthusiasm for my alternative jewellery, the newest of which is made from real egg shells coated in resin alluding to the unfertilized eggs my body sheds every menstrual cycle. I now wonder if Canada’s conservative nature is simply a result of what is available, and not based on their internal feelings towards the avante-garde. I truly hope to leak some of Europe’s acceptance of alternative art jewellery into the Canadian Craft bloodstream.

Image of Egglace by Rickson Salkeld

To learn more about my art jewellery visit:



If you are involved with Canadian craft in some way, or would like to be a featured artist, please contact me at RicksonJewellery@yahoo.ca.

Please tune in next month for more Rickson ramblings on Canadian Craft! Thanks for reading,


Views: 46

Latest Activity

Aleksandra Vali posted a status
"2023 Fortezza da Basso, Florence, Italy"
Sep 19, 2023
Aleksandra Vali and Letitia Pintilie are now friends
Sep 19, 2023
Catherine Marche liked Rebecca Skeels's discussion streamlining our pages
Feb 3, 2021
Jonathan Leo Brown posted a status
"An art deco inspired ocean liner container with multiple containers."
Nov 9, 2020


  • Add Videos
  • View All

© 2024   Created by Brigitte Martin.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service