When Arleigh Garratt opened Garnish Handmade Boutique in 2011, she had a vision in mind.
“I aim to carry Canadian handmade wearable art such as jewellery, scarves, hats, and bags,” she told me. “Sometimes I find a product or artist that creates something else, candles or wall art for example, that is just too awesome to not carry.”
Herself a jeweller by trade, Garratt utilizes the back half of the store as her studio.
Studying and setting trends while ensuring the products she creates and carries are high quality and, often times, highly unique, meant Garratt was a great person to ask for some advice about purchasing handmade goods for a loved one this holiday season.
Photo: Arleigh Garratt is the owner of Garnish.
First, she recommends figuring out a budget before you hit the stores or markets. “Budgets are key, so letting us know what you’re thinking of spending helps us guide you through the shop,” Garratt says. “Often the shiny or sparkly gets someone’s attention and it can really freak people out when the earrings they like are sterling with a brilliant stone at $150 or gold at $500!”
In reality, a small budget can be adhered to. ”Usually anything unconventional will be on the less expensive end of things. Ceramic, shrink plastic, recycled skateboards, and leather are all more affordable,” she explains.
Second, consider who you are buying for. Do they dress up often? Can they wear rings or necklaces at work? A mechanic might refrain from wearing rings while someone in an office setting can play with their accessories. “Ideally you want them to wear the gift,” Garrett says. “Some people are not jewellery people but love bags or hats. This way you are sure to choose a great meaningful gift.”
Third, when buying jewellery, consider product care. “Oxygen in the air is what tarnishes jewellery, silver predominantly, and although trendy, jewellery stands and frames are just not going to keep your jewellery in its original condition. Your best option is a ziplock bag,” Garratt explains.
If not, speaking from personal experience, items will need to be refinished to return them to their original shine. You might also consider purchasing a polishing cloth or silver dip to keep silver clean.
Fourth, go custom. There are several jewellers in town who love to create custom pieces. “These days it’s hard to be unique with the vast array of images on the web,” Garratt explains. “I won’t copy another artist’s design or work. Come with a budget, time frame – ideally between six to 10 weeks – and an idea of what you want. Colour, size, texture, style, and whether it’s everyday wear or something special,” Garratt recommends.
Finally, if you’re giving a gift to a creative individual, a gift certificate for a class is a fantastic option. Garratt ran several classes throughout December and found the feedback overwhelmingly positive.
“One woman made a wedding ring for her husband and another made a ring for her daughter,” she says. “The sentiment of this is what is so special. Taking something so generic like metal sheeting and cutting, forming and making it your own jewellery is what is so rewarding.”
Garnish will be offering several more classes in the new year, where participants use Garratt’s own studio to learn and create in. Register at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre.Photo: Garnish is located in Grizzly Plaza on Mackenzie Avenue.
Are you interested in a creative class for yourself or to get someone as a gift? Check out the the Revelstoke Visual Arts Center for courses in acrylic painting, silk painting, Photoshop, silver clay making, pottery and more.
If you want to support local artisans, check out Garnish, Love Making Designs, ArtFirst, Integrated Apparel, Birch & Lace, and the Winter Farmer Market this Thursday, Dec. 15. Their beautiful and high quality items will be loved for the long term, not just the moment.