Guest blog & Urban Market

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating in the inaugural Artifex show at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa. The show is the brain child of Dr Bruce M Firestone, and is intended to showcase local artists. It was a great chance to meet and chat with other artists, and many of the people who support the arts in Ottawa. One of the common questions people ask at shows is how I got involved in jewellery making. This came up again during my conversation with Bruce. After hearing the story, he asked me to write a guest blog post about my transition from an IT career, to being a full time artist. So if you are curious about the origin story of SHS, please head over to Bruce's blog for my guest post.

Speaking of shows, I will be at Urban Craft Market tomorrow. If you've never been down to the Wellington West area, tomorrow is a great day to do so. There are plenty of great restaurants and shops in the area, and on the first Saturday of each month, the Urban Craft Market sets up at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. The weather looks like it's going to be amazing, and there are always some great local artists setup for the market. Please stop in and say hi.

GCTC is at the corner of Wellington and Holland, and the show will be on from 10am till 2pm.

Now off to finish up some earrings for the show...

TNAF 2012

The New Arts Festival is quickly approaching. This show has been a favourite of ours, both as artists and patrons, for many years. We're happy to have been accepted by the jury again this year to display our work. The new jewellery line will be out again, so if you missed coming to visit us at Glamour in the Glebe, this is a good chance to see the pieces in person. I'm waiting to get a few pieces back from the casters, and if they arrive in time, I should have some new cufflinks for the show as well.


The show is on Saturday June 2nd, and Sunday June 3rd, from 10am to 5pm. It runs rain or shine, so we will be there regardless of the weather. It takes place in Central Park in the Glebe (the east side of Bank St, just south of the Queensway). It is free to the public all weekend.


The map below has our spot marked in red (we're on the south pathway, #33). We're beside our good friend Steve Strang again this year. The best thing about setting up beside your favourite painter, is having a first look at the new paintings.

TNAF is the premier art show in Ottawa. It is worth spending the afternoon wandering around to see what our local artists have to offer. Please stop in and say hi if you make it out.


Glamour in the Glebe

We're getting close to our first show the year, Glamour in the Glebe.  This will be the first time to see our new line of jewellery in person. A few of the pieces will be in the fashion show on Friday night. We will have a table setup on Friday night, and Saturday throughout the day. If you are in Ottawa May 11th or 12th, please stop by and say hi. We'd love to get your feedback on the new pieces, and chat about what the future has in store. The show will also be a good chance to pick up something nice for the special lady in your life.

Glamour in the Glebe Friday, May 11th 18:30-21:30 - $6 admission Saturday, May 12th 10:00-16:00 - Free admission Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Ave

Jewllery Show held in the Glebe May 11-12

The New Art Festival

We have been visitors to The New Art Festival in Ottawa for a number of years, and our house is filled with pieces that we've found there. A few years ago the festival became a juried show. A number of local artists and people in the arts community are on the jury. I think it has changed the show for the better; bringing in high quality artists, and maintaining a good balance of different mediums. I decided to send in a submission for this year's show, and am honoured to have been chosen as an exhibitor. I'm curious to see how this show goes. It will be my first non-pen show, and it will be interesting to see the response I get.

If you are in the Ottawa area on June 4th and 5th, please stop by the show. It is held in Central Park in Ottawa (on the east side of Bank street, just south of the Queensway). It is outdoors, rain or shine, from 10-5, and is free for the public to attend. If you do come to the show, please stop by and say hi.


Bank St between Isabella St and Holmwood Ave is closed for construction. The best option for getting to the festival by car is to enter the Glebe via Bronson. There is plenty of street parking, and it is a pleasant walk to the park.

I have my location information for the show.  I'll be in spot #26 on the central pathway. Here is the map for this year's festival with my approximate location marked in blue. I've also found out that my good friend Steve Strang will be in the booth beside me. He is a talented painter with a quirky sense of humour. His pieces are the perfect size for sticking up in a work cubical.

The New Art Festival 2011 Map

iPhone 4 Back

A great deal of the inspiration for my art comes from architecture; both modern and historical. Great architects such as Brunelleschi, Michelangelo and Ghery, have all provided me with enough inspiration for several life times worth of art. Then comes along the new art of Industrial Design with the genius of Dieter Rams and Jonny Ives making the daily objects of our world not only more practical, but more beautiful. Ives in particular has had a significant impact on how we view and use technology. We would still be looking at boring beige computers if not for Ives.

iPhone 4 Back with radial pattern

I'm particularly inspired by how Ives has changed the way a phone looks and feels with the introduction of the iPhone. Of all the iPhone designs, I love the iPhone 4 in particular. The problem is that owning an iPhone means that your phone looks the same as 40 million other iPhones in the world. Yes, there are cases that hide the beauty of Ives's design, or vinyl stickers to protect the back, however, I wanted something for my phone that would make it stand out a bit. So I set about making a replacement for the glass back on my iPhone.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the two most common items carried by gentlemen were pocket watches and cigarette cases. Instead of Apple and Blackberry, they had Faberge and Cartier. I wanted to re-capture the elegance and style of the early 20th century. The designs I chose for my new iPhone back are a re-imagining of a 21st century device using 19th century jewellery techniques. Large flat surfaces, like the back of an iPhone, were engine turned; not only to enhance the beauty of the surface, but to hide the daily wear and tear as well. All of the designs that follow are inspired by Faberge cigarette cases, and designed to enhance, not hide, Ives's stunning design.

Head over to the accessories gallery to get more details.

Empire pen in silver

This has been a long time in the works.  Four years ago I began teaching myself to make pens.  I was unhappy with many of the pens on the market, and my goal was to make pens that I would enjoy using.

Empire in silver

My biggest issue was finding a pen that was a little bit larger than normal, but not so large to be uncomfortable for the average person. I've also found that a pen with a bit of weight to it is pleasant to use. Many years ago, Brenda Roy began teaching me jewellery making.  I decided to combine some of those skills with my pen making to create silver pens. The Empire is my first pen to bring everything together in a pen that has a nice weight and feel.

I am working on a new batch of these over the next two weeks. They will include at least one new engine turned pattern. I am also hard at work on my next pen offering.  It will be silver with engine turning on it, but will also include enamel. Look for that near the end of May.

While I am happy to finally be able to show off these pens to the rest of the world, it is merely a stepping stone to the projects I have in mind.

If you are interested in keeping up to date on what I'm doing, you can follow me on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog, or join my new email list.

The LA Pen Show, and new pieces

The end of February means a few things for me. The first is guaranteed miserable weather, and the other is escaping that weather by heading to the LA Pen Show. Unfortunately this year I won't be going to the LA show, so I only get to enjoy the bad weather. Even though I won't be at the show this year, one of my new pieces will be. I won't be revealing the details of it on the site just yet, but if you are going to the show, please stop by the Metal Write table and chat with my friend Rich. He has some beautiful pens to look at, plus he will have my latest piece on display.

Speaking of new pieces, I am working hard on two new pen models. One is an engine turned pen in Argentium, the other is a silver pen with engine turning and enamel. The enamel pen will take a little while longer to get on the site since the enamel isn't playing well with my castings. I will try to get some photos of the early work over the next few days.

If you manage to stop by for the LA show, I also recommend visiting Brian Gray from Edison Pens and Scott Franklin from Franklin-Christoph.  Both have beautiful pens that are worth checking out.

How the iPad has changed the way I work

Anyone who hasn't heard about the success of the iPad has probably been living in a cave for the past six months.  Despite its success, many people feel that it is only an entertainment device, and that serious business still requires a laptop.  I've had mine since day one, and now that a few of the apps have had a chance to mature, and I've had a chance to bring it on the road with me a few times, I thought I'd write a post on how I use it.

As with any version one device, there were serious limitations on how the iPad could be used at launch.  App developers had a few months to write some code using a simulator, but until you actually get your hands on one, it is difficult to know what will work and what won't.  Even today, it has only been a little over six months since Apple revealed it to the world.  All of the apps that I'll talk about have been actively developed during that time, and all are far more useful today than at their launch.  If you tried one and didn't like it, give it a second chance.

As an entertainment device, the iPad is without peer.  Access to the net, Netflix, ebooks, music, movies, games and comics, means that it is impossible to get bored with one of these in your lap.  The interface is also simple enough that anyone can use it, no matter how old or young, or how inexperienced with technology they are.  So what about business?  Can you buy one and get rid of your laptop?  The answer is probably.

The first thing you need to make it an indispensable business tool is Dropbox.  Dropbox is a cloud storage solution that makes it simple to access and synchronize files on multiple computers at the same time.  Unless your business involves large files, such as large video files, the free account works great.  You get 2gig of space on their site for free.  No strings attached (if you use the link above then both you and I will get an additional 250mb of space).  While there is a free Dropbox app for the iPad, its power comes from the other apps that can access documents directly in your Dropbox.  On the computer side of things, when you install the Dropbox client, it will create a folder that gets synchronized with their servers.  Anything you put in there will be automatically uploaded to the cloud.  If you have two or more computers, they can both share the same account.  When a file is added or modified on one, the other downloads the changes without any prompting.  Because the files are uploaded to the cloud, both computers don't have to be turned on at the same time for this to work.  It also acts as a form of backup in case something happens to your computer.  I started using Dropbox as a way of backing up my CAD files, and keeping them synchronized between different machines.

The first app to buy is GoodReader.  Its primary job is to be a PDF reader.  Early on it was the best PDF reader available, and I was happy to find it.  Now it has become so much more than just a reader.  First off it has support to download documents straight from your Dropbox account.  This makes it easy to get files from your computer, onto the iPad.  Most of the documents I need to read for the business are in PDF now.  If they aren't, then I turn them into PDFs.  I really don't want to carry around paper versions of the various manuals and source books I own, or the CAD drawings I use for making my pens.  I carry the iPad between the office and shop and I always have my resource material.  Once you have downloaded them onto the iPad, you can easily organize the documents into folders within GoodReader.  I keep magazines in one folder, pen drawings in another, etc.  In the most recent update, support has been added to annotate the PDF files.  The ability to add editable notes to my PDFs has made GoodReader indispensable.  All annotations can be saved back to the original PDF, and forwarded on via email to other people.

Next up is Elements.  I spend a lot of time writing.  I'm not always able to, or interested in sitting down at a computer to work on my documents.  This is where Elements comes in.  There is nothing fancy here; this is a no non-sense text editor.  You can not format the document in any way.  Just plain text.  For many people this might sound like a step backward, but when writing, the ability to format the document can often distract from writing the content.  If I want to write a blog post, or lecture notes, I want to get the meat of the writing done, then worry about formatting it later.  The best part of Elements is that its default state is to use Dropbox to save your files.  No need to import or export your document every time you move from the computer to the iPad.  Now I can sit down on the couch, or at a restaurant and work on any of my projects as I feel the desire.

I originally started using CC Terminal on my iPhone.  It allows me to charge customers purchases to their credit cards while on the go.  Handy when someone wants to buy a pen at dinner, or while at a pen show.  It also sends out an email receipt to both you and the customer, including their signature.  I have mine linked to my Paypal Pro account, but other merchant accounts are available.

Portfolio is a little pricey, however, it does offer a lot of flexibility in creating product portfolios.  I am often asked what I do, and handing the iPad with Portfolio running on it to someone is the next best thing to having all of my pieces with me.

Other small apps like NewsRack, Twitter and Wordpress allow me to keep up with news from around the web, as well as update my different online content.

A month after getting the iPad, I realized that I hadn't turned the laptop on once.  It was sold the next day, and I haven't missed it in the months since (I certainly don't miss carrying around the additional 6lbs it weighted over the iPad.)  I've also found that my daily desktop use has dropped significantly.  Instead of writing email, and surfing the net sitting at my desk, I'm doing those on the couch, or in the back yard.  I now use the desktop for high end CAD work and video editing.  I am still searching for an app to use for inventory control.  I may end up building one myself since I haven't found anything I would buy yet.


Welcome to Silver Hand Studios.  Through this blog I'm hoping to keep everyone updated with what is new and upcoming at SHS, as well as help inform you about the processes and materials I use for making my pieces.  If you have questions concerning any of the pieces, materials or techniques, please contact me.  I am always happy to talk about what I am working on.  There is an RSS feed of this blog available, as well as a mailing list to help keep up to date. I attended the LA International Pen Show for the first time this year.  Besides enjoying the wonderful weather, it was a pleasure to be able to meet everyone who stopped by my table.  I am looking forward to attending again next year.  Throughout the year I will update my show schedule.  If you at a future show, please be sure to stop by and talk pens.