Andrea Gordon from the Toronto Star sat down with Catie Raymond last fall, and had this to say...
The ‘junk’ jeweler
Catie Raymond has always had an eye for beauty in the most unlikely places.
She spots it in the innards of old watches, bits from a plumber’s tool box and old copper wire. Then she transforms the junk into jewelry.
“I was always an old soul,” she says. “I rescue stuff and use up some of the junk that would end up in the dump.”
Raymond, 52, fashions bracelets from copper plumbing chains, ribbon and old charms. At her studio in Coldwater near Orillia, she also creates one-of-a-kind necklaces adorned with antique keys, faded beads and gears from mechanical watches.
Little did she know that her lifelong habit of mixing and matching odd items would one day have a name — steampunk, which combines the modern tech esthetic with Victorian era elegance and a touch of old industrial.
Today, designs mixing old and new are all over Pinterest, an online inspiration board. But Raymond was ahead of her time. In the era of global fads and cheap knockoffs, “now everyone wants something unique,” she says.
That hunger for quirk has propelled her one-time hobby into a business that now supports Raymond and her 10-year-old daughter Cassie.
The road to jewelry-making had several twists and turns. Trained as a graphic designer, it took Raymond a year on the job to realize she wasn’t cut out for desk work.
She then launched a flower shop in Toronto, but closed it after eight years and moved to cottage country with her husband in 2004. The plan was to have a baby and trade the city rat race for a chance to smell the flowers.
Their new property was bare, and when she couldn’t find decor in line with her taste and budget, she made own. Friends who saw the birdhouses she sculpted from roof tin and barn boards, and her hand-painted signs and planters made of rusty tools and old window frames immediately wanted them too.
Soon Raymond was peddling her creations at local farmers’ markets and frequenting salvage yards for raw material. In her spare time, she made jewelry using the same trash-into-treasures principle.
Five years ago, she began “the next chapter” when a shop came up for lease in Coldwater.
There was room to display her yard art outside her shop, called Off the Beaten Path, but only a tiny space indoors. It seemed tailor made for displaying small objects like jewelry. Her necklaces, bracelets, belts and other inventive pieces now account for three quarters of her sales.
“It feeds my creativity every single day,” she says. And it fits her life as a mom who wants to be available for her daughter.
“I feel that I’m doing my little part in helping to recycle. I don’t do a whole lot for the world, but I try to make it pretty.”
Read the full article here.