Spotlight on Artisans + Win Tickets to the One of a Kind Show!

Posted by Drake, November 25, 2015

Recently we’ve discovered that we have more than just a few members of the Drake Fam that have talents + hobbies that extend far beyond their roles at the Drake. When not hanging out with their respective Drake family members, they are busy making anything from jewellery to encaustics, to installation pieces + more.

Isabel Gertler

Isabel Gertler, one of our HBC Drake General Store team members is quite the triple threat. Isabel can be caught with her camera out snapping tranquil landscapes or painting beautiful portraits. Lately, Isabel has casually added silversmithing to her roster! We caught up with Isabel to see how her jewellery making is going and what inspires her to keep crafting with new mediums.


Meet Isabel!

1.You’re a painter, a photographer and a jewellery maker!? What a triple threat. How long have you been making jewelry?

I love to make things! I'm happiest when I've got a project in my hands, or I'm scheming up the next one. I started making jewellery in earnest about six years ago - it sounds weird, but I got my start crocheting hyperbolic necklaces and floral breastplates from yarn. A couple years after that I began taking evening classes in silversmithing and copper enamelling, and this past September I enrolled full-time in the goldsmithing Jewellery Arts program at George Brown College!

2.What inspired you to begin a jewellery making course?

I knew I wanted to be in a full-time program when the scope of my ideas became bigger than what I could accomplish in an evening class; once I began thinking about metalsmithing, the design possibilities opened up, and I was way more interested in thinking about and exploring those ideas than I was in my office job!

3.What is your favourite material to work with + describe your ideation process

Since I'm still at the start of my program, I haven't worked with too many metals yet. So far, brass and silver are quite nice to work with, and I like how they look, but I can't wait to start working in gold! Ideas for designs often come to me when I'm in bed, just before falling asleep - the number of times I've had to turn my light back on to sketch something out! This is why I keep a sketchbook on my nightstand.


Crocheted Flower Necklace

4.In a perfect world do you hope to make jewelry full time?

Yes, I'd love to have my own line of jewellery one day! For now, I'm trying to soak up as much knowledge, and get as much experience as I can, plus squirrel away some funds to help launch my future small business.

5.Do your interests in photography + painting influence your jewelry design?

You know, they probably do. When you look at the world with a photographer's eye, you're always taking note of line, dimension, and composition, which are also key considerations for making jewellery. My favourite subject for painting is portraiture, because I love the shapes of human bodies; fashioning jewellery is like gilding a living portrait, while also drawing attention to some lovely areas of the body.

6.We love your polymer beads! What drew you to polymer as a material for your craft?

Thank you! The polymer clay is great to work with because it only hardens once you bake it, so you can play and play and play with it, trying different shapes, sizes, and colour combinations, till you find something you really like. I don't have a home studio for metalsmithing, but making polymer beads is something I can easily do without too much equipment; I also love working in colour!

Hilary Arellano

Hilary Arellano has worn many different hats at the Drake. Starting off at DGS in 2014, Hilary is now our design intern at our corporate headquarters, helping the design team realize their creative endeavours while simultaneously designing installations for our DGS store on Bloor. With an interior design degree under her belt + a jewellery making hobby on the side, Hilary is always full of creative + innovative surprises.



1.What was the first fixture/thing/object you’ve ever designed?

In gr.12 I made a Bjork swan dress for my Halloween costume, complete with a felt swan head chilling on my shoulder all day long.

2.When ideas come to you about designs do you draw them out, write them down, or head to a computer?

Ever since design school, I picked up this funny habit of looking upwards and tilting my hands to imagine planes and intersections. And then writing down or sketching out key elements in point form. It started out as a planning-your-model kind of thing but then turned into a remembering-your-software-commands thing.


Renderings for DGS

3.What is your favourite fixture or piece of art that you’ve designed?

When I was interning at Fugitive Glue, I helped design this massive box with a mirror interior and really tight eye slits dispersed throughout. It was displayed in a furniture store for a while and we filled it up with some of the store's product, then people could peep through the small eye slits to see snippets of this mashed up reflected world. It was one of the few projects in which I got to design from my laptop, source and purchase material, and then actually construct in a workshop. So that was cool.

4.What materials do you enjoy working with most?

So many! I claim to be driven by this thing I call material fascination and exploration, which is mainly just feeling like I have free range with material use. I'm big on wire because it’s so malleable, can hold things together, and makes a good skeleton for models and sculptures. But it’s also about getting the right tools for things too…I bought a metal engraving pen once and I use it to doodle on harder plastics and things of metal.

5.We've heard that you’ve designed several items for DGS! Which fixture was the most difficult + rewarding item to design?

I helped out a bit with the renovation of the HBC queen location. HBC was moving things around and our shop was moving from one lane to another. It was a simple task of making a new floor plan and designing a cash desk for the store and then providing HBC with some renderings. I skipped a few steps by doing the entire thing with a 3D modelling program, but the difficult part about it was that I was also doing thesis at the time!

Cochise Burgess

Meet Cochise Burgess, a talented member of our Drake General Store Warehouse team! we love Cochise's gestural prints and collage-like images for their unexpectedness and tactility. Discovering his media at OCAD and using his talent as therapy have resulted in some pretty amazing work!


1.What brought you to print-making?

Initially one of my first art instructors told my that my painting would look good on a shirt. That thought always stuck in my head and once I reached University (OCADU) I came into contact with Silkscreening and other printmaking techniques. I even made T-Shirts my last two years of school and started to sell them to classmates and friends. The feedback on the shirts was really good.

6.You mentioned that sketching is a cathartic exercise for you…has this always been the case? Or did you start doing this recently?

Yeah it’s actually something new for me, it actually happened by chance. I was kind of stressed out at a point in school, because I couldn’t come up with any ideas.. I just started to create these faces while I was in different moods and it helped relieve stress and people seemed to like them.

7.Many of your sketches are of faces – are they self-portraits or people you know?
I’d like to think that most are self portraits but some definitely don’t resemble me at all. I would say that most show a mood or expression that I do covey though.

8.When you say you enjoy exploring self as a subject, in what way to do you feel like print-making helps you achieve that exploration?

For me your have to explore yourself before you can explore others. I think for me the opportunity to add layers helps with exploring myself as a subject. Everyone has depth to them, we have layers that make up who we are. There's always history beyond what you can actually see.

9.Some of your work has an almost three dimensional feel, is that intentional?

Definitely not intentional, I feel like a lot of my work is created or comes forth subconsciously and then I look back at it and say hey, you did this or people point out stuff to me that I not even thinking about at the time.


All this crafty talent got you jonesin' for more handmade? Lucky you the One of a Kind Craft Show kicks off tomorrow, November 26th - December 6th! Wanna win tickets to the Show? Follow us on Pinterest and re-pin this post to automatically be entered to win a pair of tickets! Holy Craft!

Posted in: Art

Tags: Art  Craft  Culture  Drake General Store  Makers  Our People  Wallis