I can generally find a few lucky stones every time I visit the beach; however, finding a lucky stone that works well in jewellery is another matter all together and that process can be quite difficult and time consuming.
Johanna Brierley spent her summers playing along the Gimli
shoreline of Lake Winnipeg. That was where she first learned about stones with
holes in them, and where she first started to make jewellery with these
SCENE asked Brierley about her work with rocks she collects.
When did you first discover the stones?
actually don't remember discovering them. They
seem to have always been part of my life and consciousness. My family
has been collecting them from Gimli, Manitoba for generations, so I was
naturally brought up to look for and find stones with holes in them and
to think of them as lucky.
What gave you the idea to turn them into jewellery?
As a child I would always be making something with my hands, generally some sort of jewellery object. I would tie knots in threads, string beads, weave ropes, twist wires, hammer metal and then wear these concoctions to test them as jewellery pieces.
During the summers when I was at the lake with my family, I would incorporate the stones and shells and wood that I found on the beach into these playful, experimental pieces. The stones with holes seemed like natural beads that fit very organically into jewellery. I did notice, however, that the stones were quite fragile and would often break after awhile.
Years later while studying jewellery arts at George Brown College in Toronto, I learned about various methods of molding and casting and revisited the idea of using lucky stones in jewellery. I realized that turning the beach stones into silver and gold would give the stones a new life, strength, and permanence. I would no longer have to worry that the stones would wear and break over time.
How difficult is it to find these special stones?
More of Brierley's work
Having been trained from a very young age to find holey stones, I think I can generally find a few lucky stones every time I visit the beach; however, finding a lucky sto
ne that works well in jewellery is another matter all together and that process can be quite difficult and time consuming.
Just because the stone has a hole in it doesn't necessarily mean it will become an interesting piece of jewellery. I try to select stones with some sort of disti
nct character. Actually, I
name all of the stones that I use in my work. I also take into consideration the size and weight of the original stone and how that will translate into metal. Which is your favourite piece and why?
My favourite piece is the Lucky In Love Necklace. I had kept the original lucky stone is a safe spot in my dresser drawer for years, long before I had started 'seriously' studying and making jewellery. The hole in this stone is in the shape of a heart, so I guess I must have thought it was extra lucky.
This stone was one of the first I worked with to figure out the molding and casting process. Initially, I made castings of this stone in sterling silver and gave them to my family and friends. Now, this piece has become my best selling item. Not to over simplify things, but I recently realized that the Lucky In Love stone really helped give me the confidence and motivation not only to expand and diversify the Lucky Stone collection but also to create a business of my own.Where can people find your work?
Presently, I sell my work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and David Rice in Winnipeg. I also sell at Magpie in Ottawa and Anne Sportun in Toronto. Next month I will be going to a wholesale show in Philadelphia, my first foray into the American market. I participate in a number of retail events including Scattered Seeds in Winnipeg and the Holiday One of A Kind Show in Toronto.