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Creative Consciousness

Creative Consciousness

Jewellery photos by Caelen Ellis.

Valentine’s Day is an especially appropriate holiday to invest in a piece of jewellery – either as a gift to oneself or in the form of a subtle hint to a loved one. Pieces that make you smile and that work with every item in your closet top the wish list. If in search of something that will take you from work to weekend, look no further than the beautiful, timeless and eco-conscious designs from Ottawa-based jeweller Caelen Ellis of Fluid.

I stumbled upon Fluid via a Facebook feed, and was immediately drawn to the delicate designs, which evoke a calm and dream-like vibe. A series of serene settings consisting of variously shaped shiny gems inlaid in yellow and white gold and silver conjure up images of living life beautifully adorned in stacked rings and statement pieces – be it at the cottage or a cocktail party.

IMG_2477“In North America, jewellery design is a lot more functional and basic,” explains Ellis. “I try and stay somewhat consistent in style, which helps people identify with the brand; I move around slightly in motifs and trends, but there’s a fine line of not going overboard – I want to design something cool, creative, and different but also have the work be sellable.”

Ellis designed his first piece of jewellery – a basic silver band ring – in 2000. A graduate of the Jewellery and Metal-Smithing program at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, Caelen confesses, “I did not exactly know what I wanted to do, but I did know it was something creative or in the arts which was hands on in a tactile way.” After working for others, in 2004, he decided to venture out and start Fluid. “The most rewarding thing about working independently is the freedom and flexibility. I can choose what to work on depending on what excites me that day. It’s also nice to have flexibility with my hours, and take a little time out to recharge when I need to.”

What is the biggest challenge of being one’s own boss? “Trying to find a balance between the creative aspects of the work and the administrative things that go into running a business.” He laughs before adding, “As a creative person, it can be hard to focus – my mind likes to drift.”

Caelen draws inspiration for his designs from a wide variety of sources. “It can be something as simple as a pattern or texture which I think would make a cool piece of jewellery. Or a time period such as the Egyptians and Byzantines – neat shapes, cool stone colours, organic rough around the edges type pieces. I’m really drawn to that look - I guess it matches my style - a little rough around the edges,” he says with a smile. He’s also a big fan of the following jewellery designers: Gurhan, Todd Reed, Barbara Heinrich, and Peter Schmid of Atelier Zobel. “They all have an old world charm to them with lots of textures and organic influences,” explains Caelen. “I also love the Art Nouveau period of Mucha and Klimpt. Both artists' work have a really floral, earthy feminine feel.”

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Another less famous but still important form of inspiration is Ellis’ young son, Jack.

“To see another life come into the world is quite a transformative experience. I want the best for him and want to encourage him to carve out his own path.  (Having a child has) really given me a sense of purpose and grounded me.  I’ve had an amazing life up until now and am excited to share that with him and see where his journey will take him.” Ellis is quick to point out how becoming a parent has intensified both his professional and personal commitment to an ecological mindset.  “After Jack’s birth, it became even more important for me to live my life as sustainably and ethically as possible. We grow our own fruits and vegetables; buy local and organic, walk or bike when we can. As a family, we’re always thinking about how our actions are impacting our environment. In my business I prioritize the use of recycled materials, always trying to find certified, conflict-free diamonds. I also value the connections I have with reputable, Canadian and international gem dealers.” This approach gives Ellis a sense of balance and purpose “to where (we) fit in as a whole into society and what’s really important. I want to see this world continue to move forward but I think we must make changes in order to do that.” He does his part with a discerning process of which materials he uses to produce each piece.

IMG_2653The designer is one of 70 jewellers in the world who works with Fairmined gold.  Caelen’s commitment to sustainability mirrors that of the metal company: “Fairmined transforms mining into an active force for good, providing everyone with a source of gold to be proud of.”

As Caelen explains, “the jewellery industry has long been known for taking advantage of the earth’s resources and people and I am involved in that. That’s why I choose to do it in a way that aims to leave as light a footprint as possible by using recycled metals, Fairmined gold and silver as well as traced and fair-trade stones.”

Fluid design's organic lines are a reflection of Ellis' close connection with nature.

“I’m very much inspired by the world around me," he says. "There is such beauty in the people, places, and natural life in the world, but I am also very aware how fragile it is.”  This acknowledgement of fragility is what gives counterbalance to his pieces, which are delicate in design and yet stunning in statement. “When working on a piece, I draw a lot of inspiration from the metals and stones themselves,” explains Caelen.My end goal is to create a piece that will find the right owner, and for them to have a connection with the piece and the philosophy behind it.”

IMG_1979What’s his favourite metal to work with? “Fairmined 18k Fairmined yellow gold.  It’s warm and inviting and is quite lovely to work with. This type of gold is awesome for the jewellery industry and I hope it becomes the norm. It’s a Fairtrade metal - the first of its kind,” he explains enthusiastically. “It’s an honour and a privilege to work with this company and their product. Portions of the sale of this metal go directly back to the communities and families who mined it. The metal is mined with strict protocols to ensure gender equality, low environmental impact, no child labour, and no conflict.” As for his favourite stones, Caelen has a special fondness for Canadian diamonds.  “Being able to work with such beauty from my home land is a treat. It’s quite incredible how nature forms these, and they come in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes.”

A popular Fluid piece such as the multicolour ring stack includes an assortment of the “pod,” “molten,” and “pock sparkler” bands and is truly spectacular yet something one could easily wear every day, with any outfit.  “I think jewellery should be approachable and not taken so seriously,” says Caelen. “I like to envision my pieces being worn on the street with jeans and a T, or with a dress and killer heels. I like to say, wear Fluid pieces in the tub or shower. It’s jewellery with a laid back attitude.”

If he weren’t designing beautiful baubles, what would Caelen Ellis be doing? “I would have a farm. My wife and I are really interested in ethical and sustainable farming practices. I love the feeling of having my hands in the dirt and feeling connected to the earth, watching things grow. It’s another creative outlet for me.”

Fluid designs can be purchased at the following shops in Ottawa and Toronto as well as on etsy.

Beka&CaliBeka Shane Denter is a writer, wife, and Mom to two feisty, beautiful girls. She has a passion for denim and dark chocolate. A beach bum at heart, she's an enthusiastic expat who happily globe trots to various countries every few years for her husband’s job and a tireless traveler who finds inspiration in the every day minutia of daily life, wherever that may be – from Tokyo to Ottawa, where she’s currently based with her family.  Beka's work has appeared in Women’s Surf Style MagazineToday’s ParentParents CanadaELLECanadaELLE.com and on the blogs, WhatTheFlicka and Joonbug

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