As an otter fanatic and jewellery lover I‘ve spent an unreasonable amount of time searching for the ideal otter themed pendant. And while everyone seems so keen to ‘put a bird on it’, I couldn’t find anything otter-related that was to my taste, metallic and suitable for someone over the age of eight. Luckily, Vancouverite Megan Bell, book shop worker by day and designer of Eloi Jewellery was willing and more than able to indulge me and created a beautiful custom brass otter necklace that fit all my specifications.
Megan is an arts and crafts lover who has been drawing and painting for years. To pursue her love of handmade things she enrolled in the Jewellery Art & Design program at VCC and graduated in 2006. She works primarily in silver, but has been branching out into brass and copper, and works with other natural found objects, like pebbles and beach glass, beautiful pieces made from materials not considered gem quality. While her animal line is certainly a favourite, (while I’m an otterphile, she has an affinity for bears) her other pieces are equally appealing. Silver rings as delicate as the leaves they depict, beads and glass mingle, wood crops up on earrings in geometric shapes.
Her work is available on Etsy and brick and mortar styles at Dream on W. Cordova, as well as their Granville Island location in Net Loft. She also sells through craft fairs, but is very happy to have people contact her. I’m not special. She makes lots of custom pieces and does private work.
A creative and charming, yet shy individual, Megan allowed me to interview her via email and she has very interesting and insightful answers that speak to the highs and lows of being an artist. Here’s some wisdom from her own mouth:
When did you begin designing Eloi?
After I graduated from VCC. My first experiments with metalworking took place in a continuing ed course taught above a pawn shop on the back side of a sketchy hotel. It was exactly as glamorous as it sounds and it was love at first sight. I’ve been working a day job as well and it’s sometimes hard to find time or to work up enthusiasm for anything other than imaginary relationships with television characters and snacks at the end of the week.
Why did you choose the name, Eloi?
Eloi is the patron saint of metalsmiths (among other things like electrical engineers and people who work with horses, naturally). I have a few reasons for naming my business for him.
1.The Eloi district in Paris is where all the jewellers are located (fun!)
2.I was raised Catholic and my favourite thing was the stories about the lives of the saints. I Loved them. I still do. I wouldn’t mind a watchful eye or a heavenly advocate when putting myself and things I’ve made out there in the big scary world.
3 When I was trying to think of names I read a description of St. Eloi that described him as having curly hair and red rosy cheeks. Obviously I felt like we were kindred spirits (Megan is the proud owner of lovely curly hair and rosy cheeks.- Ed.)
4. I think it’s a very pretty sounding name, even though its a French man’s name. Maybe French dudes named Eloi wouldn’t agree.
You animal pieces are awesome, obviously. What inspired the animal theme?
Fairy tales and folktales, plus the thought of having an animal companion all the time is a pretty fantastic thing especially if it’s an animal you feel an affinity for already.
Do you have any new designs or ideas that you’re dreaming up?
Always. I have been playing with nitric acid lately. I have this image in my head of metal discovered from shipwrecks or archeological digs and the incredible patinas and corrosion and I want to recreate that with etching. I haven’t found a way to do it yet, but the experiments are fun.
I have to ask: what inspires you?
I’m sure this sounds corny but I am inspired by everything! Nature is obviously a big part of my work. I love art history. I also love looking at xrays of paintings. For real it’s awesome. I also find inspiration on long glassy eyed bus rides or when I’m doing other mindless tasks.
If you had to choose only one type of jewellery to make, what would it be?
If I had to chose it would be giant, ridiculous rings.
You all should really contact Megan Bell and get yourselves some swell Eloi jewellery. You’ll be happy.