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Jewelry designer Nicole Tirona

Jessica Bardosh photo

– by Rachel Fox/photos by Jessica Bardosh

Blim held its first show of the year Feb 21 2010 at its new location in Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street).

One of the vendors will be Blim regular and girl-about-town Nicole Tirona of It’s Your Life handmade vintage accessories.

I first met Nicole about a year ago at The People’s Prom, where she casually impressed me with a dress she had made for herself … earlier in the day. I say “impressive,” because it took me weeks to coax and gird myself into navigating the aisles at Dressew Vancouver in order to locate a button to repair my coat. Girl made a dress in an afternoon, then she wore it out in public. That’s talent, yo.

Jessica Bardosh photo

Jessica Bardosh photo

Nicole is originally from the Philippines and came to Vancouver to study at Emily Carr. She never finished but it doesn’t matter because she’s been successfully rocking the independent circuit all over town and the interweb for the past several years.

Nicole’s preferred style has a definite vintage feel, although she says that “a lot of stuff is made to look like it’s vintage, but it isn’t.” For Nicole’s pieces it could mean that the brass findings she uses are newly minted from old or even antique molds. “It’s not modern, not clean lines or anything … very ornate.”

It’s Your Life’s handmade accessories range in price from $15-$60, with most necklaces falling between $35-$45.

Jessica Bardosh photo

Jessica Bardosh photo

Describe your aesthetic.

Each necklace or piece has a theme. I love lightning. A piece may have a hand or a scroll on a locket. It might have a seashell theme, with marine life or a seahorse, or a starfish. Most of my necklaces are charm clusters, pieces that are all associated with each other.

I used to do a lot of gold-plated chains with brass charms, but after the years I noticed that it’s not good to use raw brass because it changes so much and I got a gold-plating machine. I was doing a lot of gold-plating myself but it’s really toxic – cyanide. So I started oxidizing (brass) more. A lot of people really like the oxidized stuff more. Only girls that are really fashionable and dress up more like the gold, but a lot of the people who wear my stuff don’t even really wear jewelry really, they just like the theme of the piece, or they like the charm because it’s a good colour and that’s what they’re attracted to.

Jessica Bardosh photo

Jessica Bardosh photo

Do you wear a lot of your jewelry?

“I do, but I don’t tend to sell what I wear. I’ll like a charm and put it on a long chain and then that’s it. The other reason that I don’t wear what I make is that I don’t have any clothes, to match what I’d wear. I don’t shop for clothes, ever. I just wear, like, one thing. I took a dressmaking class but I don’t really make clothes. But I make doll clothes.”

You display and sell your pieces on very distinctive cards – I can recognize your work from a distance because of them. How did that come about?

“I needed something to put the jewelry on for the fairs and I started using Mexican Loteria cards and Mexican bingo cards which I found on Etsy. But then I got sick of the colour scheme and they are cheaply printed. I don’t know how but I ended up switching to vintage playing cards when I saw that they had a lot of different designs and the printing was better quality.”

Jessica Bardosh photo

Jessica Bardosh photo

Do you see any trends happening for spring?

“I think people are getting over the 80’s edgy look, and they’re going to towards more flowy feminine stuff. Kinda like that romantic phase, from two years ago? I think people are going to go back to 70’s instead of 80’s, more feminine clothes. I’m not sure really, but that’s what I’m gonna do.”

If you can’t find your way to Heritage Hall through all the Olympic Madness you should definitely check out next month’s fair. Find Nicole’s distinct jewelry pieces around town at funky shops like:

  • Virgin Mary’s (1136 Commercial Drive)
  • Barefoot Contessa (3715 Main St.,  and 1928 Commercial Drive)
  • Dream (311 West Cordova in Gastown and on Granville Island)
  • C’est La Vie (3247 Main St.)
  • The Goods Screening and Apparel (335 East Broadway)
  • Room6 (4389 Gallant Avenue, North Vancouver in Deep Cove)
Jessica Bardosh photo

Jessica Bardosh photo

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