COLUMN: Leader of the pack

Top chef Vikram Vij commissions local artist

A lot can happen in a year. Last November, Kristy Turney opened Scandinavia Wolf Designs at Squamish Town Hub after shuttering her shop at Tsawwassen Ferry terminal and relocating from costly Vancouver. The self-taught jewelry designer said it was a move she and her then-fiancé were excited by, as it would afford them the opportunity to do more than just pay the bills.

Turns out in Turney’s case the move would give her the opportunity to catch the discerning eye of celebrity chef Vikram Vij, who ultimately commissioned the artist to create an entire line of personal pieces using pearls, gold and beads from his private collection.

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It was after a serendipitous visit by the renowned chef to her Squamish showroom that the two began to collaborate, said Turney.

“The pieces we created were focused on what I already do. He came into the shop and liked what he saw. He said I’ll bring all my stuff and you can create around it,” she explained.  “I added my own materials

[to what he had] and we ended up doing quite a few different pieces. And, I’ve still got a few more to make because there was a lot of gold and pearls that I didn’t use so I’m going to be creating something brand new for him as well.”

To date, Turney has built three necklaces, two bracelets and “a wall hanging – which he likes as a necklace,” she said with a laugh. Vij dubbed the collection, My Shanti, after his restaurant in South Surrey.

“My Shanti means “my peace” and these beads all represent a part of my life, or someone in my life who has contributed to the person I am today,” said Vij in a statement.

In addition to her wearable designs, the artist creates unique home furnishings she likes to call jewelry for your walls, gorgeous dream catchers and wall or window hangings that feature delightful pieces of driftwood or fallen branches with “beautiful energies,” gemstones, and big circles “to bring everything together.”

“I liked the idea of using fallen branches and turning them into something. It’s kind of like a fallen person. There are people to help them along the way and sometimes those people get lifted up and turn out to be pretty amazing – that’s sort of what they are based on,” said Turney, who acknowledged that her inspiration comes in part from her own life story.

“I had a really tough childhood, “ said Turney, originally from Nelson, BC. “I left home at 14, and moved to Vancouver a year later.

And I had people to help me along the way, who encouraged me to stay positive. They believed in me. “It was definitely a long path to where I am now, for sure. ”Turney said the Squamish surroundings inspire her creativity. She loves to work on new designs and is always evolving, however, she consistently delivers a minimalist style featuring natural materials and clean, straight lines. The artist said she will always work with a palate of silver and gold, highlighted by her recognizable black and greys. What will fluctuate are current colour trends, which this season include a lot of yellow gold accentuated with burgundy, garnet, plum, and chocolate moonstones. The key is never to get bored and to always remain original.

“As soon I start seeing some of the styles I’m working on elsewhere I move onto something new.”

Price points start at $25 for some bracelets and range up to $150 for higher-end necklaces. Visit scandinaviawolf.com for more info or Google the boutique for current holiday hours.

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