Siiri Nork | Siiri & Stone
Located in Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada, this Estonian native (who has now called Canada her home for nearly 6 years) giggles as she tells me “well, for girls nights I like to have my friends around the fire and we play around with silversmithing while drinking a glass of wine. Although some may doubt me doing this, because in their minds, I’ve created a competitor by teaching someone else. But I like helping other people find what they like to do, it brings me so much joy because I cannot imagine not doing this.” And doing ‘this’ came about in a seemingly unexpected way.
About four years ago, she applied for her Canadian residency, but in the meanwhile wasn’t allowed to work until she obtained a work permit. “I didn’t have a lot of money saved up, and I couldn’t leave Canada because I was waiting for my residency. I felt a bit trapped, was spending my days watching tv. I didn’t consider anything else. Then one day, I figured that maybe it would be fun to start silversmithing. Because I was going for walks around the area frequently, and placing stones on my fingers and wondering what that stone would look like as a piece. I ended up spending the last of my savings on silversmithing equipment. I ended up sitting next to my fireplace trying to melt silver.
It didn’t work out so well the first few times but I didn’t give up, and was having so much fun in the process. I gave my first few pieces away as birthday gifts, until eventually my friends started telling me that I should do something with this. I took another year of practicing, and always had a second job while I built this business up. Then one day last year I started doing farmers markets, and realized that I wanted this to be my full-time job one day.
Usually, I always have a second job in the winter. But then this year COVID happened, and I was home every day. Silversmithing kept me busy. It kept my head straight. So much so, that, once everything started to slowly open back up again, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to work. I kind of needed the money, but I had been so happy being home working away on my pieces. I was unsure because I got along with my previous manager really well (I used to have a serving job). I told him to keep me on hold until the rest of the staff returned. He kind of knew that I was going to be doing farmers markets, and that it wasn’t certain what was going on, and that I was kind of floating around till the point when he asked me if I would be coming back. When I automatically replied ‘no,’ I immediately thought to myself ‘what did I just do?!’ This year shifted my perspective.
This year I realized that this was the push that I needed. I realized what it felt like to be doing the work that I really loved, and to be able to call that your fulltime job.
I began thinking, if I have the skill and I worked so hard to develop this skill - that maybe I could use it to avoid going back to another job.
I’ve started a few collaborations with other locals and other small businesses, finding these new small projects that I can do on the side. I was so open to these ideas because the thought of ‘can I do this?’ I just wanted to know. I wanted to challenge myself. For the last two years, I knew for myself that I wanted to work for myself full-time and I have been building my business. All these little things took me a lot of time, way more than I thought. I felt like I had to sacrifice some of my other hobbies – but I don’t regret it one bit.
I still get my inspiration from going on walks. I walk around a lot with my dog, we go for an adventure pretty much every day. I get a lot of inspiration from nature; it has a pretty big influence on my creativity. In my head I try to create some of the scenes that I see. I will walk past a waterfall, and think ‘how can I make a pendant resemble what I see in this waterfall?’
When it comes to the gemstones that I use, I do like to go for a hunt myself to get some clear quartz from around the area. Otherwise I order my stones, always ensuring that they are natural stones that come from the ground. They aren’t chemically treated or dyed. They’re sourced from the earth, and then polished. It tends to mesmerize me that this is something that I could be walking on, but instead I’m wearing it as a ring.”
Our conversation slowly dwindles into the direction of the practicalities regarding the upcoming Christmas season... “Mail moves slow these days, if you’re getting a nice gift for someone, take the time to make sure it gets there on time.
I’m always the person who leaves things to the last minute, and I just have to accept that that’s who I am on December 23rd – I’m that person going around the village scrambling around to get my presents together. It’s chaos a couple of days before Christmas.
But I feel like this year, that won’t be an option. If you don’t think early, you might not be able to do proper gift swapping. I’m trying to get ready a bit earlier for Christmas myself.
Unfortunately Christmas markets have been cancelled this year. I’m trying to spread awareness, asking people to be mindful about buying local. That, instead of ordering on Amazon this year, check out some local businesses that have poured their heart out into making their products.”
You can find Siiris handcrafted jewellery here; Instagram: @siiri_and_stone Facebook: siiriandstone Webpage: www.siiriandstone.com
[& keep an eye out for her upcoming online Black Friday Sale!]
Shipping available worldwide.
photography by Janice Power [@jepower_creative]