Fashion and accessories – Winner 2019
Handcrafted Heirloom Bridal Accessories
Made in Calgary
$50 to $475
Delicate and feminine, Joanna Bisley’s handcrafted jewellery and hairpieces have a timeless quality to them, and that’s by design. “My style is modern classic,” Bisley says. “I don’t chase the latest looks.”
For the past 12 years, the self-taught artisan has created full-time out of a small studio space in her home in northwest Calgary. Using pliers, wire snippers, files and stone-setting tools, she handmakes pieces with sterling silver or 14-karat gold fill that include twinkling Swarovski crystals, delicate sprays of freshwater pearls and semi-precious stones. Brides, as well as others looking for pieces for a special occasion, can shop from Bisley’s online store, find her work at 18 boutiques across Canada, or work with her directly to create something custom for their big day. Bisley often finds inspiration from a bride’s dress. “The gown tends to lead where the design goes,” she says. “When I do a custom piece for a bride it often becomes part of my collection, and I’ll always name it after her.”
Bisley employs one other contractor to help fill orders but does all of the design and crafting herself. Her designs are made with long-standing techniques, such as wire wrapping, where gold or silver wire is hand wrapped around other materials to make a chain or wrap, and silk knotting, which involves hand-knotting pearls onto silk. Both processes are labour-intensive — an intricate hairpiece can take a whole day to craft — but these age-old techniques create durable designs meant to last.
“These are heirlooms,” Bisley says. “I want to create something a bride wants to keep so that she can pass it down, whether it’s to a niece, a daughter or godchild, and the pieces can continue to be worn again.”
Photograph: Jared Sych | Writer: Meredith Bailey
Winners and Runners-Up in the Fashion and Accessories Category 2019:
Made in Alberta Awards
The Made in Alberta Awards celebrate great Alberta products, businesses and ingenuity. By highlighting Alberta-made products through a variety of channels, including digital, in print and in person, the Made in Alberta Awards program supports and promotes local businesses and encourages people to shop local.
Proudly made in Alberta.