Artist of the Week – Instructor and Former Student, Susan Watson Ellis

March 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

Susan Watson Ellis, Paradigm Designs

Link by link, and stone by stone are the pieces of Susan Watson Ellis created. Not unlike the great Cathedrals, her works are epic undertakings of exquisite taste and design.

After moving to the “big city” for university, Ellis first developed her interest in jewellery after crossing paths with various street-vendors peddling handmade items to the denizens of Toronto. She worked with a self-taught jewellery-maker, learning his craft and becoming more and more intrigued with the art. Upon graduation from her degree (no connection to jewellery whatsoever!), Susan, with the help of a government employment program, created an apprenticeship for herself with a German goldsmith. This master-jeweller imparted a vast array of knowledge and gave her the skills she needed to continue on in her craft.

Over the years, Ellis has constantly been refining her technique, adding to her repertoire of skills, and attending various courses and workshops throughout North America. From chainmail halter-top to gem-encrusted evening purse, the sterling silver pieces that she creates are without peer. Her expertise in chain-making lends itself uncommonly well with the natural stones that imbue her work with colour: sparkling druzes, iridescent moonstone and labradorite, apatite, amethyst, and agate, to name but a few.

“I collect many awe inspiring gemstones,” she regales, “and spend endless hours arranging and contemplating them as finished pieces of body adornment.  I try to design a range of sizes of finished works each season, in various colour groups, to enhance a range of personal styles.”

Susan’s fascination early-on with natural stones has shaped her work into a distinct and signature style.  The asymmetry and uniqueness of many of the precious- and semi-precious gems breathe life into the otherwise inorganic pieces, adding both soul and character to the creations. Best of all, while diamonds may abound in identical sizes, no two druzes are alike. She carefully hand selects each stone for every piece. Occasionally, the gem inspires the art, sometimes the art determines the gem, and of course, for custom pieces, any patron can make a request.

As a well-established artist in the industry, Ellis gladly imparts her advice to  those dreaming of their own jewellery studios one day: “[…] work as much as possible in your newly acquired craft. If you can’t afford to start your own business, find work in an established one where you can hone your skills. Also, join organizations like the Ontario Crafts Council and the Metal Arts Guild where you can  volunteer and forge valuable connections in your chosen field.”

Susan’s exceptional talent has long since come full circle: once a student, now a teacher, and forever learning. At the Haliburton School of The Arts, we’re thrilled to have her.

For more information about Susan’s jewellery, please visit her website at www.paradigmdesignswe.com . She can be reached via phone or email at

(705) 457-3759, and info@paradigmdesignswe.com

For information on attending the Jewellery Arts program with Susan Watson Ellis and other renown instructors, please see our website at www.hsta.ca

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