If you are in search of a uniquely Vancouver view, this might be it. From inside a beautifully polished wooden houseboat, you look out onto False Creek Harbour as kayakers, sailboats and ferries totter by.
It is the paddle-boarders who will stop and stare right back. If they squint and peer upstairs, they will see Anne Carson busy at work on her semi-precious jewels with their signature silver toggles.
“I try to get the finest quality of ingredients – amethysts, London blue topaz, fresh water pearls.” The stones tend to come from India and China and Anne will source many of them at the world’s biggest gem show in Tucson, Arizona. Her dream stone is an emerald. She also likes to incorporate aquamarines with their range of ocean colours and their ability to mix so well with other stones, such as peridot. “For me, it’s about creating something that is balanced and beautiful.”
Ten years ago, she was encouraged to start Anne Carson Design by friends who would insist on buying the handmade necklaces right off of her neck. Before that, she worked as a professional photographer. The timing was good. Digital photography was crowding in, and she missed the old techniques. “I’m not a very big fan of digital photography. It’s useful, but I’m not a big fan.”
Like many creators, her brain is always brimming. “I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of new pieces. The problem is that there are not enough hours in the day to make everything.” She will work for hours at a time, anywhere from 5 am to midnight.
Anne’s creative role models include fashion designers Vera Wang, Donna Karan and Dries van Noten. Her own mother was a dress designer. “She had an amazing eye. She was always beautifully turned out.” Anne knows exactly what she would make her inspiring Mum if she were still alive – a faceted green amethyst choker with lovely irregular stones to go with her green-grey eyes.
While she is working, Anne listens to “Bach, Bach and more Bach.” She is also partial to Affairs of the Heart by Marjan Mozetich. She travels when she can, finding inspiration in the art and architecture of favourite cities like London, Paris, New York, Florence and Rome.
Carson keeps a print of one of her favourite paintings – Monet’s Bathers at La Grenouillere – in her studio. “I look at it all the time. I don’t know why, but it’s like a touchstone for me.” If she is in London, she will set aside time to visit the original in the National Gallery.
This is a business, of course, with all of the challenges that brings – selling yourself, tedious accounting. But, having worked in all manner of jobs and settings, Anne feels lucky to be doing what she is doing. “Making jewellery isn’t a job. It’s part of me, so it isn’t something I anticipate stopping. I’m just going to keep doing it, until my fingers fall off.
Jewellery Photos by Anne Carson
Written by Elizabeth Newton