Crafting new from vintage

Willow Shack Studio will be one of 14 stops on Nanoose Studio Tour

The idea took shape around a fire pit on a family camping trip, starting with some old family silver.

“We thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to turn this into bracelets? And after some trial and error, we created some wonderful jewelry,” said Ellen Atkinson, designer of Not Your Nana’s Silver and owner of Willow Shack Studio in Nanoose Bay.

Willow Shack Studio is one of 14 stops on the Fourth Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Nanoose Bay Studio Tour Oct. 6, 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Atkinson’s studio opened in January of this year and is filled with her, and jewelry-making-partner Cori Forster’s, vintage silver and silver-plated fork and spoon bracelets, butter knife and plate tray necklaces and gemstone jewelry, among other pieces. Atkinson also upcycles (makes new things out of old materials) to make shawls, sweaters, slippers, and other accessories.

“Give me an old dress and I’ll turn it into an apron, give me an old wool sweater and I’ll turn it into a hat, flatware and I’ll turn it into jewelry,” she said, adding any sales of the tray jewelry garner $5 for the local food bank.

Willow Shack Studio also houses a number of other local artists, including jewelry by Ethan Taylor Designs, oil paintings by Nicola Hill, bead and gemstone jewelry by Colleen Crane and more.

Atkinson has been making jewelry for about 40 years and has taken a number of silversmith courses. She teaches the basics of jewelry making out of her studio, how to upcycle and reinvent old jewelry, and how to drill, saw and dome mixed metal.

Willow Shack Studio is number three on the Nanoose Bay Studio Tour, where residents can see an array of fine artwork throughout Nanoose Bay Oct. 6, 7 and 8. Brochures and information are available at the Parksville Visitor Centre and Island Exposures Art Gallery in Parksville. Maps and information can be found at


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