For multi-talented Oakville jewellery and textile artisan Cheryl Laakes, expressing her creativity in a plethora of artistic forms is something she has been doing for as long as she can remember. She captures techniques from embroidery, knitting, beading, pottery, sketching, sewing and quilting to name just a few.
Largely self-taught, she works with a myriad of fibres, semi-precious stones, crystals, and glass. Often her pieces are experiments in colour, texture and technique combining. She creates a wide spectrum of objects: classically elegant sterling silver jewellery with semi-precious stones, fashionable multi-coloured chainmaille items, monochromatic embroidered pillows, whimsical porcelain faeries, intricate scarves, afghans and much more.
Laakes recalls always being enamoured with arts and crafts. “I spent a lot of time making shoes out of cardboard, stringing bead necklaces for my mum, building stuff, finding out what works and what doesn't work ““ just playing with things,” she says. She ended up going to university briefly for chemistry, but her love and passion for the arts was too strong and she had to make it her calling.
Family and friends acquired many necklaces as Christmas presents over the years and finally with encouragement and growing confidence she contacted Circle Arts, a gallery representing contemporary Canadian artists in Tobermory and they were pleased to showcase her work.
When Laakes is not occupied with her husband, their three children and two cats, she can be found in her basement conjuring up ideas for and concocting original pieces. She is always envisioning up fresh projects from the deluge of ideas floating around in her head and techniques that she has recorded in her idea books.
Laakes enjoys doing the unconventional and challenging herself, whether it is designing sweaters that require her to knit backwards or creating one-of-a-kind jewellery and textiles. “I enjoy inventing and combining things and making it up like MacGyver. Just making it work,” she says. “As long as it is structurally sound and it's well done then invent it. There are no rules.”
Her endeavours are inspired by a profusion of people, ideas, contemporary abstract work and everyday things. She cites William Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh, Frances MacDonald and Frank Lloyd Wright among others as arts and crafts greats she admires.
Her jewellery can be found at Circle Arts and she does private commissions. Upcoming shows she will be appearing at include Artisans at the Distillery Art Show in July and the Art in Action Burlington Studio Tour this coming November.
Laakes' dream is to one day establish a studio called “˜The Wool Gatherers' a place where people can drop in, create, explore all different art forms and just play. “I like sharing a moment with the viewer ““ that feeling you get when you click with something and it's like you are communicating with the artist through time and space,” she says. “I love the whole interconnectedness of us, nature and each other.”
For more information about Cheryl Laakes' work visit cheryllaakes.com.