Raised on the West Coast of British Columbia, Christine Rio is a rain-loving metalsmith who launched her contemporary jewelry brand, Slate Jewelry, in 2016 at Vancouver Fashion Week. While mostly self-taught, she has pursued additional courses from the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco, along with numerous classes led by noted silversmiths. Working out of her studio in Victoria, she strives to craft pieces of wearable art that strike a balance between classic minimalism and luxurious details. Outside of the usual jewelry categories of “fine” or “fashion,” Christine’s work stands on its own. Drawing on her degree in Classical Studies, this gives voice to her organic “modern relic” design style. Influenced by movement and texture, history and surrealism, her work blends modern lines with a sense of found objects. Slate Jewelry takes it name from the blank slate of opportunity that each piece of freshly milled metal presents for a new creation. While most of Christine’s designs are considered “statement” pieces, she looks for a balance between refined and bold. Introvert and extrovert. Beauty and imperfection. Jewelry is a way to connect to each other, to start conversations and to share yourself with the community. Christine’s work has been featured globally in numerous fashion editorials. She has shown collections at several international art jewelry exhibitions including Artistar Jewels, Milan Jewelry Week, Automaton 20.21 (joint venture with Spain & Canada), and Romanian Jewelry Week.
I do metalwork. I forge it, hammer it, fold it, manipulate it. I want to make it move, to seem fluid, to appear weightless and flowing. To be delicate and feminine. To show contrasts in shape, light, to balance its hardness with nature by pairing with gemstones, pearls, leather, fibres. Individual pieces and cohesive collections are often started with sketches. This helps establish actual sizes and the possible curvature of any shapes. Sketches can lead to paper templates that can be bent and shaped accordingly. More complicated pieces can be formed in paper clay, which allows for detailed shaping, and can be helpful in determining just how the metal needs to be cut out for a very abstract rendering. Pieces can be then made as a prototype in a base metal to work out any final kinks in flow or comfort. Collections can be designed around a theme of feeling, or colour, or established design constructs (ie: mid-century modern). Of course, there are always pieces that are there to simply showcase a striking gemstone. As far as constructing the pieces, I work with simple tools. Pieces are handcut, hammer-forged, hand-textured and polished. I have my files, hammers, and torches. I enjoy experimenting with textures, such as reticulation or fusing. I like experimenting with my torches to create new textures. It’s like painting with fire. If I am adding textures with my rolling mill, I use what material I have, whether it be leaves from the garden or scraps of old silk and lace. I do not use purchased texture plates. Fold-forming, air-chasing and chasing & repousse are also techniques that I employ because I love how fluid the metal becomes under the hammer. I endeavour to source gemstones and pearls from trusted local small suppliers. These are people that I have established relationships with over the years, and know that they themselves are purchasing from other small-scale reputable sources. Metals are purchased from local jewelry making suppliers as well as from large scale online companies with whom we are all likely customers. None of my silver or goldfill scraps go to waster either, as I fabricate that back into sheet or wire, and continue designing. Slate Jewelry is a one-person operation from start to finish. Each piece of jewelry is envisioned, fabricated, finished and photographed by me. As such, these works are a very personal expression of my view of art, the world at large, and the stories that I endeavour to tell within each collection.