She has a big torch. She melts and blends. She shapes, tinkers, and gives things an acid bath. She has a host of tiny tools, each with a special purpose.
She files, solders, saws, forges, casts, and polishes precious metals into works of art.
She meticulously crafts jewelry by hand, using primarily silver alloy, which – ironically – classifies her as a goldsmith (silversmiths tend to make hollow ware – plates, bowls, etc. – out of silver sheet metal). Goldsmithing is an ancient art, dating back to the roots of civilization.
“She” is Monica Gennaro. Monica resides in a lovely countryside setting along McCowan Road within an island of settlement, surrounded by York Region Forests on all four sides. Her occupation – career and time – involves a lovely converted barn-studio named Beke Design, guarded lovingly by her studio-dogs. Monica’s family is Hungarian, hailing from the historically disputed territory of Transylvania. She has a quick wit, revealed by some unexpected vampire jokes. In short summary, Monica is patient, dedicated, passionate, friendly and is precisely scientific.
The jewelry of Beke Design is primarily divided into collections: Geometric (triangles, disks, squares) and Nature Inspired (leaves and flowers). “I have never made jewelry of snowflakes, but rather the leaves for spring,” she says. This year Monica’s tour schedule is full: she applied and was accepted for participation in 22 shows across Ontario (dates & locations available on her website). The shows produce sales, but more importantly, they generate commissions; she spent the last 2 months crafting commissioned pieces.
The jewelry of Beke Design is breathtaking and beautiful. A single piece can take Monica from a full three days to more than a week of solid production time – this is not rapid paced production, but rather the result of painstakingly detailed work. “These are my babies, I love them,” she says, “but I have to sell them in order to make more.”
There are four ways to view Monica’s work: (1) the Beke Design website; (2) the studio is open by appointment; (3) the studio will be open to the public during the Whitchurch-Stouffville Studio Tour; and (4) visit her while on tour at one of the shows. Monica guesses that she has participated in the W-S tour four or five times in the past.
A visit to Beke Design is already scheduled in this editor’s calendar for that genuine and unforgettable Christmas present. See map on Page 16 for location. Note: unexpected arrivals are not welcome – certain artisan tasks cannot be interrupted without injury to the craft.