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Mermaid Tears of Tofino

Nestled on the far west coast of Vancouver Island is the extraordinarily beautiful town of Tofino. Its where people go to surf, swim, and enjoy nature. This is where Joey Rukavina lives with her husband Raphael Bruhwiler, and their three ridiculously good looking children Aqua, Shae, and Dusty.

Joey and I have been friends since the first time we met in grade 8. We both shared a love for Keds, Esprit, and LLCoolJ. It makes sense for me to use one of my oldest and dearest friends to showcase as the first artist on this website because she is one of the people who inspires me the most. She has always followed her heart, so at 23 when she told me that she was going to move to Tofino and learn how to surf, I thought, of course she is….and she did. Now, she makes stunning modern jewelry using the sea glass she finds on the beach between surfing the waves and playing with her kids.

ringpaleblueSewze: How did you get started making jewelry?
Joey: I started making jewelry by helping my mom out with her bead shop when I was 10. It was more play than serious but I have always been creative. I loved taking calligraphy when I was really little and I have always loved drawing. I’ve made a lot if things for markets and craft shows including sewing, felt applique, knitting and needle felting. I love taking natural fibres and items and crafting. I took up metalsmithing because I wanted to make chunky rings! I love big statement rings. I like to use sea glass in my jewelry.

Sewze: Can you explain to readers what Sea Glass is?

Joey: I love the ocean and being at the beach. My family and I collect seaglass and for us its such a treasure hunt. Seaglass is glass that has been washed and tumbled and therefore shaped by the ocean. It is made from all types of broken glass. Anything from dishware, bottles, and even windows. They start as broken glass then become perfectly polished gems. I like that I can find it myself and that its a form of recycling taking something broken and discarded and finding the beauty in it as the light reflects thru the glass. I live on the ocean and usually travel to beach destinations so i’m always collecting. I get my silver from a great company in Rio Grande, New Mexico. I mainly use Argentium silver which is made from recycled silver. It’s 935 silver.


Sewze: In your life as well as your art, how important is sustainability?

Joey: I’m lucky to live in a pretty remote rugged town on the West Coast of Canada. I get really inspired by nature and love the outdoors so it matters a lot.

Sewze: You are mom of three kids with two successful businesses ( Joey also has a surf school with husband Raph ) and a love of surfing? How do balance it all? Can you run us through
a day in your life?
Joey: My day would consist of being the beach and hunting for seaglass. I used to work at night between 9-3 am when my house quiets down but in the last month since my kids
are in school I’ve been able to work on my jewelry during the day more. I supply to some stores and always do custom orders. Its not always easy to balance it all but in the end things tend to work out. It works if I try not to take on more than I can promise and will always make time for my kids. I’m lucky because I live near a lot of extended family and have had an amazingly supportive husband for the past 21 years.

A few quick questions inspired by Marcel Proust: one or two words only
Your idea of happiness: love and nature
Your idea of misery: disposable coffee cups
Favourite virtue: compassion or truth
If not yourself, who would you be? St. Brigid
Your favourite colour and flower? Turquoise, stargazer lily or Nootka wild Rose
The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with: A beautiful singing voice
Your favourite motto: We are all but visitors on this great planet

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