From the forest to the farmers’ market

Local artist Theresa Lee Capell, creator of Miss Foxine jewelry, crafts wearable art that has been recognized internationally.

They are jewels fit for a fairy — delicate beads, sparkly chains, tree bark and even butterfly wings. The Miss Foxine jewelry stand at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market will make you feel like you are in a fantasy world.

Theresa Lee Capell, the creator of Miss Foxine, stands smiling as shoppers pass by and admire her gorgeous handmade jewelry.

The 25-year-old NSCAD University graduate is inspired by the beauty of nature. As a child Capell would often venture into the woods at her home in Aylesford, N.S., collecting sticks and leaves to create jewelry herself.

“I used to go off into the woods and come back with pine cones and leaves and make them into crowns or jewelry or this little miniature dress form where I would pin the leaves and flowers to it and kind of daydream as a kid thinking ‘oh maybe fairies would wear this.’”

Capell has taken her daydreams and turned them into a reality. She makes her jewelry at her studio in her apartment in Lacewood.

Fairy tales and children’s stories also inspire Capell’s pieces. Her favourite one is Peter Pan.

“I love the idea of flying away into a different land where you can create your own world. That’s kind of the theme I try to put into my work to give it a Neverland kind of feel where the wearer can buy something and create their own story with it.”

Capell’s nature-inspired pieces, such as birch bark earrings, are made from materials she finds in the woods at her family home. She also digs through antique stores finding many unique baubles to turn into the centre point for a piece.

Capell also incorporates shells, pine cones, lavender, sea glass and butterfly wings into her work. Though fear not, Capell is not tearing the wings off of butterflies she finds.

“I have a friend who works at a conservatory and when the butterflies shed their wings naturally she will collect those and send them to me and I will send 20 per cent of the money made from those pieces back to the conservatory.”

Each piece is handmade by Capell. Depending on the complexity of the jewelry Capell will spend up to three hours on one piece, though her cheaper necklaces and earrings will take her under an hour.

Capell showcases her jewelry in antique picture frames and hangs delicate necklaces from tiny trees at her stand at the market every weekend.

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When Capell is not at the market she is working at her part-time job at Banana Republic at the Halifax Shopping Centre. She hopes that her jewelry business will one day be her full-time job.

Since starting at the market four years ago, Capell has gotten a lot closer to reaching that goal. Due to her strong presence on various social media outlets, an agent who works backstage at award shows invited her to fly to Hollywood and showcase her work at last year’s Golden Globes Awards.

“At first I couldn’t believe it,” says Capell, “I thought it was a scam but I got my brother to look at the email and research it and we found out it was legitimate so I messaged her back.”

She set up a booth, similar to her stand at the market, backstage at the Golden Globes where various celebrities would walk by and admire her work.

“The event was very high strung. Whenever a celebrity would come in you would feel very excited and a little shy.”

Capell says it was nerve wracking because if the celebrities wore her jewelry and told their friends about her work then she would be prompted on a much larger scale.

“They are pretty important people and they can tell people about my work through word of mouth and that was a really big thing for me,” says Capell. “Mary J. Blige was really nice, she especially loved my pieces with the butterfly wings. She loved the idea of it being so natural and just presenting the beauty that was already there.”

Since the event, sales have gone up quite a bit. Capell has a few designs in boutiques throughout Halifax and her sales on Etsy have gone up.

Capell wants to have a boutique of her own in Halifax and some day open a second one in Los Angeles. She recently began designing gowns and hopes to incorporate them into the Miss Foxine line.

“I’m just trying to figure out where to invest my money at the moment,” explains Capell. She has been offered to go back to L.A for more backstage events. Capell hopes to design more dresses before returning to Hollywood.

“I’m just taking it day by day right now,” says Capell.

Perhaps one day we will see her dresses walking down the red carpet capturing the same elegant and whimsical style that is in her jewelry.