Archive for the 'introducing' Category

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INTRODUCING : SWEETIE PIE PRESS

It seems almost silly to try to introduce you to Becky Johnson for a couple reasons.

1. She is omnipresent in the craft scene here in Toronto and across the entire continent, actually. In addition to being my co-conspirator/organizer of the Trunk Shows at the workroom (it was her clever idea), she is also a part of City of Craft and Toronto’s Church of Craft. Plus, Becky is the talented lady behind Sweetie Pie Press, famous for one inch buttons galore, crochet neck warmers & hats and mystery loot bags. (and more and more)

2. Anything I say here will BARELY scratch the surface! Keep digging here, here & here.

3. You should really meet her in person. So I hope you’ll stop by the Hunt & Gather Trunk Show on Sunday.

What were you interested in as a kid? What were your favourite games to play?

BECKY : I know I had an interest in art and drawing as a child but my anti-specialist leanings were already emerging. I liked to tromp around in mud, watch things grow, catch frogs, hatch tadpoles, spin around… I guess I liked to play alone. Not much has changed. My parents also told me that I made up two games when I was little: ‘hot the mouse’ and ‘gun starvation.’ I would never explain to them how these games were played but I think that gun starvation had something to do with lying on the floor and pretending I was dying in the desert – again, alone.

Do you have any hidden talents we might not already know about?

BECKY : Hmmm… I have lots of talents! and I don’t know who knows about what. My non-craft life (and all my training and experience) is in performance. Apparently, I was pretty good at that once upon a time. Possibly I still am (if you ever see ‘Iron Cobra’ listed on a comedy bill, that is me and my comedy partner, Graham Wagner). I can also clean a salmon. I am passable in the identification of plants and also know a few useful knots.

One of your current projects – the security envelope project – centres around identifying and cataloguing patterns from around the world. Can you talk about your fascination with data collection? Also, what is the next step with this project?

BECKY : I don’t really understand my compulsion to keep track of things. The big secret is that I amass data but don’t do anything with it. I have a tally of every button I have ever made. I also tally sales at craft fairs and then input them into correlating spreadsheets. But that’s as far as that process goes. It feels like someday I will just have to do a big installation of all my lists, collections and files.

When it comes to the security envelope project, I think that kind of collecting stems from both my love of design and interest in stuff. With the internet ever present in our lives, the possibility of throwing something out into the ether (like: “will you send me your used envelopes?) and having your request granted is boggling to me. Although the security envelope project started as a personal search for design and pattern in the mundane, the collectivism into which it bloomed was a welcome evolutionary step. The project has now been out of my hands for a few months, with one complete collection at the Ontario Crafts Council and one steadily sun-bleaching in the workroom windows. It has been a nice fallow time but I am looking forward to having everything back. It is time. A few late contributions have come in, there is some sorting and counting to do and I want to get the project moving again. Right now, there are two areas in which it has to grow: (a) I have to scan all the patterns I have in order to put the images online and launch collection phase two (at a scant 300 patterns i am far from having enough collected) and (b) I would like to get the collections into more public displays and galleries. If you are a gallery and think this project has to tour to your space, let me know. Also, if you want to hand me a book deal…I’m listening…

What is one thing you’ve been hunting for, but have yet to find?

BECKY : It feels like there are so many things (if we are talking about the realm of objects). I have a big list of things I look for at thrift stores – old binders covered in blue fabric, green tupperware, orange glass bowls. In collecting similar items from thrift stores, I feel like I am reuniting families of objects. Since i work best with an integrated work/life space, I think what I really want to find is a way to have all the supplies I need for my art and craft while also having a clean and useful living space. I do, however, suspect that this might be an impossible lie perpetrated by design blogs, magazines and catalogues. But it’s a lie I dream of living.

What sorts of rummage will you be hawking at the upcoming trunk show?

BECKY : There is so much to choose from. I think I had the idea for rummage shows based on my own need to purge stuff. I amass things because I want them to be used/saved/rescued but am often happy to pass them along to good new homes. I have been trying to figure out a rummage focus for this show and after some literal rummaging through my supplies and collections, I think I have found a few areas to focus on. First, I am going to get tough with my collection of vintage pinback buttons and put a bunch of them out for the masses. I also might have stemware. And, naturally, some craft supplies – sewing buttons, yarns, fabrics…who knows what else I will unearth! my live/work dystopia is like a fun house of weird stuff.

Becky is also hosting a fundraiser on April 24 that will be an evening of crazy fun, which is apparent from just the title of the event – Brokeback Pontiac.

INTRODUCING : FIELDGUIDED

Fieldguided

I can’t believe the Hunt & Gather Trunk Show is this coming Sunday! Even though we always plan it months in advance, it feels like it has totally snuck up me. As always, we’ve managed to round up a stellar group of vendors who will delight you with their handmade and vintage goodies. I really hope to see you there.

This week, I’ll be continuing my trunk show tradition of introducing you to a few of our lovely vendors. Today it’s one of the sweetest couples in town, Anabela and Geoff, also known as Fieldguided. Anabela sews and embroiders while Geoff creates drawings and together they go thrifting. It is well known how much I am inspired (shameless copycat?) by Anabela – her books, the patterns she makes, even the sandwiches she eats! It’s going to be so much fun going through their trunk at the show!

Geoff, if you had to describe Anabela using 3 nouns what would they be? Anabela, same question.

Geoff for Anabela : Kittens / bows / lace.

Anabela for Geoff : Cardigans / countryside / home.

You seem to be well seasoned thrifters. Do you set rules or limitations for yourselves when you’re out? Do you often have a ‘mission’ or do you go merely for the thrill and surprises? Geoff – What sorts of things do you pick up when you’re thrifting together? (Anabela’s finds are very well documented!)

Anabela : The funny thing is that I never used to like thrifting. I had many unsuccessful trips in high school to the Buy the Pound that used to be on Jarvis. Now I follow two rules: one is that if I have the urge to go, I go. I find it so enjoyable that I try to go when I’m in a bad mood. The other rule is that I have to purge often: one box of stuff in, one box of stuff out (roughly). I remember seeing the home of one of the designers from Libertine in Domino magazine; he had a dedicated Goodwill area in the hallway. I think that is a great idea! I don’t mind giving away something I once considered a great find, because someone else might feel the same joy of discovery later on. I love that thought. I also have a fantasy of doing a thrifting roadtrip — I bet the American south is filled with treasure.

Geoff : I don’t often make as many purchases as Anabela when we go thrifting but I enjoy myself just the same. I’m always looking out for nice clothes and never give up despite the fact that the ‘small’ section of mens’ dress shirts usually means 5 shirts. I also love looking at old books. Some of my favourites are the 1950s school text books that I seem to find with great frequency. I have an unexplainable interest in vintage tableware, and once I nearly bought a complete set of dishes, including cups and saucers, that were in a line owned by my late grandparents.

Is there something that either of you have been hunting for but have yet to find?

Anabela : I’m constantly on the hunt for older pieces of clothing, which is diffcult. Even if I can’t wear them, I love the structure of dresses from the 1950s and earlier, and want to collect them. Now that the weather is warmer I would love to get my greedy mitts on some cotton day dresses and delicate cotton blouses, beautiful cocktail hats, floral headpieces, old saddle shoes, etc. All these things remind me of books I have loved. It would be nice to be able to find genuinely vintage items, rather than the usual polyester — not that I don’t love disco dresses! Other things I’d love to find (or find more of): floral barkcloth, antique vanity sets, pretty tins, old photographs and slides, and children’s porcelain tea sets. I am also hunting for a good way to find out about estate sales in the Toronto area.

Geoff : The search has settled down, but for a period last year I was on a hunt for vintage analogue cameras, including Polaroids, Twin Lens Reflex cameras, or old rangefinder cameras. I found about six different Polaroid cameras including a 360, a peel-apart film style camera that I still haven’t used, and two SX-70s. I bought a TLR off someone through Craigslist, but did manage to find a nice rangefinder at Value Village, a Yashica Electro.

What is your favourite meal to have together?

FG : We love cooking together at home, but we also have a variety of inexpensive restaurants that we like to visit on occasion (the old standbys). Brunch is always a favourite, especially if it includes sweet potato fries.

What sorts of treasures will you have at the trunk show?

FG : We will have a selection of things from thrift shops and antiques malls: picture frames, tableware, skirts, dresses (including a pretty shirtdress from the 1960s with a Built By Wendy-ish axe print on it), shoes, caridgans, blouses, as well as some sewing supplies: lucite purse handles, appliqués, doilies, patterns & books, and more. We’ll also have some of our handmade items, including headbands, sashes, handpainted mugs, embroidered drawings, and tote bags.

Fieldguided

Fieldguided

Fieldguided

INTRODUCING : OLD WESTON HANDMADE WONDERS

I first met Kalpna (aka Ghost Face Knittah) when she attended a Church of Craft gathering and spent the afternoon crocheting one of her little bears. This was one of the first times I had witnessed the wonders that were possible with crochet. My next encounter was when she participated in the Spring Thing Trunk Show last year. Kalpna opened up her trunk and proceeded to set up a charming display on birch logs of woodland-inspired jewelry. (She had me at birch logs!) There was just no way I could resist one of her acorn necklaces. I’m excited to see what other wonders appear when her trunk pops open this Sunday at the Love & Rummage Trunk Show!

How did you start down the road to craft?

KALPNA : Starting to make things myself was a direct by-product of being an accessories-obsessed but pathetically poor teenager in Toronto. Weekends were spent pressing my nose up against the glass of all the great shops on Queen West, ogling the jewellery and bags and fun clothes. Sometimes I’d have the courage to go in and actually fondle something, marvel at all the components and details, but always left empty-handed. Everything changed when I discovered how accessible and affordable jewellery-making supplies were, and I started to hit the bead shops instead. As any crafty person can attest, making things is highly habit-forming, and I just kept looking for interesting things to string up and wear around my neck. Three or four years ago I decided to step up my game and took a beginner’s metalsmithing class with Tosca Teran at her studio. Besides teaching me the basics, Tosca made me realize how possible everything is, and I’ve been consulting her (and using her soldering station!) ever since. I’m excited that I no longer make things just because I’m too broke to buy them, but because the process of putting things together and selecting all the right bits has become so much more rewarding that just the mere acquisition of stuff.

What does the name Old Weston mean to you? Is there a story behind it?

KALPNA : Old Weston Road is my street, I’ve lived there for over twenty years. While I love it dearly and can’t imagine living anywhere else in the city, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not a particularly pretty street. It’s busy and noisy with traffic all day and most of the night, and there’s no green space. Growing up on Old Weston Road meant no ball-hockey in the street (too many cars) or jump-rope on the sidewalk (too narrow) so as kids, my sister and I would wait until the liquor store directly behind our house closed for the day so we could play frisbee and badminton in its parking lot! Across the street is a Roman Catholic Church that shines brilliantly at Christmas, and six doors to the right is a gas station that gets held up about twice a month. When we first moved here in ’86, the house attached to mine was a record store/recording studio called “Classic Sound” owned by a serious Rootsman named Ozzy, which provided a killer reggae soundtrack to my intensely urban childhood – I swear it was straight out of an Ezra Jack Keats storybook!

All this to say that finding beauty and inspiration on the block was (and is) no easy feat, and also to explain what I feel is a hypersensitivity to the natural world and small, natural wonders (like acorns!). As a kid (and even now) my only interaction with anything other than a concrete landscape is an hour or two spent in High Park (which is luckily just a twelve-minute bus ride away) or in my small backyard, where stumbling upon a tiny mushroom, a magical clump of moss, or a strange little flower (more likely a weed) is a momentous event. I will never forget the awe of finding these “rare” treasures, and how I would bring them indoors and desperately hope for them to last forever, turn them into something I could grow, take care of, or even wear (I distinctly remember my sister calling me a moron after catching me trying to shellac the crap out of a daisy – an eight-year-old’s attempt at turning it into a pendant). I have Old Weston Road to thank for my fascination and appreciation for all things natural, and for reminding me that there are wonders hiding everywhere, in even the most drab environments. Also, I make everything in my bedroom (and in the dining room, kitchen, and basement), and so life on Old Weston Road assures me that it’s okay not to have a studio or fancy workspace – it’s proof that if you want it bad enough, a creative, crafty life can be maintained and enjoyed any old place. Old Weston is my ‘hood; it’s why I make the things I make; I hope to enhance it’s charm, one silver acorn at a time.

What/Who is inspiring you these days?

KALPNA : In keeping with my unofficial mandate of trying to fabricate portions of the natural world that I don’t experience enough of (or sadly, that I may never see at all), I am utterly beguiled by Helle Jorgensen’s blog – “gooseflesh” – which the lovely Angelune Deslauriers directed me to. Her crocheted sea creatures and coral are breathtaking, and I hope to crochet some sea urchins for my windowsill soon (I destroyed a small collection of them in a dusting incident over the summer). And, since I spend almost every waking moment of my life surrounded by books, I’ve become increasingly drawn to children’s book illustration (ha! Get it? Drawn?!) – all the OG illustrators like Leo Lionni, Richard Scarry, and Gyo Fujikawa, and contemporaries like Marc Boutavant and Sara Varon. I think it may be time to sharpen them coloured pencils!

What was the last book you read?

KALPNA : I actually haven’t finished a book in quite a while. I’ve gotten into the really bad habit of getting into too many books at once (just like craft projects, I think I’ve currently got about eight on the go) and working full-time at the bookshop only encourages this kind of non-committal reading since people expect me to know a little something about everything on the shelf. I think the last book I read in its entirety was Jeremiah, Ohio – a novel in poems by Toronto’s own Adam Sol. It’s about Jeremiah (you know, like the prophet from the Bible?) and a truck driver named Bruce who go on a road trip across America and deliver prophecies in strip-mall parking lots as they make their way to the promised land of New York City. It’s a great read – beautiful, funny, tragic, a little bad-ass. I’ve never read poetry with such plot development before. I like it!

Are you going to be selling some rummage at the sale? If yes, what??!

KALPNA : Oh, I’ve got rummage. I’m hoping to share my “Bombay stash” – crafts, supplies and mementos that I’ve collected during two visits to that city – particularly some handmade, Indian paper gift boxes and envelopes scored from Chimanlals (an incredible “paper culture” shop), some glass and wooden beads, as well as some wonderfully tacky brooches and accessories that have some serious Bollywood flava.

What Valentine gift would melt your heart?

KALPNA : It wouldn’t take much to make my heart melt – a couple cupcakes from The Cupcakery, a well-chosen book (no one ever gives me books), or a snowy romp through High Park. Oh, and there’s a new Morrissey album coming out soon, that would be a perfect Valentine’s gift.

INTRODUCING : GIRL NUMBER TWENTY

I’ve been struggling for twenty four hours with how to properly introduce Marnie Saskin. Somehow I was trying to fit all the following words into fitting ode:

Lovely. Calm. Girl Number Twenty. Thoughtful. Playful. Cozy. Crafty. Etsy. Wise. Mama.

Your daughter seems to have a huge influence on your crafting, I’m sure you are inspired by her every day. How did your work and ideas change once you became a mother?

MARNIE : The work and ideas only blossomed after Safiya arrived, actually. Pre-Safiya I had been herded daily into an office cubicle, which is not conducive to craft, on many levels. I managed to churn out a couple of Christmas presents annually, but that’s about it. After Safiya, the thought came into my head, as it does with many people I suppose, that “wow. If I can do that, I can do anything!” A hesitancy about my life fell away and I started taking chances. Her energy just started to fill our home, and since being with her, being with kids, is so physical, there was a parallel in my creative life that started to make itself evident: the obsession with the texture of felted sweaters; that everything had to be washable and dryable and natural fibres; the need to be frugal with what I had around the house, yet heap up comfort and well-being simultaneously; all this became woven into what came off the sewing machine and out of my hands. She makes me laugh and she still has that un-self-conscience inner voice that we’re all born with that says “I am awesome!”; it hasn’t been quashed by anybody yet and I hope it never does. Being around that is contagious.

Does Safiya make request of things she would like for you to make her? What was the last thing you made specifically for her?

MARNIE : Um, dinosaurs? The list changes daily, and is usually accompanied with “you can sew that, right Mama?” I try to make those kind of projects collaborative. The last thing we made was a small, rudimentary, pink stuffed T-Rex, which she sketched on the felt first. We discovered that her craft scissors cut felt better than mine. I really need to get my scissors sharpened. The last thing I made as a surprise for her was a small wool blanket. We were hoping that she would bond with it because since she was a babe her favourite blanket has been a giant acrylic afghan that my grandmother knitted, which has its own suitcase when we travel. I am not kidding. I was so relieved when she loved the new blanket. Taking the bus out of town will be so much easier now.

As someone who works so hard to create the smallest possible footprint in this world – What are your goals for yourself this year? Do you have any tips for those of us who aspire to be more conscious of our impact?

MARNIE : I really want to find a way to either source or create fabric labels for my items that are created from either organic textiles or second-hand textiles, including the thread or printing dye. There has got to be a not-too-labour-intensive (and not too expensive) way to do that. Anybody got any ideas? That, and possibly shrink my footprint so much that I float around. That would be handy. {NOTE: Coincidentally this recent post provides some answers to Marnie’s question}

Everybody is engaged with their environmentally conscience side at a different intensity. I feel weird about giving tips, but it’s a good question, so maybe the best tip I could give would be to really let loose with the creativity. Seems redundant for this crowd maybe, but usually there’s a just-as-beautiful way of doing something using what’s already out there. Make connections. If you draw from nature in your art, make that connection between what you’re using for your supplies and how that impacts the beauty you’re trying to communicate.

What is your favourite soup?

MARNIE : Anything vegan. From potato-creamy to spiced-lentil to bright-summer-vegetable. I am definitely a soup kind of girl. Today’s was potato/caramelised onion/golden beet/rutabaga/carrot/saffron/chard. It was very yummy.

Are you planning on selling some rummage at the show? if yes, what might that be?

MARNIE : Definitely. Probably felted sweater wool scrap bags, and maybe some fat quarters from my stash, or slim ones, depending on the scrap situation. I’m working on some felted-sweater-seam balls of wool, and another supplies surprise. I love the idea of handmade supplies….

What Valentines gift would melt your heart?

MARNIE : Handmade wool felt slippers, preferably hand embroidered by my husband (no, he doesn’t embroider, but the idea of him with an embroidery needle….) The way to this woman’s heart is through her warm feet.
That, and dark chocolate.

All photos courtesy of Marnie Saskin (except photo #3 by the workroom)

INTRODUCING : JEN ANISEF

Jen Anisef helped change my life.

When the workroom was just a hare-brained scheme in my head, I nervously attended a Craft Chat held by Toronto Craft Alert. I had never interacted with Toronto’s craft scene in person, only lurked on local blogs and cruised a few craft fairs. I didn’t realize at the time, but this was a pivotal moment for me.

Attendance to the Craft Chat was much smaller than expected, but the quality of people was stellar. This is where I first met Becky (Sweetie Pie Press), Leah (Cold Snap Bindery), Angelune (Toronto Craft Alert), Marnie (girl number twenty), Johanna (the workroom’s esteemed quilting teacher!) and Jen. The chat ranged on topics from the American vs. Canadian craft scene, rallying local resources, creating more dialog (online & in person), and etsy. Although I wasn’t ready at the time to share my business idea, I left feeling that this small group represented everything I hoped to bring together in the workroom. I think this is just one of thousands of examples of the positive impact TCA & Jen have made for so many people in our community.

Toronto Craft Alert is just one of the major, local, craft-supporting projects that Jen is involved with. She is one third of the City of Craft team and one half of the Good Egg Industries team. This crafty lady is truly remarkable and she makes a mean patchwork, to boot! Thank you, Jen for everything you do.

Jen will be at the Love & Rummage Trunk Show selling her irresistable log cabin heart medallions, plus City of Craft tees and totes.

When did your life become all about craft? or has it always been that way?

JEN : I have always made stuff & bossed people around with regards to making stuff. I organized a group of my ten year old friends in a crafty collective of sorts – hawking our fimo hairclips and brooches to shops! I didn’t begin to identify as artistic or crafty until about 1999 when I spent a year living in rural Japan where everyone and their grandmother is engaged in the act of making at most times, or at least in appreciating the natural creative beauty that surrounds them. I was fortunate enough to hook up with an English-speaking farmer buddy who drove me around the prefecture, translating interviews with craft artists of all different sorts including master weavers, washi makers and traditional indigo dyers. It was heaven and I realized then that I was in love with craft.

All of your many projects are focused on the local craft scene – TCA, Good Egg, City of Craft… Why is this issue so important to you?

JEN : I think in the early years of craft engagement I spent A LOT of time on craft message boards, communicating with people halfway across the world about crafty crushes, trading tips & techniques, and generally being excited that there were other people out there (often far out there) that shared my interests. Eventually, as the craft movement/subculture grew I was able to connect with people closer to home, and I felt that this more traditional form of community was something I needed to engage with to be fully satisfied – I loved being able to physically share & touch & smell & see & hear what people are doing. Don’t get me wrong, I think the online, cross-border connection is extremely valuable and inspiring, but I think there is an increasing desire among crafters & humans to move back towards the local and my projects are a reflection of that.

You are a busy lady, what is next on the horizon for you?

JEN : The most immediate thing is getting the re-designed Toronto Craft Alert site launched (so soon!) and a very juicy giveaway contest I am hatching to celebrate. Also, Toronto area peeps may be excited to know that we are bringing Handmade Nation to town on February 26th as part of the DIwhy? show at the Ontario Crafts Council. Stay glued to the City of Craft site for details. Finally (well, is there ever a finally?!) the other day while doing dishes a really exciting & possibly huge idea occurred to me but I need to sit on it for awhile longer before busting it out. I’ll just say it has to do with offering targeted support to entrepreneurs in Toronto’s booming craft world.

I know how much you love colour and colour matching. Do you have a current favourite colour combo?

JEN : Oh, that’s a tough one! If I were fifteen years old, I would say purple & orange without hesitating. Things have gotten a little more complicated since then…I love the combination of superbright, saturated & neutral colours. I’m starting to explore neons & pastels.

If you had a day where you were not allowed to do any ‘work’ for all your ventures, how would you spend the day?

JEN : When left to my own devices I am a pretty lazy gal…I would say sipping loose tea in sweatpants & reading my fantasy novel on the couch (got hooked on a recent trip to Cuba). Maybe followed by a potluck/clothing swap with friends which my husband would cook for!

Are you planning on selling some rummage at the show? if yes, what might that be?

JEN : I am planning to tackle my unruly fabric stash and emerge some scrap bags & larger pieces. I will also have some vintage clothing on offer and old craft hobby magazines.

What Valentines gift would melt your heart?

JEN : I am a sucker for a carefully orchestrated (re: colour palette) bouquet. Handmade (by him) jewellery would also weaken the knees.

INTRODUCING : SHANNON GERARD

If you invite Shannon Gerard to your trunk show, you are pretty much guaranteed that she will be the first to arrive to help set up and when she opens her trunk you will be simply amazed at the things she has made out of yarn. People say that crochet is ‘so easy’, but I can’t quite wrap my head around how you go about making plants you can’t kill, sprouting avocado seeds, strawberry-topped tarts, mustaches (or plushtache in Gerard-speak) and other anatomy from a couple sticks and ball of yarn.

Of course, this is just a small fraction of Shannon’s talent. I would encourage you to snoop around Shannon’s blog, her website and her etsy shop to learn more about the lovely, humourous, but deliberate work she creates.

You are involved in a lot of diverse craft – crochet, comics, screen printing, etc.. Where did it all start for you?

SHANNON : My crafting started with storytelling– I used to think of myself as a writer before anything else– which led to bookmaking and drawing. I started to make books that weren’t traditionally structured and got into the sculptural qualities of book binding materials. Then I learned crochet because I wanted to create the Boobs and Dinks as a side project to a book I was writing. But since then, crochet has taken over my whole life! Once I started, there was no stopping.

What is the story behind your Boobs and Dinks project?

SHANNON : Boobs and Dinks was first just a side project to Hung no.3; Lonely Tylenol, a comic book I wrote that tells the story of my boyfriend finding a lump in his testicle. We were pretty scared about it and tried researching online, but found very little information for men. Of course there are millions of resources available to women about breast health, but not so much for guys. So I asked a friend to teach me to crochet because I had this vision of wanting to get at the fear with some useful information that was delivered in a soft and humourous way. I really wanted to make plush warm-up toys that educated people about body awareness and crochet was the perfect medium. Although it is definitely still connected to the book, Boobs and Dinks has become a huge multi-dimensional project of its own– people really respond to it! Since it started, I’ve found out about so many other amazing craft related projects that deal with cancer and human frailty and fear. I’ve also connected with so many other crafters and video artists and writers and organizations that deal with very similar issues.

Oh and, my BF was fine– the lump turned out to be just a dilated vein– but that fear when we discovered it was so intense, and I hope the project humanizes that kind of panic in a way that people can understand.

Is there anything you can’t make with crochet? Seriously!

SHANNON : Well, I want to make cowls, but I can’t read or write patterns. I’ve made a few attempts at learning, but just gave up. The beautiful and addictive thing about crochet is that you can just think of any shape you want to build and then make it up as you go along. There are only a few different variables but no end of ways to combine stitches to get the design you want. But sometimes the math is a bit tricky to work out the first time. You should see some of the prototypes for my projects- they are so hilarious and lumpy.

What was your biggest craft triumph?

SHANNON : Crafts mostly always feel triumphant! There is such a strong community spirit in crafts. Ideas are constantly evolving and growing because of the inspiration of others. Because there isn’t a lot of “mine mine mine”, you can work on projects with friends (at a workroom Stitch and Bitch for example) and always know that your work is respected. And many times ideas become strengthened by the input of others. Last year at the Valentine’s Trunk Show, I was talking to Ayalah at the workroom and since she is a medical illustrator, she gave me lots of tips for making my plush hearts more anatomically correct– so this year I have a whole new and improved pattern! Stuff like that is my favourite thing about crafts. Everybody triumphs!

Are you planning on selling some rummage at the show? if yes, what might that be?

SHANNON : Yep, I’m combing my stores for rummage– so far I have a few odds and ends of yarn, a batch of 35mm colour slides, some old blank mini-journals, and maybe some fabric squares I cut out for a quilt that never happened.

What Valentines gift would melt your heart?

SHANNON : For Valentine’s Day this year I’m dreaming of a collection of security buttons from Sweetie Pie Press– I want to get some of the rare pink ones before they’re gone.

The Love & Rummage Trunk Show will be at the workroom on Sunday February 8, 12-5pm.

All photos courtesy of Shannon Gerard. “Last Year’s Heart” photo by Alison Westlake.

INTRODUCING : RESURRECTION FERN

Once again, we’re approaching another trunk show here at the workroom, in collaboration with the City of Craft ladies. The Love & Rummage Trunk Show will be a little bit different than our previous shows, as we’ve asked our vendors to also go through their crafty closets and package up some vintage supplies and goodies, as well as making their special wares. I have a strong suspicion that many of them have a treasure-load of stuff and I can’t wait to browse through it.

I’ll be profiling vendors every day up until the show, so I hope you drop by to take a peek at what’s in store. Today I’m super excited to introduce you to Margie Oomen of Resurrection Fern. I first discovered Margie on flickr when I saw a picture of one of her crochet covered sea stones. The first thing I did was check to see if she had an etsy store, so that I could buy one. Alas, at the time she didn’t – but her etsy store opened recently and seems to be doing really well. If you want one of her stones, you have to be mighty quick, as they sell out shortly after being posted. I have a feeling the same will be true at the trunk show.

Nature plays a big part in your work. How did the play between craft and nature develop for you?

MARGIE : I have always been a nature girl and also a maker of things from a very young age but it seems only in the last year or so that the two have really become covalently bonded. I have been doing a great deal of reading and thinking about how we can do our part to help increase awareness of the effects of global warming and unregulated consumption on our little planet and what I came up with was the concept of helping people see and experience what it is that is worth saving. To put this more simply, I really want to do my part to motivate people to go out there in the woods, meadows, seashores or even there own backyards where they can then slow down, and see what nature is trying so desperately to show them in the hopes that it will motivate them and inspire them to be creative.

Tell me the story behind your delightful crochet-covered rocks.

MARGIE : The story started with me crocheting the “rock babies” which were two little smooth stones I half covered with crochet one day and then my daughter said they looked like little babies wrapped in blankets. I smiled and then decided to add very simple facial features with a permanent marker and thus they were christened the “rock babies”.

I loved the look of an eyelet fabric covered stone I saw on flickr made by Stephanie ( little bird ) and decided to crochet some lace like covers for some sea stones I collected on my summer vacation in Cape Breton. The rest is history.

What/Who is inspiring you these days?

MARGIE : Nature is and always will by my greatest source of inspiration. I have made some great friendships through flickr and my blog and this creative community feeds and nourishes me everyday and also keeps me grounded.

What was your worst crafting disaster?

MARGIE : There is no such thing as a crafting disaster, they are only lessons to learn.

Are you planning on selling some rummage at the show?

MARGIE : I have been cleaning out my storage craft area and will have some vintage buttons, ribbons and trim and some vintage fabric bundles for sale and again a few surprises. I am not sure how all of this will fit in my vintage suitcase but maybe it will be a magic suitcase like Mary Poppins carpet bag.

What Valentines gift would melt your heart?

MARGIE : The best Valentine’s gift would be to spend the day snowshoeing or cross country skiing in the forest with my husband and having a winter picnic with a small fire. Our hands, feet and noses might get cold but our hearts would be toasty warm.

All photos by Margie Oomen

INTRODUCING : ROSALYN FAUSTINO

dear accidental joy by Rosalyn Faustino

I first met Rosalyn at a Quilt Sunday. She showed up with pieces of cedar wood, thread, nails and a tiny hammer. I was completely enthralled by her work. Soon after she agreed to do a window installation for the workroom. It is the first of many artist installations in those lovely bay windows, I hope.

ceedlings is made up of found frames, tiny nails and thread. dear accidental joy is comprised of dozens of little sculptures that are crocheted out of gold wire. Rosalyn’s work is delicate, fine and intriguing. I have been lucky to experience it every day for the last few weeks. I love watching it change as the daylight passes over it, not only creating wonderful shadows, but also lovely metallic glitterings (my own word) when the sun shines, just so.

ceedling by Rosalyn Faustino

What is your first crafty memory?

ROSALYN : I think my first real crafty love was cross-stitching. I remember cross-stitching everywhere I went, I felt so hardcore. At the same time, I remember going to the Calgary’s local hobby shop with my family and I was totally into painting figurines and playing with hama beads.

You recently graduated from which Art program?

ROSALYN : I recently graduated from the Art and Art History program at the University of Toronto in Mississauga and Sheridan College, specializing in Sculpture.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned from your school experience?

ROSALYN : In my last year of university, I was having a conversation with one of my mentors and he told me to take what I have and just experience it. I’ve learned to trust my gut and allow the processes to guide me. The book, “Letters to a Young Artist” by Peter Nesbett, Sarah Andress and Shelly Bancroft was also been pretty inspiring to read while I was in school.

Do you have a term for the ‘thread weaving’ you do? (ie with the wooden frames and nails)

ROSALYN : Total random thread weaving! It’s kind of funny because once I got more involved with the crafty world, I would find books on weaving – and online images like this. It’s pretty interesting that I never knew about it sooner! I loved the idea of layering different colours to give it dimension, it was almost like I was drawing the grains of the wood.

Can you explain the titles of the pieces you did for the window?

ROSALYN :  Creating titles for pieces are probably the most hardest part for me to make! ceedling came from my interest in trees and wood grain. This project initially began in my fourth year when I was at Home Depot. I was on a search for scraps of wood – there’s something about found wood that makes it more unique than perfectly cut pieces. I ended up finding a huge stash of cedar shingles with tons of imperfections and knots in each piece of wood. I went home and played around with material in my sewing box. I became really passionate about this type of thread weaving and this title best suited my creative growth.

dear accidental joy is directly related towards this opportunity of making something larger than I have ever made before. (Thanks Karyn for the opportunity!)

What would be your dream commission/installation?

ROSALYN : After setting this up for your shop, getting an opportunity to do other window installations would be pretty amazing. I would love to do something for the Harbourfront. A few of my mentors at Sheridan told me to check out the Tree Museum and maybe display something in an outdoorsy space.

What is your favourite thing to have for breakfast?

ROSALYN : Mmm great question, in reality, I’m always rushing in the mornings…so I usually miss it and just have lunch.

But! If I do go all out on breakfast, I’ve got a few favourites…because I love love love breakfast food – I can have it any time of day! First off, it definitely has to include bacon (reminds me of my dad cooking on Sunday mornings), over-easy eggs, and pumpernickel toast. If we go out and eat breakfast, I like the smoked salmon with eggs benedict with no capers OR the french connection (french toast, bacon, eggs) at Sunset Grill. I’m all about the big breakfast!

p.s. With all this thread talk, I have to post this amazing link to a lined notebook made with thread! {via Supernaturale}

dear accidental joy by Rosalyn Faustino

INTRODUCING : LINES BY: DAVIS.

The Holiday Trunk Show is quickly approaching and I’m so excited, if you can’t tell. I’ve been really busy tidying up the shop and stocking up the shelves with new books and supplies. Handmade Nation, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, Seams to Me, Creepy Cute Crochet and Zakka Sewing arrived a few hours ago. I’m looking forward to spending some time perusing them for new project ideas when I’ve got a few minutes to spare. the workroom will be bursting at the seams with all kinds of crafty goodness this weekend!

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Davis Khounnoraj last week when he dropped by to ‘sew by the hour’ and work on his tea towels. It’s really awesome to see the process behind someone’s work, even if it is just the ‘production’ part. lines by: davis. will be selling amazing screen-printed pouchettes, tea towels, hand bags and greeting cards at the trunk show on Sunday. Just another trunk that will be impossible for me to resist!

Are you self-taught? Did you take something creative in school?

Davis : I would consider myself self-taught because I never went to post secondary school for any kind of formal design training. I have been experimenting since I was a teenager with clothing and deconstructing things to see how they were put together. I have always been obsessed with fashion. My dad bought me my first sewing machine when I was 17. I begged and pleaded for it. He didn’t think anything of it, but I remember getting it and being really happy. I think in his mind, he thought I would use it for alterations and hemming. I soon began experimenting with clothing and made bags for fun. I loved being hands on and trying to sew because it felt very expressive and free to do my own thing.

In school I took art and did anything that had to do with art, so I was pretty creative in different mediums. I remember in 8th grade home economics there was a cooking and sewing part of the class and in the sewing part we had to sew these stuffed animals from a pattern. I think I was the only guy in my class who got a high mark. It was annoying because all the guys in my class would make me help them finish their sewing projects. They didn’t even know how to thread a needle.

Tell me about your process. How do you come up with your designs?

Davis : I normally sketch out my designs in my book and then if I really like the design I will draw out a pattern for it as close to the original drawing. I come up with my designs in different ways. If I see a shape that I like, I try to picture it in bag form and go from there. If there is something specific that I want to make, I might spend hours trying to figure it out by making samples and rearranging pieces of fabric until I like what I see.

What has been inspiring you these days?

Davis : Music has been inspiring me a lot. I need to listen to music when I sew because it gets me in the vibe of things. Lately it’s been music and fashion. It sounds very cliche but they go hand in hand and I couldn’t live without either of them. Musically, I’ve been into the Black Kids and in fashion I’ve been loving the new Balcenciaga Spring 09 show and Lanvin’s Spring 09 show. The Lanvin dresses are so effortlessly worn and I’m digging the pastels, shapes and vibe at the Balenciaga show.

Is there a craft or medium that you’ve always wanted to try that you haven’t yet?

Davis : I think I would like to crochet, I’ve knitted in the past but I would love to try crochet.

What’s your favourite guilty pleasure?

Davis : Going on Perez Hilton.com is my guilty pleasure. It’s like second nature after facebooking I think.

What’s at the top of your holiday wish list this year?

Davis : I think a laptop computer is on my wish list! We’ll see.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your work?

Davis : lines by: davis. was probably an idea in book that happened a few years ago. I never thought doing what you love and sharing it with others would ever be a possibility. I still to this day thank every girl and guy who has bought or appreciated my work. I hope to continue and grow with my work as it evolves every day.

INTRODUCING : PANDACUB

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a weakness for Japanese cute, especially the fabric kind. Little Red Riding Hood, Hedgehogs, Lambs, and of course, Robots. I have never known a fabric to cause more of a stir than the Robot fabric. Which, by the way, is on order and I promise when it arrives to make a big announcement so that you can get a piece of it! I discovered Pandacub on etsy in the Shop Local section. Stephanie Caruso makes cute Japanese fabrics even sweeter by turning them into rings, magnets or bobby pins. Load up on these fun accessories at the Holiday Trunk Show this Sunday and you’ll be guaranteed a smile every time you look at them.

What is your creative background? Have you always been crafty?

Stephanie : I studied art and art history throughout high school and university, but never thought of it as a viable career (I come from a family of engineers, so, you know…). I ended up in a career in marketing and communications, so it’s as creative as I can get in my day job. As for being crafty, I think I always have been, but my choice of “craft” changes often. As a kid, my mom taught me to knit and also introduced me to Shrinky-Dinks, papier-mache and homemade play-doh.

How did you come about starting your sweet line of button accessories and selling them?

Stephanie : I fell in love with some really cute fabric button magnets a friend had bought and started investigating how to make them for myself. Unfortunately, I then developed a fabric obsession after seeing all these beautiful prints and ended up with lots of new buttons and nothing to do with them. So I started creating hair accessories and button rings, at first for myself, and then for others. I had already been on Etsy as a buyer for a while, so decided to take the plunge and open up a shop.

Do you have favourite sellers on etsy?

Stephanie : I have way too many favourite sellers on etsy, especially for supplies. But some of the “non-supply” shops I really want to blow my paycheque on are The House Of Mouse, Immortal Longings and Beastlies. I’m also a huge sucker for any shop that sells felt toy food. (I know, it’s weird)

What is at the top of your holiday wish list this year?

Stephanie : A new digital camera! My old one, which I’ve had for years, is quite large compared to the newer, sleeker ones, plus it has a broken battery latch, so it’s held together with a huge rubber band.