Featured Artist: Anne-Marie Olczak (DEAF)

Today’s post is one of my favourite local painters. Anne-Marie and I met last year setting up our tents next to each other at the Danforth East Arts Fair and hit it off pretty well so we decided to create a walk-through between our tents. I admired her work all weekend, and ended up taking a couple of her smaller paintings home with me (that’s where my winnings as Biggest Booster went last year – keeping it local!) and she went home with a hat. I am happy to announce that we will be neighbours again this year! And in the same spot at the north end of East Lynn Park at this year’s Danforth East Arts Fair on September 13 & 14 (10 am – 5 pm). So do come by and see us both!

(click for larger images below)

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Anne-Marie Olczak

Products: Original acrylic paintings painted on wood panels (occasionally canvas too) and sometimes featuring collage elements such as maps and some of my original photographs.  I also have sets of blank cards featuring my work and maybe this year — fridge magnets.

Price Range: $20 – $1500

How Did This All Start:
When I was about 3 years old, I drew curve, lined with 6 or 7 circles.  It was titled “Christmas Tree with Jingle Bells On It”.  That was the beginning.  The painting came a bit later.

My inspiration is the lake and it’s edges – the beach, the shore, the city, the neighbourhoods.  Maps and photos are often a part of the layers of paint and glaze that make up a final piece.  A painting is as much about the process of building up these layers as it is exploring the concept of boundaries and borders.

My Neighbourhood paintings take the idea of boundaries away from the shore.  Borders are defined by maps and streets, celebrating our neighbourhoods with photos I’ve taken of (mostly) East End Toronto houses.  These neighbourhoods are where we come together which is why intersections are a major theme.

I’m often asked if I work in encaustic (beeswax).  I don’t, but I have developed my own technique using layers of glazes and washes that mimic the depth and texture that encaustic can produce.  The layers allow light to play on the painting – changing the colours and tones as light changes during the day.

Visit Anne-Marie’s website, including folio and blog at annemarieolczak.com.


Artisan: Lynn’s Lids

I keep doing fellow artisan features, but I just realized that I haven’t actually done one of these posts for myself. So, just in time for my 3 big September sales (Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale, Danforth East Arts Fair and Etsy Made in Canada at MaRS), here goes:

Lynn's Lids felted wool dryer balls Lynn's Lids felted wool Toronto iPad sleeve Lynn's Lids needle felted wool Santa ornaments

Artisan Name: Lynn Wyminga

Products:  hand knit, waterproof & windproof felted wool hats, tea cosies, iPad sleeves, sheepy wool dryer balls, natural wool catnip balls, Christmas tree toppers and ornaments, either hand knit then felted wool yarn, wet felted wool roving, or needle felted wool roving.

Price Range: $10-100

How did this all begin? 
A few years ago, I picked up knitting again for the first time in 20 years. I made scarves for my kids’ stuffed animals, then scarves for my kids, husband and brother-in-law, but I didn’t need a scarf (my brother had knit me one!) so I browsed through the patterns at my local yarn shop and came across a pattern for a felted wool hat. I am a hat lover, so I figured if I could keep myself in hats (instead of buying them), I’d be set! So I made a bowler and during the felting process, I was kinda hooked. That transformation is a bit thrilling every time it happens. Anyway, I wore the hat out (and promptly made myself another) and friends kept asking me to make them one, and eventually Lynn’s Lids was born. (I had to take nearly 2 years off for treatment of 2 cancers, but when I was strong again in the fall of 2012 I started in earnest.)

I am inspired by many things, but nature is a big one (take the sheep on the dryer balls!) and necessity is another. The dryer balls idea came from the David Suzuki Foundation newsletter since I needed a smaller ticket item to sell at markets. They are a great gift since they are environmentally friendly (reducing dryer time) but even if the recipient isn’t interested in that aspect, they are just so darn cute (I had a non-English speaker order them on Etsy and they didn’t know they were for the dryer until they received them with my note – they had just bought them as fibre art!). I have made a lot of them, and as of yet I haven’t tired of it. I’m making the right product, I guess.

Other new items come from client requests (tea cosy, cat bed, computer sleeve, various hats), my own needs (iPad sleeve, camera cosy), and sometimes just whimsy (catnip balls, ornaments, Frankenstein hat, cyclops hat, devil hat, dragon hat).

The hats are definitely my favourite. I enjoy making every single one, from the knitting, the thrill of felting, and the blocking. (But not the waiting. Never the waiting.) I especially enjoy creating new designs and patterns, as that keeps things fresh and exciting. Not everything works, but mostly they do (a good example is the baker boy cap, below – which I made up a few years ago but took 3 tries to perfect). It feels great when someone tries one of my lids on and it suits them perfectly. I’ve been wearing my second hat (a bucket hat turned out to be the favourite for me and I gave that first bowler to my mom after a couple of years of wear) for 6 years so I know that they don’t really wear out. Because they are felted to a thick dense fabric, they are very durable, keeping out the wind and rain and I know the wearer will be warm and dry for years.

Needle felting is so much fun that I want everyone to give it a go, so I teach it on a regular basis at my local yarn shop.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Start creating stock early, bring a big bottle for water (it’s dry in there), pack your own food (junk food takes its toll and they are long days!) and ask a friend to come and give you an hour’s break in the middle of each day, if possible (if you can’t afford to hire a booth sitter). Smile and enjoy it. It’s a great time.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
On day 3 (of 5) a woman I recognized from earlier in the show came up to my table (in the Etsy section) and headed straight for the basket of catnip balls, exclaiming to her friend, “I bought one of these on Wednesday and my cats just love it!” and bought 6 more right there!

You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, www.lynnslids.com, Pinterest, my Etsy shop, and here, on the blog. To find me in person, check out my upcoming markets (via Etsy) or my where page.

Lynn's Lids baker boy cap with flower

Etsy listings & a new toque

It’s a funny thing, applying to an Etsy event. They basically look at your shop to jury you, so you’ve got to get a bunch of listings up to make sure you have the full variety of your products up. To be honest, I’ve only sold a couple of hats via Etsy, and they were custom orders, from folks who knew exactly what they wanted. I personally would never buy a hat I hadn’t tried on, so I don’t try to push the hats very hard online, and therefore never have many hats in my Etsy shop. Which is weird, because the hats are why I get out and do the in-person markets / fairs / art sales.

So, even though right now I don’t want to be selling much on Etsy (I’m hoarding stock for both the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale and Danforth East Arts Fair), I have just added a bunch of listings, including a couple of these super-cute tree toppers. (And if you’re wondering why there is a Mason jar there, it is for size comparison. I figure most folks have seen a 20oz Mason jar, but may not be able to picture 8″ in their heads, or have a ruler handy.)

What am I applying for? I’ve already been accepted to the flagship Etsy: Made in Canada market that’s presented by TEST and 416 Hustler down at the MaRS Atrium, but apparently there is a media event on the night before for a handful of the 100 vendors accepted to the market, so I thought I’d throw my hat in for that, as it were. Wish me luck, folks!

Oh, and here’s a little sneak peek at something I’ll have at Cabbagetown. I was encouraged to make this by my sons, surprise, surprise…

Lynn's Lids Creeper Toque



Work update…

Things are now into full swing of production for both Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale and the Danforth East Arts Fair. My WIPs (works in progress) basket is full of snowmen ornaments needing scarves and buttons, catnip balls needing mice, dryer sheep needing eyes, and 3 toques needing adornment. The toques are where my anticipation is right now, since they are like a blank canvas to me and my needle felting tools, but the dryer balls need attention first, and so it goes. There are also shelves of dryer balls drying in the sun, and dryer balls yet to be felted as well.

It’s lucky that I happen to be staying near my local wool supplier (the natural undyed wool I use for the dryer balls and catnip balls) right now, since I have to keep restocking as I create more… I’m saving a ton on shipping!

Some recent photos include this one from Saturday’s needle felting workshop:

Some snowmen heads (they are now attached to bodies):

Hats awaiting adornment:

Step one of dryer ball creation:

And last week, knitting at the CNE:

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#knitting on the sky ride

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Fellow Artisan: County Cupboard (Cabbagetown & OOAK)

Today’s fellow artisan is a dear friend. Helen and I have known each other since the 1990s when we worked together in Kingston, then a decade later when we both happened to be on maternity leave at the same time (and in the same part of the city) with our first children. Now we carpool to craft fairs and bounce ideas off each other as SAHMs and small artisan businesswomen. I love her products and own one of County Cupboard‘s vintage Toronto map pillows, which I picked up when we were both selling at the Spring One of a Kind Show. Helen and I hope to be neighbours at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale in just over a week and a half!


County Cupboard

Artisan Name: Helen Hawketts

Products: Vintage Canadian map pillows & tea towels

Price Range: $25-$60

How did this all begin?
Inspired by my family’s love of Prince Edward County, and hoping to pivot on an existing mail order business, my original business plan for CC was for it to be a web site where you could buy all sorts of great PEC products. There are SO many talented artisans and craft people in the County, it seemed like having a sampling of them in a ‘County cupboard’ was a logical business idea. My own offering for ‘the cupboard’? Scan a 1930’s map of the County that I had, get it printed onto fabric and sew it into a pillow.

The broader County products web site idea fizzled but a star was born in the map pillow. I gave them to friends & family that first Christmas 4 years ago and soon was asked for other areas, especially cottage country. I now have 6 vintage maps, and one vintage postage stamp design. A new (old) map will be unveiled at this year’s OOAK in November.

I love actually making these pillows & tea towels. I find sewing very soothing.

I’m inspired by the people I meet at shows – my customers are very passionate about these maps. Many are really touched when they see their cottage area appear on a map. It’s really cool to witness and I’ve heard some great stories.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Stay calm, try to enjoy the madness because life can get really quiet when the dust settles. Have fun!

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
Love the camaraderie! It’s palatable.


Fellow Artisan: Embroiderwee (OOAK)

Embroiderwee was in the Etsy section this year at the spring One of a Kind Show and will be at the Christmas show as well.



Artisan Name: Shawne Bennett

Products: In stock and custom made to order hand embroidered hoop art along with flags, banners, buntings, pouches & push pins – all handmade!

Price Range: $10-$50

How did this all begin?
The evolution of Embroiderwee is actually quite simple – all it took was one embroidery class and I instantly fell in love. I am a creative person to the core – it never stops – ever!

I am inspired by virtually everything – fashion, home décor, my love of nature , vintage, reinventing, you name it – all things colourful and beautiful. I am always following what is trending and what is up and coming and then I like to think that I put my own twist on things by envisioning it in my product line. I design, create and tweak along the way to make sure whatever is being created is something that I would actually purchase myself. Creating one of a kind keepsakes with beautiful fabrics in cotton, organics, linen and found vintage textiles is such a satisfying venture!

As a wife and a mom, I find the most challenging aspect is working from home! Now don’t get me wrong, it is amazing to go to work with messy hair and in my pj’s some days, but there is a strict discipline involved in being able to focus on work when I am at work and focus on home & family when I am with them. Some days it’s a big old bag of work, laundry, coffee, work, cleaning, answering emails, errands, post office, work …. It can be a little crazy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way 🙂

In 2014 Embroiderwee officially lived up to it’s name (wee instead of just me!) and invited Kelly to join the shop to expand our line of goods – she does all of the sewing and is incredibly talented. All of our creations are designed, sewn & embroidered from scratch. We create our own templates, source amazing fabric and have a real love for what we do which ensures that everything we bring to you is well made, unique & one of a kind!

Embroiderwee is a one of a kind shop that focuses on Kiddos • Home • Gifting using cotton, organics, linen and found vintage textiles ♥

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind (OOAK) Show vendor?
STAY CALM … Sounds simple but it’s true … It is so easy to get overwhelmed with all the never ending todo lists when preparing for a show, but now we are talking the OOAK show, the BIGGEST show ever!!! I thought to myself, well I certainly have to freak out now right? No, no Shawne, you don’t … LOL! As soon as I made a conscience effort put aside the things I couldn’t control I was on my way to getting everything done on my daily todo list. Oh I worked many looooong nights but in the end it was worth it 100%.

The OOAK staff and fellow artisans are there to support you – don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to reach out to to help someone too!

I say all of this as I prep for the Christmas OOAK show – 11 days – not sure how I am going to get everything done, not sure how I am going to survive 11 days all by myself … I am not going to worry about it right now, because somehow it always works out in the end!

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
All the press that I received – television & print – multiple times!!! The BEST moment was watching someone walk towards my booth (I was in the Etsy section) holding a show guide up to their chest … I had to do a double take because I saw my “SMILE” embroidery hoop (available in my shop) in almost life size form ON THE BACK COVER!!! I had no idea until opening day — kinda wish I a little birdie told me because I would have created at least 100 more!

You can find Embroiderwee on Etsy, One of a Kind Online, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Sneak Peeks & updates

Two Toronto Etsy vendor teams (Toronto Etsy Street Team & 416 Hustler) have gotten together to bring you one of the many Etsy: Made in Canada markets across the country that will be occurring on Saturday, September 27 (10am – 4pm at the MaRS Atrium at 101 College St. Toronto, ON). They’ve also created a sneak peek page on Etsy, as well as a look book. I hope to create a Pinterest page, but haven’t gotten to it just yet, so for now, you should really check out those two links above.

The other sneak peek link I wanted to pass on is the one for the Pinterest board I created for the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale. You need to check this out. Really. Shrunken sampling below:

Pinterest board for Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale 2014 by Lynn's Lids

As for today, I was with my family at the CNE. With 3 big shows coming up, I bring my work wherever I go. I was working on a pillbox hat today:

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#knitting for #deaf14 at the Ex!

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#knitting on the sky ride

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Bringing my work wherever I go, like the beach with the kids last Thursday:

The sheepy dryer balls are coming along nicely:

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No-longer-blind sheepy dryer balls for #deaf14

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And the previous week I did a personal experiment, making up a pattern for a felted oven mitt and pot holder:

They work splendidly:

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(2 of 2)… Works great!

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This was the work in progress:

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Green shirt, green purse, green knitting.

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