Fellow Artisan: Mary Mondoux (Artisan Social)

New to the Artisan Social this year is photographer and greeting card artist Mary Mondoux. Come check out her work on December 7 from 1pm to 5pm through the red gate behind the Ceili Cottage!

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Mary Mondoux

I’ve been making photo greeting cards and photographic images on wooden blocks.

On my 8th birthday my parents gave me a Brownie camera. Thus began my love of photography. I surprised myself when I realized that I loved taking photographs that had an almost architectural feel. I just love to walk the streets snapping photos of streetscapes, graffiti and odd shapes.

I’ve been making greeting cards for friends and relatives for the past few years. Quite a number have requested sets of cards for their personal use.

Recently while in a local camera store I noticed that one of the options for printing photos was in a 4×4 format. I did a few as samples and thought they would look lovely on small wooden blocks. I purchased a few as trials and was pleased with the results. I have a new outlet now for my photos.

My mantra is -“Art is everywhere, you just need to stop and look”

I am setting up my own webpage, currently I have a page on facebook highlighting my photography and abstract paintings: Yes It’s Mary.

All images used with permission.

Fellow Artisan: Whorl Pottery (Artisan Social)

Jenn and I were neighbours at last year’s Artisan Social and she will be joining us again this year on Sunday December 7 (1 pm – 5 pm) with her beautiful, cheerful pottery. Looks like she’s got some gorgeous (and practical!) new products this year, too.

(Click on images below to see them on Whorl Pottery’s blog.)


Whorl Pottery by Jenn O’Keefe

Products: fun & functional ceramics

Price Range: $10-$70

How did this all begin?
I was given a pottery class as a gift 11 years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. I can’t seem to stop…and I love it!

I have always been drawn to natural elements. Nature grounds me and energizes me, and art (in any form) makes me feel like anything is possible. For me, pottery is the perfect marriage of art and nature. I love textures, I have to touch everything. I especially love the feel of clay, and the idea of working with an element of earth to create something both useful and beautiful. Pottery is not instant gratification. It’s a slow process of many steps that requires love and patience from beginning to end. It’s good for the soul. Plus, it’s fun to get your hands dirty. 😉

Keep up to date with the Whorl Pottery blog.

All images used with permission.


Fellow Artisan: Nancy Bennett (Artisan Social)

Coming up on the local sales front is the 3rd annual Artisan Social on Sunday, December 7, 2014 from 1pm-5pm. It’s in Leslieville in behind the Céilí Cottage at 1301 Queen St. E. To the right of the Ceili Cottage gate is a red gate, you go through that, which takes you around the back to the Gilchrist Canavan School of Irish Dance, and we’ll be in the studio!

I will have a few fellow artisan posts, including Nancy, who was there with her lovely handmade soaps last year as well.

Nancy Bennett handmade soap Nancy Bennett handmade soap Nancy Bennett handmade soap

Nancy Bennett

I’m an artist and artisan. I began making soap at home about 10 yrs ago. I specialize in unscented soaps with as pure ingredients as I can get. None of my soaps have hardeners or colours added. I make all my soaps “10% superheated” so they’re all gentle and moisturizing. I have a small but devout following who swear by my soaps for sensitive skin, aging skin, baby skin, problem skin, eczema, acne, scent sensitivities and environmental reasons.

This year at the Artisan Social I will be selling the following types of soap in individual bars and gift baskets:

Goat Milk – Nice gentle soap. Adults and teenagers with acne seem to prefer this one. Cleans and calms the skin.
Honey Swirl – Honey is moisturizing. I get regular feedback that it’s a nice, gentle soap that smells a bit sweet.
Buttermilk & Turmeric – Turmeric has anti-inflammatory qualities. People with eczema say their skin cleared up within days and stays clear when they continue to use it. Eczema sufferers say all my soaps help but this one the most.
Shea Butter – This is the most moisturizing of all my soaps.
Avocado – Avocado oil is rich in antioxidants and moisturizes skin.

60 bars of Buttermilk&Turmeric soap ready to cure - Version 2

Fellow Artisan: The Vexed Muddler (EtsyMIC)

Peggy and I met through Etsy and Twitter and the Toronto Etsy Street Team long before we met in person. She is the wonderful creative talent behind the custom butterfly necklace I got for my mom in my dad’s memory. It is a cherished gift. She is also the maker of the beautiful buttons that adorn several of my hats. The Vexed Muddler will be selling her awesome work at the upcoming Etsy: Made in Canada market at the MaRS Discovery District on Saturday, September 27 from 10am-4pm.

(Click to view Etsy listings and larger images)


The Vexed Muddler

Artisan Name: I go by Peggy Muddles, but like all superheroes, I also have a secret identity as a semi-mad scientist.

Products: I make ceramic jewellery and buttons with biological themes, all crafted using my own hand-carved stamps.

Price Range: Individual pieces range from $20 to $40 for jewellery. My buttons are typically between $2.50 and $9.00 each.

How did this all begin?
I had been exploring biological themes in functional ceramic pieces for a few years when my mom, a professional quilter, asked me to craft some buttons for a project she was working on. In the process, I made a few necklaces for myself and some friends. Once a few friends and coworkers found out what I was doing, things sort of snowballed 🙂

Two of my great loves are biology and working with my hands. I’m enthralled by the natural world, by evolution, and the many remarkable forms life takes. By day I study the microscopic worlds around and within us, and my art helps me to communicate the joy and wonder of that realm. I also love talking to people about science, and have discovered that in wearing and selling my science-inspired pieces, I have so many excellent opportunities to talk people’s ears off about biology!

Find me on Twitter @tehpet, Tumblr, and of course Etsy. I also have a website which may someday become a blog again at giroofasaurus-vexed.com.

(All images used with permission.)

Fellow Artisan: IMWyred (Cabbagetown)

Irene and I met at The Purple Purl, no doubt on some knit night or other and later both started our own small businesses and have been keeping in touch and doing occasional sales together. Her new recycled glass line looks tempting… I may just have to pick up a little something from I.M.Wyred this weekend at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale!

(click below for larger images)

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I. M. Wyred

Artisan Name: Irene McRae

Products: A collection of expertly knit wire bracelets, arm cuffs, necklaces and earrings in mixed metals and semi-precious stones.

Price Range: $6 to $75

How did this all begin?
I. M. Wyred jewellery line was launched in June 2011. Founded my Irene McRae, the name is a combination of her namesʼ initials and that all of designs are inspired by wire. Along with knitted jewellery, I. M. Wyred also designs an array of eco conscience necklaces and earrings using tagua seeds, acai seeds, wood and recycled newspaper.
Each piece of jewellery is made by hand locally in Toronto and made out of the finest sustain- able, non-toxic and recycled resources. The design and creation process always has the mod- ern women in mind, creating contemporary pieces which are versatile, light and fun with an eco twist.

I have been knitting since the age of seven but lost the love of it until I had kids. Three lovely girls, Audrey, Piper and Ginger. I made everything under the sun for them with yarn from dresses, sweaters and skirts to many of stuff animals. I just love to knit and making things and teaching them to knit was a great joy. But a few years ago, I discovered knitting with wire and I occasionally go back but I am just hooked on wire. Different gauges, colours, adding stones and crystals, I love it all.

My goal for I. M. Wyred is to move from a part time business to full time. I enjoy creating jewellery and I love forward to sharing my passion with others.

I. M. Wyred currently sells online on Etsy and can be found on Twitter @immcraeFacebook, and her blog.


(All images used with permission.)

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