Fellow artisan: Red Thread Design (DEAF & OOAK)

I’ve known of Devorah Miller for a while through a friend, and I’m pretty sure I bought one of her lovely dresses many years ago at the One of a Kind Show for my niece as well. We met in person this past weekend at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale, had a great weekend, and are looking forward to another great weekend coming right up at the Danforth East Arts Fair this Saturday and Sunday from 10-5 at East Lynn Park near Woodbine Station. Come on out and check out the art, handmade goods, food, children’s activities, music, and pick up a Red Thread dress for your wee one!

Caterpillar Dress Corduroy Shirtdress Summer Breeze Dress

Red Thread Design

Products: Children’s clothing, most of which is designed to be multi-season and to last for years. I also make baby quilts, mostly using the scraps left over from my dresses and tops.

Price Range: $20-$64

How did this all begin?
I grew up with a textile artist mother who taught art classes in my house, so my interest in creating with fabric started very early. Red Thread was born in 2004, while I was working full-time as a writer for an architecture firm. On maternity leave with my second daughter, the desire to quilt and sew again overtook me. I started making patchwork dresses for my daughters, like little living quilts that we could use and enjoy, but soon started designing more simply, to enjoy the beauty of wonderful fabrics without such time-intense labour. I love the creative design process, the satisfaction of making things by hand, the connections with my customers, and the challenges of being an entrepreneur. That’s kept me happily working away at this for ten years!

The name “Red Thread” was inspired by a lovely Chinese proverb I discovered when I adopted my daughter Samantha from China in 2003: “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.” I love the image this conjures of all of us being interconnected.

I don’t design clothing because I love fashion. For me it’s all about the joy of gorgeous fabric and colour. Children know instinctively what they like, and they’re not self-conscious about pattern and colour. I love the freedom that designing for children gives me to use wonderful vibrant fabrics, and the challenge of making clothing last a long time, even though it’s designed for active, growing bodies. I believe that for all of us, surrounding ourselves with colours and textures we love, and wearing well-made clothes that make us feel great, just make life better.

I’m currently designing my first line for women (to launch in Spring 2015) and am trying to capture that love of beautiful fabric and colour in a way that’s really wearable, even by more self-conscious grownups!

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Preparing for One of a Kind Show for the first time can be very stressful. My advice is to take some time and calmly think through everything a potential customer will experience from the time they approach your booth. What do they see? Is it well lit, so your product stands out? Is there some product close to the aisle that they can touch or admire to entice them to step in? Are there beautiful images showing your work in action, to reinforce that your work is valuable/luxurious, or practical, or adorable?

Once they’re engaged by your product and you are helping them find just the right thing, where will you reach to grab exactly what they want (is it out on table, stored under a table, in a bin), and how will you complete the transaction? What will you put in their bag? What does that bag look like? (hint: branded bags, even just with a sticker or stamp, are a very good idea)

Last but not least, how will they find you again? If you are able, capture their email address so that you have a way of communicating with them in the future. This is immensely valuable and should not be overlooked. You can do this with a book to sign, ballots for a giveaway, whatever works for you. Don’t forget to email your list of wonderful new customers to thank them after the show!

If, when thinking through all of these things, you still have questions, get in touch with a current exhibitor. I’d be happy to answer any questions about the show and I know many other exhibitors would too! This is a very supportive community and there is a wealth of information being shared and discussed, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I have so many one of a kind moments. I have had customers buying clothing from me for children soon-to-be adopted, and then meeting those children and seeing them grow. I have met amazing people who do charitable work and have collaborated with some of those people on fundraising projects. And I have met generous vendors who stepped in to help when another vendor needed a hand – sometimes in a big way. I have customers who have followed my work for ten years through this show, and some customers and vendors who have become close friends. Sometimes tears are shed in my booth, when a customer catches up with me about the past year’s events. These connections are my favourite thing about doing this show.

Red Thread’s website is www.redthreaddesign.ca. You can also find Red Thread Design on Facebook Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and on her blog.

Baby Twin Set

(Images from Devorah Miller used with permission.)

Feature Artist: Culture Snap (DEAF)

Henry from Culture Snap Photography will be just around the corner from me next week at booth 60 (I will be back at the north end of the park at booth 5) next week at the Danforth East Arts Fair! I’m looking forward to seeing his work in person.

(Clicking on images below will take you to a larger image on the Culture Snap website)

Rwanda Phoenix Line of Scrimmage W.W.J.M.D

Culture Snap Photography

Products: Framed and matted prints, as well as custom greeting cards

Price Range: $4 (single greeting card) – $300 (framed limited edition print)

How did this all begin?
My father was a real influence on me with his creative photography when I was young (even building an underwater housing so he could scuba dive with his Canon AE-1). I got into photography more seriously while travelling through Canada and to East Africa for my work with World Vision Canada (2004-2012). My images from that time were used in several Canadian newspapers and in a number of World Vision print and online publications. Winning first prize in a photo contest from Vistek Camera and other sources of affirmation encouraged me to go further and begin showing my work more formally.

I love capturing vibrant forms of cultural expression, whether overseas, such as in Uganda with Photographers Without Borders last summer, or finding art on the streets of Toronto. I love capturing moments where objects, words, and/or people interact to create added intrigue and visual resonance. If I get an idea for an image I’ll go the distance to be there with the tools needed to create it.

My process involves capturing real events and scenes and doing minimal post-processing that enhances the strength of the image without any heavy-handed editing. I work with high quality printing paper to deliver images that will give their owners years of artistic enjoyment. I am thankful to say that my images are in the private collections of many individuals, including local politicians and artists.

You can find Culture Snap Photography online at www.CultureSnap.ca, Facebook, Twitter  @culture_snap, a Q & A with Vistek here, and a more complete set of images displayed at arts fairs can be seen here.

Portland Head Light

(All images from http://www.culturesnap.ca used with permission.)

Fellow Artisan: thunderpeep designs (DEAF, EtsyMIC & OOAK)

Michelle and I met online via Etsy and the Toronto Etsy Street Team, and we met in person last September at the Danforth East Arts Fair, where she was my neighbour. Her cards and stationary are full of fun. Check out thunderpeep designs at the upcoming Danforth East Arts Fair on September 13 & 14 at East Lynn Park, and at the end of the month at the flagship Etsy: Made in Canada (a nation-wide collection of pop-up markets) sale at the MaRS Atrium on September 27 from 10am – 4pm.


thunderpeep designs

Products: I design quirky paper goodies. Everything from greeting cards to notepads to giclée prints.

Price Range: $4.00 up to $45

How did this all begin? 
I’m a Graphic Designer by profession and working on my own pieces was always a way of keeping my sanity. From there it’s the same story you hear so many times, people loved what I made for them and wanted to buy some to give to their friends and then I discovered the amazing world of Etsy and online selling and it opened up so many possibilities.

There are 2 things I truly love in this world (well ok, maybe more than 2 but for the sake of this interview and in regards to my business I’ll stick to these 2) Strange folk tales from far off lands and really dumb jokes. They’re both kind of like magical escapes. I think we could all use a little bit of extra giggles in our lives, so I try to add a bit of that magic into all my pieces. Some just make you laugh, some might make you believe. Usually a new design will spark from either a story I’ve read, about some unusual tradition based on an old folk tale (or it gets added to my overflowing idea book!) or from a silly saying I’ve heard or said – I seriously think in terms of greeting cards these days. It’s not uncommon for me to have a notebook with me anytime I’m with friends so I can jot down all these words and then when I have some quiet time in my nook I’ll play around with the words and add in some designs until it comes to life.
When I’m thinking of new products to add to my line I try to think of things that people need. A lot of my work has a very Nordic/Scandinavian style to it and one of the key components in their design esthetic is functionality. I’ve recently started to add in invitations to my product line, there’s a definite lack of seriously fun invitation sets out there and not everyone can afford pretty custom invites. I wanted people to have something really cool to send out to their friends and family so I’ve been adding blank invites for kids and adults birthdays, summer dinner parties, Thanksgiving and New Years parties (but custom designs are still available of course!)
thunderpeep has evolved recently into more of a surface design company, as I expand beyond just stationery. I’ve always had a love of patterns, from nature to architecture to fashion – I have kind of always seen life in patterns. As i sit down to work on new designs I’m starting to think more and more about where it can be applied.

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
I have 3 pieces of advice for OOAK first timers:

Enjoy the process: From the application to the booth setup to the long days. You learn so much about yourself and your business during these times. So many people get overwhelmed and forget to take it all in. It’s such a fun time even in the midst of all the stress leading up to it. Even the application for the show, it’s makes you take a look at your business from the outside in. And take loads of notes during the show. You learn a lot about your customer base and not to mention, how to run a successful creative business from the other vendors who’ve been doing the show for a few years.

Marketing: SO important. Before, during and after. Make sure you have clear and catchy branding (it’s worth the investment) Every single person who steps into your space is a potential customer. Probably not that day, but maybe the next. Or maybe a month down the road. Have a great handout (either business card or postcard with a great photo of your product or catchy graphic) that makes it easy for them to remember you and be able to find you when they are ready to purchase.

Comfy shoes, healthy snacks and helpers: Seems kind of obvious but you’d be surprised how long a 12 hour day truly is when your on your feet most of the time. A couple pairs of comfy insoles inside your shoes does wonders for your feet, back and mental health. Healthy snacks and a place to hide them might seem obvious too, but you don’t always have a lot of time to get out of your booth for a proper meal (unless you have really awesome helpers) and no one wants to shop in your booth if you’ve got a mouth full of food. THat’s just gross. Something easy and tidy to eat. Helpers!!!! You get helper badges. Use them! Even if you can’t afford hired help, take advantage of all your friends coming by to say Hi. Take 10 minutes to run to the bathroom, or just get outside. You may think you can do the whole show yourself, you can’t. You will go kookoo.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I don’t have just one favourite moment, each one has had it’s moments. Meeting people have bought things from you online, someone saying they got one of my cards from a friend or stories from people who have bought and given. Seeing my customers come back every show to say Hi and see what’s new. ALL the amazing booth buddies I’ve had and become friends with (and their siblings!). Being able to share my experiences with new vendors. These are all great things that I will cherish but really, my favourite moment so far was getting interviewed on Breakfast TV (way too early in the morning) and meeting Frank (I totally have a crush on that guy!) Right out of my comfort zone but I never would have had that experience without OOAK.

You can find thunderpeep designs on blogspot, Etsy, Society6Spoonflower, Facebook, and Instagram.

(All photos used with permission.)

Featured Artist: Julie Himel (DEAF)

I know Julie only via social media, so I look forward to meeting her at the Danforth East Arts Fair on September 13 & 14 (10 am – 5 pm) and seeing her lovely work in person as well.


Julie Himel

 oil paintings and prints

Price Range:
 $60 – $4000

How did this all begin?
I have always painted. The only time I didn’t paint was when I went to university directly out of high school and studied anthropology. That year, my creative deficit drove me to reroute and pursue a degree in Fine Art. I have had a steady art practice and have been exhibiting since.

What inspires me is the people in my life, my surroundings, and music. Also, it may sound strange, but paint itself inspires me – the possibility of creating a compelling 2 dimensional image that a viewer can enter, emotionally and visually. I love the challenge of immortalizing my client’s loved ones through melding a visual likeness with the character and personality of the subject. My still life work is primarily of objects in my immediate surroundings; domestic settings of everyday things that are part of my daily rituals. I love painting objects with reflective qualities, such as glass and metal, which pick up on their surrounding environment, creating a dialogue of colour, light and space. It’s about appreciating the beauty of simple things around me, and the anthropomorphic qualities inanimate objects can carry. I listen to music compulsively through my process, a variety of genres, but all seem to influence me.

You can find Julie and her artwork at www.juliehimel.com, on Instagram, Facebook, and you can learn a bit more in a feature from the TOAE.

(All images used with permission from juliehimel.com.)

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)

vapour-barrierW dawns-brightwW halfmoonwindowW

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

Fellow Artisan: Clayshapes (DEAF14 & OOAK)

Tonight’s featured artisan will be at the Danforth East Arts Fair with me, and she is also a fellow Etsy and One of a Kind Show seller:



Artisan Name: Leslie Fruman

Products: Ceramic plates, platters and bowls

Price Range: $15-$65

How did this all begin?
A few years ago I was taking a break from a very busy career as a television producer, and decided to take a pottery course at the Gardiner museum. I was instantly hooked. Within a couple of months I’d bought a used kiln on Craigslist and cleared part of my basement to use as a studio. I opened an Etsy shop about 6 months later, and now do a selection of craft shows in Toronto, throughout the year.

When I first started making pottery, I was very inspired by organic shapes – I made a lot of pinch pots, and applied decorative techniques to them – carving designs on the side – and using glaze to create interesting patterns. I realized quickly that applying decorative patterns to the surface of the clay was the direction I wanted to pursue. Inspired by nature, I started using real leaves and flowers, impressed into soft clay to create a decorated surface…and most recently, after a trip to India, I’ve started using woodblock textile stamps to create decorative “stories” on my plates and platters. I was very inspired by the vivid colours in India as well – and right now, many of pieces are filled with vibrant color! This will change soon, I’m sure. I usually spend several months exploring a technique, and then something new inspires me, and I move on. That’s why my tables at craft shows are often pretty eclectic. Bits and pieces from various experiments in my studio!

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind (OOAK) Show vendor?
Two things: use your regular smaller shows to gauge what is popular. Just because you love something you make, doesn’t mean everyone will. I’ve learned a lot doing small shows. Especially this: you never really know when or if “your people” will show up. You need a lot of eyeballs on your wares to make a sale. Be patient, have realistic expectations, and enjoy the ride.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I did the first etsy section at the spring OOAK show in 2013. Loads of fun. I was making very cheerful flower motif pieces then- and during the long days, I started tracking the looks on peoples faces as the approached my booth. I was very happy to see their faces light up instantly into a smile when the saw my work! Of course, they didn’t necessarily buy anything- but at least I got them to smile and chat. I really enjoyed the interaction.

Most of my work is available in my Etsy shop, and in my OOAK online shop. Although I am creating pieces for both DEAF and the Xmas OOAK show that will be exclusive to those shows. I post works in progress and new listings to my Facebook page regularly, and I sometimes muse about pottery making on Tumblr blog. On Twitter: @clayshapes.