So remember when I made those name ornaments out of white DAS air drying clay? It was awhile back. Quite awhile. (Worst blogger ever.) 

Anyway, I had plenty of clay leftover from that project and have been trying to think of a way to use it up for all this time. And recently, I realized I had better get a move-on because my clay was drying out. So I googled "DAS clay projects" and came up with these fun feathers from the blog The Gilded Hare.
The process looked pretty simple. Michelle (blogger at the aforementioned Gilded Hare) said all she did was roll out her clay, shape it into a featherish shape, press down the sides (leaving the raised vein in the centre), and drag through lines with a toothpick to create the texture. I thought, "I can do that." So I tried. 

I didn't really follow the instructions properly, AND it turns out that my DAS clay didn't survive more than a year in storage, so I had to toss it. But I bought another brand of clay from Dollarama and went to work anyway. It only took me about 15 minutes to fashion two feathers. Here's how they look:

Note: They clay is grey/brown when wet, but is supposed to dry white. These aren't dry yet, so they're still a little dirty looking. Don't mind that.
Nailed it? No. But this wasn't a complete loss. Michelle's are WAY better than mine, I know. But for a first-attempt, I'm not unhappy. Here are the things I know I did wrong:

1) I didn't follow the instructions about pressing down to make the quill-line. Rather, I made a skinny worm of clay and pressed it into the centre. Not the same effect. Next time, I'll press down like I was supposed to. 

2) I stunk up the holes/hanging loops. These were just hard to do! I will have to practice or something. 

3) I think my feather-edges were too uniform. Next time, I will make them more ragged and natural, and I'll be more careful with the texturing. 

Nonetheless, as far as crafting goes, I'd call this a win. You know how ugly some of my efforts are, and these guys really don't look bad, even if they aren't perfect. What do you think of them? Can you imagine some use for them? Mobile? Holiday decor? What else? 

Also, P.S. I should probably have used a better clay, but the Dollarama version was a good bet for my practice runs. The brick was only $1.25 and I can practice with that to my heart's content. Then, once I'm good, I'll make some with better materials. Unless you don't want me to. Just say the word.
 
 
As is often the case with my crafting adventures, I blame Martha. In general, I'm not a jewellery person. I have a weird contact allergy that causes me to break out in a horrible rash when most metals touch my skin and the older I get, the worse it gets. I wear a few basics - small gold earrings on a french hooks (bridesmaid gifts from my sister's wedding), my own vintage wedding band, and on fancy occasions, I sometimes rock a brooch. That's it. 

But then, in March, I saw this DIY pearl necklace project in Martha Stewart Living...
I went into a pearl-coveting trance and a few hours later I'd spent $50 on freshwater pearls and other jewellery supplies. Because I'm crazy like that. 

I still haven't attempted the Martha necklace, because I'm a little unsure about the pearls I bought. They're a little big. Also, the silk cord I found is white rather than grey and I'm not certain it will look right. I might dye it. Nonetheless, in the meantime, I've been trying my hand at some other simple pearl jewellery projects. Mostly earrings. Here's what I've made:
These earrings couldn't be more simple. You just thread the pearl beads onto straight pins, then make a loop at the top of the pins, then hook that loop to the pre-made loop on the bottom of the french hook earwires. Done.
Truthfully, though, I'm not sure about these earrings. They're a little juvenile, right? Maybe single pearls look better than stacks? I dunno. I can't wear these anyway since the wires are stainless and/or silver plated. They were just for practice. Anyone want 'em? Should I try the necklace project? Gimmie feedback, you craft-lovers you.
 
 
So, I was invited to the media breakfast/preview of the One Of A Kind Christmas Show which kicked off down at the Ex this morning. (I don't know why I get invited to this sort of thing, because I am a big nobody. And let me tell you, watching the vendors get excited by my media pass and fancy camera kind of broke my heart, but I digress.) Invited I was, and went I did. I mean, the show costs $12/$14 (online/in-person) to get in, and as press, I could get in for free. Between that and the offer of a free doughnut, I wasn't going to say no.

And for once, I did the show right. I went up and down EVERY AISLE IN THE PLACE. My feet are currently incredibly sore and I'm a little grumpy, but I feel like I saw everything and took note of everything that really caught my eye. And I took photos of all of it, which I will now share with you, but first, a bit of a caveat:

As huge as this post is, it features only a small fraction of what's on display. (I believe there are more than 800 OOAK booths/vendors this year.) My personality means I'm drawn to decorative objects, fine art, and that sort of thing. Things I generally avoid, and that you won't likely see here, but that are in abundance at the show: kids' stuff, woollens and knits, clothing, most wood and leather goods, art glass and most pottery, food and edibles. I also steered clear of most of the cutesy stuff (felted creatures, owls, bunnies, and the like), most of the jewellery, most of the furniture, and all of the body/beauty products. All of that stuff is amazing in its own right, but I only stopped to photograph the things that really jumped out at me, which may not be what will jump out at you. So... there. End caveat.

Now, some pro tips:

  • Work methodically. I saw every booth, starting at the east end of the centre (end of the alphabet) and moving west, winding up and down every aisle along the way. I know it seems a little anal, but making a plan for the path you want to take (and sticking to it) is a smart move. The show is overwhelming otherwise.
  • Wear comfy shoes. SERIOUSLY. I was wearing Toms and my feet are still killing. (I saw a couple over-zealous young "journalists" in 4-5 inch heels, and I bet they want to kill themselves right now.)
  • Give yourself a good three hours for your visit. Or even a full 1/2 day. It's better not to be rushed and if you want to see the whole thing, it's going to take you a long time. (Note: if you're bringing babies or little kids with you, as I noticed many did... well, you're crazy. What can I say? The rules don't apply. You may need 12 hours. Who knows?)
  • Eat, hydrate and let yourself rest from time to time.
  • CHECK YOUR COAT. It's hot as heck in the Direct Energy Centre. I have no idea why. Coat Check costs $2, but it's worth it.

Okay, enough with the tips. Are you ready to see what I saw? HERE GOES!
Stewart Jones: Booth R-57
These fine art paintings by local artist Stewart Jones were the very first thing that caught my eye. I stopped to snap this pic as I made my way along the back wall (before even making it to the first official aisle). Jones does "urban landscapes" and I'm sure his work doesn't come cheap, but I like the realness of his subject matter. Very Toronto.
Daniel Pollak Accessories: Booth T-54
I know I said I steered clear of most of the jewellery, but this booth was so glittery, it caught my eye immediately. So decadent, so sparkly, so over-the-top. It's fashion/costume jewellery, rather than fine jewellery, but I enjoyed it.
Kat Kaland: Booth Y-62
Artist Kat Kaland makes toys, illustrations, accessories, etc. She told me when I popped by that she's moving away from the toys and focussing more on art, and having seen the art -- paintings incorporating doll parts -- just my kind of creepy -- I think she's making a good decision. The pieces shown here, with the hands and the little 3D girl figures, go for about $200.
Moon Rox: Booth Y-20
Again, jewellery is hardly my thing, but it was early in the day and this gold-toned costume statement necklace caught my eye. Moon Rox is owned/designed by a woman named Monique V. Chan. 
Noelle Hamlyn: Booth W-43
Hamlyn has been at the OOAK show before, showing off her repurposed art/purses made from books and magazines, but she's also doing framed artworks now, using the insides of the books (paper, illustration, etc.) as opposed to the outsides. Now, in general, I'm a "READ BOOKS, DON'T CUT THEM UP" sort of person, but I like what Noelle does nonetheless. Her bigger art pieces are about $165, while the smaller ones are about $90.
iDENTITY: Booth W-09
I stopped at this booth because of the hipster-factor. Megan Irish makes these pillows from recycled blankets (vintage Pendletons, The Bay/HSBC classics, army blankets, etc.) hipsterified with prints on top. Her company makes tees and other apparel as well, I think. The pillows are $48 to $108. (The HSBC ones are more pricey than the others.) 
Heyday Design: Booth V-09
Hailing from Vancouver, Claire Madill makes these neat ceramic mason jars. You could achieve the same effect by painting a glass mason jar with flat paint, but nonetheless, these are nice as far a ceramics/porcelain go.
C Comme Ca: Booth V-43
Artist Cindy Cantin makes these bags and wallets from leather and wool felt and I thought they were super chic. 
Dapila: Booth T-15
This stuff looks like ceramic, but it's mostly made of cement, which is sort of neat. I know body-parts and surrealist stuff isn't everyone's bag, but I sort of love it. I like the idea of using some of the finger sculptures to hold everyday objects like makeup brushes or razors. 

Eric Seguin: Booth S-53
This is not a booth I'd usually stop at, filled as it was with knives and such, but I a few natural skulls caught my eye. These are otter, fox and mink, respectively. I have no idea why I like 'em, but I do.
Felt Factory: Booth R-19
These felt, mounted animal head pieces by artist Sabine Alpers are very well done. I love natural animal stuff (vintage, generally) but these might please the vegan in you if the real deal creeps you out.
Laurie Sponagle: Booth Q-31
These AH-MAZING charcoal drawings look like photographs. No kidding. That's how amazing they are. Artist Laurie Sponagle really stands out. Bigger pieces are priced at $1600, but there's a nice range of sizes available and the smaller pieces start at $250.
Tammy Shane: Booth Q-24
Tammy Shane is another stand-out fine artist exhibiting at the OOAK show. I would have bought one of her pieces in a heart beat if I could have. Gorgeous. Truly. I mean, look at those owls! Those birds! That sky! Love.
Yves' Drop: Booth N-06
Vintage neckties made awesome? Just my sort of thing. I kind of wish my husband would wear a tie every day. (And if he did, I get him a few of these babies.) 
Tat Chao Design: Booth N-34
These glass candlesticks were pretty fabulous - substantial, yet delicate at the same time. Very unique. Tat Chao is a nice new addition to this year's show.
Sarah Tacoma: Booth L-23
Photography artist Sarah Tacoma caught my eye. I love how she captures stark branches and winter trees. And her pieces have rustic wood frames/mounts that I liked.
Sarah Hillock: Booth K-24
Sarah Hillock's huge paintings of farm animals (mostly cows, from what I saw) done on mylar, were maybe the most striking, unique thing at the entire OOAK show. I've never seen anything like Hillock's work in person before, and I have to say, I've never wanted a huge painting of a cow more. I mean... they're cows. And I'm a city girl. Yet I want one. Immediately.
Pepper Mills: Booth G-03
The name Pepper Mills kind of speaks for itself. These handmade, OOAK wood objects by Cam Lavers Designs Inc. aren't new to the show, but I've always liked them.
Him by Shima Itabashi: Booth D-5
I know I said I was going to stay away from cutie-pie felted things, but this booth's wee decorations spoke to me more than the works of other felt artists doing similar things. There's something really authentic and adorable about Him pieces and designer Shima Itabashi seems like a sweetheart. Her English isn't perfect, but that just adds to the charm.
Ateliers des Cent-ans: Booth C-36
This booth was a bit spare, but what I saw of the porcelain and wood pieces inside definitely left an impression. The stuff I loved most was delicate and white, with slim blue nautical patterning. Very chic.
Grace Eunmie Lee: Booth C-44
Some of Grace Eunmie Lee's wee white ceramics are highlighted with bits of shiny metallic and colour, but her monochrome pieces are my favourites. I love their small stature and weird, offbeat cuteness. Some of these wee works are merely decorative, while others are functional (salt and pepper shakers, for example).
Evelyne Rivest Savignac: Booth I-37
Interestingly, while I initially passed this booth during my official "go down every aisle" run, I didn't stop at it the first time around. I'm not sure why. Maybe the crowds were too thick and I didn't get a good look. Happily, I needed to hit a bank machine before leaving which took me on a second trip down row "i" and that's when I noticed Evelyne Rivest Savignac's pretty ceramics. The artist told me she's been a vendor at the show for the last eight years, so if you've been in the past, you may remember her. I was especially charmed by her little leafy bowls. They have the vibe of something sold at Anthropologie (but are much more authentic, of course). 
And that's IT. Honestly, I saw some other stuff I liked (bow-ties by Genuine Article, for example.) but I just can't write about any more. This is already the most unwieldy blog post I've ever written. 

Go to the show. Enjoy. Support your indie artists and crafty friends. And remember, wear comfy shoes. And if you're not too exhausted afterwards, tell me what you got! 

P.S. Sorry about the lighting in some of these shots. I'm no photographer and since artists provide their own light at each booth, dimness is an issue.

P.P.S. Shout-outs to my web friends Jen @ Rambling Renovators and Staci @ Switch Studio for letting me talk their ears off at breakfast, Pam @ Cherish Toronto for being my favourite person to run into at these things, and House & Home magazine staffer/editor Margot Austin (who I may or may not have terrified when I declared "I'm obsessed with you!" - because I'm the sort of weirdo who says things like that, apparently). Sigh.
 
 
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It's been awhile since I've done a jewellery post. Mostly because I hardly ever wear jewellery.

But I recently came across something that was too cute to pass up -- a brass acorn locket necklace, picked up from the Drake General Store on Queen St. W., in Toronto, for $18.

The woman working the counter told me that many of the necklaces on display were made by the store using found objects/pendants. So in other words, I got the impression that they "found" the pendant, and then put it on a chain. Fine with me!

The locket has a vintage vibe, so upon getting home, I started doing some research. It actually DOESN'T seem to be a vintage piece. The locket may well be merely a commonly manufactured and simple-to-purchase bead, but regardless, at $18, the piece feels like a steal.

Check out these other online options I found. Nearly identical.
Acorn necklace from Etsy store bellabeadstudio, priced at $62 USD.
Alternately, this piece by Christine Domanic is a more affordable $36.

I'm a little bummed that my necklace isn't true vintage. (The Drake General Store maybe even have more of 'em for sale. I'm not sure.) I hunger for one-of-a-kind, but in this case, I think I can handle being one of the many.

I'll wear it proudly. Not everyday, mind you.

Know why?

'Cause sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't. ;)
 
 
Hey all.

So yesterday I mentioned that I was going to be featured today in this wishlist series that is currently running on the blog What's Up Whismy. It's happened. I'm there.

My pick was a piece of jewellery by NYmetals. They make plenty of stuff in gold (which means I'm not allergic -- hurray!) and it's all very wearable, affordable and everyday.

But special too.

Here's just a selection of what's currently available:
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Bird charm necklace, $25 USD.
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Orchid earrings, $21 USD.
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Tree of life necklace, $26 USD.
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Personalized disc necklace, $37 USD.

I really think this store is something special. Consider stuffing a stocking with one of these beautiful baubles this Christmas. Or, you know, buy something and send it my way. I'll be your best friend.