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.
So, as you guys know, I'm thinking about redoing my office. (Remember all my talk about dark green paint?) Nothing is set in stone yet, and I haven't even started moving the furniture around, but I'm already thinking about art. I found a midcentury painting of a boat at Value Village recently (it's a massive oil, and I wish I could make out the signature, because I think it might be worth something), so I'm definitely going to be using that. I'm also considering a small salon wall with paintings of the ocean (since I have a few already). At the same time, I might want to go with new, rather than salvaged, art. 
I was recently told about this company called Saatchi Online. It's one of those artist/buyer networking sites, where artists can list and sell their work and buyers can search and buy direct. It's a bit like Etsy for paintings and fine artworks (as opposed to crafts). Here are a few works from the site that I thought were interesting:
Own a painting for sale from Saatchi online, like this one by Alena Adamikova. 
It's an oil entitled "She and her Sister."
This is a pencil drawing by Canadian Mark  Liam Smith. It's called "Nemesis Beetle."
Vincent Van Gogh print by Tadao Cern from the "Revealing the Truth" series.
This last one might be my favourite. Remember Tadao Cern? The dude who did that amazing series of photos, inspired by famous paintings? He's on Saatchi! You can get a print of his famous Van Gogh "photograph" which was made by Photoshopping a painting, with the result as shown above. Want to see how it's done? Here's a video.
So basically, all you have to do is visit the Saatchi site, look around, and click a bit to buy. It's easy. What do you think about my choices?
Alright you guys, I'm back. Back with a new craft project, just in time for easter.

It did not turn out well. (In other words, I think you'll like it!) 
So, if you read the blog you know that I'm not big into religious holidays. But if, like me, you like crafting, then I'm sure you've noticed that a lot of the projects and ideas out there revolve around such holidays. Maybe because it's just too hard to justify this sort of thing without some spiritual stamp of approval. 

(Like if I said, "Hey you guys! I made this insane craft! It took a million hours and was a pain the ass! But isn't it cute? ISN'T IT CUTE?" you'd probably think I was weird, right? AND YOU WOULD BE RIGHT. A lot of crafting is pointless and strange and results in things that have no real purpose. But somehow, if you do a craft because it's a holiday, then God approves and everyone gets it. Right? Anyway. I digress.)

I made a craft. For easter. Dyed eggs. No big deal. Kind of a classic. Martha approved. Before today, I hadn't dyed an egg since about third grade, but what could possibly go wrong? 

Sigh. Anyway, I used this project for inspiration: Marbled Eggs. Looked easy. Food colouring and oil. That's it. I was sure I could do it.
Things started to go wrong right off the bat. First off, I only had brown eggs. (So what? I thought. The colours might not look the same, but I don't mind brown. It'll be fine. It was NOT fine, but more on that later.) 

Knowing my eggs would be beautiful and worth keeping for generations to come, I decided to blow them out rather than boil them. No big. All you need to do to blow out an egg is to make a little hole on either end, poke something inside said hole to break up the membrane/yolk, then blow through one of the holes to expel the egg from inside the shell. Alas, somehow I couldn't manage to make a smooth, round hole. I used an awl, then a nail, then a pin. Not one egg came out perfectly. I don't know if brown eggs have tougher shells or what, but it didn't work well and the results were annoying. 

Gaze upon the ugly holes I made, friends. GAZE.
But whatever, right? Plenty of egg remained intact and while the holes were less than perfect, I decided to continue. I rinsed and dried the blown out shells and set about mixing my dyes. I followed the food colouring instructions. The water was hot. I didn't forget the vinegar. The mixtures LOOKED good. I figured I'd start with yellow to amplify the brown base, then marble with the blue. And blue and yellow makes green, so if they went a bit greenish that would be fine. Green is pretty. Emerald, dudes. Colour of the year and whatnot.
Didn't work. The yellow dye had no effect on the shells at all. I tried the blue as well, pre-marbling, but it just made the eggs look dirty. CURSES.

Not wanting to waste my efforts, I mixed the dyes together (to form a green) then I added a bunch more dark green food colouring to deepen it. MORE DYE, I thought. This will solve all my problems. I popped the eggs in the new mixture and... they floated. Of course they floated. Hollow, they were. So I devised a really silly weight made of stacked, inverted pot lids to hold the eggs down under the water. It looked like this:
After 20 minutes, the dye was taking, but it didn't look great. I decided to move on to the marbling stage anyway. You put olive oil in a different batch of dye and mix the eggs in that. IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE EASY.

Again, it didn't really work. Well, no, that's not fair. It sorta worked, but the green on brown was 'effing ugly and I hated it, but I didn't want to abandon the project, so this is where things got messy. I took the eggs out of the oily water and just started dripping straight, undiluted dye all over them. I made a mess.
Red dye dripped on green egg. Actually, they don't look too bad at this stage. They got worse.
In addition to the mess that now covers my kitchen, my fingers ended up dyed too. 
Look at those fingers! AND THIS WAS AFTER 12 WASHINGS. My digits might look this way forever, you guys. I just don't know. 
But in the end, I guess the eggs aren't HORRIBLE. Are they? Are they sorta ugly/beautiful? Or just ugly? I don't know. 
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.
_Matheus Lopes is an artist/illustrator from Brazil. I've been seeing his stuff all over Pinterest lately, and I just had to share some of it with you. I really like it. Partly because it's pretty, but partly because it's clever too. Take a look:
A Way Out © Matheus Lopes
Colorphobia © Matheus Lopes
Independence © Matheus Lopes
So. The Apartment Therapy photo shoot for my upcoming house tour has happened and I've finally been able to relax and stop tweaking and rearranging and "fixing" in preparation. The fact that Apartment Therapy was coming really put a fire under my bum to finish some projects, and in the next few weeks, I'll be posting about them. This one, I finished literally less than 12 hours before the photo shoot on Saturday. It's a huge piece of DIY drip art for my living room.
See, I have this big living room wall that I've been debating about. What I wanted for it was something perfect. Some perfect piece of art. And I was willing to wait until something that looked right and affordable came along. But with Apartment Therapy coming, I ran out of time. So last Friday night, I decided to DIY a temporary piece to fill the space instead.

Here's how I did it:

1. I garbage-picked a big square of plywood from an alley in my neighbourhood (you could also buy a canvas, but this was cheaper).
2. I cleaned the plywood with a damp rag.
3. I primed the "front" of the piece with a couple coats of high-adhesive primer, applied with a smooth-finish velvet roller.
4. I decided which side would be "up" in the painting, and turned the makeshift canvas upside down, so the "bottom" was at floor level.
5. I used mat black paint (left over from a variety of other projects such as my front door makeover) to brush a thick black strip along the top (which would eventually be the bottom) of the piece.
6. I filled a plastic measuring cup with the same black paint and dribbled it along the black stripe so that globs and drips would start to crawl toward the floor. I kept doing this until I was happy with the effect.
7. I blow dried the whole thing so I could install it right away (drilled directly into the wall), but even now, some of the globs are a little wet.

No matter. It looks pretty good, in my opinion. Voila:
This is very much a "for now" piece. Something to do duty until I can find and afford something really special, but nonetheless, I'm quite fond of it. It was not a lot of work and it makes a big impact. Consider making something similar if, like me, you're looking for a space-filler, or even just a fun and messy art project.
As someone who's been known to craft the occasional clay finger or diseased mushroom, I've got to respect someone like Martha Todd (a British ceramic artist I recently discovered online, when I'm sure I was supposed to be doing something else).

I know it's not everybody's taste, but I find her stuff delightfully creepy and ugly and wonderful in that way that maybe only weirdos like me can appreciate. Take a look and tell me what you think.
I know it's pretty wacky stuff, but can you see what I like about it? Or am I alone out here?
Man, I love Twitter. The Twitterverse turns me on to the greatest stuff.

One of the nicest and most stylish peeps I follow is Amy Beth Dragoo of ABCD Designs and the other day, she tweeted about this amazing ceramic artist:
Sophie Woodrow.
This lady makes some seriously cool ceramics.

What I love about them is their natural, vaguely creepy aesthetic. There's a cabinet of curiosities vibe at work here and I'm down with that, big time.

I feel like some terrible mainstream retailer is going to rip her off and start mass-producing pieces from her collection, which would/will be a shame, but in the meantime, you can always say you saw her here first.

Here are a few of the weird and wonderful pieces from her current collection:
Love it. Thanks Amy Beth. Thanks Sophie!
I bought a new/old coffee table book at Goodwill last weekend. The dust jacket is in rough shape, but even with a few tears and wrinkles, the cover is iconic.
This is one of those books I don't really plan to read. Once in awhile, I may flip through it, but from what I hear, Mailer wasn't really the expert on Marilyn he claimed to be. And besides, his prose is irritating.

I expect I'll just look at the pictures from time to time and use this bad boy as a conversation/coffee-table piece.

I used to have many more coffee table books, but alas, they were lost in the great schism of 2007 (which is to say, my move to Toronto). My ex, well, sucks... so my old tomes probably went into the trash, which makes me sad. But here are just a few of my old faves:
Okay... I'm cheating. That Tom Ford book came out in 2008. But isn't it PRETTY? I wish I had it, but it's pretty expensive.

Coffee table books are kind of a silly thing to love. I have tonnes of them and I never look through them. I just move them around my house from vignette to vignette. They resemble general clutter. Or do they? I can't decide.

Maybe it's the spring weather, maybe it's just that I was getting a bit bored, maybe I never liked it very much in the first place, but regardless, I was getting sick of the art in my bedroom.

So the other day, I decided to do a little revamp. Here are a couple of the before shots:

Here's the after:
I went from a crowded, close-set salon wall to an row arrangement. What do you think? Good change? In the photos, I actually think the salon arrangement looks better, but in real life, it was too much for me. It felt too heavy and busy for our (rather small) bedroom.

Anyway. I like the new look. Always good to keep things fresh, right? Change it up every so often.

One more thing: how do you feel about this vintage tree piece (below)? It's yarn art. You know, yarn, woven through the piece, sort of like needlework.
I got it from Goodwill recently for $5.99. I really like it, but I can't really explain why. I was a little grubby, but I went at it with my AWESOME fabric shaver which seemed to make a significant difference. It's very retro-looking, I know, but something about it appealed to me. Am I a nutter? A nutter butter?