Tag Archives: artisans



I was visiting my artist friend Nancy Bennett’s studio this morning and noticed that one of the art gallery’s I’ve been meaning to visit was in the same building. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a passion for colourful contemporary art glass, fueled mainly by the stunning works of Dale Chihuly (you can read my blog about his exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum last year) but also my love of mid-century modern Scandinavian glass which I collected myself back in the 70’s. But today, I entered art glass heaven when I walked through the door of the SANDRA AINSLEY GALLERY located near Bermondsey and Victoria Park. My jaw literally dropped open as my eyes slowly focused on the massive space displaying some of the most incredible glass sculptures I’d ever seen.20170721_112305 20170721_110847 20170721_111022Where do I start? Well first off, the giant Chihuly sculptures suspended from the 22ft high ceilings were awe-inspiring…20170721_110722 20170721_110823…some of his giant “bowls” were so tactile, it took all my strength of character (and good manners) NOT to reach out and touch ’em!20170721_11074620170721_11113020170721_110756But it was the work of legendary Murano glass master LINO TAGLIAPIETRA that particularly grabbed my eyes and my soul! And here’s why….20170721_110836 20170721_110925 20170721_110949 20170721_112734Charming and knowledgeable gallery assistant, Daniel, kindly gave me Maestro Lino’s background that I’d like to share with you here:

Lino Tagliapietra’s career is defined by a dedication to workmanship, innovation, and collaboration. Born in 1934 on the renowned glass-blowing island of Murano, Italy, Tagliapietra began his apprenticeship at age 11 with Muranese master Archimede Seguso from whom Tagliapietra achieved the status of Maestro Vetraio by the age of 21. For over forty-two years, Lino worked in various for-profit Murano factories including Vetreria Galliano Ferro, Venini & Co., and finally as the Artistic and Technical Director of Effetre International (1976-1989). Tagliapietra has been an independent artist since 1989, exhibiting in museums around the globe, receiving countless honors, openly sharing his far-reaching knowledge of the medium and his skill as one of its finest practitioners, and helping to create a new renaissance in studio glassmaking. As James Yood, adjunct professor of art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and regular contributor to GLASS magazine wrote, “there are probably no two words more respected and honored in the history of modern sculpture in glass than ‘Lino Tagliapietra’; he is the living bridge, the crucial link between the august history of Venetian glass and the ceaseless wonders of what today we call the modern Studio Glass Movement”.Lino Tagliapietra Working ImageOf the influences on Lino Tagliapietra glass art work, one of the most profound was his participation in La Scuola Internazionale del Vetro symposia, held in Murano in the 1970s, which brought the finest Muranese masters together with artists from other disciplines around the world. Today, Lino Tagliapietra has established himself as one of the greatest glass artists of all time. Tagliapietra-blown glass works are in the collections of many major glass museums throughout the world and are sought after avidly by collectors of glass art. Some of the public collections which include Lino Tagliapietra blown glass sculpture are the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, the Corning Museum in New York, the Hokkaido Museum of Moder Art in Japan; The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Palm Springs Art Museum in California, The Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.; the Tokyo National Modern Art Museum and the Victora and Albert Museum in London.

As Daniel told me, although he’s not physically blowing the glass himself anymore, the master oversees all the work done in his studio and continues to create exquisite glass masterworks that should be collected NOW.

Another gorgeous installation is this one (below) by Philip Baldwin & Monica Guggisberg. I really liked their muted colour palette and sensual shapes. Again, I had to force myself to keep my hands by my side!! Being an Aussie, of course I fell in love with this massive cockatoo painting (below). Back home in the outback, cockatoos and budgies fly in huge flocks of thousands of birds so this piece made me a little homesick.20170721_111420I really liked these unusual glass bowls (below + header photo) by Shay Salehi20170721_111949…and also the clay sculptures (below) by current featured exhibitor Susan Collette whose show runs until July 29th. 20170721_110540 20170721_110618 20170721_110632There are so many more astounding pieces that you can look at, walk around, stand in front of and stare in wonder at…..20170721_113032 20170721_112806 20170721_112645 20170721_111141 20170721_111223 20170721_111236…that you’ll need to take a packed lunch as you’ll want to spend a long long time absorbing the colours, the textures, the shapes.

You can learn more about the current exhibitions and the talented artists regularly represented by visiting: www.sandraainsleygallery.com  But of course, visiting the gallery in person is so much better.WhiteSAGLogoAlignedHighQuality20170721_111542 20170721_111716 20170721_111731



What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon – I took a stroll through the aisles of the pop-up artisan market hosted by the TORONTO URBAN COLLECTIVE at the Toronto Reference Library, just a few blocks from my home. So many lovely decorative, wearable and edible items presented by the craftspeople who actually made them. I was pleased to show my support by dropping a few dollars myself!  Come meet the vendors with me….20160807_125040I was welcomed by these lovely young ladies (above) who set such a nice friendly tone to the event. Then on to the first stop – the lovely ladies of Little Orbs. Below, here’s craftsperson Erin (R) with her proud mum (L) showing off her home decor and accessories (sparkly wine glass fobs were my faves) www.littleorbs.ca 20160807_120124 20160807_120130Lovely to see Cassandra from Chic Made Consciously with her eco-friendly accessories. I first met Cassandra at the Leslieville Flea a couple of years ago; I’m so proud of her and how she’s built her business. www.chicmc.com20160807_120253I was thrilled to find fashion designer Tulsi MacRae (below) whose fabulous tunics are bright and unique. I may ask her to create a customized one for me for TIFF…. www.tulsimacrae.com20160807_120549 20160807_120554Next was Ashley from Ashes & Kings – fine men’s accessories using beautiful wood slices.  They look stunning and each set of cufflinks or tie-clips are little works of art.  www.ashesandkings.com 20160807_120931 20160807_120941Oh no….not macrame!!! After living with macrame owls throughout the 70’s, I never thought I’d have to look at the popular woven string things again but these pretty home decor pieces by Natalie Ranae are delightful and could bring the trend back to a whole new generation. But please, Natalie, no owls! LOL   www.natalieranae.com20160807_121257 20160807_121300I fell in love with the delicate art of Rachel Dyck of Blossom & Sweet Pea Critter Co. I purchased 3 lovely greeting cards. She had a number of colouring books that were so beautifully printed and her watercolour prints of Canadian wildlife were charming and whimsical – perfect as gifts for any occasion. Look for Rachel @ this year’s Christmas One-of-a-Kind-Show www.thecritterco.com 20160807_121600 20160807_121607 20160807_121610I then spied some adorable wee silver spoons with colourful handles – perfect for serving jam or, in my case, eating my boiled eggs. Alkahf Moroccan Imports had all sorts of exotic treasures including beautiful little mirrors. www.alkahf.ca20160807_122237 20160807_122241 20160807_122253Then I found a brand new local company, www.StrayandWander.com that brings in ethically sourced products from around the world. I really liked the purses and clutches crafted from used native clothing (below). Their website should be up and running by the middle of August but you can find them now on Instagram @strayandwander20160807_122520 20160807_122529 20160807_122543Below is www.stationtoronto.com – groovy jewellery and accessories using the TTC subway station signs as design elements. The vendor was so busy, I didn’t get a chance to find my Yonge and Bloor station ring – I wonder if it’s a secret decoder ring for subway travel secrets?? LOL20160807_122713 20160807_122717I spoke earlier about macrame art from the 70’s….well another crafty hobby back then was nail art but nobody does it like Britt Kasco of Thread & Bark (below L). Oh my, these intricate pieces were so gorgeous, Britt really understands the simple beauty in the threads and I thought her douglas firs (lower picture) were stunning. Great souvenir gifts for friends abroad/great art to own yourself. https://her-earth.com/thread-and-bark/20160807_122854 20160807_122901 20160807_122906Now it was time to head over to the “edible art”….yummmmm. First up is Cuetti Cookies & Cakes. Yes, they’re all square, too.  www.cuetti.cc20160807_123316 20160807_123324Then I stopped in for a quick nibble at Holy Cannoli – OMG, they are sinfully delicious!! They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – check out my @FordhamPR Instagram to see the naughty but nice videos  www.holy-cannoli.com20160807_123645I found another old friend…the Toronto-based Peruvian bakery, Sol Cookies (below), who I met at the Toronto Bakers Market a couple of weeks ago. The tiny cookies are delicious and come in the cutest packaging with a red llama on top. www.solcookies.ca20160807_124748 20160807_124752Just before departing, I spent some time chatting with Laura from Gooseberry Prints, a charming lady who creates wonderful photographic prints of the cutest wee beasties who are all up for adoption at various Toronto rescue centres. Please support her efforts by buying a card, a pin or a print: www.gooseberryprints.com  I am so in love with all the hedgehog ones I want them all!20160807_124318 20160807_124330 20160807_124408Thank you to all the vendors for welcoming me to your booths and a big thank you to the great event producers, Toronto Urban Collective. Watch for the next pop-up and come out to support local craftspeople.  www.urbancollectiveto.com

PS: When I got home, I just had to try out my new Moroccan spoon….yay, it works!20160807_135817



It’s almost flea market and yard sale season and what better way to start off the spring than a visit to the Leslieville Flea Market held 3rd Sunday of each month down at Toronto’s historic Distillery District…lots of old stuff, new stuff, weird stuff and WTF stuff and I just love it all!

20150322_130719First stop (as always) was to Whisky & Spice, the delicious booze-infused handcrafted mustards created by east-ender Dan Gordon. Dan and his lovely wife Laura held court today (below), offering samples of the Whisky/honey, Porter beer or Riesling wine & apple flavoured mustards.  www.whiskeyandspice.ca

20150322_125701 20150322_125813 20150322_142044Opposite W&S was the Bragg & Bee Vintage Supply Company who offered a very cool 1930’s medical poster. Wouldn’t this look great hanging your doctor’s office? You can find BraggandBee on Facebook.

20150322_13011820150322_13013720150322_130557Found another vendor friend, Sonja from Woo-Hoo Home Decor, Accessories & Collectibles, just next door…I should have just kept walking ’cause I found so many things I wanted and I eventually purchased a gorgeous embroidered picture of sweet peas plus another piece of CarltonWare Australian design (the lovely leaf shaped green plate at the bottom) to match existing pieces I own. Sonja has some stunning vintage CCCP/Russian lacquer ware as well as lots of bunnykins and bunny-themed items just in time for Easter. Find all the treasures on Fcbk: /woohoodecor

20150322_142122 20150322_130650 20150322_130700 20150322_142339 20150322_14234620150322_14243120150322_142501Totem Jewelry & Accessories was next, featuring the “arm knitted” collar-scarves…yes, owner Sarah Podemski actually knits these using her arms, not knitting needles. Wow…and so soft and warm. Ideal for these next few chilly weeks before Spring really arrives.

20150322_131154 20150322_131158 20150322_131203Sandra and Carlos from No.7 Hot Sauce were there, too, hopefully warming up the visitors with their awesome range of spicy, HOT sauces. You can find No.7 Hot Sauce at various farmers’ markets or via their online store, too. http://no7hotsauce.com/

20150322_131312 20150322_131327Vintage Dan (below) was opposite Sandra & Carlos and his collection of vintage finds was pretty eclectic and wild.

20150322_131523 20150322_131548 20150322_131513…and below, here’s some fabulous bling from www.BlackIrisdesign.com.  Designer Iris will custom make rings to fit your finger size so do check out her website to see some of her cool sparklies.

20150322_131849 20150322_131900I ran into Sacha from Douglas + Son who had some awesome early/mid-20th century vintage collectibles including early 20th century school maps and a great floor lamp with a very industrial design (pictured below). Check out their Instagram account for more vintage treasures: @douglasandson

20150322_132316 20150322_132348Cute as a button Emily Green (below) introduced her line of Rhode & Rue Cosmetics – high quality ingredients, great range of lipstick colours – check out the full range at www.rhodeandrue.com

20150322_132539(0) 20150322_132546 20150322_132554Then in the next booth I found the charming Paper Hearts designs, featuring hand-crafted painted vinyl clutches, wee purses and make-up bags as well as adorable cards. See the rest of the goodies here: www.shoppaperhearts.com

20150322_132804 20150322_132810 20150322_132821One of the newest vendors at the Flea is Dcora Pillows, beautifully handmade pillow and cushion covers that make it so easy to change your decor without spending a fortune on new furniture. Congratulations to owner Myriam Jimenez (centre in photo below, flanked by her daughters), originally from Colombia, for introducing her exquisite fabrics to Toronto. Check out the full range here: http://www.dcora.madeurban.com/

20150322_133123 20150322_133157And below, here’s Aussie woodsman, Matt Obst, who re-purposes industrial wood and metal into one-of-a-kind furniture and accessories. Visit his gallery http://www.obstwood.com  Matt does commissioned works as well.

20150322_133826 20150322_133830 20150322_133835The lovely lady from Gold Apothecary (below) introduced me to her line of bath and body products, all of which smelled deeeevine! Pity the internet doesn’t have “scratch-n-sniff” but check out her luxurious treats for your skin (and nose) at www.goldapothecary.com

20150322_134612 20150322_134622 20150322_134617Also reconnected with Cassandra (below) from www.chicmadeconsciously.com which offers unique wearable art made from recycled inner tubes! These beautiful rubber latticework bracelets, cuffs and even bags are super cute and very durable…plus you’re helping the planet. We all win with Cassandra!

20150322_135056 20150322_135101 20150322_135108One of my fave new vendors (I’d never seen them before) was Shop Betty, curated vintage kitsch including these adorable eggie cups (below)…and although I’ve seen many Indian motorcyles, I’d never seen an Indian stepladder before…LOL! Thanks to Cindy & Melanie for sharing all the info on your wares. www.shopbetty.ca

20150322_135202 20150322_135205 20150322_135250 20150322_135749 20150322_135801www.MyFrugalFather.com offers some pretty elegant vintage blankets that are hand dipped dyed, some trimmed with a patterned blanket cut up, some mended and some Hudson Bay Blankets & Canadian made blankets from the 60’s.  Their site is still under construction but you can follow them on Instagram @myfrugalfather

20150322_135922 20150322_135931 20150322_135955Was pleased to meet Jessica D’Silva of Avani Creations (below) recycling and upcycling leather and fabric from South Asia. Avani also has a wide selection of porcelain door knobs and drawer pulls so you can add a little pizzazz to old furniture or cupboards. www.avanicreations.com

20150322_140051 20150322_140120 20150322_140125Now meet Justin Roth of Daily City Train, who takes great photos of musicians on stage, places and things, then creates unique coasters with the images. Great conversation pieces, esp. if you’re fans of the cutting edge Toronto musicians he features.  www.dailycitytrain.com

20150322_140840 20150322_140846 20150322_140856Next to Justin was his good friend and fellow artisan Felica Victoria Laplume who handcrafts pretty soy candles for her company Citchen Candle Co. Felicia’s candles threw a soft golden hue across the table and made everything look soft and sexy.  www.citchencandleco.com

20150322_141131 20150322_141143…and a few more random shots from another fun visit to the Leslieville Flea market. Don’t forget, 3rd Sunday of each month. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and check out the website for news and vendor profiles. See you next month!  http://leslievilleflea.com/

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