Wednesday, April 30, 2008

QUESTIONS FOR CRAFTERS: Todd Falkowsky of Motherbrand

Profile by Michelle Rothstein

todd falkowsky resized

You’d have to have been living under a rock to not notice that Canadian design is uber-hot, exciting and everywhere these days. We now occupy a place on the design world stage and let’s face it – it’s about bloody time. Themes of nature, kitsch and dashes of humour have begun to define this current wave. And that wave, according to some, was started by designers Todd Falkowsky and Michael Erdmann of Motherbrand with their Cabin Project and stoked by their other babies; The Canadian Design Resource and The Souvenir Shop.

Allow me to explain - Cabin Project was an international sensation that traveled to many design shows asking our local designers to reinterpret the Canadian wilderness mythology. Log bowls, a groovy chair covered in a Bay blanket and a mason jar cream and sugar set are just a few of the pieces to emerge from Motherbrand’s concept. The Canadian Design Resource is a database of our material culture and loads of fun to peruse. Entries are informative and sometimes hilarious and loaded with nostalgia – check it out. And finally, The Souvenir Shop, their latest giant, is an online store with a real live physical space in Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel. The works reinterpret the concept of souvenir and constitute objects laden with narrative. There really is something for everyone – I had tons of fun browsing and will be shopping there for sure.

Motherbrand diptych 1
L: Urban Archeology Bricks by Robin Tieu, R: RV Vase by Paige Russell

Both available through The Souvenir Shop

I had a chance to speak with Falkowsky recently at his office at OCAD where he is currently a professor in the Faculty of Design. He of course had loads to say about this exciting time in Canadian design and his company’s place within it.

According to Falkowsky, Motherbrand and their leadership position evolved from humble beginnings. Erdmann and he met at design school in Holland. There they hooked up with many other ex-pats and saw there were amazing people doing amazing things, but everyone on the international scene kept asking “where the hell is Canadian design?” On returning to Canada, they knew they wanted to find a way to create spaces and environments for people to get together and collaborate and raise the profile of local design. And although Motherbrand is not a collective they started doing projects that brought many different voices together.

Those voices seemed to speak directly to each other and to a theme. Granted that theme surfaced through a submissions call for the Cabin Project, but according to Falkowsky, the theme of nature was bound to surface as we can’t turn our backs on the reality of the country we live in. Returning to Canada with an outsider’s perspective allowed him and Erdmann to not be embarrassed by our history, make-up and the fact that about 75 percent of Canada's people live within 150 kilometers of the US border. They didn’t want to convince the world we weren’t all igloos and Mounties like the rest of us. They wanted to embrace our iconography rather than shy away from it as other Canuck designers had been doing. Up until that point our icons had ended up in the hands of the schlock-meisters and became low-end representations that were laughable. With Motherbrand’s projects “we had a chance to reclaim some of that territory and make it sophisticated, smart and relevant to all Canadians.”

Motherbrand diptych 2
L: Louis Riel Figurine by Erin McCutcheon, R: Antler Ring by Anneke Van Bommel
Both available through The Souvenir Shop

But does it resonate with everyone? Many of us are new to this country and have no interaction with the wilderness. We are living in cities and suburbs coming from countries majorly south of the tree line. I asked him specifically about how immigration will affect future themes and if this trend of antler-chic can truly resonate with new Canadians. Well, before you start screaming ‘right on sister this is just for the sophisticated hosers’ – Falkowsky was quick to inform me that many of the works in the Souvenir Shop are made by First Generation Canadians.

Through his travels with the Cabin Project he learned that the world viewed Canada as “an enormous backyard waiting to be explored.” These themes of nature weren’t simply coming from the Canadian-born, but rather from cultures all over the world. Falkowsky also stressed that our icons, for new Canadians, have a much deeper significance as Canada was chosen for many as a place of refuge, a chance to start again. To new citizens “the flag really does mean something.” He did admit that the interaction of old and new identities has yet to be fully exposed in new Canadians’ designs. Yet when these come to light they will most likely provide “the freshest perspective as it’s uncharted territory.” In the coming year Falkowsky believes the Souvenir Shop will be a whole different baby with no doubt more challenging themes and risk taking. He feels a lot of that may be coming from exactly this demographic.

Given the state of our global economy I asked Falkowsky if a national voice is still necessary. “The day Nike made a New York specific shoe everything changed. The idea of location being relevant to output is everything.” Global design for a number of years, Falkowsky believes, had been “immensely boring.” Standouts from communities around the world that were accepted as design stars seemed to be about who could best fit into a set of narrow parameters. However, “the currency of local design has become a global phenomenon.” People want to see how “how location is feeding the work.” According to Falkowsky, he sees designers embracing this trend.

And the public is catching up. Where Canadians were once “bashful” about facing the themes and icons Motherbrand celebrates, they are now embracing their beauty, humour and dare I say, meaning. That being said, it’s the international community that buys the most from the Souvenir Shop. Ah, Canadian irony.

But fear not my fellow Canadians – we are slowly beginning to take pride in the incredible works on view throughout the country and we are even starting to acknowledge our design goodies from the past as well. The user-driven database that is the Canadian Design Resource encompasses the entire spectrum of Canadian design product. We’re talking print, ceramics, old stereos, Cougar Boots, all sorts of furniture – basically a material history of Canada. It has even become a social network as so many works resonate with users.

Motherbrand diptych 3
L:Canning Jars of Canada, R:
Expo '67 Postcard. Both catalogued in The Canadian Design Resource

There are a core group of contributors, but anyone can submit a piece to be posted and anyone can join in on the comments. What they thought was going to be a higher level discourse on design, actually ended up as a storytelling venue for the collectors, creators and lovers of our material past. As Falkowsky says the CDR is “mandate-less” so that’s the direction it went. It became up to the users to “collect pieces that they (thought would) tell a story.” This thread of discussion and the new projects they are inspiring is the biggest pay-off to Falkowsky. “My proudest moment is that it has become a catalyst.” With 3,000,000 hits a month, a twice-crashed server and users throughout the globe, he and his collaborators are not just a catalyst but also a seismic shift.

Being from the TCA I had to ask – all this local talk sounded super-familiar, some might say a wee bit crafty. We talk design, we talk craft, but are they really that separate? Take note – Falkowsky doesn’t think so. He told me that the design community “owes a lot to the craft side.” Upon his return to Canada he noticed that the most exciting work was coming out of the craft community. It understood that a run of 10 was a terrific way of showcasing work and the design community has caught up. Sharing of resources, collaboration and support, long time pillars of the craft community, have now entered into Canadian design which is why he believes the definitions of each are dated labels that are leftovers of fussier times. Falkowsky and Erdmann function by the belief “as long as people can see it, who gives a shit what we call it.”

For Motherbrand it truly is about showing the world where the hell Canadian design is and getting money back to the guys who are making the fantastic works. Are they responsible for the wave? Who cares. I just know their efforts have fueled the fire that is this new Canadian design movement. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t take a number of years of therapy to appreciate this mother. With all their inspiration and successes, somehow I don’t think we have to worry.


Michelle Rothstein is a Toronto resident with a passion for design and a love of the hand-made. Her business MOB, is a travelling salon-style show and website ( which brings individual and sophisticated works to the design hungry for the sheer love it. She is psyched that Toronto is getting much more styley in its old age.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CRAFT SHOW (REMINDER): The Spring Thing Trunk Show (may 4)


Hello dear readers,

Just a reminder that City of Craft (of which TCA is a member) will be co-hosting The Spring Thing Trunk Show this coming Sunday. The event will take place at the workroom & will feature 15+ designers selling their wares out of suitcases. This is the perfect opportunity to get your mom something locally handmade and unique (in a good way), or to buy yourself some cute bling for spring. As an added bonus, there will be free snacks and free yummy tea provided by our crafty crush Tealish. I'll be there spreading the TCA word, and I would love to meet you guys. Come by and say the secret phrase and I'll give you a free TCA 1" pin!

The secret phrase: rare earth magnet (confused? behold the magic!)

See you there!

The Spring Thing Trunk Show
Sunday May 4, 2008
the workroom
1340 Queen Street West

SUPPLY YOUR HABIT: National Scrapbooking Day at Urban Scrapyard (may 3)

An invite from Urban Scrapyard....Use their TCA coupon for 20% off supplies & classes at this event & beyond!


Scrapbooking is not what it used to be. Come check out its evolution at Urban Scrapyard on Saturday May 3 - National Scrapbooking Day. An all-day event where you can stay and play or just take advantage of some great deals to celebrate all things paper.

Where: Urban Scrapyard
802 Eglinton Ave East

When: Saturday May 3

CRAFT SHOW: The Spring 2008 Clothing Show (may 2-4)

The Clothing Show is coming up fast!


Better Living Center, Exhibition Place.
Fri 3pm-9pm / Sat 11am-9pm / Sun 11am-7pm
Tickets $8 on-line, $10 at the door
May 2, 3, & 4, 2008

Shop from over 350 booths of new label, designer, vintage and brand name clothing and accessories for men & women! This Spring, experience RUNWAY Fashion Shows Friday night & Saturday, the LOULOU Magazine Fashion Photography Competition, a Century of Fashion display, and Art exhibits from local artists!

The Opening Night Party and Fashion Shows starting at 6:30pm, Friday May 2nd at the Better Living Center. Come early and shop from 3pm!

EXHIBITION: All Dolled Up at C1 artspace (may 2-25)

C1 art space presents
All Dolled Up

all dolled up C1 art space

May 2-25, 2008
Opening Reception: Friday May 2 at 7pm

‘All Dolled Up’ will feature figurative works, soft sculpture and mixed media pieces.

Artists include: Ross Bonfanti, Kathryn Boyd, Dana DeKuper, Reid English, Adrienne Gibb, Lesley Anne Green, Nora Kensington, Mary Kim, Kelly Kirkham, Jenny Kuri, Nadia Moss, Tai McPhail, Kasia Piech, Erin Robertson, Jen Silk, Hieng Tang, Kevin Titzer, Louise Thut, Magda Trazki, Laura Vegys and others

C1 art space
44 Ossington Avenue, just North of Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario M6J 2Y7
416 538-7999
Gallery Hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday-12 to 6pm, Sunday- 1 to 5pm
(closed Mon & Wed- open by appointment)

Monday, April 28, 2008

FROM THE DESK OF TCA: Submit your listings & Pump your neighbourhood happenings

Photo by smenzel

Promoting diverse and exciting craft activity happening across Toronto (& environs) and bridging gaps between different pockets of the local craft community is central to the mandate of the Toronto Craft Alert. Information sharing within craft groups and communities has always been essential to keeping things vital, and we need your participation in this project to keep its heart beating strong! Here are two ways you can do so:

1. Submit your listings and tell other people to do the same! TCA is a submission-driven project, so anyone is invited to send in a blurb & image about their thang for posting (no PDFs please). We have loads of links lists which your biz/project/practice probably fits into, so feel free to send along your url to be listed. Encourage others that can be served by this free promotional opportunity to send their info in as well. Listings & links can be emailed to:

2. Become a Craft Beat reporter! We would love to post more coverage of the craft scene in various neighborhoods around the city. Represent your 'hood by sharing the news on craft related resources, classes, events, shops, exhibitions, etc., or even letting people in the neighbourhood know about the TCA and encouraging them to submit their listings. We can offer you your own Craft Beat column for a neighbourhood roundup or special events coverage, or you can feel free to send things in willy-nilly as you come across them. Please contact us about your interest in covering your neighbourhood at:

Looking forward to hearing from more of you soon!

CRAFT SHOW: Hands ON: Artists & Artisans (may 3 & 4)


:: Hands ON : Artists & Artisans...a fabulous midtown spring show

(14 Artists/Artisans : jewellery, pottery, photography, metal, wood, fiber, glass)

240 Manor Road, Manor Road United Church -- (South of Eglinton, east of Mt.Pleasant)

Saturday MAY 3rd & Sunday MAY 4th


i picked up my paper piecing for a quilter's stitch and bitch this past sunday and it was fantastic. i also wandered through the MADE show at the Gladstone, which was inspirational! what beautiful stuff people are making these days. i also decided to *TRY* using acrylic yarn to crochet characters. usually i'm a yarn snob and will only work with real wool, but i've read enough advice now about how to get characters to look right, that i'm willing to try using the plastic stuff. has anyone else ever had a big change of heart when it came to a craft technique or material?as part of the Toronto Craft Alert's goal to galvanize the city's craft community, we'd like to get a bit of a discussion going. discuss any crafty topic you like... we'll be re-posting this thread every monday morning, so that the discussions can continue in the comments section of this post.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

CRAFTY HAPPENING/CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS/VENDOR CALL: The World Washi Summit , Washiwear Fashion Show & Washi Bazaar (June 7-15)

I have been hearing murmurings about this event for awhile and am happy to now have some official info to post about: The World Washi Summit will be taking place in Toronto from June 7-15 2008.

This is a comprehensive celebration of all things washi - bringing together washi makers, artists, distributors, curators, and consumers of washi from all over the world. What’s washi, you ask? The Summit website has a handy definition:

“Washi is the Japanese word that refers to the traditional papers, made by hand from indigenous renewable plant fibres, which have been continuously produced and refined in Japan for 1400 years. With modernization, the future of this craft is endangered.”

Part of the mandate of the Summit is to underline the practicality and sustainability of washi and to encourage the ever-shrinking group of washi makers in Japan to continue to keep this tradition alive. Also, Summit organizers want to draw wider attention to the artistry of washi-based work and the creative potential of the material.

Some Summit highlights include:

  • Exhibitions of artwork on washi to be held in over 35 galleries
  • Washi-centric workshops at the Japanese Paper Place and other venues
  • Special events such as a washi craft bazaar, demos of washi making, lectures on various washi-related topics, an auction at the Ontario Crafts Council, and even some washi performance art
Schedule and details are now up!

If you’re wondering how you can get involved, here are two opportunities:

1. A call for designers to create wearable items out of washi:

As part of the World Washi Summit there will be a Washiwear Fashion Show on the
second floor of the Gladstone Hotel on June 8th. If there are washi fashionistas out there who make or would like to make wearable items out of washi, we'd like to know about you! Please contact with a description of what you could create for this event.

2. A washi-themed craft bazaar:

Calling artisans who make jewellery or other small items (nightlights? frames? coin purses? cell phone cases?) with Japanese paper - including all types of washi and chiyogami! If you would like to take part in the Washi Bazaar on June 8, please send images of your work to Spaces are limited but we are looking for carefully produced, innovative work to be offered to the many guests attending the Summit from around the world.

mom's bag 001

Clutch purse made from undyed natural washi by Sara Craig (to be featured in Washiwear show).

GET SCHOOLED: Sewing classes at Sew be it Studio (june-november)

Plan your sewing career ahead with this list of classes from Sew Be It. Give them a call to book your class of choice.

Beyond The Beginner

This short course is perfect for those who have taken our Beginner Sewing class but want a little more practice before moving on to the intermediate level.

This is the perfect stepping stone and chance to work on a new project.

Students will need to bring a pattern and material to the first class. Skirts or pants are recommended. We will send pattern recommendations upon registration.

Class runs for 3 weeks.
Beginner Sewing skills are a must.

Date: June 5, Thursdays
Time: 6pm - 9pm

Price: $135 + GST

Advanced Sewing - Suit Me Up

Fashion sewing at its finest and most artful! You can learn to make your dream jacket to fit like an Armani Jacket. In this course, you will learn tailoring techniques such as the lapel collar, two piece sleeves, inside structure, welt pockets and how to line the jacket properly. If you love fashion and are committed to building solid sewing skills, this course is for you. Once again, you pick your own pattern, so the possibilities are endless.

Class runs for 7 weeks

Date: June 23, Mondays
Time: 6pm - 9pm

Price: $275 + GST

Did you know.....if you have already taken the Advanced Sewing you can take as many times as you like at a 25% discount. Build your skill at this level by rendering a new garment.


Beading Appliqué for Beginners

Learn the three basic stitches for executing beadwork on fabric. A full explanation of tools and materials will assist the students in producing quality beadwork. You can enhance your finished project by combining color theory and patterning. Give your project that dazzle to complete the look!

Each session runs two weeks.

Date: June 14, Saturdays
Time: 2pm - 5pm

Price: $90 + GST
Price includes all materials and tools.


Vintage REVAMP

Want to turn a vintage bed sheet into a sexy summer dress? How about updating a frightening 80s tweed skirt, turning it into a figure-flattering new favourite? Do you see potential in that torn Dior suit your friend was about to toss in the trash? Almost anything can be revamped, updated and personalized. And at this workshop we can show you how.

We got the skirt pictured here from Value Village and revamped it. As you can, see the cut was totally outdated, not to mention the waist was too small. After spending approximately three hours cutting and re-stitching, the result is marvelous. The skirt went from awful to awesome! Now it's your turn to revamp.

Date: August 23, Saturday
Time: 2pm - 5pm

Price: $55.00 + GST

And our new Design Series……

Pattern Making 101 - The skirt block

Tired of commercial patterns? This introductory class delves into the realm of pattern making. You will learn to how draft and test fit your own skirt block. Through exercises you will learn how to take that block and manipulate it to create a basic A-line, circle skirt, flares, gores, godets, pleats, sarong, tiers, wrap skirt and yokes.

Topics include how to draft different styles of waistbands, how to include pockets, and draft your own skirt lining. You will learn how to design a skirt and then draft the pattern, test fit it and produce a finished skirt in your chosen fabric. Along the way you will also learn a few new construction techniques. At the end of this class you will have your own personal skirt block, a skirt that you have designed and a work book filled with information on how to draft your own skirts.

A good understanding of sewing is required for this class.

This is a 6 week course.

Date: July 3, Thursdays
Time: 6pm - 9pm

Price: $270.00 + GST
Cost includes all materials.


Pattern Drafting 2 - Pants

This second level of patternmaking is dedicated to pants. Learn to draft and test fit your pant block. Through various techniques you will learn how to manipulate your pant block to design various styles of pants from flared bell bottoms, shorts, capris, drawing string pants, and more. Also included will be waistbands, pleats, pockets, fly front and side zipper.

You will also design, draft and make your own style of pants using the techniques taught. Learn a few new sewing techniques as well. By the end of the class you will have your own personal pant block, a pair of pants that you designed and made, and your own work book full of information on how to design your own pants.

A good understanding of sewing is required for this class.

This is a 7 week class, each class being 3 hours.
Date: September 18, Thursdays
Time: 6pm - 9pm

Price: $299 + GST
Cost includes all materials.

Pattern Drafting 3 - The Bodice Block

This third level of patternmaking focuses around the bodice. You will learn to take all the necessary measurements to draft your own personalized bodice and sleeve blocks. Through various exercises, learn how to manipulate the blocks to create various styles. With the
bodice block you will learn how to manipulate the darts. Create tucks, flares, gathers, pleats, princess lines and yokes. From the sleeve block you can create shirt sleeves, bell, puffed, capped sleeves and more, as well as various cuff styles. And to finish it all off how to draft a variety of collar styles.

In this class you will learn how to design, draft your own blouse pattern using the skills you have been taught. There's always a few sewing techniques that are shown. By the end of this course you will have your own personalized bodice and sleeve block, a pattern that you designed and that is ready to sew, and a work book full of information on how to draft bodices, sleeves and collars.

An advanced knowledge of sewing skills is required for this class as it will be fast paced. There will be homework to be able to cover all the material in this class.

The best thing about this class is that once you have a bodice block, you are then be able to create a dartless shirt block, dress block, jacket and coat block.

For the first class students are to bring a workbook and a bodysuit for the taking of proper measurements. Please no t-shirts or swim suits or anything that has a deep neckline. The bodysuit should define the neckline, armholes and sides. As well proper foundation garments should be worn. Measurements are very crucial to drafting a bodice.

This class is 10 weeks

Date: November 13, Thursdays
Time: 6pm - 9pm

Price: $340 + GST
All supplies are included.

Sew Be It Studio
2156 Yonge Street
Toronto ON M4S 2A8

Thursday, April 24, 2008

NERD CRAFT: Open-Contents glass project call for participation


Open-Contents is a project by Toronto based glass artist Brad Turner. It is an attempt to link the physical world of arts and craft with the voluntary electronic community. As an installation of 26 hand made bottles, collectively representing the letters on a keyboard, participants are encouraged to submit their own message, via website, to the character of their choosing. For every electronic submission, the message will be printed and kept within the corresponding bottle. As the bottles fill up, the grouping ceases to be a collection of glass, but rather a collection of personal gestures. Reflecting the nature of online participation, these gestures are recorded and archived, while only a few will be discovered.

Submitting a message is open to all. The piece will be changing exhibition venues throughout the year.

To send your message, please visit:

You may also visit the Facebook group here

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CRAFTY LIT: The Pillow Book book signing @ In the Loop Cafe (April 24)


Shannon Okey (, the author of over ten crafty books including the Knitgrrl series, Spin to Knit, Felt Frenzy and AlterNation, will be at In the Loop Cafe Thursday night to sign copies of her latest book, The Pillow Book from 7:00-onward. Stop by for Mexican fusion food, a cash bar and lots of crafty fun!

SHOP CRAFTY: Snoflake/Dagg & Stacey Spring Trunk Sale @ Nathalie-Roze & Co. (April 24)

News from Nathalie-Roze:


THIS Thursday night Nathalie-Roze & Co. will be hosting the

Snoflake/Dagg and Stacey Spring Trunk Sale!

Anyone who's a fan of these two local indie labels, knows this is an event not to be missed.
The designers will be on-hand to help you choose the pieces that best suit your body, and - perhaps more key - everything from their current collection will be reduced by 20% for this one night only. And, there will also be extra baskets and racks of goodies from past seasons marked down by up to 70%.

PLUS: the first 15 guests will receive a sweet goody bag and every shopper can enter the raffle for one of three N-R & Co. gift cards & prizes from both lines. Light refreshments will be served.

Hope to see you there,
Nathalie-Roze :]

WHEN: This Thursday evening from 6pm to 9:30pm - April 24th, 2008.
(Sorry - no holds, no early-birds, no special deals before/after the event)

WHERE: Nathalie-Roze & Co., 1015 Queen St. East at Pape, Leslieville
Note: Parking on Pape or Queen is free after 6pm, plus we've got a bike rack right out front and there's easy TTC access by streetcar or the soutbound Pape bus from Pape station (Bloor line)
For a map, visit:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CRAFTY HAPPENING: toronto zine library spring open house

From our friends at the Toronto Zine Library...

Come on out for our first annual TZL Spring Open House! Learn more about our collective activities and our collection, take time to read some of our fantastic materials, and find out about becoming a member with borrowing privileges. At the Open House,TZL-ers will be present to give tours of the collection and the library's other special features as well as answer any questions about what we do. There will also be a surprise Musical Guest, we'll be screening episodes of Our Hero as well as a short film about the Anchor Archive zine library in Halifax, and there will be snacks and drinks galore! Come out and show your support!

With love,
Suzanne, Patrick and Tara
TZL Collective

Toronto Zine Library
Spring Open House
Wednesday, April 30th 6-9pm
Toronto Zine Library at the TRANZAC
292 Brunswick Avenue
Second Floor Rehersal Hall

VENDOR CALL & HELP WANTED: Toronto Small Press Book Fair (june 7)

The Toronto Small Press Book Fair is seeking exhibitors & volunteers. Here's a note from them about the show & application:

We're going to be holding the fair at the JCC -- the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre -- this spring, June 7th, 2008. It's bigger, with room for more exhibitors, and it's air-conditioned, too!

Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre
750 Spadina Avenue
Toronto Ontario
M5S 2J2

(corner of Spadina/Bloor)

Time: 12-5
Date: June 7, 2008


Please note the following volunteer positions are available to help us out with the fair:
~ greeter
~ raffle ticket distributor
~ press/info table
~ collecting donations
~ morning set up
~ evening clean up

Please email if you are interested.


VENDOR CALL"Gifted" at Shopgirls Boutique (show: may 10, deadline: april 28)

Shopgirls are looking for gifts to sell at their Gifted event on Saturday May 10th. Check out the flyer below for details, and contact them by Monday April 28th with your submissions.


GET SCHOOLED: Spring & Summer Classes - Flameworked Glass Beadmaking @ TANK

New class notice from our pals at TANK:

glass lips TANK
Lipsticks... Off mandrel sculptural example

TANK fire + metal
Spring & Summer Classes - Flameworked Glass Beadmaking (learn section)

Redeem our TCA coupon for even more deals!

NEW Play with Fire + Colour $40 per 40 Minute Lesson
Most Saturdays between 2pm and 5pm

Experience the magic of molten glass in this fast paced lesson. Expert teachers will walk you through the basics of using a torch to wind molten glass around a mandrel into simple beads. This class is all about the experience, a taste of working with fire, or simply something fun to do while visiting the Distillery District. Students choose a bead they like and we help them create it! Expect to make several beads that will be kiln annealed overnight for strength and ready the following day, or sent by post along with your sample bead from us. Runs most Saturdays starting June 14th through the summer. Reservations are possible.

Beginner Bead Making $285
4 Weeks - Wednesday evenings 6:30pm to 9:30 pm

June 25th to July 16th or
Aug 20th to Sept 10th

In this class Amy will teach the basics of shaping mandrel wound glass into beads using an oxygen propane torch. In this fun class learn to make traditional patterns and designs on beads based on ancient glass techniques (from Europe and Asia.) This class is geared to students with no experience or those looking to review fundamental flameworking techniques or to crafty folks looking to try something new and different. It is important to have a solid foundation and that's what this class is about. Each student can expect to finish with a collection of their own beads and a general knowledge of glass beadmaking, aka flameworking.

Hollow Beads $95
Sunday June 15th, 10am to 2pm + 2hrs Free torch time

Learn to make structurally sound great hollow beads! In this fun focused class Jill will walk students through the process leading you to satisfying results! Make both small and large hollows with thin even walls. You'll try several styles of hollows including some with colourful tube cores, small trapped "baby" beads inside and simple exterior decorations adding extra flair to these weightless pieces. Hollow beads can be very useful when designing jewelry in particular because they provide plenty of volume without the weight! This class includes a bonus two hours free torch time!

Focal Beads $95
Sunday June 22nd or July 20th, 10am to 2pm + 2hrs Free torch time

In this class Amy will teach students more advanced techniques showing how to execute more elaborate, detailed and funky designs in glass. Amy will focus on techniques such as stacked dots, encasing, using silver and palladium leaf, feathering, furrowing, stringer decoration and sculpted forms. Emphasis will be on learning a variety of techniques so that each student may take away something different and create something uniquely theirs. These beads are ideal as the "focal piece" in other jewelry projects. Some previous experience required. This class includes a bonus two hours free torch time!

Encasing $95
Sunday June 29th , 10am to 2pm + 2hr Free torch time

Learn how to encase your beads in layers of clear or coloured transparent glass. Find out how artists trap designs under the glass creating an appearance of floating patterns or images. Encasing adds an extra slick look to all your beads, playing on the wonderful optical quality of glass. You will learn thick layer encasing techniques in this workshop, making designs on a core bead, then magnifying them with a thick even layer of clear over top. From tiny dots, stripes and triangles to fun free flowing designs, the sky's the limit! Some experience required. This class includes a bonus two hours free torch time!

Studio Time Rental for Glass or Silversmithing
$15/hour or $120/10 hours (all TANK students automatically pay $10/hour)

Hours : Wed to Sun Noon to 5pm, Thursday evenings 6 to 10pm (or by appointment)

Tank fire + metal is equipped with 8 flameworking torches and 5 silversmithing stations. Studio time rental includes use of torches, kilns, mandrels and tools for beadmaking. Bench rental for metalsmithing includes use of basic hand tools, foredom, grinders, polishers, and bench pin. Renters must supply their own glass and or metal for projects. Call for details about where to purchase supplies. Pre-booking is required for all studio time.

Private Lessons with Amy Johnson
$40/hr (min 3 hr) or $225/day

Private lessons are a real benefit to students offering advantages such as one on one learning and the ability to create your own curriculum based on what interests you most. With Amy's vast skill set she is able to work with students helping them gain confidence in their own abilities in a fun, safe environment.

Amy graduated from the Sheridan College Crafts and Design Program and has taught throughout North America at schools and studios including Sheridan College, The Living Arts Centre, Algonquin College, The Bead & Button Show, The International Society of Glass Beadmakers Conference, Fusion Conference, and many other private studios including TANK fire + metal. It has been over 11 years since Amy started working with glass, and even longer since she has been making and selling her own jewelry. Her work has been published and shown widely throughout North America and Europe.

Monday, April 21, 2008


another beautiful weekend and it's really starting to feel like spring is turning into summer! i didn't spend much time indoors or doing any crafting this weekend; now all my projects are staring at me asking when i'll have quality time for them...
as part of the Toronto Craft Alert's goal to galvanize the city's craft community, we'd like to get a bit of a discussion going. discuss any crafty topic you like... we'll be re-posting this thread every monday morning, so that the discussions can continue in the comments section of this post.

CRAFT TORONTO PICS: Incognito Underpants Squirrel #1 by Hideous Birds

From the Craft Toronto photo pool on Flickr. You can join, too!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

CRAFT SHOW: Cabbagetown Art & Crafts 20th Anniversary Show (reception May 2, show May 3-5)

Not to be confused with the C-town Arts & Crafts sale itself, this event showcases the work of residents who have juried the show over the past 20 years…

Collage by Irina Rapaport


When: Opening reception: Friday May 2, 7:00 p.m to 9:30 p.m.
Show runs: May 3 to 5, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10:00 to 4:00

Where: At "The Residence" building on Riverdale Farm, main intersection Winchester St. and Sumach...

Who: This 20TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW will feature the work of 18 Artists residing in Cabbagetown who have juried the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale each year over the past two decades. Now it is their turn to show their creations in such disciplines as jewellery, painting, wood, photography, ceramics and mixed media.

For the past twenty years, The Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Show is held during the Cabbagetown Festival and Riverdale Farm Fall Festival. The show features over 180 artists and artisans during the weekend after Labour Day and attracts 20,000 visitors to Riverdale Park West, in the heart of Toronto's historic Cabbagetown. The Art & Crafts Show was started by Randy Brown who is still the Executive Director.

The funds raised at this annual sale have gone toward encouraging art and crafts in Cabbagetown, mainly through BarnyardArts at Riverdale Farm. Other funds have gone toward local charities.

To find out about all the Cabbagetown Festival activities visit

Ray Prince woodwork
Woodwork by Ray Prince

CRAFTY HAPPENING: 11th annual Knitter's Frolic (April 26 & 27)

This sounds like an amazing event for anyone interested in knitting - which is probably most of you in this knit-crazy city!!

downtown knit collective

The Downtown Knit Collective hosts the 11th annual Knitter’s Frolic at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, 6 Garamond Court in Toronto on April 26th and 27th. Admission $5.00. Featured on Saturday are 50+ vendors of all things knitterly and on both Saturday and Sunday, classes to stimulate and engage knitters from beginner to advanced. Pre-registration is recommended for classes taught by such luminaries as Sally Melville, Fiona Ellis, Maureen Mason-Jamieson, Debbie New, Deb Gemmell and Canada’s fastest knitter, Wanietta Prescod. Go to for class information, TTC access and map, list of vendors, and more. Free parking. Knitter’s Café on site.

CRAFT SHOW: MADE Show & Sale (April 25-27)

Textile artist Hillary Webb wrote with a reminder about the Spring MADE show happening next weekend, where she will be selling her work:


Next weekend I am participating in the 4th MADE Show & Sale at the Gladstone Hotel. This wonderful event showcases the work of a group of artists and designers that create everything from fine art to utilitarian objects with focus on design and process in design.

The show is on Friday April 25th, 6 pm - 11 pm
Saturday April 26th, 12 - 10 pm
Sunday April 27th, 12 - 7 pm

I will have new framed art and greeting cards available for sale so you can treat yourself to something cheery after the awful winter we just had!

Please visit the website at for more information and the
listing of the artists and designers that are participating.

Admission is free!

VENDOR CALL: Sassy Little Craft Show (May 31)

Spring edition of the Sassy Little Craft Show!

Thumbnail- sassy

Date: Saturday May 31st 2008
Place: The Victory Cafe
581 Markham Street (Bloor and Bathurst)
Time: 7pm-12:30am (6 set up)

Cost is $25 per vendor. Tables are available 2x2ft, but let us know if you have your own set up.
Each vendor will have approx 3ft, so displays need to be kept small.

If you are interested in participating, send us an email with a description/pics to
Check out the myspace page from past shows: If you're on facebook, there will be an event notice to send out. Let us know if you DO NOT want your pictures on the web.

Take care and we look forward to hearing from you! Oh, and feel free to pass this on to any of your sassy little crafting friends!

Audrey and Christa
Partners in Craft

Thursday, April 17, 2008

ASK CRAFTY: Sewing with knits, custom jewellery card printing, merchant accounts for crafters, framers & cheap dressmaker zippers

These ask crafty queries have been piling up & are ripe and ready for your advice. Please do so in the comments section of this post.

x does anyone know of a place to take a course on sewing with knits? im even willing to get private lessons if anyone knows of an expert. – dandmo

x I'm wondering if anyone knows of a company (or person) who will do custom earring/jewellery card printing? - Jeelee Joolery

x I am trying to find a reputable company(not a bank) that offers merchant accounts to craftspeople. I would be processing online and point of sale transactions. Any other craftspeople with ideas and experiences? - Deborah

x Can you recommend a good framer to frame a large print? - Elly

x Have any idea where to get lots of cheap dressmaker zippers in Toronto? I think the nylon kind? - sarah

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CRAFT TORONTO PICS: Crochet flowers by LISUI

Some dewey buds just in time for spring. From the Craft Toronto photo pool on Flickr. You can join, too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

FROM THE DESK OF TCA: TCA internship opportunities (deadline: april 25)

tca table @ mini crafternoon tea

We're looking to expand the Toronto Craft Alert family!

TCA is seeking interns to contribute the development of the project to be a greater resource to readers, and to reach people outside of our current community.

Depending on your area of interest, intern responsibilities may include:
  • Research for an exciting new craft resource directory
  • Coverage of local craft events
  • Identifying creative venues and new ways to spread the word about the TCA
  • Researching and posting blog & mailing list content
Perks may include tickets to craft related events, volunteer/internship hours for school programs, credited experience for your CV, and the opportunity to support and become more engaged in your local craft community.

Respond to the following questions & attach your resume in an email to

1. What is your interest or how are you engaged in craft?
2. What type of work are you interested in doing for the TCA?
3. What skills and experience can you bring to this work?
4. How do you think this internship will serve your needs and interests?

Please reply to this posting by April 25, 2008.

CRAFT SHOW: the spring thing trunk show (may 4)

City of Craft & the workroom are up to their old tricks with the Spring Thing Trunk Show, a vaguely Mother’s Day themed, suitcase contained, free yummy tea & snacks bearing extravaganza happening May 4th. Read on for more...


City of Craft & the workroom present
The Spring Thing Trunk Show
Sunday May 4, 2008
the workroom
1340 Queen Street West

The Spring Thing Trunk Show will feature15+ local vendors, confined to setting up their displays in suitcases!
All sorts of locally made goodies for your mother and others.
Free snacks!
Yummy (& free) tea provided by
Visit the webpage for vendor info. Facebookers can RSVP here.

VENDOR CALL: hoopla! exhibition and sale for babies, kids & moms (show: sept. 26, deadline: may 30)

Hoopla! Call For Submission

Hip new show "Hoopla!" is a unique exhibition and sale of Canadian handcrafted items specifically for babies, mothers and/or young children. We're looking for talented artisans who make anything unique, funky and/or beautiful/practical for babies or children: furniture, clothing, decor, accessories, artwork etc. It must be handmade!

8 ft Table space fee-just $95. This is a one day special event taking place in Toronto on Sept.26, 2008. For application & info contact Rima Macikunas: Submission deadline: May 30,2008.

VENDOR CALL: the BIG on bloor festival (June 21)

BIG Banner

All local businesses, craftspeople, artists, musicians, community groups etc. are invited to get involved with the BIG on Bloor Festival, June 21, 2008, Bloor Street, Christie to Lansdowne. Tables are $25 until the end of April, $40 in May, $80 in June.

You can sign up to reserve your table online

Coordinated by BIG (Bloor Improvement Group). BIG's intent is to advance the economic, physical, cultural and social life of Bloor Street by creating opportunities and events that improve and celebrate the area.

The intention is to get people excited about improving local Bloor Street. We will focused on creating an event we can all contribute to The BIG Festival. This festival will include wide community leadership, opportunity and participation. The BIG Festival will be a catalyst for general improvement and cause for celebration of the B.I.G. Bloor area.

The event is free to attend.

Contact Dougal for more info.

ECOCRAFT: upcycled art on local blog


Screen with Amsterdam homes painted on old IKEA shelving

TCA reader Jan Pinney wrote to let us know about her blog chronicling her adventures in upcycling (taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value), and to invite y’all to share your own reuse/recycle art & craft project ideas.

Feel free to post links to your own projects in the comments section of this post.

Monday, April 14, 2008

CRAFT TORONTO PICS: Silver Swallow Brooches by ghostface_knittah

From the Craft Toronto photo pool on Flickr. You can join, too!


well hullo craftistas - what a beautiful weekend we just had. i'm getting excited for the days of outdoor craft fairs, and yard sales!

water cooler

as part of the Toronto Craft Alert's goal to galvanize the city's craft community, we'd like to get a bit of a discussion going. discuss any crafty topic you like... we'll be re-posting this thread every monday morning, so that the discussions can continue in the comments section of this post.

VENDOR CALL: heart & craft eco artisan market (may 10)

A fun new eco-craft fair miniseries from Heart on Your Sleeve...


Heart & Craft Eco Artisan Market
May 10th, 2008, noon to six

Calling all crafters, designers, and artisans working with eco friendly materials....!
This is the first of 2 craft markets we are hosting this year at Heart On Your Sleeve in Kensington Market!

Please email to register or for more information!
Registration deadline is now Tuesday April 22nd @ 5pm!

Info - $20 per exhibitor/business ($30 for both fairs - second to be held on Saturday August 16th!)

Emphasis on handmade eco-friendly arts & crafts, innovative recycling, and local sourcing.
*Though we are a vegan store we are not requiring all items at the fair be vegan. (....but no fur please!)

Look forward to seeing you there, as an exhibitor or just to support indie/eco craft!
Go here to RSVP or invite friends on Facebook.

CRAFTY HAPPENING: little green book of big savings launch party (april 17)

TCA is happy to be supporting the launch of The Little Green Book of Big Savings, a book filled with resources for living a greener life in our city (and steals & deals, of course). Come out to the event at Toronto Sprouts this Thursday to learn more, connect with eco-minded folks & celebrate green-minded initiatives.

LittleGreen-Cover-1205 resize

Join us in commemorating all that's green and local in Toronto...

It's Easy To Be Green!

We're celebrating the launch of The Little Green Book of Big Savings by putting on a special Earth Day event. Come eat, discover new ways to reduce your footprint, win prizes, network, be entertained, recycle your used batteries, and more! at this special Bullfrog Powered, social affair.

The goal is to strengthen our community by connecting people who want to learn green alternatives with those who provide them.

All are welcome to share their amazing initiatives! Many of Toronto's local green entrepreneurs will be there.

City Councillor Glenn DeBaeremaeker and Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller will make a brief presentation at 8pm.

A portion of the event's proceeds will be donated to Green Enterprise Toronto, The Conservation Council of Ontario and Toronto Green Community.

When. Thursday, April 17th
Where. Toronto Sprouts - 720 Bathurst St. (just South of Bloor)
Time. 6pm - 12am
Cost. By donation

The Little Green Book of Big Savings is Toronto's coupon book and guide for green and healthy living. It includes tips, resources, and over $4,000 in savings and freebies from local businesses. It was created by Allison 'BabyG' Greenbaum as her way of helping her community save money and live sustainably.

For more information visit