07 December 2011

One of a Kind Christmas Craft Show Redux

Technical issues are resolved, the photos are retrieved and as promised (and only a little late), I'm back with the One of a Kind Christmas Craft Show redux!!

First, allow me to say it was terrific.  My mum and I have a tradition every year wherein on the second-to-last day of the show, we meet early-early for breakfast at our favourite local greasy spoon, then swing by Timmy's for two buckets of sweet steeped tea before hitting the road for a day of shopping, taste-testing and laughing.  We choose the second-to-last day deliberately: in the past we've attended earlier in the show on the first weekend, but found the crowds were ridiculous and fighting them dimmed our enjoyment a little bit.

A few years back we tried the final weekend (it actually happened as an accident of timing: we couldn't get there any earlier!) and it felt like the sun coming out on a rainy day: fewer people, more patient crowds, and more time to saunter the aisles and chat up the vendors about their merchandise which, to be honest, is one of our favourite elements of attending.  And this year was even more spectacular, for reason's we haven't been able to put our fingers on.  I don't know if there were fewer booths with larger real estate on the floor, or if the show was laid out differently, or if it really was just the difference a smaller crowd can make; whatever "it" was, the show was more easily navigated and products more easily spotted than ever before.  Kudos to the show organizers and vendors for another year very well done!

And now onto the really important stuff:
my favourite vendors/products!  To be sure, it was difficult whittling down the vast array of merchandise - some functional, some decorative but all beautiful in their own ways - to just a handful of top picks.  I could have easily featured a hundred artists or two, without batting an eye.  Unfortunately, however, Google Blogger does have its limits, and I think I might be pushing them if I tried to include that many photos :)

So despite my amazement and appreciation of the sheer volume of hand-crafted items, these are my ten absolute, without-a-doubt favourites
(in random order):

Alex Yeung Ceramic Art
The dishware and practical pottery of Mr. Yeung were beautiful, to be sure, but the show-stoppers are his oversized, organic table lamps.  Just as beautiful off as they are on, they are true works of art.

Forbes Wild Foods
The good folks at Forbes Wild Foods introduced me to an amazing assortment of delicious food I had never tried before: pickled cattail hearts (yum!), wild mushroom mustard (so good), sumac jelly (unbelievably delicious) ... there wasn't anything I tried at their booth that I didn't love, and quite a lot of it came home with me! Their website offers a tremendous amount of information about Canadian indigenous foods, and Forbes themselves can be found at numerous shows and markets around Ontario.  Check their website for details!

Porcelaines Bousquet
Louise Bousquet is a tremendously gifted artist whose porcelain pieces are nothing short of magnificent.  Every item in her booth ~ from dishware to teapots to gorgeous decorative ceramic fruits ~ was simply stunning.  Excellent craftsmanship (or craftswomanship!) was evident in every single piece, and there wasn't anything of Louise's that I wouldn't have felt privileged to take home with me and cherish forever.


Anne Armstrong Pottery
Anne is an amazing artist whose pottery work is both beautiful and incredibly intensive.  She was so gracious at the show and took the time to share with me the details of her processes; each piece is a labour of love and commitment, taking more time to perfect than Anne cares to calculate!  A piece of her work (or 20!) would make a beautiful, stylish and unique addition to any home.

Hammersmith Metal Works
Y'all are aware of my ongoing obsession with antlers, so to say I was excited to spot these fabulous racks is an understatement.  The fact that they're hand-crafted from metal and wood made them that much more appealing (particularly for those of us who are living with folks I call affectionately term the "horn-squeamish").  Hammersmith offers much more than just antlers, however.  Drop by their website to check out (and admire!) their entire body of work.

Philippe et Anne Pallafray
Without exaggeration, there wasn't one single piece of furniture in the Pallafray booth that I wouldn't have gone home with.  Recycled and natural materials are used in concert to create beautiful, practical and unique furniture with industrial flair but that will stand the test of time.  No flash-in-the-pan design here, each piece is an heirloom in the making.

Avril Loreti Modern Home
Ahhhhh, textile heaven!  It is no wonder that each item at the Modern Home booth was infused with huge and infectious personality: the designer herself is lively, bubbly and fabulously welcoming, and her personality is infused in everything she does.  The paint chip table runners and place mats spoke directly to my little decorator heart, but what I loved best about them was that the name of each hue was dreamt up by Avril herself and translated to French by her mom.  Add to that her beautiful painterly hot water bottles covers, her vibrant toss pillows and those tote bags??  LOVE.  My wish list is double-sided (no joke) ...

Hilary Cosgrove
Everyone needs something cute and cuddly in their lives, and Hilary's stuffed animals fit the bill exactly.  Add to that, that her focus is woodland animals - specifically, owls (my favourite!) - and the cuteness factor skyrockets.  How can you live without one of these, or ten?

When we came across these amazing footstools/ottomans/riding toys, there was not one but TWO toddlers mounted up and bouncing away on these unique leather pieces.  Each hand-made animal is adorable, hilarious, attractive and highly functional, and an absolute STEAL for the price.

I wish this photo was a better one but still ... don't you just love the herd effect?

Hotties by fromtofrom
Hot water bottles are clearly making a stylish comeback, and none were more stylish than my favourite Hotties.  Sloe-eyed and pebble-shaped, these adorable little monsters are a must-have for winter cuddling.  Their super-sweet but super-annoyed expressions are hilarious and endearing and best of all is the attention to detail: their Pirate series even comes with little fabric peg legs!  Gotta have it!

Honourable mention certainly goes to Devine Fine Jewellery, from whom my mum purchased a GOR.GEE.OUS pearl necklace for herself:

Absolutely stunning.  It goes without saying, of course, that all photos are courtesy of me, so please forgive the lack of quality in most cases.  I encourage everyone to visit the websites of each vendor for better representations of their products, for information and of course, to order!

And that's it!  My take on the best-of-the-best: the most beautiful, most stylish
and most wanted of the season.  And now that the holidays have officially begun (for me, at least), it's all Christmas all the time from now until the 25th, so get ready to get your festive on!

'Til tomorrow ...