Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Here we are, only two more sleeps until Christmas. In my opinion, people who count down sleeps instead of days until something are usually slightly over excited and that is what I am. I hope that you are all ready to hang your stockings by the fire with care! This will be my last post prior to the big day, and I wanted to share some amazing Ronaldo original photos of some of my favourite ornaments for my puny Charlie Brown Christmas tree that I love so much.

This ornament is practically a relic. My best friend in grade two, Martha Cooley, gave this to me back in Claire: the early years. The art of laundry peg crafts has fallen by the wayside as of late, but this little Mary with her little felt Jesus (I believe Martha's mom made it) is still top of the pops on my tree.

This is appropriate in theme with the whole Sherlock Holmes movie hype. Who doesn't love Snoopy? If you look closely, that's a little Watson Woodstock leaning up on him.

Now that you've enjoyed some nice photography that may or may not have warmed your heart, I want to thank you SO MUCH for all of your support this year, and for reading my blog! I promise that 2010 holds many neato things for you to look forward to. I will be sure to fill you in on the events of Christmas next week, as I am off of work (yessssssssss.)


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Available at a store near you (as long as you're in Toronto)

WOW! It's a record! Two consecutive days of blogging! As promised, I have a few shots of my tea towel set up at the store Model Citizen in Kensington Market, Toronto. I took a little trip yesterday afternoon to see how they look, and just look! They set them up beautifully!

I was talking to the lovely sales lady and she mentioned that they are also going to be carrying the work of one of my old schoolmates! Her name is Gosia, and they couldn't have made a smarter decision- she's a super talent. Have a look at her work on her website here. Trust me- if you don't fall in love with it, I'll be a monkey's uncle!

Today I was visiting a good friend of mine who lives in Oakville, Ontario. She mentioned that she thought my alphabet prints would do well in some of the smaller boutique stores in the city, and took me to see one while I was there this afternoon. The place was called Rattle and Stroll (cute little name!) and filled with some amazing baby products that are quite coo-worthy. I am working on a bit of research on costing some printed canvas, but am happy even with the prospect of getting some prints in a store. I will be sure to keep you updated on the progress. In the meantime, I have lots of little projects to work on that I'll be sure to tell you about post Christmas as I don't know who may be reading this blog on any which day and I would hate to ruin a holiday surprise.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

So, what now?

Happy Saturday! It's a balmy -7 degrees here in Toronto. At least it's sunny! It's been just over a week since introducing my tea towels to the world, and it's already time to get back to work and start making some more. Last Sunday I participated in the Leila Cools holiday craft sale. I didn't make any sales that day, which I suppose is just part of the business, I did get a chance to talk to some awesome vendors who have experience running an etsy shop. Now that my very short run of craft sales has come to an end it's time to start looking for new places to sell my wares and etsy is definitely at the top of the list of options for me. I have taken a trip to my local post office and figured out how much shipping around the world would be, and have picked up a stack of customs forms to save me time in the long run, so now all I have to do is actually post some items to sell. To tell you the truth, I'm a little scared. I'm scared of most things before I try them so this isn't shocking to me, but I need to just get over it and put something up. I promise that by the end of this weekend you will be able to buy something from my store. You can hold me accountable to this statement. In the mean time I have put the towels in a retail location in Kensington Market called Model Citizen. More about that in my next posting (hopefully immediately after uploading product on Etsy) tomorrow night.

On another topic, this past Thursday was my monthly book club meeting. We went out to this amazing Italian restaurant called Terroni. After busting my bum to make all my towels and greeting cards what did you think I would do after all the hulabaloo was over? Make more crafts, of course! I adore my book club an think the world of my fellow members. As it's coming up to Christmas and it was also the 1st anniversary of our first meeting, I thought I would make the girls some personalized bookmarks. I used my
special Japanese reversible fabric I bought way back in the summer. They were a big hit!

Lily made us all these delicious chocolatey-candy-caney shortbread cookies that barely made it through the front door when I came home that night. Ronaldo and I had polished half the bag before hitting the hay!

Mmmmmm... holiday baking!

I have to get my bum into Christmas shopping mode today. I was really aiming to buy most of my gifts on etsy, but time has slipped away from me and the shipping deadlines are too tight. Boo. I'm off to see what the streets of Toronto have to offer. Stay warm!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Speakeasy success!

My science experiment has now had it's official first round of testing, with some positive conclusions!
Thursday I debuted my towels at the annual Speakeasy holiday craft sale. Thanks so much for those of you who were able to come out- your support means the world to me! Ronaldo was absolutely amazing with helping me- all the lugging, these beautiful photos, and moral support! What a guy, eh?
I was in good company with the retailers I shared the evening with. Lots of cool stuff like leather goods, jewelery, and dirty soaps with little plastic humping animals in the middle of the bar. I was able to make 18 completed sets of towels, and even though I had time to spare, I opted to work until the eleventh hour creating some holiday themed print gocco greeting cards. Silly me- I was a little more than stressed when it came down to it, but once everything was set up it was smooth sailing. Look how great it all looked!

This is me calculating with my brand new dollar store calculator. Needless to say, it wasn't as necessary as I thought it would be.

The crowds came and went in waves and, happily, most people thought the towels were really cute, and could see the work that I put into the embroidery. Not as many science geeks came along as I had hoped, but it was fun playing "name that element" with the passers by. Most folks got calcium, not one person got tin, even with the help of the tin can visual. I had made one set of two printed towels, just as a test to see how it would sell, and it sold pretty much immediately. I sold a few more sets of just printed towels, so next time I will be sure to make extra sets of just screened for that crowd. It's something I will keep in mind for my next designs.

I get another opportunity to sell to the population of Toronto tomorrow, Sunday the 6th, at 1013 Queen St. West, on the second floor. It's with Leila Cools' workshop collective studio sale, and will feature
oil paintings, cards, fused glass, photography, natural skin care, natural baked goods, and polymer jewelery. I will have my towels, printed foodie alphabet posters, and brand new hand printed greeting cards. If you are in the hood please do stop by and check it out- it should be a fun Sunday!

I'm looking forward to the second round of the experiment. Next step after this is Etsy- this is a bit stressful for me but I suppose the best way to do it is just jump in with two feet.

Wish me luck tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hey! I thought you said you were back!

As the old saying states, time flies when you're making tea towels. I have been a busy little bee getting ready for the pinnacle of my months of tests and labours. Next Thursday, December 3rd is the day of the Speakeasy craft sale and the debut of my tea towels!

Before I get into the specifics of the progress of my work I want to share with you the specifics of the two craft sales that I will be featuring my products. First, as mentioned above, is the Speakeasy holiday craft sale, at the Gladstone hotel. It starts at 8 and a donation is asked to enter the sale. See the flyer above for the rest of the info. If you're in the area please stop by- the sale features a TON of awesome work to oogle. The second sale is a last minute decision. It's happening on Sunday December 6th, with the Workshop Collective studio. The studio is located on the 2nd floor at 1380 Queen St West. Both sales will be fun and I hope to see you there!

So, the specifics! I have been working my bum off on the designs and construction of the tea towels, as well as packaging. I have come up with some great ways to save time. Using a rotary cutter and a hand made pattern has made fabric cutting a breeze! I'm also using an acetone/ carbon photo transfer technique to transfer the embroidery images to cut down on re-drawing the design every time. Without these quickeners I'd be in big trouble. I had my first silk screening at home experience just last week and am happy to say that it was a lot less messy than I thought it would be! I am finishing the printing tomorrow for the show towels- any fear of screening at home is long gone. My embroidery remains the most time consuming part of the process, although the more I embroider the quicker I get. I used print gocco to make the band label to keep the two towels together. They came out a bit distressed looking but I don't mind it so much. I've decided to price the pack at $35- one silk screened and one embroidered. I feel like I'm actually on the home stretch and know that I've got a great item to sell to the world. That makes me happy as heck.

I also decided to get some prints made of the alphabet poster I made for a friend in the spring. I really loved doing it and I have never made high quality prints of my work before. I went to my tried and trusted printer buddies Marco and Nadia at MarcorMedia to get them done and they turned out beautifully. I can't wait to debut them on thursday night. They will be $60 each. My main concern now is finding a way to package the prints without damaging them or my pocket book. Any ideas?

I'm also going to sell some home-goccoed greeting cards (I know, I know- I really am not getting any sleep at all) in a variety of themes.

I will be sure to fill you in on how everything goes at the sale. Of course, if you can come out and see it for yourself, all the better.

Until next week, ta ta!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where the heck have I BEEN???

I am BACK!

I apologize for the lengthy hiatus on this lovely, yet way neglected blog. It's been a terribly busy month, and I won't go into the gory details of it all, but it started with my computer having the digital equivalent of a stroke. I was just getting ready to put up my (Canadian) thanksgiving blog post when the "left arm went numb". Here's the lovely illustration that would have greeted you way back when. Now you may apply it to American thanksgiving!

Anyhow, after weeks of trying to revive my second generation iMac G5 I officially called the time of death on Monday, November 2nd, at 5:45 PM. May it rest in peace.

I was able to go through the grieving process quite quickly, as two days later a new computer came into my home and filled the hole in my heart with all it's 27 inches. Oh, beautiful, beautiful, humongous iMac. How deep and hard I have fallen for you.

Although it seems all I've been doing is fretting about my computer woes, I actually had a very busy 4 weeks while away from the world of blogging. I figure that I'll split it into personal and professional over two posts as I don't want to overload your senses. So first, the personal.

Aside from Canadian thanksgiving, I celebrated the beginning of my last year of my 20's on the 14th of October. I was spoiled with lovely flowers, bellinis, bunny busts, and swimming gear. I also did some spoiling myself, as Ronaldo helped me make a big spread of homemade Italian dinner and appetizer fare for my nearest and dearests. All in all, a lovely way to ring in my 29th year.

My sister, Martha, came up a week later to take me to a lovely concert at Massey Hall. It was David Gray, who I am not all that familiar with, but loved all the same. In fact, I found my newest obsession that night- his opener, Lisa Hannigan! Her music was amazing- relaxing, sweet, adorable, and her voice is just lovely. Aside from some mega jerks who sat in front of us (David Gray had to stop the show to tell them to get off their phones because it was distracting!) our second row seats were mind blowing!

A week after THAT was Halloween!! It's one of my favourite holidays, and Ronaldo and I went all out.

He was Ash from the Evil Dead movies...

...and I was a flapper girl! We are too cool for matching costumes!

We went out to a 60's revival night with our friends Pat and Terrence (anyone seen the TV show Extras?) and had a blast. I was a big fan of Ronaldo's homemade hand chainsaw and particularly his shot gun!

The next day, as hung over as hell, we went to see this year's tour of Cirque De Soleil, Ovo. It was my birthday present from Ronaldo, and I was totally mesmerized the whole time. I have never seen anything like it! Even the tents were impressive!

So, that is half of the fun you missed while I was neglectful. Next post I will highlight the work I've done and what's happening in the world of tea towels.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Chemistry Experiment: The queen of screen

Here we go. As I said in an earlier post, I gave up on creating a gocco print for the two matching printed tea towels in my "chemistry set" (my new name for the set, by the way) and decided to come up with another solution. Ronaldo and I were in the Kensington Market area of Toronto a few weeks back when I ran across a store called Model Citizen with a sign in the window advertising a silk screening workshop that happened occasionally on Sunday afternoons. I went in and met Julian Finkle, who I think owns the store and runs the workshop. He spoke so passionately about screening that I knew that I had found the solution to my printing problems. I spent the last week preparing a handful of colourful tea towels, and working on a tight design that fused kitchen and chemistry with the old Claire flare.

I have to say that the preparation was well worth it. The class was worth every last penny of the $180 I spent on it. First, Julian seems to keep the classes small- the class I was in was meant to have four students, but it ended up that only two of us
were able to make it. We started by actually stretching the screens. Ian (the other student) and I next learned the process of applying the photo emulsion. We were taught the steps to creating a usable image and how to burn it on to our screens. Ian made designs incorporating the Japanese characters that made up his son's name and I had my sciencey screens.

Once the the screens were burned we were taught techniques to apply the inks actually print something. How gratifying to see the results! Here are some images of the work I created that afternoon:

Here is a towel with my inspiration- basil!

The class went from 12 noon until around 7. Julian was incredibly knowledgeable and welcomed us back to make more screens at a later date if we wanted to. I highly recommend the class to anyone who's interested in learning the basics of screen printing. Hopefully, if all goes well, my towels will be available at Model Citizen just in time for the Christmas season!

I even made a few extra for myself and Ronaldo to use. Here's a picture of Ronaldo's amazing homemade tomato sauce too!

Next step is trying to bring down cost of material, time spent on creating the art, and figuring out the packaging.

What do you think so far?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nuit Blanche it up!

What a weekend! I feel like I need a day off to recover from it! Lots of friends, family, fun, and art and crafty goodness. It starts with the arrival of a special parcel in the mail.....

...look what finally arrived! About two weeks too late, but I'm sure that I will find a use for it eventually.

The Madonna dance party was a hoot with my dear friend Vinny.

Saturday my little sister Martha came from Guelph and, along with Ronaldo and I, took to the streets of Toronto for the all-night art festival, Nuit Blanche. Although it was extremely busy, we had a great time!

The night started with Martha and I creating a clay tile in honour of our dead family pet, Bert the cat. And a few flasks of sweet sweet rum.

We tried going to a block party (ironically called Tony and Bert's block party) but it ended up taking place across the street from the Men's mission. Sketchy enough during the day, extra sketchy at midnight. We moved on to this lovely silver balloon bunny to calm our nerves.

Strung across the towers of city hall was this giant 4-letter-word generator. I swear, it made the word BART a few times, but every time I tried to catch it on camera, it changed to this really familiar word(?).

We saw all sorts of neat installations, did some life drawing at a hair salon, breathing art that moved, and a gigantic light bright. At the end of the night, this was Martha's favourite display. Who doesn't love a gorilla eating a child who is eating an ice cream? Next stop for this truck: The Louvre.

An exhausting night of art, but nice to experience with the awesome people I saw it all with. Sunday morning, and my much anticipated screen printing workshop came all too soon. As it was SO amazing I am honouring the class with it's own posting tomorrow. Feel free to wait with bated breath.