September 2010

Public Displays of Affection

On September 22 I got on the Queen streetcar heading west. I was not at all sure of what to expect from the evening. PDA (Public Displays of Affection) for Edmond Place Community Design Exhibition was opening that night at the Gladstone Hotel. I was invited to attend by my friend and colleague, Marco Jacob, who had a piece in the exhibit. "PDA for Edmond Place is an exploration in community engaged design," read the invitation.

194 Dowling Avenue used to be a roominghouse in Parkdale. The Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC), a social agency in Parkdale, has redeveloped the site and in November it will be reborn into 29 units of supported housing called Edmond Place. The facade remains the same, as it is a heritage building, while the interior structure was removed and rebuilt, complete with an elevator and roof top patio. Local designers, businesses and community members were asked to help Edmond Place to not have to resort to the usual institutional furnishings that are common to subsidized housing. Individuals were encouraged to think economically, environmentally and to use materials that had been set aside from the demolition.

The results were breathtaking, clever and very unexpected.

154CoffeeTable_MarkTan.jpgCoffee Table by Mark Tan. Reclaimed Douglas Fir, Mahogany, Hard White Maple, Walnut, Poplar, White Oak, Ash and Cherry.

Walking through the various rooms of the Gladstone Hotel, looking at the donated pieces, I was astounded to see

For the Birds

150IMG_3761.JPGFriday night at Avenue Road and Eglinton Michelle and went to check out a store specializing in local handcrafts. When we were walking home we looked up to see hundreds of birds along all the wires above us making an awful lot of noise. Everyone was looking up and standing to the side so as to not be in the direct line of fire. At first my thoughts went to Hitchcock, as birds in that  quantity are a bit intimidating. But then I remembered Pixars For the Birds. This is by far one of my favourite short animations.


Rice Lake XI

140PlayfulFish_JosephChigangaidze.jpgPlayful Fish, Joseph Chigangaidze

Once again I find myself in the car with my mom blasting along the country roads of the Eastern Townships. This time we are headed for a very unique art gallery. The Rice Lake Gallery was founded in 2000 by Fran Fearnley and represents over 50 Zimbabwean stone sculptors. The entire exhibit is outside.

We crawl in the long dirt driveway. Glimpses of stone shine through the trees as we pass. We park our car in a field and we open the car doors to the sound of

My First Rejection Letter

Dear Crafty Citizen,

Thank you for applying to City of Craft 2010.  We are sorry to have to tell you that your work was not accepted to this year's show.

This year's jury process was extremely competitive as we received an unprecedented amount of applications.  With our limited space, potential vendors had a 1 in 7 chance in making the final list.  As a result we ended up having to turn away many applicants that we would have loved to include in the show – a painful process to be sure!

Since our 2007 December show, City of Craft has grown beyond the holiday show with programming throughout the year. We'd love to have you participate in our celebration of craft in this city in some future capacity, so please stay in touch about City of Craft activities including future shows. 

For information on other shows happening in Toronto, the new craft shows call forum at the Toronto Craft Alert is probably the best place to look.  If you're looking abroad, we recommend this site

If you'd like to participate in the December show as a volunteer, please let us know – we'd love to have you involved!  Email us at:

With warm regards,

City of 

At the end of the rainbow.


It is a dreary, overcast, drizzly day. I am off with my mom and my dear friend Kimberley to have dinner with friends, Sandy and Ian Mackie. Sandy and Ian are both Ontario artisans who create wood furniture and woodland products and I have been wanting to see their studios and home for 2 years now!

Their home is situated in the lush countryside of Eastern Ontario, nestled between apple trees and

The Brutish Museum

Standing in the scorching summer heat with the rest of Toronto, waiting for the ferry to the island, I think back to the events that lead me to this day.

Months ago I went for an evening stroll along Danforth and saw in a store front the most incredible assemblage art. I stood there for a long time. Each individual piece stared back—deploringly. Disturbed creatures made from old things found. Some, insect-like in their protruberences, looked as though they would creep, slowly away. The more unsettling were the human figures—woeful, pleading, sad—begging passersby to free them from the boxes that trapped them.

82AlastairDickson1.jpgDetails from the Brutish Museum by Alastair Dickson

“Alastair Dickson” reads the paper taped to the window. I went home and did some research. Born in Scotland. Classically trained in art and sculpture at a school in Edinburgh. Picked grapes in France. Worked as a trainee nurse in a security mental hospital in Liverpool. Went back to