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December 16, 2011

A few weeks ago I spent the day at the One of a Kind Fall 2011 show in Toronto with a friend.  I love going to this show every year because it introduces me to a new set of local (or at least Canadian) artisans who are producing gorgeous and unique work.  This year was particularly fruitful, so I thought I would do a bit of a round-up here of the designers whose work really caught my eye.


I seriously love ceramics.  There will never be enough bowls, plates, pitches, platters or vases in my life (nor enough room in my house to store it all, it seems…)  Three artisans in particular made me want to drop wads of cash that I didn’t have.  The first was Michelle Mendlowitz.  Her booth was one of the first that really caught my eye, and my mind kept wandering back to it all day.

This picture doesn’t really do her work justice.  These bowls were quite large, and absolutely stunning.  I chatted with Michelle for a bit and learned that she had originally studied painting.  I think it really shows in her pieces, since her glazing is so loose and painterly.

The other ceramicist who was new to me was Filipa Pimental.  Again, the photo doesn’t do the pieces justice.  The texture was wonderful and the white was whiter than it appears here.  And there was a pale blue series that was perfection.  I really wanted the mixing bowls and the pitchers (there was a small one, too) to come home with me.

Finally, a favourite of mine from last year had a booth again this year:  Ceramik B.  These lovely ceramics, by Basma Osama of Montreal, are heavenly.  The way they look, the way they feel in your hand…if I won the lottery one of the first things I’d do (right after I pay off the student debt) would be to outfit my entire kitchen with these pieces.

There are actually four different clay colours.  The fourth is a lovely, rich chocolatey brown.  The interiors have a clear glaze but the exteriors are rough and raw, and the organic shapes of the pieces are a lovely reminder of the artist’s hand during their creation.  Go download this year’s catalogue and ogle all the lovelies. ;)

Screen Prints

One of the things I love scouting at this show is all the screen-printed textiles.  Especially the tea towels and pillows and totes and such.  My new favourite this year was the Freshly Printed booth, by Jen Kneulman and Lauren Hunter.

Their subtle, laid-back drawings and dedication to sustainability make for a truly lovely product.  I liked it all but the Mason Jars stole my heart!

Another new-to-me designer was Avril Loreti.  Her designs are so bright and cheerful and full of whimsy!

The houndstooth tea towels are my favourite thing in her shop, although the paint chip placemats are a close second.

Another favourite from years past is Fluf.  I have been coveting some pillows and a tote bag or five from them since I first saw them at the show about 5 years ago.

This year they decided to sell some yardage of their fabric at an amazing price (3 metres of 54″ wide fabric for $25?!?!) and since I can’t say no to good fabric I bought some for Christmas gifts.  Unfortunately you’ll have to wait until after the holidays to see what I made. ;)


Finally, my favourite thing to buy at the OOAK shows are the fashion accessories.  There is always a wonderful variety of jewelry, bags, hats, scarves and clothing to tempt me to stray from my budget, and this year was no exception.  But two in particular stood out for me.

I first heard of HOI BO this past summer, so I was really looking forward to seeing some of Sarra Tang’s work in person.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

Sarra makes her bags, such as these leather toiletry cases, by hand in her Toronto studio, including the clasp at the front.  If you check out the website you’ll see how lovely the studio space is…even the hangers were custom-designed by Sarra!

Last but certainly not least was String Theory.  This was another booth that I was really looking forward to, as I had seen some images of the work of Lysanne Latulippe and Meghan Price earlier in the year.

I love scarves and wear them all the time, summer and winter, so I could easily have brought home one of everything in the catalogue.  Everything felt so warm and soft and luxurious.  If you’re looking for a standout piece for your winter wardrobe this year then this is your shop.  Seriously.

So those are the highlights!  My little hit list is a bit too late for Christmas gift ideas this year, but I really encourage you to check out some of the shops I linked to.  I think it’s really important to support local artisans and would much rather buy from them than from the nearest big box.

And I’d love to hear if you end up splurging on something from one of these designers!

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