Niki Kingsmill of Niki Kingsmill Fine Art and Illustration



How did you get into your art/craft?

I’ve been painting and creating since I was very young. Both my mum and grandmother painted themselves, so I grew up watching them. I was always making something.

What do you love most about your process?

I love how freeing it is. I can’t really explain how it feels to have an idea, execute it, and be so energized by what I’m doing!

How has your practice changed over time?

When I was younger, I was painting or drawing occasionally when I had time, but never took it too seriously. I then took a 4 month course at the AGO in Toronto while I was in high school. We learned all sorts of painting and drawing methods. It was a fabulous course that introduced me to so many new ways of making. I think this is when I realized I wanted to pursue art in University.

I went on to study Art History & Studio Art at Concordia University. I learned so much from my studio classes, but still hadn’t really found my own style. I believe it was only when I was out of school, and frustrated with my job in the financial industry, that I started to really experiment with the intention of doing this full time. I really wanted to get to a point where I’d feel comfortable leaving my job, and I did!

What is your favourite childhood memory?

We used to do an annual trip to Maine with my parents and brother. We would drive through Vermont and stay by the beach in Maine, and eat so much lobster! Many great memories from those trips!

What inspired you to become a craftsperson/artist?

Not sure what really sparked my interest, but I know I’ve always gravitated towards creative work. I knew I would never be happy doing anything else. And although I was scared to leave my job in the financial industry, I would have regretted it if I didn’t try!


If you could be any character from any novel, who would you be?

My favourite books to read are Granta’s – they are a collection of short stories surrounding a particular theme, so the charcters are always changing. Too many wonderful ones to remember!

What do you like to listen to when you work?

I actually like to listen to artists like Tycho, Air, and playlists where there are no lyrics. I like to just have music on that lets me zone into my work.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

Everywhere! Online tools like Pinterest are great for inspiration. Instagram is as well because you can see people’s real photos of a particular place or subject. Usually those get me started on a train of thought, and I’ll keep notes of what’s running through my head. Just walking or driving also helps me to think, or visiting a second hand store that’s full of all sorts of unique treasures.


Tell us about your workspace/studio.

I am very lucky to have a large home studio that lets in so much beautiful natural light. I have my prints and cards on display, room for my desk where I paint watercolour, and a corner for all my oil and acrylic painting at the easel.

Where can you be found when you're not in your studio?

I like to take a break and go to the gym, or I’m making something delicious to eat in the kitchen!


Anna Kari of Anna Kari Fine Knitwear

Anna Kari Knitwear


How did you get into your art/craft?

I am self-taught on the machine but I have always hand knit, so understanding and developing work on a knitting machine was not too much of a stretch. I fell into machine knitting after a career in developing printed and silhouettes for womenswear collections. I felt knitting had a certain warmth and vitality as a physical object and I wanted to pursue that. After finding and restoring a number of Swiss hand flat vintage knitting machines from the 1940’s and 1950’s, a process I really enjoyed, I began to develop swatches and full collections on the machines. Ever since that first machine I have really enjoyed the physical process of knitting on such wonderful pieces of equipment.

What do you love most about your process?

That I make 3D objects out of yarn, which is essentially a long line of twisted fibre. Amazing!

How has your practice changed over time?

My work has gotten simpler and more functional over time. I cram less ideas into one piece. 

What inspired you to become a craftsperson/artist?

 I have always been interested in making and building having come from a long line of craftspeople (basketmakers, violin makers, knitters, weavers and clockmakers!). I was always drawing and working with colour in some form.


What is your favourite childhood memory?


Walking the dogs through poppy fields in England with the family. I always collected acorns, wild grasses and chestnuts on my walks.

If you could be any character from any novel, who would you be? Why?

Bathseba Everdeen from Far from the Madding Crowd. Although her character lived in 1874, she followed her gut, she made mistakes and she made bold choices. She was one of the first fictional characters I could identify with. 


What do you like to listen to when you work?
Movie soundtracks and composers (Hans Zimmer and Ennio Morricone), industrial electronica and shoegaze.


Where do you turn for inspiration?

Colour wise I'm very influenced by my everyday and immediate surroundings so the colours in my garden and seasonal changes are places that inspire me. With knitting inspiration I look to the 1940’s and 1970’s for patterns and ideas. I also have a great deal of vintage knitting magazine from the 20’s to 50’s which I return to often.

Tell us about your workspace/studio.

My studio looks a bit like a car mechanic garage and a yarn shop combined. It is very spare and full of light. When I was a child my dad had a clockmaking studio in a restored 15th century horse stable and Ive always gravitated towards a space with character and light.

Where can you be found when you're not in your studio?

At the record store, going for walks, spending time with my son, and growing veggies in the garden. Music and the outdoors are my jam.

Anna Kari Knitwear at Black & Smith Country General

Dan Shannon from Bellowing Timber


"There's a profound satisfaction in starting with a raw piece of wood - something that grew right out of the earth - and cutting, milling, shaping, sanding, and finishing it into something beautiful.

The whole process is important. Skip a step or make a wrong assumption, and you will be lucky to have things not end in compromise, or maybe even heartbreak.  But if you take the time and energy required, if you give it all of your heart, and your mind, and your body, you can end up with something special.  Something that reveals all the previously hidden beauty of the material itself. Something that brings the user pleasure to touch, manipulate, and look at. Something useful that will outlive its maker.

Working away in my little shop, what drives me is the hope that these things that I make will speak to people in some way that makes their lives a little simpler and more beautiful. I hope that these objects allow people at least a fleeting moment of peace and pleasure when they run their hands across them.  I hope they will become the 'little treasures of the past' of the future - and provide a personal, human connection from maker to user, right through to another generation"


How did you get into your art/craft?

Kind of on a whim!  I had always wanted to try it; always enjoyed doing art, design, and music projects, but hadn't actually even taken shop class in high school; back then I had always figured I'd end up in a science-related field. Eventually, after dropping out of university and doing all sorts of jobs, including a few years as a line cook, I took the plunge and enrolled at Conestoga in Kitchener.  When I started, I didn't even know the names of most of the machines and tools.  But I loved it and just kept going.  I find it really fulfilling in a lot of ways.

What do you listen to while you are working?

Lots of podcasts about fascinating things, like Canadaland and Radiolab, or comedy shows like Hollywood Handbook or Comedy Bang Bang.  Just whipped through the whole season of Mystery Show a couple days ago.  For work music, I usually gravitate to the stuff in my collection that's got real emotional power, so stuff like Father John Misty, Tallest Man on Earth, Ellen McIlwaine's funkier stuff- or Fela Kuti if I feel like dancing while I'm sanding.

Outside of your medium, what other types of art/design/etc are you inspired by?

Music and visual art.

If you couldn't be an artist/craftsperson, what would you love to be?

Maybe a columnist, or an audio engineer.

Where is your studio located? What's your favourite thing about your city?

I live in Hamilton, and my small shop space is in my basement.  I love Hamilton's progressive and working-class identity, and the art, music, and restaurant scene is really starting to take off.  Hopefully the inevitable gentrification that comes with that will bring positive things like better transit and affordable housing initiatives, instead of pushing people out as it often tends to do. I'm optimistic about that though, there's a lot of really active and socially conscious folks around.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

I fall in love with just about everywhere I travel.  But Iceland might edge out the rest.  I got a sense that folks there need to have a really good understanding of both their built and natural environment, probably due to the sparse population and the long, cold, dark winters. There's also a real sense of camaraderie. I guess self-reliance and community support aren't mutually exclusive. Everyone we met was really interesting and very kind.

What do you love most about Canada?

I mostly shy away from anything approaching nationalism, but I will say: We are so lucky to be where we are, when you look at all the places we could find ourselves.  For the most part we live freely and without fear.  And you can go an hour or two in almost any direction and end up in wilderness.  We often have an overly-rosy view of ourselves, our role in the world, and our collective social conscience, but there's a lot of great things about Canada as well.

What is your favourite thing to do with your "down time"?

Writing and recording music that no one ever hears.  Usually a lot of it is electronic, since I can do that late at night on headphones, but I still have a bunch of instruments, and it's fun to use found sounds too.  I'm a terrible lyricist though, so that's usually why no one but me ends up hearing any of it!

If you could go to dinner with ANYBODY, alive or dead, who would it be?

A couple of people that come to mind are Amy Goodman and Ed Snowden. I really admire people like them.

What brand/artist can you not get enough of?

I have trouble picking one thing!  Everything that I've heard from David Byrne is amazing.  Try to listen to his song "Glass, Concrete and Stone" or the Talking Heads track "Heaven" and not be moved to your core. Both tracks are best when you play them at a high volume!  And then for woodworking, there's a guy named Luke Hope in the UK that posts on Instagram as @hopeinthewoods - it's literally just wooden spoons, but taken to this exquisite, sublime level. I swear my heart skips a beat every time I see his work. They are really pricey, but someday I will own one and display it prominently in a humidity-controlled glass case or something.

What is one thing you hope makes it big?

I'm pretty sure this isn't the type of answer you're looking for - but I am going to say "the craft movement as a whole."  Here we are in this age of increasing automation, where it seems like more and more 'work' is either becoming machine-monitoring and button-pushing, or else it's manipulating algorithms for market trend forecasting so the next quarterly earnings report looks good for shareholders, or whatever, you know?  The craft movement is a big old wrench in that machine because it's something incredibly human and personal and caring.  It makes labour an art, not a resource. Which, to me, is so necessary and so valuable right now.

Do you have a favourite book?

One of my most prized possessions is my (later edition, but still somewhat rare) copy of the Codex Seraphinianus - if you don't know it, it's like a technicolor visual encyclopedia of an alternate-universe Earth, written in an imaginary language that no-one has yet been able to decode -- if it's even possible to. Even the page numbering is in "a variant of base 17", according to a geeky website devoted to the book.  It's so weird and wonderful, and somehow manages to comment really insightfully on our world and the way we perceive it. For fiction, 'Dune' was a really good recent read that comes to mind, and for non-fiction, Rousseau's 'The Social Contract' is maybe my favourite poli sci reading from my university days.

What's one goal you are working towards right now?

I mean, other than getting to the point where I can pay myself a living wage?  I'm still really trying to find my own personal voice as a craftsperson, to find ways to have a particular worldview come through in the work I do. It's a sort of ephemeral thing, and I don't know if there's a point when I will ever reach that goal.  But it's really important to consider and work toward.

What is your favourite thing to do over the holidays?

Every year my family will pull out the globe & mail's massive 2-page crossword and set it on the breakfast table, so while some people are cooking or doing dishes we call out clues and gradually chug through the whole thing. Just don't be the person with the pencil, since whoever's over your shoulder will be calling out answers faster than you can read clues.

Jennifer Wanless-Craig from ARTECH Studios


"In the time of the Renaissance, artists had to be practical and versatile.  They had to make things people really used.  That’s what we do here at Artech Studios.  We make art that people can really use.  Funny, practical and all made by hand.  From us to you.

We are a traditional glassblowing studio nestled in the Highlands of Ontario, Canada.   We produce great upcycled glass tableware and handmade barware.  We are known for our recycled beer glasses, a repurposed beer bottle that still holds a full beer!

Terry Craig and Jennifer Wanless-Craig are the designers, makers, owners and (honestly) the chief bottle washers."


How did you get into your art/craft? 

Took glassblowing as an elective at OCAD (when they had glassblowing) and then went to Sheridan College in Oakville, ON

What do you like to listen to while you’re working?

Podcasts, CBC or Netflix

Outside of your medium, what other types of art/design/etc are you inspired by?

Drawing, painting, sculpture, installation art

If you couldn’t be an artist/craftsperson, what would you love to be?

A lounge singer


Where is your studio located?

We live in an old church in Tory Hill, On (Haliburton County).  Our studio is in our backyard.

What’s your favourite thing about your city?  

It isn't a city!  Our town is in the middle of nowhere.  We get a lot done and enjoy the quiet.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?  

Anywhere in Europe...maybe France.

What do you love most about Canada?

The seasons

What's your favourite thing to do with your “down time”? 

What down time?


If you could go to dinner with ANYBODY, alive or dead, who would it be?

My daughter and husband. On the couch watching a movie.  

What brand/artist can you not get enough of?

I love anything handmade.  We have lots of friends who are crafters and I love seeing their new work.

What’s one thing you hope makes it big?  

lol. Anything we make!

Do you have a favourite book?

Anything I have time to read.  Tom Robbins, John Irving, Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman are some favourites.

What’s one goal you’re working towards right now?  

Making sure we get work made for 5 retail shows and all our wholesale buyers!

Lastly, what’s your favourite thing to do over the holidays?

Chill in pjs and watch all the Harry Potters, Lord of the rings and Star wars!