made in canada

Niki Kingsmill of Niki Kingsmill Fine Art and Illustration

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INTERVIEW:

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!

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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.

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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!

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Anna Kari of Anna Kari Fine Knitwear

Anna Kari Knitwear

INTERVIEW:

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.

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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. 

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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

Kristen and Lora of Sun + Stars

Sun and Stars Co.

"sun+stars is the passion project of a couple of creative mamas, Kristen + Lora who have been friends for over 15 years. Drawn together through our mutual love of tiny donuts, cute cacti, 60's soul music and vintage clothing.

As long time veterans of the Toronto fashion industry (Roots, Club Monaco, Joe Fresh, PreLoved), and lovers of all things handmade, in the summer of 2015 we decided to join forces and create a line of our own.

Together we aim to design items that appeal to both kids and their parents; Pieces that add imagination to a child's bedroom or look playful in a living room. We believe in quality goods made from sustainable materials that will live in your home for years to come."

INTERVIEW:

How did you get into your art/craft?

We both have backgrounds in fashion and have always loved making things for ourselves. After becoming moms, we came together and talked about starting a kids line, making printed decor and clothing with modern, simple graphics. We had a friend show us how to silkscreen one afternoon and we've been hooked ever since. We love the satisfaction of working with a new screen and raising it up to reveal our design.

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

We usually throw on a playlist with a 60's or 70's mix....sometimes some 80's and 90's creeps in there.

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

Kristen + Lora -Photography

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

Kristen- A museum curator or pastry chef.
Lora- A writer

Silkscreens by sun+stars
sun+stars co silkscreening

Where is your studio located?

Our studio is located in Lora's house in the west end of Toronto. We both live in a neighbourhood called the Junction.

What's your favourite thing about your city?

Kristen- Toronto rules! I love all the distinctly, different neighborhoods...the Junction, Roncesvalles Village, Parkdale and Leslieville are my faves. Each is special in its own way with beautiful houses, shops and restaurants.
Lora- I love how many parks there are in the city, you are always a 10 minute walk away from a park.

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

Kristen- Edinburgh or Venice Beach
Lora- I always thought I would live in a big old house in the country....somewhere in Canada I wouldn't want to take my kids too far away from family.

What do you love most about Canada?

Kristen- Our beautiful landscape and diversity
Lora- I feel lucky to raise my family in a place that's progressive and safe, filled with beautiful places and diverse people.

 
Freshly printed tree sun+stars co
 

What brand/artist can you not get enough of?

Kristen- Right now I'm obsessed with "thief & bandit's" lingerie and "jb+dg's" beautiful wooden feathers
Lora- I love Jen Collin's ceramics and Korinne Vader's clothing, small fashion in natural fabrics.

What’s one thing you hope makes it big?

Kristen- There's a take out restaurant with a couple of locations here in Toronto called Urban Herbivore, I hope they make it big and open more locations...their delicious vegan food is the best.
Lora- I hope the tiny house movement gets bigger, we need to be realistic about the future of our planet.

What's your favourite book?

Kristen- I don't have any particular favourite. I like reading biographies mostly- "dirt" by motley crue and "then again" by Dianne Keaton are up there...
Lora- The little Prince...I love books for adults that read as books for kids and vice versa. I'm a HUGE Roald Dahl fan too.

 
Throw pillows by sun+stars co
 

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

Kristen- Watch Netflix and eat chips, guilty pleasures
Lora- I'm a do-er, I love going for walks, and DIY-ing

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

Kristen- David Bowie
Lora- Bette Davis, hopefully a night of too many drinks and fabulous one liners.

 

Ali Harrison of Light and Paper

 
 

"It was a fateful day one December when, in search of a unique Christmas gift, Ali decided to try a new craft. Using a borrowed box cutter and her kitchen cutting board, Ali created her first papercutting. After falling in love with cutting paper, Ali armed herself with a sharper blade and an actual cutting mat, and Light & Paper was born. At first, all Light & Paper items were handcut originals - but when it was near impossible to keep up with orders, Ali decided to begin lasercutting her designs.

Preferring a blade to a pen, Ali first creates her designs by cutting paper by hand. These intricate, unique patterns are then transformed into a variety of fun lasercut housewares."

INTERVIEW:

How did you get into your art/craft?

I first tried out papercutting when I was looking for a unique Christmas gift to make for my aunt. I fell in love with the craft and a few months later started Light & Paper.

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

Podcasts! My favourites are This American Life, 2 Dope Queens, and NPR Politics.

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

Lately I've been so inspired and amazed by embroidery artists and the gorgeous work they are creating!

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

Something with animals - full time puppy cuddler? 

Ali in her studio.

Ali in her studio.

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

My studio is located in Toronto's West end. My favourite part of my city is Chinatown and Kensington market - it's right around the corner from my home, and I love walking through on Sunday mornings for dim sum, fresh produce and coffee.

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

Amsterdam! My family is from Holland, and Amsterdam is the most lovely city in the world.

What do you love most about Canada?

The weather! I know we all like to complain about our winters, but I love having four very different seasons. I can't wait for the first snow of the season (but I'm sure I'll be regretting saying that in March).

Advent Ornament Calendar

Advent Ornament Calendar

Favourite thing to do with your “down time”.

During the busy holiday season it's spending time with my partner, my dog, and my television.

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

Gertrude Stein! (In Paris of course)

What brand/artist can you not get enough of?

I love the new items this season from our friends at Gotamago! Can't wait to get my hands on one of their new calendars!

What’s one thing you hope makes it big?

Our new ornament advent calendar! It was one of the toughest products to conceptualize, and seeing it come together has made me uncontrollably happy. 

 
Merry Christmas Wreath - Lasercut Wood

Merry Christmas Wreath - Lasercut Wood

 


Do you have a favourite book?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and On Beauty by Zadie Smith

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

Surviving the holiday season ;)

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

Drinking eggnog and watching Love Actually on Christmas Eve - our family tradition!

 

Amber Aasman from Wild Blue Yonder

 
 

" (Amber) began crafting jewelry from wood back in 2014 - simply because I wanted a wood pendant and couldn't find anything I liked. So I began experimenting with found wood, lichens, and epoxy resin. As I wore my handmade pieces, friends and family began asking for similar ones, so I happily obliged. Pushing my craft and expanding my networks has allowed my to begin my own company, Wild Blue Yonder, in the spring of 2016. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, my jewelry is available in several stores, and is displayed regularly at events throughout the region. 

WBY jewelry is created using reclaimed materials, unused lumber scraps, or fragments of wood, bark, and lichen found on hikes and travels through the forest. Little details, often unnoticed in nature, are readily on display in my pieces. My jewelry is designed to inspire its wearer with a love for nature, and all the intricacies that lie therein."

INTERVIEW:

How did you get into your art/craft?

I had been looking for wood jewelry for myself – and couldn’t find anything I liked. So I started making a few pieces, which friends noticed and began requesting them. Over a couple of years, my practice and craft was refined, and early in 2016 I decided to take the plunge, and start the business full time.

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

I alternate between comedy podcasts (This is That, Because News, No Such Thing as a Fish) and French- learning podcasts. Once in while I’ll add some music in the mix too: Indie folk/rock, or old school jazz and blues.

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

I love pottery in all its forms – so earthy and interesting. In a second life I would try to be a potter.

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

Hm. This is genuinely the first time I have thought of this possibility. Can I pick music teacher? Because that’s my second job and I love it.

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

I do most of my work from my home studio, in Hamilton near Gage Park. It’s the attic floor of an old century home, with a big skylight, creaky wood floors, and I absolutely love it. I also sublet woodshop space off friends who run a carpentry business (Circle A Carpentry) where I do most of the rough cutting and sanding.

My favourite thing about Hamilton is…

The small-town feel, with big-city amenities. Particularly in the arts scene, it really seems like everyone knows one another, while also being really receptive to new faces. It’s a unique blend actually – and I have really been lucky to find a place in that community, despite being at the beginning of my creative career.

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

I would move to Whitehorse in a heartbeat – we visited there this summer and it was so beautiful.

What do you love most about Canada?

Our abundance of untouched wilderness – you would need a lifetime of lifetimes to get to it all.

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

Baking or cooking things for the first time, camping, canoeing.

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

I would want to have dinner with Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday – two amazing women making art in a time when both their gender and ethnicity were immense barriers – and yet that didn’t stop either of them from creating beautiful music their whole lives long. Inspiring for women and minorities today to keep working & creating unapologetically and boldly.

What brand/artist can you not get enough of?

I love the brand of resin that I use! Art Resin is a company in Burlington, ON (the proximity is total coincidence, they ship worldwide) and it is a no-VOCs, crystal clear and super durable resin. I swear by the stuff – and the company is full of awesome people!

What’s one thing you hope makes it big?

Call me biased, but I’d really love to see wood jewelry take a mainstage in the fashion world. I am obsessed with the possibilities, despite it being an unusual material for jewelry. Wood is warm, durable, and can be easily recycled/reclaimed. I’m not much of a gemstones fan so it makes it’s easier for me to happily forsake the diamonds for the lovely opalescence of certain types of exotic hardwood.

Do you have a favourite book?

I finally read “The Orenda” which was very compelling. Tough to read, but deeply informative and moving.

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

 

Get through this Christmas season with a healthy balance of busy-ness/success with relaxation and the peacefulness that this season is *supposed to* bring. We’ll see if I can nail it this year.

What’s your favourite thing to do over the holidays?

My favourite thing to do is spend a few days up at my family cottage near North Bay – it’s so peaceful there, and very special to me, since my grandparents built it in the 70s and my family has spent a lot of time there since. It can get so cold up there (a couple times it’s hit -30 or lower) but with the wood stove going, it’s the most delightful place to be.