People lined up around the block and then filled the atrium of Toronto’s MaRS Centre yesterday. The attraction?
Etsy, up close and personal.
The paramount online marketplace of handmade and vintage goods has more than 1 million active shops around the world. But while the experience of buying beautiful things online can be fun, even addictive, there’s nothing quite like discovering new treasures with your eyes and your hands.
(For sellers too, by the way, even though it’s wonderful to wake up and find you’ve received a batch of new online orders while you were sleeping, there’s nothing like meeting your customers face to face.)
So in an attempt to promote its Canadian sellers, on September 27, Etsy Made in Canada presented a series of pop-up craft shows in 23 locations across Canada featuring Etsy sellers in their home cities.
At the MaRS Centre I set out with a mission; to discover things that I had never seen before. I squeezed through the crowds searching for things exquisite, quirky, or clever. With 120+ vendors, there was a lot to see. These were the less conventional creations that stood out the most for me:
SISTER VALENTINE hearts & crafts
The charming Francie of Sister Valentine displayed an eclectic collection of handmade goodies, including crocheted fingerless gloves, fabric pouches fashioned like envelopes, fabric dolls, and these wonderful 3-dimensional animal portraits. Every piece she’s crafted is utterly charming. You can find more of her work here.
Flora Cheung stood behind her knitted cacti knitting nonchalantly, her warm contagious smile welcoming visitors to her table of treasures. The softest gloves, scarves, booties and accessories beckoned to me with their promises of cosiness. I easily imagined her creations as treasured gifts. I will definitely be treating myself to a pair of her travellers’ mitts pronto! If you like, you can peruse her lovely website here.
Printmaking grad Michelle Galletta spent three years working in Italy before returning home to Toronto in 2012 to create Kiriki Press. The attention to detail she puts into her embroidery kits is simply stunning. Not simply craft kits for children, the beauty of these projects (with varying complexity) makes them attractive to grownups, too. You can see Kiriki’s kits on her website.
Lest you think (heaven forbid!) that I am strongly biased toward textile art (I am), I wanted to share the work of a paper/collage artist who loves to use maps and vintage books in surprising ways. A world traveler with a huge collection of vintage maps and ephemera, her work is loaded with humour and adventure. “Up and Down the Thames,” a piece that combines an original 1920s map of London with tiny cutouts of Buckingham Palace guards from a 1940s picture book, was attracting loads of attention on Saturday, and it’s easy to see why. Apfelstrudel is a popular Etsy shop, and you can find it here.
I would like to leave you with a stuffed toymaker who in my opinion has exceptional taste in fabric and makes lovely little monsters for children. But rather than show you her work, which you can see here in her Etsy shop, I share with you a photo of my 4-year-old nephew Benji holding one of her seasonal pieces, a soft skeleton perfect for Halloween! Please don’t be afraid of Benji’s very scary face, it is just for the photo.
Thank you for joining me in supporting handmade!
Red Thread Design
p.s. If you want to see all of the vendors at the MaRS Toronto Etsy event, you can check out this nifty lookbook created by Etsy: