Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Galaxy Wreath Holiday Card, Jackie Lee

As the holidays are running at us full force, there is a lot to do and not a lot of time. I’m sure you have a list of people in your life that you want to get gifts for, and if you are like me - that list is definitely not done yet. You go through idea after idea in your head, but who really wants a candle or another bath bomb set. It’s boring, and you honestly can’t remember if you already played that card last year. So it’s time to step away from that clearance isle in Marshalls, try this idea instead - shop local artists.

Now I know what you are going to say: “shopping local is expensive” or “where do I find these artists?” I won’t lie shopping local can be way more pricey than amazon, and we are all on a budget. But seriously, you can find great pieces at great prices - I get all my secret santa gifts every year this way - it is all about how you approach it. 

No, I Don’t Want To Limited Edition Risograph Print, Anna May Henry

Do not think about getting them a painting from their favourite artist, but you could get them a print of that painting. Most artists offer this service, and sometimes even the framing too! Plus its usually a quarter of the price. Or does that artist make jewelry or ceramics? That’s a unique gift that many won’t reach for themselves. You could even get a t-shirt that has the art right on it! Which is great if you know their size. 

Trust No One T-shirt, CryWolf

But…my favourite thing to get those art lovers on your list or anyone really is….enamel pins. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but pins are coming back into style and almost every artist has a few in their rotation. You can find everything from galaxy to cats to delicate geometric patterns. All in different colours, sizes and finishes. The best part is that they are usually only $12.00…yep, that’s right. You could get your friend, coworker or your neighbour a personal gift for the price of lunch AND you are supporting Toronto artists. 

Arch Pin (Silver/Black), Annyen Lam

Now where do you find these artists? Easy. If you don’t like leaving your apartment, then rejoice! Instagram has become your holiday best friend. Look through the explore page using hashtags that relate to what you are trying to find, and presto - local artists will start showing up on your feed. But don’t worry I am going to list a few of my favourite local artists at the end of this blog as well! Plus these amazing instagram artists often have an online shop that offers shipping - so you can do all of this from the comfort of your bed. 

If you do like to adventure outside into the snow, then you want to be hitting up all the local arts and crafts markets you can throughout the city. I find most of these listings on Facebook, but you could also find them through Akimbo or even posters on the street. Gladstone Hotel hosts a ton of markets this time of year with a variety of themes, and different vendors each weekend so it might be worthwhile to check them out at as well. There are usually several markets happening every weekend around the city, so just keep an eye out. 

Explore Tea Towel, Stephanie Cheng

If you were thinking about artist made holiday cards that is an option too! Obviously you can purchase these online or in markets as well, but I recommend going to Kid Icarus. It is a little shop within Kensington Market (Spadina & College), that holds hundreds of different artist made cards for all occasions in one place. It is my go to for any card nowadays, they also sell other products from artists as well: ceramics, prints and even jewelry.   

So even if you don’t like enamel pins, or art prints - think local this holiday. Here is my list of ten local artists to support this holiday season (obviously not in any order). Let me know if there was anyone who you think I missed, I am always on the look for new artists to add to my list!

1. Jackie Lee Prints

2. Anna May Henry 

3. Stephanie Cheng

4. CryWolf

5. Tiny Blades Project 

6. Kid Icarus

7. Jen Bolt

8. Ness Lee

9. Xulin Wang

10.  1%talent

Happy Shopping and Happy Holidays!

- Sarah Zanchetta

I Took A Weaving Course

For the past four months or so, I have been bombarded with the idea of tapestry weaving. From finding cheap mass-produced woven pieces at Marshall’s to an artist popping up on my Instagram - it seemed to be following me everywhere. So obviously my curiosity peaked. 

At first, I found how-to videos on Youtube, but it was not much help since I did not have a loom to even attempt on. My search for one on Google was hopeless and confusing - since I had no idea what I was looking for. However, Google did help me find a local loom studio that does classes!

The Loom Studio is located in the Westend of Toronto and run by textile artist Johana Cordero. They offer several tapestry classes, usually running about once a month. I chose “Intro to Tapestry 1” which is a 6-hour course, and costs about $135.00 plus tax. I did not know what to expect since I never did any type of weaving before, but I was excited to learn a new skill that I could maybe introduce into my practice. 

So yesterday was my class. The studio was small, there was one large table waiting for us, with tabletop looms and their necessary tools. Johana and her assistant greeted us upon entry. We were told to pick about 5 bundles of yarn in any colour or thickness we wanted from several bins. There were only four of us in the class, which was great for one on one help and clear communication. Johana demonstrated how to create the warp (the vertical thread on the loom), and several different weaving techniques throughout the day. I cannot remember the name of all of them, but my favourites were creating fringe and simple one loop weaving. 

The day went by fast, I made a lot of mistakes and at one point knotted a bunch of yarn together by accident. I did not know what I was doing for most of it, but I enjoyed it. When I was weaving I was off in my own little world - until I messed up the pattern, and had to figure out which thread I skipped.  

Overall I am happy I took a class for this new medium, instead of learning it on my own through Youtube. There were a lot of frustrating parts when attempting several techniques which would have probably turned me off from this practice if I was just doing it alone. My final tapestry is about 9” x 13” in size, and I have already purchased the large size loom kit from Johana to continue learning this technique. I am excited about incorporating this new skill into my practice, and already have several ideas as I write this blog…but for now you can check out the pictures of my final piece from yesterday. 

Have you tried tapestry looming? And if so, what did you think of the experience? I would love to find other weavers in my community so we can share our knowledge and ideas. 


My Current Textile Obsessions

When I started using textiles, I bought most of my supplies out of the clearance bin. This was great for experimentation and my wallet as I dived into this new medium. I went home with baskets of offcuts in a variety of colours and finishes, and now months later - they sit in a bin in the corner of my apartment. I search through for each new sculpture I work on, and yet there are some fabrics that I never reach for. 

By making study after study, I realized that there is some fabric that I just don’t like. It did not matter if the colour was vibrant, or had a dynamic pattern, those stiff starchy fabrics became a massive turn off. 

No matter the size of the form, or the length of the stitch - they just looked wrong. The fabric limited the flow of the form, it controlled the shape making it rigid, and nonorganic - which was everything I did not want these works to be. 

I needed the forms to feel as if they were growing. That there was some freedom within their oversized floppy form. So they could become disfigured over time, have creases, or slouch against walls if needed. I want the forms to be able to adapt to their environments. At first, I thought the stiffness was due to the size of the form or the type of stuffing I used, but it was the fabric that held the work back. 

After creating my first piece in a new series (you can view it here on my Instagram), I discovered what was missing all this time: thin transparent fabric. It allowed the piece to appear as if it was breathing, even forever growing as the fabric allowed some polyfill to pass through. I became obsessed with how it invites the viewer to look into the piece, to see the excess fabric I forgot to cut off and the clumps of stuffing that I did not spread evenly. The piece began to become organic in shape, to relax within its material, and to call back to the inspiration of the work - menstrual pads. 

This is not to say that stiff fabric or other varieties will never find its way into my future works - they just won’t make up a large portion of it. I learned through experimentation that having tulle, or organza, or any similar fabric as the base of the sculpture creates the needed effect. I want to continue to explore these materials more, so if you have any suggestions on what I should try next let me know! 

I found this wild fabric yesterday (pictured below) at Affordable textiles, and I cannot wait to use it! So go follow me on Instagram to see what it will transform into. 

- Sarah Zanchetta

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