Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One-of-a-Kind Spring Show

On March 30, I had the pleasure of being invited to the One-of-a-Kind Spring Show and Sale in Toronto. My husband and I made our way down to the Direct Energy Centre and I was psyched to see all the amazing original creations.

As expected the exhibition hall was full of colour and row upon row of goodies. Entering the building I pondered how all the creative energy in the building could be harnessed into a power source, and just how powerful it might be. I hate to admit it, but off-beat thoughts along these line often pop into my head. Well before you think that I am crazy, I will tell you more about the show.

Well, where should I start? Ok, I received a very wonderful invite from my friend Carolyn Barnett, to visit the show. I was thinking of attending, but with Easter holiday festivities, my Mom returning from her tropical oasis, tons of unfinished projects, my new sewing students, and the eve of my son Miles' third birthday; let us just say that I already had so much on the go. However, I just could not pass over her offer of two tickets and the opportunity to see her new designs and all the other wonderful creative goodies at the show.

I stopped by Carolyn's booth first, but she had taken a little break. So I decided to start at the last row and work my way across the giant exhibition hall. I participated in the show many years ago with my other company and I was, and still am really impressed with the quality of the show, the amazing artist and patrons who appreciate craftsmanship. It is also one of a handful of shows that I will suggest to other artist and designers to consider applying for. Having said that, over the years, the prices have increased and the booth sizes have decreased. Many of the artisans' faces are familiar to me and the show has maintained a good reputation for attendance and sales over the years.

Some of the things I observed this year were an increase in children's goods and an increase in clothing. Unfortunately I felt that much of the clothing looked the same. They were well made and from a beautiful selection of textiles, but a bit too similar in nature. Some vendors may also want to refine their customer service skills. I realize that language may have been a factor in some cases, but some of the vendors seemed to have a more stoic disposition. The "dead zone" seemed to be in the corner behind the food section, which made me wonder how well those vendors did at the show. However, a really wonderful addition to the show was the Etsy section, which I think was great and gave some artist who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to sell their work due to the cost of a booth.

I was happy to reconnect with Carolyn (Carolyn M. Barnett) and I loved her new felted designs. I really enjoyed our chat and I love the direction she is taking with her collection.

This beautiful pink jacket is my favourite piece, that she had at the show.

I also had an opportunity to chat with Diane Kroe (Diane Kroe Designs) and as usual I am always warmed by her wonderful personality. Her collection is great and the versatility of her designs can appeal to any woman.

My husband Don and I were both impressed by the work of new designer, Marie Armstrong (Krazy Lady Kreations) who designs stunning cotton rugs. She was super friendly and is a retired teacher now artist that works from her studio in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Her work stopped us in the aisle and we just had to chat with her a bit.

Don was also taken by the unique custom Ukulele and Banjo collection created by Ross Stuart (Rosbilt Tin Can Banjo/Ukulele). Ross is a Toronto based artist who makes his instruments from tin cans.

Don and I also had a lengthy conversation about handmade watches and we were both blown away by the amazing handmade watch collection of Scott Wilk (Wilk Watchworks). Scott's designs are beautiful and the craftsmanship is evident in every piece.

I could not leave the show without stoping by the booth of Kailey Hawthorn (Hawthome) to let her know how much I loved her designs and choice of fabric. I love the selection of fabrics she has used in her pillows and ottoman collection. I totally fell in love with a vintage piece she had that was just breathtaking.

The spring show is over now, but the show will be back at Christmas and I am sure you can check out the artist I have mentioned and lots of others. Until then, here are some links you may want to check out.

Carolyn Barnett | Carolyn M Barnett Designs
Diane Kroe | Diane Kroe Designs
Marie Armstrong | Designed Cotton Rugs
Ross Stuart | Rosbilt Tin Can Banjo/Ukulele
Scott Wilk | Wilk Watchworks
Kailey Hawthorn | Hawthome

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