Monday, 30 May 2011

Beehive Workshop: Soap Making with Imke

A couple weeks ago Hollie mentioned that her new friend, Imke, was visiting from Germany and was an experienced soap maker. She wondered if we'd be interested in doing a soap making workshop with her before she headed back home. Yes, please! We gathered the list of ingredients and supplies and met last week to make two kinds of soap, one for hair and the other for the body.

The first one we made was a body soap made of olive oil, hemp oil, and crushed bay leaves. Each ingredient was carefully measured on a digital scale. To each soap we added Lye, which had to be mixed outside since it will burn the skin upon contact. Note the gloves and goggles. Scary stuff.

We used stacked paper cups as our molds so we could easily divide the soaps up amongst the group, although she also recommended silicone muffin tins as molds. We put a layer of newsprint in between the cups to insulate them and keep the soap warm while it hardened overnight.

The second soap we made was beer hair soap. Yes, beer! Flat beer is good for your hair. The protein in the hops and malt help repair the hair and give it a beautiful shine. This soap was made using frozen beer, olive oil, castor oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and rosemary oil. It smelt a little funny at first but the addition of the rosemary oil made it smell so good.

We each took one bar of each soap home. Once they were hardened the following day they were removed from the molds and now have to sit for 6-8 weeks before they are ready to be used. The website she referenced for these soap recipes was in German, but she did suggest bramble berry as a good reference site if you are interested in trying your hand at soap making too.

Thank you Imke for taking the time to teach us the process of this lovely craft. And a special thank you to Keiran for letting us use his spacious kitchen for the workshop.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Edith's Dollhouse

I had been spinning my tires searching for the perfect dollhouse for my 2 year old, Edith (and her big brother). Once you start looking, there are so many well-designed ones out there. It can be a bit overwhelming and a little prohibitive financially. 

I was having a hard time finding something affordable that wasn’t plastic and that we wouldn’t want to hide whenever company came over. And I didn't know if I wanted to go for something clean and modern, or something more classic.

I decided to be a little creative and come up with some different options. I came across this gem and fell in love with the legs. I think I went to every Value Village and thrift store from Brantford to Burlington looking for the perfect side table to transform into a dollhouse.  

Since I had a bit of a due date, Edith's birthday was only a week away, and the perfect piece of furniture wasn't presenting itself, I opted to build (with the help of my handy husband) one myself. I built the frame based on this dollhouse.

We bought two pieces of pine shelving for the framework, and a piece of masonite for the backing. I printed some vintage wallpaper images that I found online, as well as some scrapbooking paper and spray glued them to the back and walls of the house. The wainscoting and paneling were made from coffee stir sticks carefully cut and pieced together. For the staircase, I used cove moulding nailed it upside down to an angled board.

There is something fun about working in miniature. I made a makeshift doll bed from the bottom half of a hinged-wooden box, cut a mattress from some foam and sewed up fitted sheets, pillows and a blanket.

Even though there is a lack of accessories, the dollhouse was a huge hit. The kids play with it daily, and it excites me to know that I have an ongoing project that I can work on and furnish. I've been dreaming of miniature lighting, furniture, mirrors, picture frames and even a sheepskin rug. Although, it does make two houses I have to maintain!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


This past weekend marked a highly anticipated event in the Beehive calendar. It was the opening of Surfacing: contemporary textile and craft objects at James Buttrum & Son gallery on James Street North. Comprised of the work from eleven graduating students of Sheridan College's Textile program, this show aimed to illustrate and encourage discussion on the topic of contemporary crafting; specifically in regards to textiles and fibres.
I had some downtime during my own art crawl preparations at White Elephant (which never happens) and I knew I wouldn't get the chance to check the show out later in the evening, so I stopped by Friday afternoon, camera in tow. As each of these artists studied under one of our very own Bees at Sheridan - Thea Haines - I knew that this show would not disappoint. 

Sabrina Parrish
Katherine Cordero
Katie Walker
Keiley Stewart
Left: Rachel Morrison   Right: Melodie Flook
Barbara Romanovsky
The students demonstrated a wide and impressive range of skills from hand-stitching to quilting to paper-making to machine embroidery thread drawing and natural dyeing. Keiley Stewart's wet and needle felted animal heads provided an interactive and amusing element to the show. Her partner, Owen, was nice enough to take an instant photo of Jane, my sister Nicole and myself, and he would continue to do so all night of patrons trying on the heads, as a part of the piece. It's funny because afterward we all discussed how all three of us each had huge grins on our faces as the camera snapped, realizing after that our faces were totally obscured.

Being a part of a craft collective, I may be biased in thinking that this was one of the best shows I have seen in recent history as a part of the art crawl. I think that a lot of times people equate crafting or fibre art with folk art (which is not necessarily a bad thing) and Surfacing served to redefine that view, exemplifying that textiles can be exquisite and delicate and detailed and fantastic and fun all at the same time.  Beautiful work, beautiful show. I can't wait to keep an eye on each of the artists involved in the show as they continue to grow and fine-tune their respective crafts.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Beehive Excursion: Greenwood Quiltery in Guelph


Before I went to Sheridan College to study furniture/textile design, I attended the University of Guelph. I don't know how I missed it, but the entire four years that I lived in Guelph I never knew about the amazing fabric and yarn store that is Greenwood Quiltery. It was only when I met Jenna that I learned about it's existence. After all, the owner is Jenna's lovely mother, Joanne Greenberg!


Last week, Jenna, Liz, and I drove up to Guelph to visit the store. Greenwood Quiltery is located in an absolutely stunning old home just barely north of Guelph's downtown centre, on Woolwich Street. Joanne started the business in her home 10 years ago, and originally only sold fabric. Since she moved to the current location she has started carrying a selection of high quality yarn as well. Jenna had of course been in the shop countless times already and knew what to expect, but Liz and I walked around in awe, transfixed by all the lovely patterns and colours.


The selection of fabric at Greenwood Quiltery is very impressive. Joanne carries essentially all the popular contempory designers, including Heather Ross, Melody Miller, Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Cloud 9 organic fabrics, and many others. And there are countless patterns and books to choose from as well.

I also really loved all the samples that Joanne and her employees had sewn up and had on display. That little girls' dress is adorable. Can I have the big girl version please?

Liz, the most devoted knitter of the three of us, was particularly drawn to the yarn section of the shop. Joanne only carries really nice yarn (like Tanis Fibre Arts, Koigu, Rowan, Cascade, Mission Falls, Spud & Chloe, etc) - you won't find any of that acrylic stuff here!

So next time you're in Guelph, go visit Greenwood Quiltery. Oh, and located on the second floor of the building is a gallery, so check that out too. And if you live in the Guelph area and are keen to learn some new sewing skills, Joanne offers a range of workshops you can choose from. So go! Go now! You'll be duly impressed.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Beehive Excursion: Knitter's Frolic

For the past 14 years, the Downtown Knit Collective have been hosting an annual Knitter's Frolic - a two day knitter's marketplace with over 50 vendors selling the finest yarns and fibre art supplies.

I attended the event last year for the first time, and was blown away at the sheer volume of yarn to be had. It was incredible. Needless to say, when I caught wind of the dates for the Frolic this year, I was super excited!

Fellow Bee Courtney and I decided to check out this year's market together, and it did not disappoint.

The Knitter's Frolic was held at the Japanese Cultural Center, and we arrived right at 9am to quite the impressive line up! Obviously we weren't the only ones excited for some yarn shopping that morning.

Right away the Centre was buzzing with excited knitters, crocheters, and fibre artists; fun!

In addition to the marketplace, the Knitter's Frolic also hosted a wide array of workshops, ranging from crochet for beginners, to entrelac on the round, and pattern drafting. Courtney and I decided to start off the day with an introduction to fair isle, taught by Gloria Williams.

I've always had trouble wrapping my head (and fingers) around knitting with both my left and right hands, but thanks to this workshop, I've got my continental knitting skills down pat. Neither Courtney nor I have ever had formal lessons in knitting, and we both found it very helpful to have a instructor to follow, rather than trying to figure it out ourselves.

After all our hard work in class and a quick snack to boost our energy, it was time to indulge in some yummy yarn!

Beautiful display by Manos Del Uruguay.

Viola Fibers!

We had the pleasure to make acquaintance with Emily Folden, the beauty and brains behind Viola Fibers. Isn't she adorable? Her yarn and colourways are to dye for (pardon the pun)!

Mmm, sock yarn! Sock yarn is my preferred yarn to knit with. Courtney took home several skeins in this curry colourway. We thought it was particularly Beehive-ish! Very pretty. I took home a really pretty robins egg blue skein; the one pictured below.

Now the question is: what to make from our newly acquired stash! That will have to be another post altogether.


A quick thank you to all that applied to our Beehive Summer Craft Fair! We will be reviewing the applications this week, and will let applicants know of our decisions by May 12th.

Happy Wednesday!